Tom Gabel/Laura Jane Grace’s story in Rolling Stone

So for the first time in a long time I was actually excited that I caved and bought that 4-year subscription to Rolling Stone from that telemarketer back in 2009. Usually I just skim it before throwing it in my box of back-issues to cut up for collages. However, this time there was actually a story that struck a chord with me.

As I mentioned earlier, Against Me! singer Tom Gabel has just recently come out as transgender. I was super-stoked when I heard the news, not only because Against Me! is one of the few mainstream punk acts that I actually like, but also because they’re a fairly big band, so I think it’s great to have such a high-profile musician come out like this. Now trans folks everywhere can have a rock star idol of their own.

Anyway, as I was reading the story, I was struck by how much of Gabel’s story was similar to my own. One of my favorite bits was this:

Some days, he would pray to God: “Dear God, please, when I wake up, I want a female body”

I did the exact same thing at least three nights a week in elementary school. It was actually one of the things the led to my rejection of Christianity at such a young age. Every morning I would wake up and run to the bathroom and check myself to see if my prayers had been answered, and they never were. I began to realize that prayer isn’t good for anything, and then I began to think that a God that could make such a glaring mistake as putting a soul in the wrong type of body couldn’t be all that perfect. I’m not sure if Gabel ever went through the same thought process, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his faith at least evolved through life.

I was also struck by his struggles with substance abuse. From the article:

He’d go on to struggle with addiction well into his twenties; in retrospect, he thinks, he was doing whatever he could to numb the pain.

My friends will know that from 2007-2011 I struggled with a pretty serious case of alcoholism. I found out shortly after turning 21 that getting drunk makes me feel much better about life. I’m a really happy drunk. Well, to a point. Anyway, I’m willing to bet this is probably a pretty common trend among trans folks.

And then there’s the comfort that comes from looking at yourself en femme:

Even today, Gabel can’t look at himself in the mirror without being disgusted by the parts that look male: his Adam’s apple, his square jaw, his shoulders, his hips. Back then, the only way he knew how to cope was to cross-dress: “Just the act of looking in the mirror while presenting femme is immediately calming,” he says.

I’ve always been told that I was a pretty attractive guy, but for some reason this always just pissed me off. I always used to avoid reflective surfaces, because all I saw was a dude, which wasn’t what I felt like I was. Once I got the balls to try experimenting with make-up and women’s clothing, I realized that I might actually be able to pass as a moderately attractive woman, which was one of the most comforting things I’ve ever experienced.

Finally, in the next paragraph, we learn that Gabel questioned his own sexuality. I went through the same time. I always thought I liked girls, but then I realized that maybe this is just how you knew you were gay. While Gabel made out with a few of his guy friends, I experimented sexually with another curious friend on one occasion my freshman year of high school and determined that it definitely wasn’t for me.

I’m also extremely excited for him that his wife is sticking with him. That was probably the hardest part of coming out in 2007, and probably contributed significantly to my depression: I had been with a woman I loved more than anything for nearly two years, and at first I thought I could go on living as a guy for the rest of my life as long as I had her, after about 18 months with her the longing to transition started to come back with a vengeance. I told her what was going on and she decided that she wasn’t cool with that because it wasn’t part of her sexual identity. I think there were other reasons, but still, it’s always good to hear that trans folks can come out without completely destroying their relationships.

I also just found out that Against Me! is gonna be in Omaha in a few weeks. I’m currently trying to round up a posse to show some support for a fellow trans woman.

Anyway, this is an especially good Friday. Not only do I feel a little less alone, but I just realized that the countdown is counting down: Exactly one more week till my hormone appointment! Super-awesome!

Advertisements

Argentina is “lightyears ahead of the vast majority of countries” in the fight for trans rights

So as I was perusing Google+ instead of working on my novel, I stumbled upon this completely, totally, mind-bogglingly amazing news on Trans News Daily’s feed: In Argentina, trans people can now legally change their genders on government documents without any sort of psychiatric, medical, or judicial procedures! This is simply amazing. I remember in 2007, shortly after I came out to my close friends and family, New Jersey passed similar legislation for driver’s licenses, but this is even bigger. This is a federal law.

From the article:

“The fact that there are no medical requirements at all — no surgery, no hormone treatment and no diagnosis — is a real game changer and completely unique in the world. It is light years ahead of the vast majority of countries, including the U.S., and significantly ahead of even the most advanced countries,” said [Justus] Eisfeld [of Global Action for Trans Equality], who researched the laws of the 47 countries for the Council of Europe’s human rights commission.

