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Semantics and Half: How to Come Out?

The power of the choice of words, and some things to consider

Coming out is hard. On that, we all agree.

Everybody that has struggled with their sexuality or their gender orientation knows about it. Families, relatives and friends of LGBTQ people, on the other hand, also struggle with the subject, to whether confirm or disprove their suspicions.

While I cannot tell people what to do, I can try to show people how to see for themselves what their options are, and most importantly, how to take the right decision.

Before I start dabbling into this riddle of semantics, let me quickly explain the basics of sociology: Everyday life.

We are social people.

We live in a world that we share with other people. We connect and interact with them daily. The world was time and space before we even existed, and it will continue to be present after we die.

This unquestionable truth is what we call reality.

In our daily lives, we synchronise our internal sense of time with the that of reality. We can tell, for example, when something is taking longer or faster than usual based on our ability to contrast experiences with the new data that we receive as we go about our business.

This is when the other unquestionable truth comes to mind: Things take time.

Coming out of the closet is no different. From the first time we questioned aspects of our identity or sexuality to the moment that we finally came out of the closet, there had been several steps in between or there should have been. In short: It did not happen simultaneously.

The problem to some people begins when they have accumulated lots of information about LGBTQ issues during their journey, and they want to compress years of thoughts, research and experience, into a small family conversation. It is impossible to do. If you manage to, though, let me know how.

I am not going to say that by following a sensible approach you will succeed because there are families and friends who will refuse to listen regardless. You can, however, pave the way and prepare them to listen.

Just think for a moment about the disparity in knowledge between you and someone who knows nothing about LGBTQ issues. Think about the amount of knowledge that you would have to impart on them before you even discuss coming out.

Some peers and relatives —rare, wonderful creatures— have so much empathy and selfless love that they care without needing to research or understand. If that is your case, consider yourself very lucky.

However, testing the waters and imparting a bit of knowledge in the form of raising awareness on LGBTQ issues, a little at a time, won’t hurt anybody.

To recap:

  • Remember that it took you a while to learn about LGBTQ issues.
  • Remember how your thought processing used to be before you became an advocate.
  • Speak to your peers and friends in a language that they can understand.

I know a lot of people who were openly homophobic before they came out. In fact, there are some studies about that, which suggest that homophobes are potential closet homosexuals themselves.

Let’s not get into that just now, though. Let us just remember that our parents and friends might have the best intentions, but they lack the background information, and will naturally not be in touch with what you’re saying. That doesn’t make them bad people. They are just human.

 

By Ellie Hope (@elliehopeauthor on facebook/twitter)  

 

The Concept of “dead-naming” is No Bueno

In my almost 5 years of transition, I have seen and heard the term “deadname” quite frequently, and honestly, it makes me wonder what are they really trying to say.

I remember, during my first years in the school of Philosophy, in University, how we talked about who we really are and What Are We. It sounded confusing at first, but it all made sense as classes went on.

Basically, our lecturer was saying that we are subject to many changes, but they can be divided into two categories: Accidental Changes and Substantial Changes.

Basically, when we talk about Accidental changes –assuming we apply this concept to humankind– we are talking about the changes a person goes through, from the moment they are born, until the moment that they die. For instance, I went from child to teen, from short to long hair, from short to tall, etcetera. You get the point. These changes, even including changing your socially-perceived gender, are not substantial changes but accidental changes instead.

Substantial changes are a bit simpler to understand since they only happen twice in a lifetime. First Substantial change occurs at the moment you were born. The second one; when you die. You either exist, in whichever form you want, or you don’t exist as a human being anymore.

What is “Deadnaming” and why “old name” is a much better term

To those who are not familiar with the term deadnaming, often used by many transgender people (whether they are non-binary, genderfluid, male-to-female or female-to-male transgender people) it basically means the name they had prior to their transition, the name assigned by their parents, guardians or tutors when they were born.

The term doesn’t make much sense, since these people are still pretty much alive, and they’re the same person they were before their transition.

Ok, some might argue that transition brings a lot of behavioural (psychological) and physical changes and they feel like a whole new person. Poetry aside, however, they are still the same person.

Why? Because most transgender people who transitioned have one thing in common: They struggled with gender identity issues most part of their lives. Living under their old socially-perceived gender was not their true gender to begin with!

Most people who transitioned as adults waited for social conditions in their community to be somewhat apropriate. That was their window, and they came out of the closet. When the conditions were right, they did it. Whether they think they should have waited or not later on, they did what they thought was right with the knowledge and the tools that they had at the time.

