5 Things Cis People Can Actually Do For Trans People (Now That You Care About Us)

If you were upset by all the bathroom laws and were wondering what you could do to help trans people, this article is a good start. Thank you for caring.

The (Trans)cendental Tourist

It’s been a weird year for trans people.

Allow me to be more specific: It’s been a heated, daring, tumultuous, graphic, specularizing, aggressive, pointed,contentious, highlyfatal, and really, really complicated year for trans people.

Here are a few examples: Kristina Gomez Reinwald, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, and many othertranswomen of color have been brutally murdered at the hands of lovers, family members, and strangers.Meanwhile,Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have come to fame and exhibited incrediblefeats of grace, articulation, and poignancy under the gaze ofan eager media. Blake Brockington, Leelah Alcorn, Taylor Alesana, and many other transgender youth have committed suicide afterenduring endless bullying and systematic brutality. Meanwhile, Jazz Jennings became the new face of Clean & Clear and published a children’s picture book about her life, and teen trans couple Arin Andrews and KatieHill (best known for “Can You Even Believe They’re Trans?!” types of headlines) wrote and published individual books…

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Why Vote Democratic 

I need to vent 

I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America. The key word here is united. The Republican Party wants to remove the word “United” from our laws. For abortion, they want to toss out Roe v Wade and send that back to the states to decide if abortion should be legal. What does that mean? It means that if a woman wants to get a safe abortion she can. In some states. In New York she would have access, on demand, to a safe abortion.

What about women in Ohio who want to get an abortion? (Don’t forget that this is currently legal throughout the entire country.) Kasich wants each state to decide. He wants his state to make abortion illegal. What would that mean to the women of Ohio? Well, as always, if the woman has money, it would basically just mean an inconvenience. She would have to travel to New York to have a procedure that should be available close to her home. What about a woman that does not have the means to travel at will? She might seek an illegal, unsafe abortion. Or be coerced into giving birth and told that it would be best for her to give up her child for adoption. The conservatives are convinced that women giving away  babies are doing a good thing for the child. Obviously they haven’t asked any birth mothers or adoptees if they are happy for having been separated. Adoption is not the solution to the abortion problem. 

As a matter of fact, better access to birth control, i.e. Planned Parenthood, is one of the best plans for preventing abortions. But the conservatives want to defund Planned Parenthood as well. 

One of my personal reasons for opposing laws going back to the state is is the case of adoptees obtaining their original birth certificates. State by state, adoptees are very slowly gaining access to their OBCs. This is far from acceptable. In Ohio, OBCs are now available for adoptees. This legislation went through rather quickly after years of petitioning the government. However, I was born in NJ. Gov Christie finally allowed access to OBCs two years ago, with a 2 1/2 year wait. Therefore, I’m still waiting. You see, when laws are left to the state, there is no equality. The woman who wants an abortion that might be illegal in Ohio, could, theoretically go to NY if she could afford it. But adoptees born in NJ can’t go to Ohio to get their birth certificates. 

This is my personal issue. The issue that affects my thoughts way too often. But what is truly making me furious these days is how some states are making it difficult for LGBT constituents to be treated with equality, dignity and respect in their day to day lives. I don’t give a damn if someone wants to make a cake for a gay couple. Let them put an anti gay sign in their window so the gay community and any LGBT supporter knows where to stay away from. But issuing marriage licenses! That is a federal law! Not an individual choice. It’s not a cupcake. It’s a law. A right. And this bathroom nonsense. If you had any idea what a transgender person goes through just to feel comfortable in their own body, you would praise the person for their courage. If they might make you feel uncomfortable in the bathroom, get over it. Get over yourself. Have some human understanding. Most likely you have shared a bathroom with a transgender person and didn’t know it. If you are afraid in a public restroom, don’t use it. 

If everyone would just live their own life and stop trying to take rights away from others we would all be happier. We must vote democratic if we believe in human rights. Please. Don’t take away our constitutional rights that should be guaranteed to everyone. It shouldn’t be done on a state by state basis. 

