Jenner’s Vanity Fair author in epic fail on ‘CBS This Morning’

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Buzz Bissinger

Most people in the LGBT community agree that Caitlyn Jenner’s very public transition will touch a number of people who have never known (or knew that they knew) a transgender person, and those who never understood the concept of gender identity. No matter what you think of Jenner’s story, that’s a great thing.

However, Buzz Bissinger, the author of the Vanity Fair piece released yesterday (June 1), appeared on CBS This Morning and, in an epic fail, repeatedly used the expression “sexual preference” when he was talking about sexual orientation.

Maybe the point was to have a writer who knew nothing about the LGBT community write the story. Bissinger followed Jenner’s transition for more than a year before writing the story.

But how can someone who doesn’t understand sexual orientation explain the difference between someone’s orientation and their gender identity?

How can he explain credibly that gender identity is innate if he thinks someone’s attraction to others is just a preference? Does he believe “sexual preference” can be changed? If it’s just something you prefer, then maybe another orientation is fine, too.

I think Gail King winced during the interview, but maybe I’m just reading something into it.

—  David Taffet

Jarrett congratulates Jenner in Tweet

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Caitlyn Jenner, left, and Valerie Jarrett

Valerie June Bowman Jarrett is a senior advisor to President Barack Obama and assistant to the president for public engagement and intergovernmental affairs.

Today, Addie Whisenant, the White House’s director of African-American media, sent out an email, just making sure that the media saw Jarrett’s tweet to Caitlyn Jenner:

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Regardless of what you think of Caitlyn Jenner and her transition, there is no doubt she is bringing attention to bear on transgender women and men and the difficulties they face. And here, a presidential advisor is not only Tweeting congrats to Caitlyn, the White House is sending out emails to make sure we don’t miss it. That’s progress.

—  Tammye Nash

Reflecting on Bruce Jenner

Olympic champion took a brave step that could mean progress for all transgender people

Leslie McMurraySo, Bruce Jenner was on TV. No big deal, right? People are probably tired of seeing Jenner and the Kardashian clan on the tube.

But Friday, April 24, was different.

For months now, there has been speculation in the media about whether Bruce Jenner was dealing with gender issues. Jenner was spotted with nail polish, or longer hair, or whatever. I believe if someone is transgender, and they want you to know, they will tell you. Until then, it’s frankly no concern of yours, even if that person has a reality TV show.

They still deserve to have a private life and to live it with dignity.

On Friday night, Bruce Jenner said the words that many had been been dreading. It was indeed a shock when he admitted, on national TV to Diane Sawyer and the nearly 17 million Americans watching — Bruce Jenner is…a Republican!

O.k., Bruce also came out as transgender.

I will admit I was worried. I feared a media circus, a freak show. But what I saw was different. It was balanced, thorough, emotional and real. I saw many of the feelings expressed that I had as a kid — the loneliness and fear.

I’ve seen some criticism of Jenner because, for now, he is sticking with male pronouns. Living life as a woman will soon change that, but he gets to decide when.

I’ve seen articles that insist on using feminine pronouns when referring to Jenner under the guise of respect. But if we are going to expect people to ask our preferred pronouns, then we are obligated to respect the response of trans people when they tell us, even if we disagree with their choice.

Some were critical of his insistence that he is heterosexual yet attracted to women. It can take some time for one to wrap their head around suddenly being a double member of the LGBT community.

In the end, Jenner’s transition is Jenner’s alone. Mine was different, but it was mine. This is an intensely personal and difficult journey, and each of us approaches it differently and does the best we can.

There is no roadmap or “one size fits all.” Jenner faced what all of us faced — nagging and endless gender dysphoria. He is doing what he needs to do to make it stop. For some, hormones are enough. For others, it takes surgery.

Fame and notoriety should not deprive him of the ability to make the choices he sees fit.

Jenner and ABC did a lot of things right. For one, Jenner mentioned the ridiculously high suicide rate in the trans community. Jenner also rightly pointed out the obscenely high murder rate among trans women of color. And ABC used video to show an attack on a trans woman who was using the women’s restroom, perfectly illustrating who is really in danger in public restrooms.