Something like this makes me feel like not all is lost. Sure, it’s not the U.S. we’re talking about, but hopefully this helps spur other countries to action. Maybe I’ll actually live long enough to see true trans equality in my own country. This is truly one of the biggest wins ever. I had planned on doing some sort of analysis, but I’m simply speechless.

Taking away the hurdles to overcome and hoops to jump through can only spell good news for millions of trans Argentinians. Who knows, maybe one day we won’t even need gender identifiers on legal documentation. I think that’s probably the next thing for Argentina to aim for. One more step and they’ll be well on their way to liberation.

As for you American legislators: what the fuck y’all waiting for? Get with the times! Don’t let Argentina show us up!

Mitt Romney is secretly a major asshole

So perhaps by now you’ve heard the news that Mitt Romney was really secretly one of those terrible schoolhouse bullies what drive people to kill themselves and suchlike. Let me just say that this news doesn’t shock me. It’s not a major intuitive leap to assume that the guy who made his fortune as a professional worker-layer-offer has a hard-on for acting like a macho tough guy.

Here’s the deal: while it’s true that kids do some stupid things all in the name of winning favor among peers, there is no excuse for being an antisocial assfuck. The proper thing to do now would be to issue a major public apology to anyone he may have treated like shit. This country is suffering a bullying epidemic, and having a major public figure who used to be part of the problem isn’t the right way to tackle this issue. If anyone seriously thought he had what it takes to run this country, I sincerely hope they’re reconsidering their position. Bullies are a blight on society, and people with a history of this brand of sociopathy ought not be holding public office.

I’m lucky in that I was never really bullied in school. Or, at least if I was bullied I was too oblivious to ever really notice it. Maybe I was bullied 24/7 and blacked out the memories, but since that sounds like psychoanalytical bullshit I doubt that’s the case. Anyway, I don’t think I ever realized how big a problem bullying and hazing were simply because I didn’t experience it. I feel like an asshole for assuming that everyone breezed through high school with as little hassle as me. If I could go back, I’d be that super-awesome gal who fights the bullies and rallies all the bullied kids together into a coalition of hope. However, I can’t do that, so I’ll do the next best thing: blog about assholes who got away with torture and are now within inches of become the most powerful person in the country. I do not want this man as my leader for many reasons, but right now, this seems like the biggest reason. Bullying is wrong, there is never any excuse, and Romney needs to recognize that, apologize, and give large sums of his money to an organization like You Are Not Alone at my school (a suicide prevention program) or a dedicated national antibullying program. Fucking inexcusable, jerk.

“We need a leader who is biblically based”

So the Reverend Ralph Martino just got done blabbing his word-flap on CNN about this big shitstorm with Obama alienating lots of black voters by showing that he has a heart. I sort of knew this was going to happen, because black folks in America are slightly more concerned with gender roles and norms than whitey. (Generally speaking; obviously, there are people who break the mold.) Anyway, when asked if he and Watch and Pray Ministries would still be supporting President Obama, he responded that they will be praying for them and went off on a tangent about how we need an über Christ-lover in the Oval Office. I think this is rather coincidental, because I just found out that I got an A+ on my paper about why atheists are qualified to hold public office. If I were clinically insane, I might think this was synchronicity at work.

Anyway, I won’t go into the fine details about why I’m opposed to deeply religious folks running things. If you want, you can read my full project, which is up on my Open Letter to American Atheists page. Really, it boils down to this: Christianity is a deficient belief system, and people who blindly follow its tenets are not going to have the problem-solving skills to run a country. It is perfectly possible to have a secular ethical system based on logic (again, read my paper or this post or the entry on Humanism at ReligiousTolerance.org). In fact, I think it is desirable to have an ethical system based on reason as opposed to faith. You see, the nice thing about basing things on reason is that you actually have reasons for them. Reasons which are objectively verifiable and don’t boil down to gut intuitions.

Also, I was shocked when Rev Martino said that his ministry prays for more than 32,000 minutes a week. What a waste of time. Prayer has never solved any problems. Active doing of things is what gets things done. That’s why it’s called “doing things.” Prayer doesn’t do anything other than shut down certain parts of your brain, causing you to mildly dissociate and think that things coming from your own mind are coming from supernatural fairy-being. Direct action is the way to effect change in the socio-political world.

SOrry, Christians, but you’ve had your millennium of dominance. Time to let the rational empiricists have a turn.

President Obama proves he has a heart

So I picked the best time to go for my afternoon walk: right as the news breaks that Obama has reversed his reversal of his stance on marriage equality. Anyway, now it’s all out of the bag and I’m back at home watching CNN do their obligatory four hours of commentary on a single sound bite. And now Mitchell Romney is talking his head about how gays don’t deserve equal rights. Lovely.