 Adoptee Questionnaire – What Traits Do We Share?

I clicked on a link from my Twitter feed that requested I take a survey about adoptees. They wanted to know if I believed that adoptees should be able to have access to their original birth certificates (OBCs). Of course I do. On the federal level, not state by state. They wanted to know if I believed that birth mothers, original mothers, should be able to find, have information about the child/baby they relinquished. Yes, I believe they should have that right. They also asked about transracial, gay, single parent, and other types of adoptions. Yes, those seem like valid questions. I believe the most important quality for those wanting to adopt is their want to give love to a child.

The questionnaire did not ask anything about if I believed that children should be given up for adoption because they couldn’t afford to raise the child. Or because the birthmother’s parent forced them to. Or how I felt about a child being relinquished because a church considered childbirth without marriage is a sin. They also didn’t ask if I felt that a birth mother and a child should stay together if at all possible. That would have been a good question to ask. Yes, I hate stories where a young women put her child up for adoption so she could complete her college degree. Four years later she has a piece of paper and an empty space in her heart for the rest of her life?? That’s wrong. I’d like to see that never happen again. But that wasn’t my survey. I answered the questions on my iPhone without adding much. Once I get started on the subject it’s hard to stop me.

Anyway, one question really took me by surprise. They asked: Have you experienced any of the following: divorce, depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD, dyslexia, obesity, anorexia, thoughts of suicide….There were more but this is a long enough list. WOW, I’ve experienced all of these! Are they trying to say that these are symptoms of adoption? Symptoms of the adoption system? Do they believe most adoptees have deep rooted issues because of the circumstances of their birth? I don’t know if I believe that. I’d like to know what part of the general population suffers from these issues.

There’s also a part of the equation that we’ll never know the answer to. Again it’s nature vs. nurture. My having these issues could be due to the separation from my birth mother. However,since there was a reason that my birth mother couldn’t raise me, I might have had the same issues had she been in my life. Or worse. Also, what about my particular situation? My adoptive mother was abusive. I was not raised in the ideal situation. I believe my psychological issues had to do with my adoptive mother. Her insecurities. Had I been adopted into a more loving environment, I might have turned out very different. More confident. And then on the other hand, perhaps the challenges I faced growing up helped me become a stronger person. Made me work harder for what I have. Made me appreciate the love of my husband more. Made me a better mother.

When we look at psychological issues, I believe there are so many factors to take into consideration that perhaps a 45 question survey is just the tip of the iceberg. Genetics play a huge role in all these conditions.

What do you think? How many “experiences” would you place a check by? Do you blame your adoption for any or all of your problems? Or is it just a convenient excuse?

The Secret Life of an Introvert – The Family

Home is different than being “in public.” You can be yourself. It is, or should be, a safe place. A place where you can act crazy and no one judges. No one criticizes. Yes, that’s the way it should be.

Most of the time Julia felt she could be herself at home. A little silly, she’d break out into song at the drop of a hat. Or at the mere mention of a word that reminded her of a song. And she liked to perform the song. Full on Barbra Streisand on Broadway. Funny Girl. Julia knew all the words. At times she even acted out the part, raising her arms to the sky as if she were playing to the upper tier at the Kennedy Center.

So when Julia’s mom, Carol, suggested she audition for the school play, Julia was taken by surprise. “Why are you always locked up in your room, alone? Turn off the TV,” she shouted through Julia’s door. “Do something! Join something at school!”

“I can’t.” Julia yelled back. “Leave me alone!”

Julia’s mom didn’t get it. Didn’t get her at all. She thought that since Julia sang at home, and even joked on occasion with a biting, sarcastic sense of humor, that this was the way she acted all the time. This was the farthest from the truth. At home, just with her mom, Julia was free to be herself. School was different. At school, she made her way from class to class, quiet, head down, never making eye contact, secretly envying those other girls, the ones smiling, giggling, practically skipping through the halls, chatting about their upcoming parties, their boyfriends. Why were they always so happy? Julia wondered why she wasn’t happy at school. Why she couldn’t talk to these people.