In a nutshell: Their old social gender was their cover, and their new gender is their true identity.

So these people had been on a lifetime journey to discovering their true identities but this in no way means that they were born again, or died.

The problem with terms like deadnaming is that the word itself, compound noun (in the case of deadname), contains the word death, and people would naturally turn it into a much bigger deal than it really is. Don’t get me wrong. It is really nice when people get the names and the pronouns right, but accidents and stubbornness will happen.

So instead of saying “Please stop deadnaming me.” saying “please stop using my old name.” Will cause more of a positive impact in the lives of people, most of whom would be more likely to respect and understand what you are going through.

There is a blurry boundary between expression and identity, and terms, that strike people outside community as exaggerated or dramatic, might cause some confusion.

In a world where we are trying to build bridges between the LGBTQ community and the rest of our societies, these terms may be causing more harm than good.

 

By Ellen Hope Crowe (@elliehopeauthor) 
ellie@girlthings.net

 

 

How to Spot “Fake News”

Follow Ellie on twitter (@elliehopeauthor)

“NEW YORK (AP) — The Pope has endorsed Donald Trump for president.”

“A Washington, DC, pizzeria is a front for a child sex abuse ring.”

“George Soros will “bring down” the U.S. by funding “black hate groups.”

 

These are just some examples of viral stories circulated on social media recently that are completely untrue. Facebook on Thursday announced some steps it’s taking to stop the spread of such “fake news” on its huge social network.

This includes working with outside fact-checking organizations and drying up financial incentives to what it calls the “worst of the worst” spammers that traffic in made-up stories. But there are basic things news readers can do themselves to spot fake news. And if you want, you can report them to Facebook, which can flag stories for fact-checkers to evaluate.

CHECK THE SOURCE

Some hoax sites, designed to draw you in for advertising revenue, feature designs that resemble legitimate, well-known websites. Such “spoofing” can be quite effective — but there are often telltale signs to indicate their true nature.

For example, you should be vary of articles on sites whose addresses, or URLs, that end in “com.co,” writes Melissa Zimdars, a communications professor at Merrimack College whose own list of “fake news” sites went viral. (She has since taken it down and published a more general guide .) You can also check the website’s “about” page, its list of contacts, and other stories and photos on it. Poke around a little; if things look less-than-official, you’re probably on a spoof site.

GRAMMAR AND EMOTIONS

Random use of ALL CAPS? Lots of exclamation points? Does it make sense when you read it out loud? Can you imagine a TV newscaster reading it out loud? Is there something just off about it? Does it sound very angry, inflammatory, emotional? None of these are good signs.

POKE AROUND FOR OTHER COVERAGE

If a story is real and really big, you will likely (though not always) see some version of it from multiple sources. Is it on sites like ABC News, The Associated Press, the New York Times, or other places you have heard of? Is it featured in your local newspaper, the one printed on actual paper?

Let’s put it this way: If the pope actually endorsed Trump, you’d see it everywhere.

SOURCES, SOURCES, SOURCES

Anonymous sources can appear in legit as well as made-up news stories. But Googling the people who are named in a story is a good way to check whether the story itself is real. They might have a LinkedIn profile, or appear in other news stories, for example. Someone says they are a university professor? Google the name of the university. Is it a health study on a new cure for cancer? Look it up.

ON FACEBOOK

Facebook users often share articles without reading them. Don’t be that person.

Instead, click on the link and read the story before hitting the “share” button. If you believe a story someone shared is fake, you can post a comment, or report it to Facebook for outside fact-checking by clicking on the gray arrow on the upper right corner and selecting “report this post.” You’ll get an option for “It’s a fake news story.”

 

Source: AP

Blog: Don’t Become Your Children’s Closet.

For children born in conservative households, coming out of the closet could be traumatising and next to impossible to do.

#Endhatecrime / elliehopeauthor / Twitter
#Endhatecrime / @elliehopeauthor / Twitter

Being transgender isn’t exclusive to developed, progressive urban centres with lots of liberal thinking.

There is no choice in being transgender, it happens everywhere.  Anyone, anywhere in this world could be born trans. The big risk for the transgender person comes when they choose to come out of the closet.

Coming out of the closet is always seen as a scary process.  There are many fears and actual, real dangers associated with it.

