Huffington Post LGBT Wellness

LGBT Wellness Roundup: October 5

As published on Huffington Post’s new LGBT Wellness blog, see original at: http://ow.ly/DhVNO

Each week HuffPost Gay Voices, in a partnership with bloggers Liz Margolies and Scout, brings you a round up of some of the biggest LGBT wellness stories from the past seven days. For more LGBT Wellness, visit our page dedicated to the topic here. The weekly LGBT Wellness Roundup can also now be experienced as a video — check it out above.

Philly Trans health conference

Reflections on Trans Health 2014

Pride Center Staff Photo

 

 

   #bishopmakalani-mahee
   Philly the City of Trans Love
   Bishop S.F. Makalani-MaHee

 

 

 

Health begins with wellness, and out of wellness comes wholeness defined as containing all components; not divided or dis-joined.  The Trans community is reaching out for visibility, community, and health.  I found this posting on my friend Jay’s Facebook post, it read “I really can’t figure out the words to describe how I feel after attending PTHC (Philly Trans Health Conference)”; he then went on to post “for a guy who was told a couple of years ago (by my Mother, no less) that by transitioning I was limiting myself to a life without friends or the possibility of love.  I feel amazingly loved, supported, happy, and blessed.  I am proud and humbled to be a part of the trans community”.  After reading this I thought to myself that Jay had beautiful and succinctly articulated the joy and withdrawal we were all feeling leaving PTHC; while reminding us that today we live so far outside of the shadows of the gloomy past of stealth living not as a joy of passing, but as a necessity for survival.

We have moved from the unhealthy darkness of shame and secrecy that trans people take to graves to the ability to show up in the world in the light of our truths and share access to life saving medical services so that trans children like 13 Jazz can live their lives as trans fuller and earlier.  I think about Billy Tipton the noted jazz musician who died an old man in a trailer refusing to see a Doctor, and I think of Robert Eads an out trans-man diagnosed with ovarian cancer who in 1996 could not find a physician that would treat him and I know that we have moved a long way to building a healthier trans community.  Likewise I know that due to  hate violence, addiction, HIV, and barriers to  accessing  medical care the average life span for a trans woman of color is 35 years of age; which is a stark reminder of how much more healthier we need our community to be.

As I reflect on what I will carry with me from PTHC it is the realization that I have brothers, sisters, advocates, and allies; and that you can find community when you push through the fear of the lie so many of us were told of having to live our lives in the shame of secrecy or as lepers if we dared to live as our authentic selves.

For a guy who was told a couple of years ago (by my mother, no less) that by transitioning I was limiting myself to a life without friends or the possibility of love, I feel amazingly loved, supported, happy, and blessed. I am proud and humbled to be a part of the trans* community.For a guy who was told a couple of years ago (by my mother, no less) that by transitioning I was limiting myself to a life without friends or the possibility of love, I feel amazingly loved, supported, happy, and blessed. I am proud and humbled to be a part of the trans* community.

 

Continue To Walk In The Light, Redefine Your Faith, and Remember It’s All The Rhythm.

Conferences

Trans First World Problems

Pride Center Staff Photo

 

Bishop S.F. Makalani-Mahee

Minister. Performing Artist. Community Organizer

 

 

 

 

So I’m sitting in  this workshop at Philly Trans Health Conference entitled “Everything in Africa is Gendered”  given by  a south African trans woman of color, and before the workshop even begins she comes over to me introduces herself and tells me that she is living and working in rural South Africa as an out trans woman of color.  I am immediately sobered by the courage of her reality and share my thoughts as such with her; and her response to me was somebody’s got to do the work for those who come after her, so why not her and what I got in that moment is that as difficult as navigating a transgender experience in America can be, I am grateful to be doing so.

 

I and most of the trans folk I know have access to services like mental health and medical services, we have access to education, and most of us have access to food and community.  While our sister’s and brother’s in developing countries struggle to simply eat, find language that speaks their truth,  experience boundaries to accessing competent and lifesaving  medical  care, limited (if any) education, and they may not  have community for support.  Those of us that are employed, have access to care and community resources (like the ability to attend Philly Trans Health) may want to consider that we have trans first world problems and I would offer that we bare this in mind when wanting to fall out with each other or want to go to battle over things that really don’t matter; like young trans folk thinking older trans folk are stuck in the past and just “don’t get it”.

