Friday, December 24, 2010

How Can I Say "Happy Holidays?"

It’s hard for me to get in the holiday spirit. Yeah, I’ve got everything going for me, for the most part. I have family and friends that accept and love, a wonderful husband and a cat that sleeps beside me every night. I had a successful employment career and have a warm house to come home to, every day. To put it bluntly, I am a white trans woman of privilege.

Over the past year and a half, I have met many Brothers and Sisters. I have many Trans friends and colleagues on Facebook and those that I know personally, those that live in the area, and those that I have met in my many travels. Most I know are those that are financially challenged, there are those that are ill or have legal issues, yet cannot afford an attorney. I know those that are homeless or without the support of family and children. I have visited those in the corrections system and those in hospitals. I know those that have met with violence and I know those who have had to stand up to words of hate.

I know those that buy black market hormones because they have no insurance. I turn my head, yet plead for them to get their bloodwork done, but know they can’t afford doctors. I know those that do sexwork, for them it is income. I know those that are despondent and say their life is done.

So how can I utter a holiday phrase that begins with “Merry” or “Happy” when there is so much pain in the Trans Community. Don’t say it’s a choice, because it is not. I know of no human being that is willing to sacrifice happiness, face the discrimination and risk the violence simply because it is a choice. To those that say “It Gets Better,” I will give them the list of the 179 Trans murdered last year. I know you are going to say ‘why write such negative thoughts?” but in response to you, it’s the reality of being Trans. There needs to be a real change.

There are many in our Community trying to effect change, but I know that the next rallying call for "Equality" will be for same-gender marriage, while my Brothers and Sisters look desperately for employment, a path to proper healthcare and acceptance. Yeah, I hear HRC will now predicate Trans healthcare on their Equality Index, but if you work for those companies, most can afford transition healthcare anyway.

So, to my Brothers and Sisters, nothing will be done for the “T” Community, unless we get involved. No change will come unless we are represented in the driver’s seat, with our hands on the agenda wheel. It’s time to change buses, and get on the “T” Line.

Then maybe next year or the next, I can say “Happy Holidays.”

Robyn Carolyn Montague

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The View From My Window

Just a few years ago, I probably wouldn’t be saying this. I know I wouldn’t. But as I look out from my window, I’m seeing a different Community in St. Louis than I did just a year ago. Last year at this time, ‘Maine’ was a huge issue to Marriage Equality for the local gay and lesbian community here, much as the anti-discrimination policy in Kalamazoo, Michigan was to me. The James Byrd-Matthew Sheppard Hate Crime Bill Law was seen as a huge deterrent to hate crimes despite a state version already here on the books in Missouri. I saw it just a bit more, a nuance not seen by the “L’s & G’s”, that being Transgender individuals being recognized and protected as people by the Federal government. Real huge.

In the last year, I have traveled to a variety of Trans* and LGBT* Conferences across the U.S., Lobby Days, both state and national, even prowled to Kansas City in the auto several times. In fact, I have traveled farther in the last year than I did in the last ten years of my career in the aerospace industry, during which career I had previously traveled coast-to-coast and back again several times, and everywhere else in between. What most people don’t realize is that I left the Community in very late 2006, said I was burnt out and needed to take a Sabbatical. Which I did, to transition and so I hid for two years. And when I did come back, there was something different in the view.

What I have seen since I came back into the Community, is a strong, dedicated group of individuals and organizations working on ways to bring Equality. No, we are not working on the same things, heaven forbid, we all have our personal priorities. How possibly could anything thing get done, without a little bit of drama? I see a group leading the charge on Marriage Equality. I am working on Trans* Issues. I see a group working on Anti-Violence. I am working on Trans* Issues. IBID. But that sounding a bit unfair, I do work on Community issues, working with other groups and individuals. As they work with me on Trans* Issues. We got Gender Identity/Expression added to the City of St Louis’ Non-Discrimination Policy. That took a bit of teamwork. You know, ‘Unity.’

As I have said many times unabashedly, I am annoying and underfoot. That’s how I work. I’m the Trans lady that started yelling ‘ENDA’ while most everyone else was yelling ‘Remember the Maine.’ They yelled louder, well, so did I! But what I see now is the St Louis regional Community working their way down the Road Called Equality. I challenged Pride St Louis to make PrideFest 2010 even more inclusive to the Trans* Community than it already was, and they took it, made some changes, rolled it up in a nice package and handed the challenge right back to me. Uh. Okay. And PrideFest reflected that in the number of Trans* individuals that turned out in record numbers. I got emails from “L’s & G’s” stating they had never seen so many Trans* individuals at PrideFest. Unity.