The addition of respected members of the trans community as well as doctors and therapists all contributed to a depiction of transgender people as not mentally ill, but as humans dealing with a medical issue of biological origin that is 100 percent treatable.

Making all of this possible was ABC dedicating a precious two full hours of network airtime to a subject that  has been so misunderstood. It’s not something that can be handled with sound bites. I know.

I was a guest on a radio station morning show on a news/talk station in California. They had maybe three minutes to discuss the issue. I understand that, but one can’t even begin to scratch the surface of such a complex topic in three minutes. Hell, I can hardly say hello in that time.

That’s how it’s been for too long. There might be a story relating to the subject, and we are reduced to a 15-to-20-second sound bite, if that.

What made me feel differently about this is the large audience. An estimated 17 million people tuned in. That’s the largest non-sports audience on a Friday in about 12 years.

That’s a huge number of people learning about something most people have never heard of. Only 8 percent of people even know someone who is transgender. Now, they know Jenner.

He readily admitted that he’s not the spokesperson for the community. Oddly, no one really is. Every story is different, yet we all share so much in common.

If I could have a wish, it would be that the takeaway from this is that we aren’t scary people. We aren’t a threat to anyone.

Gender transition is a very difficult and very private thing to experience. That’s what made me admire Bruce Jenner on that Friday night even more than I did when he won the Olympic decathlon in Montreal: He stepped into the spotlight and cried as he courageously said those words that can’t be unsaid, And I cried right along with him.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Transgender center launches intersex group

When a baby is born the first question most people ask is “is it a girl or a boy?” The doctor takes a look at the baby’s genitals, if they see a penis the child is declared a boy, if the see a vulva the child is called a girl. But sometimes a child’s anatomy is not that clear cut, and sometimes the genetics, physiology or anatomy of person is more complex than the penis=boy, vulva=girl equation. The umbrella term “intersex” is used to describe people whose physical bodies, hormones or chromosomes lie between the male and female ends of the spectrum.

According to the Intersex Society of North America somewhere between 1 in 1,500 and 1 in 2,000 babies born in this country have genitals that fall between the strict male/female dichotomy. Additionally, several genetic conditions exist where people who may appear strictly male or strictly female have chromosomal combinations other than XX or XY, a combination of XX and XY, or the chromosomes associated with one gender and the body associated with another. With so many intersex people walking around, there is a fairly good chance that you know one.

But according to “Koomah,” the founder of the group, very few spaces exist for intersex people to talk about their lives. “Most of the social and support groups that I’ve encountered are online,” says Koomah. “I’ve encountered a handful of people both in and outside of [Houston’s] Transgender Center that are intersex-bodied but didn’t know anyone else who was. When I mentioned I was and spoke with them more in depth about my experience it seemed to be a great relief that their experience isn’t the only one.”

Koomah realised that their was a need for a group that would allow the intersex community to talk about their experiences. This realization led to the founding of the Transgender Centers Intersex group, which will have its first meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 pm at the Center (604 Pacific). The group is designed as an informal get-to-gether for those with intersex bodies and their spouses.

Koomah explains that while the transgender and intersex communities share many experiences the terms are not interchangeable. “While some intersex people do identify as transgender and some may choose to transition, sometimes the experience of being intersex is different,” says Kumayama. “Being intersex in childhood is radically different than the experience of other non-intersex folks, explaining your body to doctors can be scary, and making choices on things like transition or relationships are easier when you have people whom you share similar experience to talk with.”

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – Wings of Desire at MFAH, IRS to allow deductions for gender transition

Wings of Desire1. If you’re a fan of German films that are partially in French, the film oeuvre of Peter Faulk and sexy trapeze artists with existential angst then “Wings of Desire” is your kind of flick.  The 1987 Wim Wenders masterpiece tells the story of an Angel (Bruno Ganz) who, after watching humanity since the dawn of time, desires to become human so he can be with the woman he loves. “Wings of Desire” screens tonight at 7 pm at the Museum of Fine Art Houston (1001 Bissonnet).