Most fear losing their family and peers, their jobs, social status and community. But there are actual dangers such as the denial of opportunities, problems renting, yes in the year 2016 some landlords refuse to rent to LGBT people, or even violence, or healthcare providers not knowing how to address, or even treat transgender patients checking in for common issues.

In a more conservative household or community there is a greater fear of  a negative reaction from people involved in the transgender person’s life.

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If someone you knew and cared for was living in the closet, feeling lost, upset and alone, would you want them to suffer more for being who they are? Don’t contribute to keeping someone in the closet out of fear of rejection, harassment and bullying.

Your children did not choose to be trans, gay, bi or lesbian. But you can choose to love them and defend them, or pretend it’s not happening. Ultimately, the choice is yours.

By Eleanor Hope  (@elliehopeauthor on Twitter / Facebook)

Blog: History Will Prove Us Right

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Sorry darling, it’s not you, it’s me.

 

Once again, the Catholic Church tries to dictate gender identity. Mind you, I did not want to use the term “gender identity issues” because, frankly, the only issue that we have is intolerant people. They try to invalidate our existence in the form of bullying, staring, misgendering, or, by trying to silence attempts to raising transgender awareness.

Pope Francis did exactly that. Last Sunday, during his flight back to rome, CNN reported that he said: “It is one thing when someone has this tendency [sic] … and it is another matter to teach this in school.”

I wish that Pope Francis knew that no one chooses to be transgender. We are born this way. You don’t need to know what dysphoria feels like in order to realise that we are not making this up.

The process of transitioning is extremely painful for us. We risk losing our jobs, partners, families and friends over this, but the joy of living an authentic life, for many, outweighs the pain of living a life that is not our own.

But this is neither the worst that the pope has said, nor the first time that the Catholic church has invalidated the existence of people and treated them as sub human.

Just less than 500 years ago, when the Spaniards were slaughtering the native inhabitants all over the Americas, the Catholic church, with the intent enslaving more indigenous inhabitants from the new world, began an official debate. Their aim was to prove that indigenous people did not have a soul, not one like those of the Europeans, at least, and therefore they could be enslaved, because they weren’t human enough to be free.

How did the story end? The Catholic Church resolved that they had some kind of pseudo-soul, like half a soul, whatever that means. Basically, that they were sub-human, and the Catholic Spaniards used this as a justification for their enslavement.

What about the Crusades? or what about the corruption in the highest levels of the Church, such as charging people in exchange for the forgiveness of their sins? –or how about banning women from singing in churches, just because they were women. What about Gallileo Gallilei? He was convicted of heresy simply for being an astronomer. For telling the truth. A brilliant man who spent the last years of his life in absolute misery –even though 350 years after his death the Church admitted that he was right!

Today, 500 years after the invasion of the Americas, we learned that the natives weren’t evil pseudo-souls. They were angry that white invaders came out of nowhere and stole their lands, killed their children, raped their women and enslaved their men. Who wouldn’t be?

The Catholic Church offered a half-assed sorry for the bloodshed not too long ago, too.

Today Pope Francis, who is allegedly the maximum authority on earth after God –sorry I just giggled a little– says that transgender people are confused, and he is clearly trying to do anything in his power to stop institutions all over the world from raising awareness on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The Pope wants to take his cake and eat it. That is pretty rich, coming from an institution that shielded sexual offenders and pedophiles from prosecution under all local laws.

If you think that Either Pope Francis or the Catholic church hold any moral authority to tell you anything, think again. I can promise you that God loves you exactly the way you are.

We are talking about an institution that committed some of the most horrendous crimes against humankind. An institution where some of its priests and members of the clergy have a long history of molesting children.

The good news is that in the same way that, hundreds of years later, the Catholic church admitted that Gallileo Gallilei was right, it is reasonable to assume that in a century (or two) the Catholic chuch will come to terms with LGBT and understand that we had been right all along.

History will prove us right. In the meantime, he expressely asked the Press to make sure that they didn’t write that he blessed transgender people. In his own words, Pope francis said: “Please don’t write ‘The pope blesses trans.’ Please.”

By  Eleanor Hope (@elliehopeauthor on Twitter /  Facebook)


Read more / Sources (external links)
Pope apologizes for ‘serious sins’ during colonization of Americas
Valladolid Debate [Wikipedia / Retrieved on Oct 5th 2016]
Please Don’t Write “The Pope blesses trans. Please” (Washington Post)

Pope Image Source: Wikipedia. (Modified Under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Blog: A Transgender Woman’s Open Letter To Our Partners And Mamma Bears

 

Follow Ellie On Twitter / @elliehopeauthor

Simply thank you for loving us, for not giving up on us. For inspiring others.