Julia tried. Many times. Sometimes at her mom’s insistence. Other times, well, she just tried for herself. Wanted to give it a shot. But the words weren’t there. She couldn’t think of anything to say to these people. Only at home would conversational words pop into her head. At school, Julia put in her time, did her homework, studied hard, got good grades, and when the bell rang, she got the hell out of that building and went home. To her room. In her room she felt comfortable, safe. No more pretending.

Even though Julia’s mom didn’t understand her daughter, for the most part, she let her be. She knew that forcing the issue wasn’t helping. She figured that Julia would grow out of whatever was bothering her. She’d come into her own personality. In her own time. She’d flourish, one day.

Holidays were especially difficult. When other family members came into the house, Julia wasn’t allowed to just hang out in her room. She needed to make an appearance, be social. Yea, right. Social. Mom didn’t know that this was killer for her. Mom didn’t realize that these people were the enemies. The cousins. Along with the aunts and uncles, the cousins, very close to Julia’s age, were forced to visit. First came the comparisons. Abby and Danny are in band. What are you participating in this year? Nothing, leave me alone.

Then the suggestions. Your mom says you have a great voice. You should try out for the school choir. Or the school play. Leave me alone.

Julia counts the minutes until they leave. She can’t wait to get back to her room. It’s no one’s business if she chooses to stay home or join groups. She bites her tongue wanting to say, I don’t tell Abby and Danny what to do.  She wants to tell them that she enjoys being home studying because she plans on going to college, perhaps to law school. She wants to tell them that while Abby and Danny are hanging out with friends, she is preparing for life. For the real world. She will be successful. Julia wants to stand up for herself and to tell everyone that she is shy. Introverted. That she prefers to be alone. She is happy by herself. Studying, reading, watching TV. But she can’t. She stays quiet. She tells herself that things will get better. Things have to get better. They have to.

What can introverts say to people to make them understand? Or should we bother?

 

 

To the Brother I Just Found, and Lost

I spent twenty-four years looking for my birth family. Growing up I was told my birthmother died in childbirth. A year after my mom passed away, I learned my birthmother hadn’t died. She actually handed me to my father in the hospital. That’s crazy, I thought. She didn’t die? She handed me to my father? My adoptive father? Why?

I searched. And searched. In the beginning there was no Internet. As the Internet grew, I found more hints. One day, through an online search and with the help of a woman I met through my old-fashioned mail campaign, I hit pay dirt. I found the name of a woman who could have been my birth mother. Long story short, it turned out she was. And I looked just like her.

The sad part, she had already passed away. About the time I found her name, I also learned that her daughter had passed away as well. However, she had a son who was still alive. I was so excited.

I contacted my bio brother, fully expecting him to question me. To ask why I think he’s my brother. To ask if there’s something I want from him. He didn’t ask. He never questioned me. He never asked how I found him. He just said, “Wow – I have a sister.” Immediately, he told me he loved me.

We didn’t live close to each other, so I only met him in person a few times. However, we texted almost every day. For years. “Hi Sis,” he’d say. Always ending our conversation with “hugs.”

My brother, my new brother, didn’t have money. He had talent. He was a professional, record-holding bowler. He was a famous bowler! Ron (Stromie) Stromfeld even set a world record with 52 consecutive series of 600 or better! And he set an ABC record with 156 200-games in a season!

The second time I met him, Stromie gave me all his press clippings that he had saved over the years. Wow, I couldn’t believe how many 300 scores! Unbelievable!

After an injury, Stromie was no longer able to bowl. He lost almost everything. Everything except his friends. Stromie had friends. Stromie was loved.