 

I would offer instead that we remember that there are trans people who wish they had other’s to relate to; and as we fight amongst each other about setting a trans agenda there are trans folk in our world just trying to stay alive.   We should find ourselves extremely grateful for what we have and the community we have, and if we recognize that even given the work yet to be done we are in a unique place of privilege that other trans people would perceive as the promised land, and we have a responsibility to do the work so that those that come after us have a promised land to enter into.

 

Continue To Walk In The Light, Redefine Your Faith, and Remember It’s All The Rhythm.

Conferences

Reflecting on a Wonderful Weekend

 By Lexi Adsit, Guest Blogger

Presenting on the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference

If you haven’t already, I would definitely suggest reading Emilia’s reflections on this weekend.

Mine however, are a bit more constructive. Every time I travel or go to a conference around something Trans, Queer, or Activist. I can’t help but feel a little alone. Typically it’s because so few folks from my physical community are able to get access to conferences or organizations that provide me with funding to go to these conferences.

I do want to acknowledge there were a lot of folks from my physical community there this time with heavy Transwomen of color representation from the sickening girls of Trans Ladies Initiating Sister Hood (T-LISH) and inspiring community organizer Miss Major.

However I can’t help but think of so many younger trans folks who would have benefitted so much just from being able to create such a safe and Trans friendly community.

So I just want to send out a call to the organizers of the conference, leaders of non-profits, and activists, to please let us take a moment to get creative in ways that we can make this much-needed information and spaces accessible to youth who might not be in a non-profit organization or who might not even be out yet.

I also want to acknowledge and thank everyone at the conference for the amazing time, space, energy, and information that is all shared and created because it was a beautiful space and we need more of these.

Conferences

Philly Trans-Health Conference Wrap-Up

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate

As I collect myself psychologically from both a fantastic conference that hits so close to home (and… tornadoes that hit a little too close to our car), I’m left with several take-aways.

From the past blog entries, you can see that there some absolutely fabulous strides in research, policy, and education/awareness of the trans community. Coincidentally, since the start of the conference two states have made progress on two trans non-discrimination policies: Nevada and Connecticut, with Connecticut to become the 15th state to offer employment non-discrimination protections for trans people!

I couldn’t discuss the conference without highlighting the huge struggles in our community. There’s a lot of pain in our community. There were folks in the Philly area and beyond looking for resources and help themselves, and I’m glad this provided an outlet for community members and activists to get resources for themselves. It’s rare to meet a trans person who hasn’t experienced loss in health, finances, relationships or discrimination which was mentioned time and again in presentations and personal stories of participants.

Given the universal hardship, the significance becomes much more important. Not only was this the 10th anniversary of the conference, it was the most heavily attended. We pretty much took over the entire Convention Center with queer/trans people all over. Even if we walked several blocks away for lunch, there were still participants, so it become relievingly easy to create safe spaces. There were even attendees on the planes and buses we took to get there and home. Our ubiquitous presence was something we just never see. Even in LGB(T) spaces, we’re often still one of a few or the single trans person there, so to be part of a majority was a welcomed change.

Another cool aspect was the number of significant others, friends family and allies (SOFFAs as they are sometimes called). The number of parents (both Moms and Dads) made me melt–it was beautiful to see supportive families and partners. It’s also wonderful to see so many trans people and allies empowered to do such great work for our community. Likewise, the fact that folks are making healthy careers out of this work (as in they actually get paid for their work) is another pleasant wonder.

Data · Research Studies · Resources

Transgender Science: Biology and Identity

by Emilia Dunham

Program Associate

Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD, psychiatry resident at NYU presented on a fascinating topic at the Philly Trans-Health Conference: Transgender Science: Biology and Identity. She is the editor of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, a resource guide by and for transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

Laura discussed the latest on Brain Gender Theory – basically this means that a person’s “brain”, or inner sense of self, does not match one’s sex. Many scientists and pseudoscientists have tried to prove or disprove this theory throughout the years. Trans people and allies are of course interested in this theory as well, but past research and intentions haven’t always had the best intent for trans people.

