#TransDayOfVisibility 2015

visibility infographicToday (March 31st) is Trans Day of Visibility and after writing a rather long post yesterday about gender, I’d thought I would include some resources not only for trans people but for others to learn more about the trans community itself. It’s important to remember the sheer amount of diversity and intersectionality that exists within the trans community – not only is there not one clear narrative but every trans individual has a multitude of identities that make them a full and complex person. And to all my trans siblings out there (whether you’re out, visible, somewhere in between, or none of the above), just want to say that I love you I love you I love you and I’m so excited you exist. Feeling like you’re the only trans person out there can be really tough but trust me, you’re not alone.

gender101lowHere’s a list of some trans 101 resources and tips to being a better ally to the trans community:

  • GLAAD’s transgender 101, plus! GLAAD’s tips for being an ally to the trans community
  • The Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s Trans 101
  • 10 Things You Can Do For Trans Day of Visibility
  • Trans 101 Definitions and FAQ from I Am: Trans People Speak
  • More questions? google.com



My own tips to being an ally for the trans community? (These are just my own tips from personal experience, not trying to speak for the entire community here….)

  1. Educate yourself before asking really personal questions
    1. Google should be your best friend in this journey. It gets incredibly bothersome to have the same trans 101 conversation over and over again with a plethora of cis people so having a basic understanding of some 101 things (like definitions) is super nice.
    2. And for me at least, there’s a difference between demanding education and asking clarifying questions if you are confused by something you’ve read
    3. There are so many resources out there that it’s relatively easy to at least get a start on educating yourself
  2. Do not immediately gender someone based on artificial physical traits. The person may have stereotypical feminine or masculine traits but until you know for sure, shy away from immediately guessing their gender and using potentially wrong pronouns.
    1. I like saying friends or folks to a group of people if I don’t all know how they identify.
  3. Use the right pronouns and names once you know.
    1. If you make a mistake, fix it yourself and try not to do it again. Everyone makes mistakes but if you constantly misgender someone, it gets incredibly difficult to be around you.
  4. Do not out someone or force them to come out
    1. Some trans people aren’t out to every single person in their life, while some trans people are. There are a plethora of experiences in the trans community and each individual person is in a different stage of coming out, transitioning, or anything else. Talk to the individual about how comfortable or out they might be.
  5. Let trans individuals tell their own stories
    1. Our stories have been almost constantly told without us (there are exceptions, like Janet Mocks’ book Redefining Realness) so we don’t need other people in our lives telling our own stories for us. There’s a difference between talking about issues facing the trans community and speaking for/over us.
  6. If possible, donate to trans organizations or individuals that might be struggling.
    1. Here’s one list of organizations to donate to

Some educational material includes:

  • Under the Skin: The Next Fight for Transgender Insurance Equality by Parker Molloy
  • Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey by Jaime M. Grant (Ph.D), Lisa A Mottet (J.D.), and Justin Tanis (D.Min)
  • Stuff Mom Never Told You episode on transgender 101
  • Op-Ed: The Deadly Effects of Outing by Parker Molloy
  • A Note on Visibility in the Wake of 6 Trans Women’s Murders in 2015 by Janet Mock
  • A PDF of research I compiled about violence against the trans community, particularly trans women of color
  • Violence Against Trans Women from ContagiousQueer
  • Here’s What It Would Look Like if Trans People Weren’t Allowed to Use the Right Bathroom by Parker Molloy
  • The Transgender Studies Quarterly from Duke University
  • Trans Etiquette 101: No Offense But That’s Offensive by Sebastian on Autostraddle
  • 3 Signs We Have a Long Way to Go on Trans Rights by Parker Molloy
  • My Experiences as a Young Trans Woman Engaged in Survival Sex Work by Janet Mock

General List of Issues that Impact the Trans Community:

  • Aging
  • Violence
  • Homelessness 
  • Immigration
  • Racial and Economic Justice
  • Police, Jails, and Prisons 
  • Voting Rights
  • Youth and Students

A list for trans individuals:

  • WeHappyTrans
  • I Am: Trans People Speak
  • A list of some resources and tips available for trans women 
  • Basic Rights Oregon Trans Justice Resources 
  • An incomplete list of housing resources and initiative for queer/LGBTQ+ people of color
  • The Planned Parenthoods in the US that provide Hormone Replacement Treatment
  • Trans Bodies, Trans Selves
  • The Sylvia Rivera Law Project is in New York City and has a long list of resources, including:
    • Tips for health care and interacting with police
    • How to change your name in New York
    • And many others
  • Graphics from the Trans Student Educational Resources (the graphics in this post are from there actually!!)
  • The National Center for Transgender Equality 
  • The Trans Lifeline

So this ended up being a hell of a lot longer than I originally anticipated. But! These are just some of the many resources available for and about the trans community. And simply raising awareness isn’t enough to fix all the issues and struggles faces by trans individuals – Elisa Resce wrote very recently that in Australia, awareness isn’t enough and that we need policy reform to really help. And it’s important to remember that there are really positive stories out there other than the negative aspects that are highlighted here and in the media. WeHappyTrans, I Am: Trans People Speak, and the Twitter hashtag #RealLifeTransAdult all highlight some amazing and wonderful stories of trans individuals.