After I learned my brother was in the hospital, I needed to do something. Since I did not live close to Ohio, I couldn’t be in the hospital with him. But he had great friends, Nancy and Sharon, who were there for him, sitting by his side, day by day, comforting him, telling him he was loved. These women were his angels.

When the condition up-date calls stopped coming, I didn’t know what happened. I called the hospital. He was no longer there. They transferred him. I called the new hospital. You know that feeling you get when you know someone isn’t telling you something? “I’ll transfer you to Chaplain Steve,” the woman said. My heart dropped.

I knew what Chaplain Steve was going to tell me. We talked for what seemed like hours. I wouldn’t hang up, wanting to know everything. You see, I was Stromie’s closest blood relative. Legally, because of adoption, I didn’t have a leg to stand on. But they didn’t need to know that. I believe people are put in our lives for a reason, a season, or forever. I found my purpose. At that moment I realized I was there to make sure my brother gets moved to New Jersey. To make sure it was known that there was a family plot waiting for him, next to his parents and his sister.

My brother, though he had no worldly possessions, didn’t realize how truly rich he was. While on the phone with Stromie’s brother-in-law, I learned that his friends, his bowling buddies, were taking up a collection, raising money to pay for their friend’s funeral.

The last text I shared with my brother went as follows:

You are loved…

Oh yes?

Yes, dear brother. You are loved.

Rest in peace dear brother.

Thank you to brother-in-law Warren who is working tirelessly to make this funeral happen. To make sure Ron Stromfeld rests in peace.

Obituary:

 Stromfeld Ron Stromfeld, Central Ohio – USBC Hall of Famer, died January 7, 2016 at Riverside Hospital. Celebration of life at Little Bear Clubhouse, January 16, 1-5 p.m. Memorial contributions toward his final expenses (Strikes for Stromie) may be sent in care of the Central Ohio – USBC, 643 S Hamilton Rd, Columbus 43213. 

The Secret Life of an Introvert – The Phone Call

What’s the big deal? Jody makes phone calls all the time. She schedules doctor appointments. She argues with Comcast about why her rates have gone up. She even calls her husband, and her children. Why is this phone call different?

Her palms begin sweating. Her breathing becomes labored. She feels a little lightheaded. All of this drama just for a phone call to her sister-in-law. That’s nonsense, Jody decides. What’s the worst that can happen? She’ll ask about the kids? Maybe suggest getting together for dinner. That’s seems pretty straight forward. She’ll do it.

Of course Jody can’t just pick up the phone. She can’t just say, “Hi, how are you?” What would come next? She needs a follow-up to the opening line. Jody takes out her notebook. The one she keeps by her bedside to write down ideas she gets while trying to fall asleep. Those ideas that like to bounce around in her head, the ideas she will obsess about all night, if they are not written down.

Notes on the phone call: Hello. No, Hi! What if the other person doesn’t recognize her voice? What if Jody’s phone number isn’t in her sister-in-law’s contact list? She writes on her page: “Hi, this is Jody.” That’s good. That should work. Her sister-in-law would then say, “Hi! How are you?

Jody continues to take notes. She writes down answers to several questions that might be posed to her. She will say she is fine. The kids are fine. (Always say everything is fine. No one needs to know what hell you might be going through. That’s private.) Jody will ask about her brother-in-law, their kids. Then she will wish her good luck with whatever project she is working on. She did her job. She was nice. Just because they never called her shouldn’t make a difference. She would be proud of herself for making the effort.

Jody held on to this paper for days. Weeks, before making that phone call. The day finally came. She decided it was time to muster up her courage. To dial the damn number and get it over with. She would be proud of herself. She will not let her childhood memories of her mother telling her to hang up the phone and stop bothering an aunt affect her anymore. That’s the past. This is the present. She can do it.

After about two weeks, Jody, after finishing her lunch, sat down on the couch, in the quiet family room. No distractions. She knew her sister-in-law would be home. Her kids were out of the house. Now is as good a time as any. With trembling hands, she pressed her sister-in-law’s number. It rang. Once. Twice. She picked up. “Hello?”