And as I go through the ‘Events’ listings on FaceBook, I see all kinds of Community and Equality projects. I see events for Marriage Equality, Repeal of DADT, fundraising for youth, for HIV education, for Equality organizations, to help a specific person, to counter-protest Hate. And I see all sorts of people working these things. And the people are the LGBTIQA*. No longer is it just entertainment, but instead, social justice for all. Wow. Unity. Yes, we have our issues, we have our drama. But could we live together without it?

Oh yeah, do you know the word ‘Unity’ is embedded in the word ‘Community?’

Robyn Carolyn Montague

Friday, September 3, 2010

Robyn Carolyn Montague, DOA

On November 20th, the Transgender Community of the Greater St Louis regional area will be coming together to hear the ugly words. The ugly words that are names, and the date of not of their birth, but that date of their murder, those since last November 20th. The numbers are ugly in themselves, the Deustch Intstitue "Luminalis" has suggested the rate of murder for Trans individuals worldwide is roughly one every three days - the ones they know of.....

But why is it you don't care? A black gay man in Atlanta, the head of Black Pride there was recently murdered. The outrage for this previously unknown person's murder was huge, the reaction was repetitive postings on social networking sites. Yet earlier this spring I posted the murder of a Trans woman, who's murder was that by decapitation, the look of fear frozen in her face when they found her head over a mile away freom her body. Not one bit of reaction. I posted a picture of her headless body, yet again, not a word from anyone. In fact, the post that came from someone after that, was talking about going to a party, to drink and have fun.

So why don't you care? Are you so removed from the Trans Community that you fear us? We are doctors and lawyers, engineers and retail clerks. But mostly we are unemployed, representing the highest number unemployed people in the LGBT Community. Because of fear. There are those that say they are at the bottom of the 'totem pole.' But you do not see us, because we are buried in the ground underneath it. Of the hate crimes reported this past year, most was towards those being Trans. Being Trans puts us all at high risk, yet seventy-five percent of that hate was directed at Trans women of color.

The thought that our rapes and murders go unnoticed, is it because it is not seen a problem, because no one knows who these people are? Will it have to be my own brutal rape, murder and dismemberment before this form of genocide is brought to your attention? Does it take a photo of that murdered body of mine for you to understand we are being murdered at the rate of one every three days, to wake up?

Have a nice day.

Robyn Carolyn Montague

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why Not Call Nov 2nd, National Equality Day?

I said this earlier this morning:

"The American Independent Party has made a list of candidates to vote against in Missouri. Everyone single one of them is our LGBT and LGBT-friendly politicians across the state. Are you going to let that happen?"

I also said this:

"Elections to the United States Senate are scheduled to be held on November 2, 2010, for 37 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate. Are you going to vote?"

And lastly, my words said last evening:

"November is perhaps the single most important election is recent history for the LGBT* Community. At stake are Equality and Social Justice issues at both State and National levels. It is imperative that our Community gets out to support our LGBT and LGBT-friendly candidates. Issues directly affected by this Vote are ENDA, Repeal of DADT, Marriage Equality, Safe School Laws and true Immigration Reform."

If we, the LGBT do not get out and support and volunteer for those folks that can help us, have we in fact given up the fight for Equality? 'Huh,' you say?

The Republicans are beginning dangerous rhetoric, that they should support 'gay marriage' yet the joke is on them, it is same-sex, better said 'same-gender' marriage, though 'Marriage Equality' works okay for me. From their rhetoric begat from the likes of Ken Mehlman, who has suddenly wanting to become the champion of Marriage Equality.

But do you trust them enough to sway your vote and risk the aspects of Equality in general? Shouldn't we be out donating and volunteering to our LGBT / LGBT-friendly incumbents and candidates. WE will make a difference, that can head us down that road where we can call it 'National Equality Day' every Election Day. I challenge each and everyone to help bring Equality to a reality.

Oh yeah, register to vote if you have not and make certain that you do vote.

Robyn Carolyn Montague

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Gay Marriage is so.....uh...'Gay.'

Somehow folks don't realize that the Trans* Community is deeply affected by the Prop 8 Decision. In Missouri, a Trans person in a marriage is seen as same-sex unless some form of irrevocable transition surgery is performed, and many cannot afford it, do not want it or have unrelated medical conditions that prevent doing it. Somehow folks do not or will not recognize that this is our fight too!