2. Transgender Americans who undergo hormone therapy or receive gender realignment surgery may now be able to deduct the costs of those treatments on their taxes. According to GLAD, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the IRS has issued an “action on decision” statement saying that the agency will acquiesce to an appeals court ruling allowing the deductions. GLAD cautions that medical deductions can still be audited and encourages anyone planning to deduct cost of transition medical expenses to rigorously document the medical necessity of treatments and consult with a tax professional when preparing return

3. Election day is tomorrow. If you’re one of the 58,345 people in Harris County who voted early, then good for you.  If not, you’ll want to visit HarrisVotes.org and find out where to go to cast your ballot.  Polls open at 7 am on Tuesday and close at 7 pm sharp.

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – People Empowering People happy hour, Chaz Bono takes on the National Enquirer

1. People Empowering People is a collaboration between The Men’s Group, a social group for African-American gay, bisexual, and same gender loving men, and TMG One Voice, The Men’s Group’s co-ed counterpart.  PEP’s monthly happy hour tonight at F Bar (202 Tuam) provides a casual social setting open to all regardless of ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression and an opportunity to mix and mingle with the fabulous men and women of both organizations.  The festivities kick off at 6 pm.

2. Joe My God has a copy of the Cease and Desist letter sent by lawyers for Chaz Bono to the National Enquirer. Seems the tabloid ran a story in this week’s issue claiming that Bono’s gender transition has shortened his life expectancy to 4 years.  The Enquirer article quotes the opinion of Dr. Patrick Wanis, identified as a medical doctor specializing in transgender health issues.  The problem?  According to Bono’s lawyers not only is Wanis not an expert on trans health issues, he’s not a medical doctor.

3. Today is the last day to early vote in the Houston Municipal election, but if you miss this opportunity you can still cast your ballot at your precinct voting location on Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

—  admin

WATCH: FtM Diaries — 4 months on ‘T’

This episode of FtM Diaries, my little mini-series of YouTube videos documenting my transition from female to male, is the longest yet. Episode 5 deals with my recent 30-pound weight gain, emergence of new body hair, and my experience with giving myself injections. I answer questions such as whether I’m afraid of having surgery, if I’ll miss any part of my female body, and my thoughts on pansexuality. I also touch on my infuriating experience with the district court about getting my name legally changed.

At the end is a short video of me actually giving myself my injection with a humorous narration, so if you’re not comfortable watching an inch-and-a-half-long needle skewer my thigh, then just stop watching at the part where I lip-synch and make a goofy face.

You can watch the previous episodes on my personal YouTube.

—  admin

Trans fitness trainer Chris Bruce heads west

Chris Tina Bruce, a transgender fitness trainer who made a huge splash when she was profiled by Dallas Voice last year, has moved to San Diego.

Contacted as she was driving halfway across the country to her new home last week, Bruce told Instant Tea she fell in love with San Diego during a recent visit.

“I was there two days, and it was the first place since I moved to Dallas 20 years ago where I was like, I would leave Dallas for this,” she said. “Life’s always a transition.”

Bruce said she’ll miss Dallas and while people here were generally tolerant of her gender identity, in San Diego she’s found love and acceptance. She said both the transgender and fitness communities are bigger there, which bodes well for her business, Discover Health and Fitness.

“Everybody there, they love the uniqueness and the difference of me. In Dallas, there were a few people,” Bruce said. “[Dallas is] a great place, but if you’re a little different, they tolerate you — I never had any major issues — but they don’t really seem to embrace you.”

Although she only officially moved last week, Bruce has already been profiled by both Gay San Diego and the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.

—  John Wright

OWN and ‘Becoming Chaz’

When I first heard that Oprah Winfrey was starting her own network — aptly called the Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN — I was expecting something like Lifetime or even The Hallmark Channel. Who knew we’d end up with a cross between Logo and Bravo and CNN?!

OWN is the home, of course, of Lisa Ling’s “Our America” series which has had installments so far featuring transgender people (“Transgender Lives”) and ex-gays (“Pray the Gay Away”). And today, I saw for the first time a short trailer about “Becoming Chaz,” a documentary on Chastity Bono’s transition to Chaz Bono which will include interviews with Chaz’s gay icon mom, Cher. It premiers in May on OWN

Here’s the trailer. I know I’ll be watching.

—  admin