Jody read the words she had written down. “Hi, this is Jody. How are you?”

Everyone responds with, fine, how are you? Not this woman. Instead she asks, “How can I help you?”

Um, I just wanted to say, hi. How are you?” Now Jody was shaking like a leaf. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go. The response she got was unbelievable.

“If you don’t have anything to say, I’m busy. Goodbye.” The sister-in-law hung up.

And that’s why some people don’t make phone calls. And that’s why some people really like texts. And emails. There’s not much worse than dead air on the other end of the line.

 

So when my daughter told me she didn’t really like talking on the phone, I could relate. I text. I email. But when she does call, it makes me very happy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted-Patrick Hawes

This adoption reunion story is both tragic and beautiful. It breaks my heart when a parent (grandparent) forces their pregnant daughter to give up their child!! How can anyone turn away their child and grandchild? How is having strangers raise your blood, your family, better? Adoption is meant to provide a home for orphans!

How Does It Feel To Be Adopted?

FullSizeRender My sister Tracy & I

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE ADOPTED?

BIO:  My Name is Patrick and I am a 45 year-old adoptee in Virginia but born in North Carolina. I was adopted at the age of five weeks old.  My adopted parents were older at the time they adopted me (father was 47 and mom was 42), I was an only child. My adopted mom was Japanese, so there was no way to hide the fact that I was not her biological son!  My adopted father passed away when I was four. I had a nice, wonderful childhood and never really thought about searching for my birth family growing up. I am married to a wonderful woman and we have one son who is almost 8. My adopted mom passed away 11 years ago and that’s where my journey to find my birth family begins.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS

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The Secret Life of an Introvert – The Dinner

The pain wasn’t unbearable. It was uncomfortable. The bloating. The heavy feeling she had in her abdomen. The numbness in her legs. Jessica was tired too. Always tired. She Googled. Of course she Googled. What did these symptoms indicate?

Oh my God. Everything she read indicated ovarian cancer. It couldn’t be. She always worried about cancer. This was one of the cancers that was hard to diagnose. Is this the cancer that killed Gilda Radner? Is this the cancer that Fran Drescher had? That Fran Drescher beat? She Googled that.

She didn’t know what was causing this extreme fatigue and pain, but she knew one thing. It needed to be diagnosed. She called her gyno and made an appointment. They didn’t have anything available for several months. That’s ok, Jess thought. She could wait. Ovarian cancer often takes a while to diagnose anyway. She has already saved months by being able to tell the doctor what to look for. She possibly had saved her own life.

She couldn’t sit around Googling anymore. She had to go out shopping. Looking for something to wear to her husband’s business dinner that she agreed to attend. The business dinner for which she had nothing appropriate to wear.

A suit? Would look like she was trying too hard. A dress? No. Not an option. Like Hillary, pants are more Jessica’s style. A sweater? Yes. But all her sweaters were too casual. Yes. That’s what she would shop for. A more tailored sweater to wear with black slacks. Perfect.

Success! She found the perfect sweater. The evening will be a success!

Getting dressed, the fatigue is overwhelming. The bloating, the pain and numbness in her legs were more than usual. She shouldn’t have put off that doctor’s appointment. If this is cancer, it could kill her. Then it wouldn’t have mattered what damn sweater she was wearing.

The night of the dinner arrived. Jess was good. She plastered on a killer smile. Accepted a glass of Chardonnay, her least favorite wine but that was all they offered. She engaged in small talk as if she were a politician working the room. No one would know that this is the last place she wanted to be. She succeeded. Dinner over, they left. Went home.

So wound up from the night out, Jess couldn’t go to bed for hours. Even after a four-course dinner, she needed to relax in front of the TV and polish off the leftover salad, wilting in the fridge since lunch the day before, and a few cookies.