I am quite miffed that the marriage issue as related to the transsexual, transgender, et al community has been totally overlooked, yet we are dealt with the same hate unless we are lucky enough to get our gender markers changed. With the Trans Community representative of the lower end of the socioeconomic totem pole of the Community, most cannot afford the surgey required to get gender marker changes. One tends to forget that unless gender markers are changed, we cannot get married...and if one does get their gender marker changed but is lesbian or cannot get married. Imagine that!

Far too often when I see Facebook postings, blogs and websites, the words are 'gay marriage' or 'lesbian and gay.' Yes, some have the words 'same-sex' but the conversation always seems to revert back to 'lesbian and gay,' meaning those of the cisgender brand. Typically, though, the majority refers to it as gay marriage.

This past year, stretching back to October of 2009, I worked with Pride St Louis to make certain that St Louis PrideFest 2010 was seen truly the inclusive event as it is, our efforts were not in vain as we saw the largest turnout of the Transsexual, GenderQueer, CD, and Intersex Community that PrideFest has ever seen. I managed to reach out to 10 of that Trans* Community to support the Prop 8 / NOM Rally, but there would have been more if the Trans aspect of Marriage Inequality had been better promoted. Clearly, we need to keep that feeling of inclusiveness strong and not simply with words now and then.

I am a persistent advocate of 'Unity in the Community' but when events include the Trans* only as an after thought in it's promotion why should I waste my efforts? I know that some may say that it's my job to promote Trans* inclusion, but why so, if they use the word "Equality" with a "silent T." Me? I have been working for the Trans* Community, but haven't forgotten the "LGB's." When the issue is across the board, the work is inclusive of them. My staff assistant is a gay man and at PrideFest, I had volunteers that were male, female, genderqueer across the diversity spectrum of Transsexual, CD, Intersex, Cisgender Gay and Lesbian, Trans Gay and Lesbian, Trans Bi, Cisgender Bisexual, and oh yeah, male and female hetero allies. Something to be said about inclusion, eh? Well, if you project it, you get it.

And no, this "T" isn't silent, and she is not going away, anytime soon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Selection of Trans-Positive Films in Film Festivals

Bringing a film to a film festival is not necessarily such a hard thing to do, other than meeting the criteria for entry and of course, having the artistic merit. As St. Louis Q-Fest 2010 was about to begin, the rather salacious and trans-exploitative film by Israel Luna was being prepared for its debut at the Tribeca International Film Festival in New York City. While I had previously looked at Q-Fest's line up here in St. Louis and saw there was no 'Transgender-related' offering, I did note to myself 'maybe next year' and then actually had a sigh of relief, as I did prefer not having to address such an issue such as 'TO#WK' rather than have just 'anything' offered up to settle the inclusive mindset that I possess.

In the course of watching many films where there is a transgender individual portrayed, I have come across any number of the scenarios where it is exploitative in any sense of the word or the person is portrayed in a 'down-on-the luck' scenario and rarely if ever is the transgender portrayed as successful or as a well-educated or 'tech' person. As we all know (and if you don't, I suggest some rather high intensity, remedial reading over at 'Wiki') the transgender individual is no less smarter, no less intellectual than most anyone else. Yet most films will dwell upon something else thus perpetuating the myth that 'gender identity disorder' is an impairment or psychosis of the brain function.

So with the possibility of TO#WK being brought to town, I contacted the Artistic Director of Cinema St Louis, which produces the St Louis International Film Festival ((SLIFF) and we began to look at bringing the film “Paulista” to SLIFF this year. After a copy of 'Paulista' was obtained by SLIFF, we sat down for a acceptance screening and it was indeed accepted and will be shown at the Festival here in St. Louis, in November. What follows, is my estimation of what it takes to bring a good film to a festival. Note: I am writing this from a 'Transgender aspect, it should apply in most any case.

1. Know the film, either through reviews by a reputable film critic or through reviews coming from other transgender folks who have seen it at other festivals. There's no point in bringing in a film you don't like yourself. And the first thing the selection committee / Artistic Director will be looking for is credible artistic value. Don't waste their time.

2. Determine the criteria from which selections will be chosen: Remember, most film festivals will not bring in a film that has been previously fully released to the public and/or available for sale on DVD or Blu-Ray.

3. Establish contact and meet with the Festival's Artistic director / Selection Committee: Explain why a marginalizing / exploitative film is damaging / dehumanizing to the Transgender Community and hurtful to the entire Community as a whole. Then explain why a trans-positive film is needed in a film festival, including the need for Transgender representation in the festival.