You may be familiar with some of these studies as many included gays and lesbians as well. Some of

Laura Erickson-Schroth, MD

the most popular ones tried to prove that gay men have less testosterone than straight men, and some of these studies even tried to give gay men testosterone to make them straight… which didn’t work, surprise, surprise.

There were some studies on folks, who due to circumcision mistake,  or other factors were raised as the different gender of their “assigned sex”, but many of these folks later identified as their assigned gender. These types of studies show that despite socialization, they can identify as other genders.

There were studies of chromosomes which didn’t show that trans people were likely to be chromosomally intersexed (ex. XXY). There have been family studies of twins (identical and fraternal) where one is trans, and another family/heritability study showing that of the siblings of 1000 trans people, 12 were trans, but that could just be the law of statistics anyway.

As stated before, some studies don’t have the best of intent so several problems occur: bad data, small population sets, or similar studies have opposite findings.

Of course there are also the birth order and finger length surveys. The former supposing that birth order can predict sexuality because women hypothetically have less testosterone after each boy. So if you are gay or a trans woman, do you have older brothers?

A larger index means you're gay while a shorter index means you're straight

Finger length studies have been around for a while and I remember in grade school we compared our finger lengths to see who was gay. I can never seem to remember which one makes you gay, but this article might help if you are questioning your sexuality.

All kidding aside, there is obviously a lot of research that still needs to be done. The only definitive thing is that there is no proven ‘gay’ or ‘trans gene’, and what decides who we are is our own inner sense of identity. Until then, we need to make sure research is accountable and make sure we’re included.

LGBT Policy

Day 3 Session 2 Healthcare for GenderQueer and Gender Non-Conforming Trans Folks

 By Lexi Adsit, Guest Blogger

Presenting on the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference

It seems since there is a growing GenderQueer and Non-conforming community that will be accessing healthcare and other services soon there is a growing issue of how to help them in the medical field around body modification but also trying to maintain the patients’ best health as possible.

From what I can gather (because I’m not familiar with most health terms) the obstacles appear as folks changing their minds between 20 and 30 around pregnancy, wanting to have a feminization/reproductive organ removal without taking hormones, or even playing with dose and frequency of hormones.

The space is filled with community members, providers, and allies so the discussion is very interesting especially around self-determination and choosing your own medical path, and what providers feel comfortable with.

Thanks to the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference for having such an amazing and safe space.

Conferences

Day 1 Session 5 Femme Self Care

 By Lexi Adsit, Guest Blogger

Presenting on the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference

A sister of mine from San Francisco, Mia Tu Mutch, put on an absolutely amazing workshop around Femme Self Care. In my own opinion I think it was one of the most amazing self care workshops I’ve ever been to. It made me feel empowered and reaffirmed about my own self care practices. The workshop also helped the group to socialize by sharing and connecting with people on a personal level around our favorite and toughest self-care techniques.

Also some of her strongest messages were:

  • “You are a genius around your own self-care and body”
  • “You don’t need to lose weight!”
Conferences

Day 2 Session 4: Sexual Liberation For Youth!

 by Lexi Adsit, Guest Blogger

Presenting on the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference

I don’t think I could have been more excited to go to and attend this workshop. I’ve had conversations with folks in my chosen family about sexual liberation and what it means for us as a family and community, but being able to go to a workshop around this with a lens of a Trans/Genderqueer lens around it was so great. Especially with youth and talking about what it will mean for us going forward in our lives.

So I really really really want to give a HUGE shout out and kudos to Midwest GenderQueer, JAC Stringer, and Ignacio Rivera who brought this amazing workshop to us at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference and really did an amazing job facilitating!

Feel free to check out their amazing work, I could not feel more inspired after having met these two amazing community members.

Conferences · Presentations

Day 2 Session 3: Getting Transnational on Yo’ Ass!

 by Lexi Adsit, Guest Blogger

Presenting on Philadelphia Trans Health Conference

Attending “Getting Transnational on Yo’ Ass” I definitely had lower expectations that I should have allowed myself to! I wasn’t sure what to expect because when you go into a workshop with big words like “Diasporic” in the description. However, this workshop was super fun and interaction in the the context of a game show! For those that know me, when I play a game, I get REAL!

This workshop was loads of fun though and the books and media that was the facilitator had gained information from included:

So definitely check out these resources if you’re looking for more information!