Anyway, let me just say that it’s about fucking time. For the past few decades, the queer community has had the backs of the democrats, and we just keep getting thrown under the bus. Granted, all of this jazz about major Democrats supporting gay marriage smacks of politicking, and I can see several reasons why it’s not until now that he’s growing a heart, but still, it’s nice that he’s getting with the times.

I like to think part of it is the fact that he’s the product of a mixed-race marriage, so he’s probably heard a thing or two about people in love not being able to get married because conservatives are a bunch of sex-obsessed purophiles who like to get their panties in a wad over people not acting proper-like. I also thought that it was pleasant that he mentioned that Sasha and Malia have friends with same-sex parents and that they don’t understand why some people should get the shaft just because of biology. Maybe it really is a generational thing. The average IQ goes up with each successive generation, and people with higher IQs are more likely to be liberal, so maybe we’re just collectively evolving to become cooler with difference. Maybe sometime in the future–hopefully in my lifetime–we’ll see an anti-Amendment 1 amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I’d be pretty cool with that.

Anyway, back to the politicking. It’s obvious that Obama is grasping at straws in a deadlocked election, trying to appease as much of his base as possible. One problem he may now face is alienating his black voters: black Democrats are slightly more anti-marriage equality than your usual Democrats. However, by coming out on one side of a major hot-button issue, President Obama is clearly drawing a line in the sand. It is us against them, and us is the U.S. Executive branch, the part of our government which is responsible for keeping the peace. If you’re a heartless bigot, your enemy is none other than the White House. That’s a major endorsement for queer little transsexual lesbians like me. That’s also pretty scary. The country will now be divided, and those wishy-washy neutral idiots will be forced to form an opinion. Granted, I’d love for them to form an opinion since there is no such thing as neutrality in the socio-political world, but this is shaping up to be Act II of the Civil Rights Movement. It already looks a lot like the Civil Rights Movement proper; all we need now is an eloquent and intellectual minister to unite the queers and allies.

Anyway, I’m starting to ramble a bit because I’m still half-watching CNN talk this story to death, so in closing, I’ma just leave you with my favorite sound-bite from this storm:

Welcome to the right side of history, Mr. President.

                           –LZ Granderson

The ups and downs: North Carolina and Tom Gabel

So I’m gonna admit, I was a little anxious about the big North Carolina vote yesterday. I stopped watching CNN around 4PM Central Time since I was getting too worked up over the news and switched to watching foreign horror movies. Some time between 8:45 and 9:00, shortly after starting Them (the awesome French home-invasion flick, not the awesome American sci-fi flick), I got the CNN notification on my Android that the amendment passed. At that point, I felt extremely exhausted and ended up going to bed.

Seriously, North Carolina. Why you gotta hate? I see no reason why anyone would be opposed to same-sex marriage; I have heard no compelling argument against marriage equality. To me, it’s a question similar to that of whether people of different races should be allowed to marry. It all boils down to whether or not two consenting adults who love each other ought to be allowed to express that love through a legal contract. If you think yes, then it applies universally. If not, you’re an asshole bigot and have no right to complain about your rights being trampled if such a thing should ever happen.

But there was good news yesterday as well! Against Me! singer Tom Gabel has come out as a transwoman! For once, I have something awesome on the queer front to look forward to when the latest issue of Rolling Stone pops up in my mailbox! Gabel says she will be beginning her transition soon, and will begin going by Laura Jane Grace. Seeing as how Against Me! is a fairly big band, I’m hoping this will go far in the fight for trans equality. To be honest, I’m wicked excited that young trans folks will have a rock star idol of their own. Hopefully this will be the start of a new day in the fight for queer acceptance.

The U.S. Congress: Rich folks telling you what’s right

Just saw an interesting news item on CNN about the median net worth of the U.S.’s congresspeople. I looked on their site to see if they had a post about it so I could double-check the numbers, but I can’t find it, so you’ll have to trust my memory (I scored 142 on the WAIS-IV scale, so don’t worry, I’m good for it):

  • Republicans: $953,000
  • Democrats: $879,000
  • Avg American: $96,000

The crazy thing is that the congresspeople’s net worth did not include houses owned! (Net worth is the sum of your assets–including houses owned, usually–less the sum of your debts.) The average American only has a net worth of $96,000 including their house!

For me, this seems to highlight a major issue in the American political system: only rich, well-connected people can get elected. It seems like whoever raises the most money wins the race, and it’s easy to raise money if you’re well-connected, and the best way to become well-connected is to become rich. This is why there is such a disconnect between our leaders and the average American: the people in congress usually haven’t been average Americans for quite some time, if they ever were.

I suppose if you don’t like these numbers, you could always vote Green in November.