4. Ask to attend the acceptance screening of the film: While many films may seem innocuous simply by title or summary, there still may be that one little bit that is unacceptable as far the point you are trying to make. Remember, you are representing the Transgender Community. Also, you will be able to have a feel of what the 'age-level' will be for those “Not Rated” films, with regard to vulgar language and sexual situations. Remember that vulgarity and sexual situations are quite acceptable in a film if it isn't being used to titillate or becomes the main feature of the film. Be prepared to answer questions as to why the film is acceptable to the Trans Community

5. Is there a person, group, organization or business willing to financially sponsor the film?: Many festivals are produced and run by non-profit organizations and there is a cost to bring in the film, promote, advertise and show the film. Having a sponsor no doubt makes it attractive to the festival, but do yet remember, the film itself must pass other success criteria.

Revlon Robyn (aka Robyn Carolyn Montague)
for TOXIC Ticked off Tra**ies With Knives Clearinghouse
June 7, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Transitory Stay In A Roman Catholic Hospital

Having not sustained a major illness, condition or injury since transitioning, being admitted to a hospital since then was not only a new experience, but also offered me the opportunity to 'rate' a major medical facility in the St Louis area for friendliness to the Transgender Community. I must admit that I had a small fear of issues and went to the ER with a bit of not only reluctance, but also ready to battle.

I went to St John's Mercy Medical Center on New Ballas as it not only is the hospital of my Primary Care Physician but also is owned by the same Sisters of Mercy religious organization that owns the health insurance plan that underwrites my Medicare Advantage plan through my pre-retirement employer. With that in mind, I not only went to a hospital, but also one owned through ties to the Roman Catholic Church.

Basically everthing went smoothly, yet not without anticipating a few pronoun problems. The first three people I dealt with in the ER, to register, to assist me in my mobility and the first level of caregiving , call me with male pronouns. In each case, I immediately responded to the "Sirs" with "Ma'am" and in each case, the party acknowledged that and immeadiately corrected themselves and apologized. Do note, I was wearing a nice, flowered summer dress, so there should not have had been that problem, per se, but I did give them the benefit of the doubt and did not crucify them for their blatant errors.

In my room, I did not have that problem at all. To begin with, they placed me in a private room. My thought was at first, that this was their solution to an issue not knoiwing what to do, or simply because I was in the Heart Hospital section and they do tend to place people by themselves due to the extra level of care and the isolation from catching things from others. One thought though is that they have actually have a 'sensitivity policy' in place and this placement of a transgender person separately is their rule of thumb. One other note that I wish to make is that on the worksheet form for ER treatment, for gender I crossed out "Female" and wrote down and circled "Trans Female," as sort of a 'heads up' to them as how I wished to be treated and handled as female.

All of the nurses, who were (cisgender) female, male, Anglo, African-American, Pacific Islander treated me with respect and as female. There were no questions of my medications, those for my heart issues, for diabetes and my hormone replacement therapy and each were dispensed without question. Privacy issues such as attaching montior electrodes, in which exposure of my breasts was required, was done in decorum and as a matter of medical necessity, ie no gawking or snide looks in any of these ocassions. Any time that I was transported out of my room, I was certain to be covered so that my privacy and dignity was respected.

In conclusion, I found St John's quite friendly and understanding of the transgender patient. There was a moment of confusion by the nun that came into the room expecting to see a cisgender woman, but she recovered admirily and in her quick chat, did not use the moment to chastise or lecture. Yes, there were a couple of quick glances one might suspect unfriendly, but I also saw their quick return to a thought of professionalism within the confines of the hospital, that the purpose of thier mission was to heal and not to hate.

Not having stayed in a hospital after transitioning, before, and considering the dogma behind the organizations running St John's, I definitely will give them a gold star with an additional A+ for effort.

Robyn Carolyn Montague
June 4, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Paulista - A film review

I had the unique opportunity last evening to screen the film 'Paulista' a Brazilian film done in 2009. The purpose of the screening was for acceptance into the St Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) this coming Novernber 11-21, 2010. I invited SLIFF's Artistic Director over for dinner and with some decadent cupcakes from Jilly's here in St Louis (exported to my home in O'Fallon, Mo) and cups of my infamous Cafe La Brea, we watched the film.

Paulista is a nice, fun and sexy film, yet not (of course) without drama, that being the main course of a three course plot that is this film. The film embodies three separate relationships, one of a writer of poetry that has found love for a feisty prostitute, a lesbian impassioned with a bisexual woman married to a man, and the young attorney Suzana, who is in love with yet another young attorney, to whom she has yet to reveal that she is transsexual.

In each of the relationships, the three separate protagonists, living in Sao Paulo, Brazil, have all found their perfect lovers, yet circumstance and the separate backgrounds of their lovers collide, which create confusion, distrust and indifference. Each of the situations are unique each a blend of drama and heartfelt love and of course a bit of steamy passion.

