This week’s issue of The New Yorker includes a feature by Margaret Talbot, on the rise of young kids and teenagers identifying as transgender. While the concept of transgender isn’t new, there’s a trend emerging; kids as young as three are identifying as trans. Depending on the openness and support of their parents, many of these kids are begin to transition before they even reach puberty.
Talbot’s article opens with the story of Skylar, an attractive and popular teenage boy who just happens to have been born a biological female. Skylar was open with his parents from the beginning about feeling like he was born in the wrong body, and thankfully, they supported his decision to live happily and healthfully as a boy. Still in high school, he got “top” surgery to remove his breasts, but doesn’t plan on getting bottom surgery. What’s more, his identifying as trans wasn’t some desperate desire to make his gender match up with a heteronormative sexuality: Skylar now identifies as a gay man.
“The whole sexuality thing never seemed like a big deal.” he says. “I never came out to anybody as gay. Sometimes I forget that coming out in terms of sexuality is a big deal.”
Skylar is lucky: again, his parents are supportive, and he happens to live in a liberal suburb of New Haven, Connecticut, where his school and friends were, if not enthusiastically supportive, at least respectful of his choice. Many, many, many transgender kids are not so lucky, and we’d be remiss to ignore their reality — one study reports that 41 percent of transgender people attempt suicide at some point.
After six years of competitive MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting as a woman, Fallon Fox has come out of the closet — against her wishes — as trans.
In an interview with OutSports on Tuesday, Fox explained how she was born into a male body, but never felt right. Ten years ago, she told her parents that she felt like she was born inside the wrong body. Her father pressured her into seeing a so-called “gay conversion therapist,” who insisted that Fallon was a gay man who was just confused. Fallon’s mother rejected her entirely; in the past two years, she hasn’t spoken to either parent.
But Fallon knew in her heart what her identity is: Fox began hormone therapy 10 years ago — after dropping the anti-gay therapy — and got gender reassignment surgery six years ago. She even has a driver’s license identifying her as a female. After her surgery, she took up MMA fighting. She praised the support of those close to her for their support. Keep reading »
The 1997 film “Ma Vie En Rose” depicts a young French boy who insists that he’s actually a girl. The lighthearted film was at least a few years ahead of its time in addressing the very real reality of so many transgender children, born into one body, but identifying with another gender. Now, more than 15 years later, a real life “Ma Vie En Rose” tale is playing out in Colorado. First grader Coy Mathis (pictured) has identified herself as a girl, despite being born with male genitalia. She’s dressed in typically-feminine clothes for the past year and both her passport and state identification recognize her as female.
But the Fountain-Fort Carson School District has asked that Mathis refrain from using the girls’ bathroom at school. Instead, they ask that she use the boys’ bathroom, gender-neutral faculty bathrooms or the nurse’s bathroom. Keep reading »
You hear a lot of crappy things about fraternities–often deservedly so–so it’s nice to have a positive story come out of frat-land. Members of the Phi Alpha Tau chapter at Emerson College have raised funds so that one of their pledges can get top surgery. Sophomore Visual & Media Arts student Donnie Collins came out as transgender in high school, and pledged to the frat earlier this year. Collins attended an all-female boarding school and lamented that while his fellow students were all very nice, “it was all horrible.”
Collins doesn’t have any insurance support for his hormonal therapy or sexual reassignment surgery–and Emerson’s health insurance excludes such therapies. So far, he’s been paying out of pocket, and trans hormone therapies are not cheap. “I’d go to the endocrinologist and pay hundreds of dollars out of pocket, because, of course, I didn’t have insurance of my own,” he said. Keep reading »
Transgender women make up an ever-growing demographic, so it would make sense that new businesses would crop up to attend to their specific needs. Chrysalis Lingerie is special lingerie marketed to trans women, and it comes complete with a power-mesh panel that’s designed to create a seamless effect, so that those who wish to “pass” as women can adequately tuck in their male genitalia. Keep reading »
Brazilian/Italian model Lea T. made waves in 2010 when she revealed that she was transgender. And for the first time, thanks to this Benetton video, we’re finally hearing her speak about it. “I say everything about myself, it’s too complicated to keep a secret,” says Lea. We agree, and we’re super stoked that Lea seems like such a rad person. Of leaning too heavily on others for inspiration, she says, “When you get inspired by someone … you lose a little bit of your personality … I try to be myself.” The video is part of Benetton’s “Faces of Color,” which focuses on unique personalities and looks from around the world. Others featured in the campaign include Isabella Rosselini’s daughter Elettra Wiedemann and model Alex Wek. [YouTube]
Over the weekend, the UK’s Observer published an editorial about transgender people that crossed a bunch of lines. It’s not really worth repeating the things that the author wrote, but they included the sort of slurs that, if used against, say, black people or women, would make your eyes pop out. The Observer has since removed it, but it was full of “N-word” level stuff, with an editorial tone dripping with self-righteous, “if you don’t want to be called these things, stop being the way you are” privilege.
It was gross, in other words. I tweeted about it throughout the day on Sunday, when it ran, as I learned more about the author or different things occurred to me. Most of the rest of my tweets from that day were about football, which meant that I got some confused replies from people who follow me because they like when I make fun of Matt Schaub. I’m not transgender, and I don’t have any close friends or family who are, so why was I treating that editorial like it was personal? I am a dude who is straight and cisgender (that is, someone whose gender identity matches their biology) and who seems to have no stake in this fight.
Here’s why I take transgender issues personally… Keep reading »
In this unpredictable and ever-changing world we live in, at least we can always count on Fox News to provide a consistent stream of ignorance. The latest example comes from Fox Nation, a “news” website that chose to illustrate a story about transgender healthcare with a photo of Robin Williams from the movie “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Because, obviously, every serious trans issue can totally be summed up by a male comedian in a dress putting out a fire on his fake boobs. Sigh. After sparking outrage and petitions to remove it, the ridiculous movie shot has been replaced by a generic stock photo. And just in case anyone was misled by Fox’s story, Village Voice blogger Alan Scherstuhl explains, “For the record, the number of transgender Americans asking insurance to cover boobfires each year is minuscule.” [Village Voice, Basic Rights Oregon]
This amazing video shows what it really looks like to go through a gender identity change. YouTube user iiGethii writes, “This video is of me going through a three-year transition (roughly one thousand pictures). I have had FFS during the process. I started roughly around when I was 20-21 years of age.” The photos show in striking detail how iiGethii grew more and more feminine in appearance, and became the beautiful young woman she wanted to be. [YouTube]
We’ve been big fans of Laura Jane Grace long before she came out as a transgender woman earlier this year, but we love the lead singer of seminal punk band Against Me! all the more now that we’ve witnessed her incredibly brave, positive attitude toward her recent transition. Needless to say, we’re a little jealous that Grace gave MTV’s House of Style hosts Joan Smalls and Karlie Kloss a comprehensive tour of her Florida home, including her enviable record collection, her wife and daughter, and yes, her closet. Laura Jane is a true inspiration, and not only to the trans community: everybody can learn a little something from her openness and her adamance that above all, the most important thing is to feel comfortable in your own skin. Not to mention that the advice she gives about maintaining good skincare habits regardless of how grimy you are otherwise is invaluable. [NYMag.com]