Laverne Cox said once that loving a transgender woman was a rebellious act.

As a transgender woman myself, it’s heartwarming to see your rebelliousness, your courage; your selfless and unconditional love.

I know that it has not been easy for you. I know that a lot of communities turn you away; I have confronted those transgender people myself. Those transgender people who fear you for being comfortable with your own sex and gender you were born with. Those who think there is nothing to gain in extending themselves to another person outside of their experiences. Those who dare call you scum without knowing anything about you, your mission or your selfless love for your trans partner, or the love you have for your transgender child.

I know it has not been easy for you to let our old selves go, and I know that it’s not easy for a straight woman to fall in love with another woman’s soul.

Yet, here you are. Loving, listening, supporting, Feeling proud.

Thank you for inspiring others, for doing more when everyone else is just talking. Thank you for the things that you taught me, the tips that you’ve given me, and for holding me in your loving arms every time you’ve heard me weeping unconsolably.

Thank you for comforting us, for confronting the bullies and the haters, those who want to inspect our chromosomes before letting us into a public bathroom. Those who think that our future is theirs to choose.

I did not choose to be trans, but you did have the choice. You had the opportunity to ignore me and walk out on me, and you didn’t.

– Ellie

You Are More Attractive Than You Think, Study Confirms.

There is nothing more beautiful than a confident woman.

Research shows that people perceive you at least 20 per cent more attractive than you think you are. That’s because, when you look in the mirror, you’re simply judging yourself on looks, but there’s more than looks alone that makes one attractive.

A confident, happy, spontaneous and intelligent woman will be perceived as much more attractive than she thinks she is.

pexels-photo

In their book, The Complete Formula For Looking And Feeling Beautiful, Doctor Eva Ritvo and Dr Debra Luftman share some of the secrets that we are all looking after: How can we look and feel more beautiful.

I always believed that true beauty comes from within, and in my quest for answers, I stumbled upon this blog post by Dr. Eva Ritvo, in which she explains this interesting concept she calls: The Beauty-Brain Loop.

“The women you know who are genuinely magnetic, who draw every eye when they enter a room–they aren’t just about good looks. They’re confident, passionate, fulfilled and quick-witted. They’re beautiful from all angles. That’s the kind of complete beauty that optimizing the Beauty-Brain Loop can help any woman achieve.” She says.

article391104-girlthingsdotnet

The Loop is a holistic system with four parts:

1. Inner Beauty: Your self-esteem, attitude, sense of purpose, love for others and compassion.

2. Health: Fitness, diet, weight control, medical checkups, habits.

3. Outer Beauty: Your skin and skincare, hair, nails, cosmetics use, wardrobe and anything else that determines your external “packaging.”

4. Environment: How people respond to you socially, how you create and see beauty around you and enrich your relationships.

“When you enhance any one stage of the Beauty-Brain Loop, you’ll see positive changes in all the others. That’s how the system works. Even if the improvements are small and incremental, you’re going to feel more beautiful, and when you feel more beautiful, you ARE more beautiful. That’s the most important lesson of all.” She adds.

Source: Dailymail / Psychology Today 

Blog: Dear Transphobic Transgender People: The term is non-op, not pre-op.

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@elliehopeauthor on Twitter

Quite frankly, it is very hard at times to move forward and fight the good fight when the Transgender community is so fragmented.

While it is true that some groups are unnecessarily rude and discriminatory towards us, it is also true that there is an alarmingly large amount of transphobic people within the transgender community itself.

For example, recently I suggested to start referring to non-op transgender women as non-op instead of the less-friendly, and borderline discriminatory term, pre-op. 

Here’s some background to the story:

The term Pre-Op implies incompletion; that there’s a surgery pending. Some transgender women simply do not want to have sex reassignment surgery. Others can’t have it or can’t afford it. It’s not fair to treat women like sub-human because they want to keep their penis.

There’s some debate about where this belief that a woman is complete once she has had sex reassignment surgery comes from. Wild guess: it stems from older laws which forced transgender women to have their genitals reassigned in order to be legally recognised as female.

While the world has changed, and so did the law, some older transgender women still insist on this arbitrary and discriminatory concept despite overwhelming evidence suggesting that a woman is a woman regardless of her biology.  I will not mention why this argument is hypocritical and it doesn’t stand to logic, but you get the idea.

Rant over.