The film contains no violence nor exploits the transsexual aspect of Suzana, played by Maria Clara Spinelli. Her character is that of a young attorney, no suggestion at all of transgender sex workers, transgender revenge and my (oh My!) not a peep of the word 'tranny.' Imagine that! As a matter of fact, the only reason there is the reference to one who is transsexual, is that it is part of the storyline, where the character knows she is reluctantly needing to reveal that to her lover.

The film is a well played out drama and has direct connections to the LGBTIQA Community. But not not with the stereotypical marginalization that one finds so often in films regarding our Community or individual that is in our Community. The beauty of it, is we have an awesome film regarding a transsexual's problem in a relationship, done by an actor that is truly a transsexual and not a gay male drag queen. The film had no rating on the box supplied by FigaFilms, but is indeed an adult only film, with nudity and sexual situations. The language is not out of line, in fact a feeling of vulgarity did not come across to me.

Revlon Robyn (...uh...sometimes known as Robyn Carolyn Montague ;)

Friday, May 7, 2010

POPWK - I'm Not A Fucking Ugly Tranny Whore

yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm late. Who cares, I don't get paid. As far as I am concerned, the marginalization of the Trans Community seems to be a daily project of at least one individual, so this is timely enough. At any rate, here we go:

My my my, aren't we a bunch of unhappy campers. I have been reading the seemingly endless debate on 'Ticked Off Trannies With Knives,' which due to it's shameless infamy won't go back into it, other than to mention it's shameless exploitation of trans women and the marginalization of the Transgender Community as a whole. If you don't know the story, take a couple percocet, do a 'google' on 'TOTWK' and call me in two weeks. One point that doesn't entirely hold too much water is that the drag entertainers are all trans. There are several that I know that will totally disagree especially the queen that said in a local entertainment paper, that "hell no I am not transgender, transgender people are psychologically diseased."

Where I am driven in this battle of rhetoric of this "film" (TOTWK) is where we are seen as less than human, in the same vein as described by the Traditional Values Coalition and Mass Resistance. If our brothers and sisters weren't being murdered (what is the total now, about 6 of us in the last month and the viscious assault on the guy in Long Beach?) and we weren't being marginalized by the hate groups, the effect of TOTWK on my thoughts would not be as severe. And with TOTWK being filmed by a cisgender gay man, it is easy enough to say that the people that are murdering us, are doing it as a favor to the ones that describe (depict) us as unhuman.

One of the issues that is coming out this is the use of the word 'Tranny' or “Trannie.” It is to me, a very marginalizing and insulting word, many people use it, many people abhor it. What really irritates me (I am a lady, thus I won't say it pisses me off, though it does) is that most of the commentary on the acceptability of use of the word seems to be coming from gay people who are not of the Trans Community. One rationale being used is that if some clueless media source uses it, then it's ok to use. Then they say that if we can use it, then somehow it becomes their free license to do as well. And it is amazing (though not really surprising) that cisgender gay men in the entertainment industry have decided to speak for the transgender community, people such as TOTWK's director Israel Luna and female impersonator Ru Paul (yeah, yeah, I have heard him say he is not a female impersonator, but then what the hell is he doing in women's clothes, eh?).

My issue with the term 'tranny' comes that (though perhaps at one point it is fun, is a campy term and perhaps endearing between two friends) when it is used as in hate and to dehumanize, the fun of it goes away. In my case, being called a fucking ugly tranny whore by a gay man in a community establishment pretty much put the term on my verboten list without hesitation. I figure that each person in their lives, will come to that point where it is used as a word of hate at them and finally say enough is enough. But to have gay men say it is all right to use it, is asinine.

The math is simple: We are marginalized by the same community we work together with towards equality with words and actions that dehumanize the transgender individual. We are then seen as less than human by those outside the community, and trans women and trans men are raped, murdered and our bodies mutilated.

Let me put it this way: What if I called the gay folks, faggots? Or pansies. You know, the words that are used before a gay man is beaten by a person in a crime of hate? Why is it wrong for me to call you that? Since gay men are claiming to be spokespeople for the Transgender Community, why can't I take the position for the entire gay population and say that calling you faggots is okay? Before you castigate me for saying that, I will share that my husband is a gay man (no, you may not ask how that works, it is none of your business) and I would would be highly ...uh... irritated to hear anyone calling my husband a faggot. Yet no one seems to care that there are similar sensitivities to marginalizing words describing transgender people.

Yet I can only imagine the uproar by every gay man, upon hearing of a transgender director doing a film called Pissed Off Pansies With Kittens. If the resulting drama ends up with a lot of blog time, we can always shorten it to "POPWK."