By 2 a.m. she was ready for bed. Finally. She drifted off. The evening was over.

The next morning, Jess awoke refreshed and full of life. No more bloating. No more leg pain. No more fatigue. Damn. It wasn’t cancer at all. It was the dinner. On the back of her mind for weeks. Even though she didn’t realize it, her body did. Her body never let her forget for one second that something stressful was coming up. Something she didn’t like. Something she was not looking forward to. Yes. She is an introvert. Even when she doesn’t think about it, it’s always there.

I understand Jessica too well. While my kids will do anything to go out with friends, go to a party, I am most happy to stay home. Alone is not lonely.

 

15 Times My Educators Failed Me as a Transracial Adoptee

Although this piece was written by a transracial adoptee, I’m sure many others can relate to the blatant insensitivity by educators and the general public regarding adoption. I’ll never forget those family tree assignments, being told how lucky I was that I was adopted, and being asked what life was like in the orphanage. Note: I was never in an orphanage.

Red Thread Broken

I’ve written a lot about racism I received when I was young from my peers, but I think it’s important to talk about racism and bias from teachers and other adults in a school setting. Racism is often times couched in terms of hate speech, but ignoring racism or the presence of race can be just as harmful. Moreover, many of the comments or situations that made me feel uncomfortable at school were directed at me by well-intentioned and, in some cases, my favorite teachers. Teachers are viewed as role models for their students, and that is why it is so important to address this topic at an educator level. When students of color face issues in the classroom and within peer groups that perhaps touch on race, adoption, or other identities but don’t feel a sense of understanding or validation from their teachers, where can they turn? Not only academic learning that takes place in the classroom…

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The Secret Life of an Introvert

As Jennifer stood by the window, staring at her mailbox, she recalled the thousands of times she had been in this same position…Watching the kids being picked up by the yellow bus. Waiting for them to come home from school. From dates. From college. Waiting for their cars to pull up in the driveway when they returned home carting families of their own for visits. Watching them back out of the driveway, leaving again. Missing them already, although subconsciously happy to get the house back to herself, quiet.

How many times has she waited at the window for a husband to come home from work, from a business trip, or (an ex) from God knows where? Worrying that something might have gone wrong. The what-if’s…

Today’s staring out the window is different than the other “normal” events. Every parent waits and worries for the child to come home. However, for the introvert, the worrying goes beyond the normal. For Jennifer, just the act of picking up the mail from a mailbox at the street can bring on anxiety. Has the mail carrier delivered the mail already? If not, she would look pretty silly to the neighbors walking to the mailbox and retrieving nothing. And she knows they are all watching. If she sees the mail being dropped off, has the mail carrier driven far enough down the street so they won’t notice her walking to the mailbox? Perhaps wondering why she didn’t come out when the mail was delivered, just to say hi.

However, after she knows the mail has been delivered, she still needs to know it is safe to pick up the mail. This is the event she can’t tell anyone about. The fact that her pounding heart and sweaty palms, not to mention her lightheadedness, is caused by the sheer fact that she needs to make sure no one is outside. No one is getting their mail. No one is pulling into their driveway. No one is coming home or leaving for work. She needs to know that there won’t be any chance that she would have to confront someone. To have to wave. To say hi. What if they want to start a conversation? What would she say? How would she end it?

When Jennifer is sure it is safe to go out and get the mail, she does it quickly. Head down, like she was taught to walk through the busy streets of New York as a child. Never make eye contact. Do not be distracted in your mission.

It’s terrible how a killer is described by the neighbors during that god-awful TV interview after a tragedy happens. “He was quiet. Kept to himself.” Yes, that might describe this particular individual. But most of the time, the quiet neighbor is a wonderful person, just shy. An introvert. Perhaps a very loving, friendly, caring individual who is just nervous around strangers. Don’t judge others. You never know what another person goes through just to get their mail.

Who can relate to Jennifer? I know I can.