Who I would like to have over for Lunch:

This weeks guest would be Angela Lafferty. A lot of people have talked about this moron who heads the Traditional Values Coalition. She calls trans women 'male/female hybrids' and otherwise uses hate to describe the Transgender Community. For this particular example of hate personified, I would prefer to do our lunch at an upscale restaurant in an upscale teabag-end of town. After a few glasses of my favorite club soda with a twist of lime, I could ask her to join me to continue the discussion in the ladies room.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where will Israel Luna be, on November 20, 2010?

The title of the film ”Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives” sets the stage. The film is trash. Why a prominent film festival would wish to offer this selection is far beyond cognitive thought. Israel Luna is a gay, cisgender man. How he would know anything of what it is to be transgender is beyond me and in his own words, is paraphrased here as saying ‘why bash gay men, when there are transgender people to bash.’

For the transgender people who think ‘tranny’ is a cool word to use, wait a few years, then take a look in the mirror at yourself when others call you that in the despicable manner that it is intended to be used. When you reach that point and find it pisses you off, you can call GLAAD now that you realize you are being marginalized. And when you realize that the depiction of a woman being beaten with a baseball bat is not theatrical drama, comedy or satire, my thought is that you have finally realized the implication of how transpeople are brutally assaulted and murdered for no other reason than being one’s identity is seen as being different.

The reason I find this movie objectionable is that perpetuates the myth that transgender people are less than human, being dehumanized because of who we are and our journey to have our gender identity properly recognized. The path this film takes is dangerous because it puts transgender people at risk. It glorifies the violence we face at any given moment. How many murders and other acts of violence will it take to educate people that we are people and to stop the hate? This movie will simply help perpetuate the need for Family gatherings every November 20th, to memorialize the new names written down with the blood of my brothers and sisters. And where will Israel Luna be on November 20th of this year?

Tell him I will keep some time open to chat with him on that day, but tell him to bring along his own box of tissues.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Iowa City to Washington, D.C.

Well, I am off to Washington, D.C. this afternoon to lobby Congress for the passage of ENDA. I will be joining many others from around the country to visit with the National Center of Transgender Equality (NCTE) and participate in their ENDA lobby day this coming Tuesday. If any of the group is going to be there, look me up, I will be at the hotel around 7:30 this evening.

I will also participate in NCTE's National Policy Conference tomorrow and Monday, in which we will hear briefings on a range of topics by NCTE, The Task Force, Transportation Security Administration (full body scan), the Census Bureau, etc, etc. I also understand that we will hear a rehash on the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted last year - I attended a briefing on this at Creating Change, the numbers are pretty much what we thought, except now we have validation of these numbers.

Many of you may have heard of the rhetoric going on in the Trans / Trans-blog world, where some pretty nasty rumors are being passed around with what will be in the 'final edition' of the ENDA Bill itself. The blog Trans Advocate seems to be the frontrunner in spinning this drama, and has pretty much called for the Trans-activist world to boycott the ENDA Lobby day. They distrust NCTE, Barney Frank (with good cause in his case) and others and pretty much said that they have 'sold us down the proverbial river.' Then again, I have seen the rebuttals from other blogs that pretty much say it like it is, 'there is no substantiation to these rumors at this point.'

My take is this: I am going to see what exactly to expect in ENDA's final form, as much as possible. Secondly, I will have the opportunity to lobby my elected officials in Congress, either them or their staffers. My thougjht is to put this sweet ;) Trans face of mine into their's and say 'here I am, I am trans and 'I am not going away anytime soon!" More importantly, I have seen a list of some of the speakers slated for this National Policy Conference, they are well-respected Trans activists and Community leaders, I have met with them before and don't believe they would support anything contrary to their beliefs. That said, who knows. But I wouldn't being doing any good if I just sat at home wondering what is going on, especially something that affects me (and you) directly. We will see.

I will be 'blogging' of sorts with email posts to the St Louis Community magazine "The Vital Voice," maybe they will publish online, what I have to say. The link to them is: I will also publish to one of my own online blogs, but will see what sort of time I have for that there, if not, sometime next week. It will be interesting.... I am just so simply amazed at the drama. But then again, simply how we are, eh?

BTW: thank you all for the congratulary notes last week on my (then) impending marriage. The marriage did happen yesterday in Iowa City, Ia and today I leave my husband of 24 hours behind. Think of it this way: I beat Brittany Spears' record by 30 hours. ;)

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'll Be Too Busy Being Dead To Be Memorialized

I am still wondering where the "T" in Communi y is... Remember way back in time (and still now) the L&G Community was screaming for basic human rights, the idea of being respected, the idea that being homosexual was in fact normal, and in fact not 'a choice?' Do you remember two 'uppity' transwomen who said 'hey, don't mistreat my gay and lesbian friends' and gave them the first lessons in the fine art of 'bottle tossing?' And now as we Trans fight for the same basic ideals, we are shunted off to the background, told to quit being uppity and forget any idea of being respected. And be quiet.


I remember walking down a hall the other day and while I had seen it time and time again, finally the incongruity of it all hit me smack in the face. Down one side of the wall was a large grouping of famous (and notorious) gay and lesbians all brightly smiled in articles of their contribution to the Movement. I thought, hey, where are the Trans people? So I turned around and saw the Trans. Fifteen or so pictures of murdered Trans people. Huh? So, should I derive from that the contribution to Movement by the Trans, is that of being pictured as a dead Trans? Yes, it is a memorial for Trans Remembrance Day four months ago, but where are the pictures of the one's living? Why isn't there pictures of people like Lynn Conway (who?) - the transwoman whose contribution to electronics inludes the premise why you can read this uppity blog post on a computer. Where is a picture of Kylar Broadus? And all of the famous trans people, male, female, genderqueer, etc? Me? The way I think of it is that I will be too busy being dead to be memorialized, so that is why I am speaking out now.

How about this: A member of the Community who insists on calling me, "He." Sorry, I'm female, I'm 'She.' How about the performer who insists that transgender people are 'psychologically diseased' (no, folks, I won't let that one go - Ya know, I even wrote the guy a nice email, wishing to talk to him pleasantly about it and he refused - never replied. Oh yeah, he is a friend of the most stalwart people of the movement today, who are running around yelling 'unity'). Huh? When I suggested that events avoid sounding 'gay' or otherwise exclusive of anyone in the Community, I was told that, no, gay means all. To that: "No, I am not gay." And a trans girlfriend is heterosexual. A friend who is a staunch supporter of the Movement is a cisgender 'straight.'

What is so wrong, is this damn call for 'unity in the community.' Something dear to my heart, something that I fight for in my advocacy for the inclusive LGBTIQA movemnt. Yet, this call for 'unity' and 'support' asks for the Trans dollar, Marriage Equality, Yes!. Repeal DOMA, yes! Maine, Yes!

Will you help me support ENDA: No.

(It's not) funny how one convieniently forgets to include the Gender Queer, the Intersex, etc, etc. And yes the Trans, you know, the ones who started it all forty years ago on a battlefield called Stonewall. Is it time to go back to 'bottle-tossing?'

The way I figure it, this "T" will become silent is when, well, she 'becomes silent.' And hopefully not in a gruesome manner. I don't want my picture on that wall.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Transgender Etiquette Guide? Huh?

I found the Creating Change Conference last week in Dallas, quite engaging and extremely beneficial to my work in advocacy for the Transgender Community. I was so pleased to see so many of us there at the Conference, and found the coursework options so numerous. One thing I would like to put our Community to task with, and thus saving valuable space in the program guide, would be to remove the 'Transgender Etiquette Guide.'

As a transgender individual (and an advocate for not only the Transgender Community, but the LGBTIQ Community inclusively), I find myself with a bit of ire that this 'guide' is required. Oh, for certain, it is needed, but my ire is that we are yet not 'One Community' and there remains a need for this guide. Yet, if we are such a learned community of activists going to such an esteemed gathering of activists and advocates, one would certainly think that they are far past needing to be reminded to act civilized to those who might be transgender, gender queer, whatever.

It is quite obvious with such a need, that we as what I call 'Community' are in fact not. Perhaps a note to the Task Force would be in order, to have them place a "Gay and Lesbian Etiquette Guide" in the next Creating Change Program Guide. We that are transgender activists, certainly don't wish to make a faux pas as well....

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

TransHaven Missouri At Creating Change - First Look

Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. No, not listening to Simon and Garfunkel (who?), up early, and “Wide Awake In Dreamland” (sorry, Pat). Up early for the first morning here at the 22nd Creating Change Conference, in Dallas, ending Sunday. My partner Carl and I did not fly and took to driving the scenic route of I-44 and I-35 through Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. I had never been to Texas and my travels since transitioning have been limited due to work in my advocacy, so there was a bit of ‘hmmmm’ in the thoughts of my travel plans.

As it was, the roadtrip was of little or no issue, as I had mapped out where the most probable ‘friendly’ stops might be for me. No, not one to be shy, but being the person I am decided to be cautious as opposed to outright ‘in your face.’ The least friendly ‘comfort’ stop was at a convenience store sort of place, along I-35 south of Oklahoma City. There, the attendant gave me a dirty look but I simply marched into the ladies room, marched right out and back into the TransVan. Not so bad considering that the other option was a truck stop across the road with twenty or so tractor-trailer rigs in the lot, I felt that they might not be too interested in my brand of activism. Carl and I shared the driving duties, though I retained the authority on the radio. Lots of Lady Gaga and Madonna were played (and yes, many times), Gustavsen didn’t exactly disapprove but did give me a bit of a ‘look,’ now and then. On into Dallas in the GPS-guided Revlon Red TransVan, we pulled up to the front door, unloaded the van and parked it directly across the street in a garage, right in the first available space. Wow. Lucky.

The hotel itself is huge, but we found our room (with the help of the valet who pushed the huge valet cart of everything possible we had thought to bring ;). A quick run down to the auto for a second load of ‘stuff’ that I found necessary for my ‘Dallas Command Post,’ including three cases of the flavored carbonated water this cat likes to quench her thirst with and yes, a dozen Cinnabons (Did you think I would travel without them?).

To bed early and now (as said) wide awake in dreamland, this Conference of about two thousand LGBTIQA leaders and volunteers will start in several hours from now. Yeah, an early riser, but even earlier as I had received two phone calls from some lady wanting me to give her ‘wake up’ calls in the morning (wrong number no doubt), I was ready to really give her a ‘wake up’ call should she have called a third time.

As far as the Conference goes, I will of course be focusing on those workshops, seminars, caucuses that are directed to those advocacies for the Transgender Community. Of these, there are three that are directed to ‘Trans-inclusion in LGB(T) organizations,' in which I will bring back for use as needed for those organizations looking to strengthen their Transgender inclusivity. Carl, will be doing a lot of work in the Community Center-related arena, and some ‘running a business’ courseware for TransHaven.

Robyn Carolyn Montague

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Class Act of 'Family' Humor

I remember getting ready for the evening out last night, a long checklist of battle gear: Claw file, warpaint, bench grinder, a pound of 'grimaces' and two pounds of 'glares.' The spare claws were already in my purse.

But I never took them out.

The lady came out from stage right, with a huge ovation of applause as she walked to stage center. A huge vase of beautiful flowers were on a stool, but her appearance outshone their color. Mostly I remember clapping and yelling and smiling and nodding. Wow. What a performance of biting humor at our 'enemies.' What gracious words for those of the Community, what loving words for womyn.

Oh for certain the snicker of innuendo, definitely a bawdy tale here and there. But no mercy for the 'teabaggers,' and she wondered why George W. needs a protective helmet while riding a bicycle. She questioned the antics of 'David Jay O'Brian' (as I call the NBC Three), and she celebrated with all Roe vs. Wade. And she made a lot of fun at herself.

But she didn't say the word 'faggot.' She didn't say the word 'lezzie.' And she didn't say the word 'tranny.' Yet everyone laughed at what she said. She did use the word 'Community,' she did use the word 'Family,' and she was talking about us. Not that I expected her to use 'those' words, simply that too often others do.

I met this woman after the show, she is an unassuming person, she is just one of us. And she is a class act. I will hear her speak again in a week or so, as Mistress of Ceremonies to what will be a huge crowd of Community Leaders and Volunteers. I can hardly wait, I am certain she will inspire us in our work even more.

Kate Clinton is indeed, "Lady" HaHa.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I’m Transgender: It is not a ‘pro-choice’ statement.

I was reading around the internet this morning, no specific destination when I came across a group discussion on transphobia. No, nothing unusual or new about that, simply that none of the participants identified as transgender. Yeah, “a friend of a friend is a transgendered lady” but didn't appear the person is transgender herself.

But what captured my attention was a statement alluding to that if a person that is transgender goes into a place or area that is ‘risky’ (whatever that means), they deserve to be discriminated against, they deserve to be hated, they deserve to be murdered.

Something is really wrong with that thought. Maybe I read that wrong.

All have heard my dissertations on being marginalized, discriminated against, called vile names. At least I hope so. The above statement tends to drag me back into that clueless thought that I chose to be transgender, that I pretend to be a girl, to choose a gender/anatomy mixup. But I didn’t.


Let me ask you this: Would anyone want to be called a whore, to be referred to as ‘psychologically diseased,’ to be refused entry to a bathroom, to be stared at everywhere one goes, to face discrimination simply for appearance, or raped and murdered simply for being oneself?

I hardly think being transgender is a choice.

It’ll be a cold day in hell, before this ‘T’ is silent.