And before I sign off and officially post this, I do want to say to all the trans individuals who are struggling in some way that you are worthy of life, you are worthy of love, you are simply worthy. We may not know each other but I can tell you right now that you are not alone in this struggle.

My Struggle with Gender

No media Monday this week, in part because I really wanted to write about gender today. Also because I just wanted a break from media Monday posts.

Looking back and reflecting on my life, I’ve realized that gender is something I’ve always struggled with in some way or another. I was very much a tomboy growing up – I always wore pants or shorts, kept my hair in a ponytail or short, I tended to avoid feminine things as much as possible. I never felt like I was really “born in the wrong body” (like the tragic misconception forced onto every single trans person’s narrative. Not to say that it doesn’t happen but just that it does seemed forced onto the entirety of the trans community).

More than anything, I felt annoyed by the constant pressure to be more feminine, which only made me hate all things feminine. I despised the color pink, I avoided make up and styling my hair, I’ve only ever owned like 6 dresses since I was 13 (three of which were for homecoming or prom in high school so….). Growing up, I avoided feminine things because I felt like all of those things and femininity in general was something that was forced onto me from every possible angle.

There was some points in my life where I did embrace some aspects of femininity, more out of a desire to fit in and “feel normal” than anything else. And I was praised for the times I wore dresses or did my hair. But there was still a large part of me that felt like constantly conforming to being a rather feminine woman wasn’t who I really am.

Over the past couple of years (especially after coming out as queer and being more involved in the LGBTQ+ community in Portland), I realized that there were aspects of societal/stereotypical femininity that I really did like. I love painting my nails, occasionally wearing some makeup, and I love knitting (although I’m not particularly great at it). But I still really love dressing and presenting in a (mostly) masculine way and usually walk that line between femininity and masculinity.

So when I started exploring gender and found a plethora of resources on the trans community, I realized I wasn’t alone in feeling excluded from the traditional gender binary. I soon discovered that there were others who also struggled with their gender and while our stories are not all the same, it was reassuring that I wasn’t alone in my exploration.

The day I started learning about trans masculine, transgender, and genderqueer was such a relief because I finally found the words and identities that better fit into my life so far. I’m still learning a lot about myself, particularly now that I’m out of school and in therapy but I do know that the more I learn and the more I explore gender, the more comfortable I seem to be in my body. And I’m slowly identifying more with transgender as my identity.

There’s a part of me that wants to start binding my chest and appear more masculine (with a feminine flare) and I probably will sometime in the future. However, I do spend a lot of time worrying about how others will perceive me, how my parents and family might react if I were more open about my gender. I spend a lot of time being worried about losing my family, about violence, about losing my life or the desire to just be alive. There have been so many horror stories about the violence and abuse faced by trans individuals (particularly for trans people of color and even more so for trans women of color/black trans women).

So the more comfortable I am in my body and in expressing myself, the more I worry about other things like other people’s perceptions. I realize that no matter how much I love myself, I’ll always have a part of me worried about how others perceive me. It’s been a really long journey for me to understand and experiment with my gender and it’s still an on going adventure. I’m still learning who I am and how I want to express myself.

Anyway, this was a much longer rant about my struggle with gender than I originally anticipated so thanks if you took the time to read it!

Feminist Friday: Mental Health Stigma

I’ve written and tweeted about currently dealing and struggling with depression and anxiety because it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I was even willing to put those terms to what I was experiencing. It took even longer for me to realize how many of the feelings I experience come back to those things and to finally start addressing my struggling mental health.

Looking back (and with the help of medication and therapy), I’m now able to see how much of the deliberating experiences I had came from my depression and anxiety. Leaving my house was so hard, I slept a lot and barely showered, and everything was irritating beyond belief. The little things that make others go curse for a moment and move on would consume my entire day in irritability and annoyance. I slowly started to become someone that I eventually no longer recognized – the face I saw in the mirror wasn’t me but a shallow ghost of the part of me I long lost.

Despite realizing that I was struggling with my mental health, there was so much pushing back on me getting help – financial woes and finishing college were big but most importantly, my depression and anxiety kept me from fixing the problems I acknowledged and the stigma that exists around getting help for mental health issues kept me from really addressing anything. I didn’t realize that the consuming irritability and stress that I felt from small issues stemmed from my depression or that my anxiety led to the obsessive thoughts that ruled my head. And all of this happened over a long period of time – it took several years for things to become really awful and during that time, pieces of me were slowly chipped away.

I also worried that going to therapy and getting on medication would radically change who I am but so far, I’ve found that the complete opposite was true. My depression and anxiety radically changed me, again to the point where I barely recognized the person staring back at me in the mirror. And I am very, very privileged that not only do I have health insurance but that my parents are emotionally (mostly) and financially supportive of me getting myself back together.

And I started to realize that self care became more than watching movies and doing crafts. It became taking a shower because it’s been a few days since I last had. It became doing laundry, cleaning, and cooking myself real food. Self care has become slowly doing all of the things I avoided while depressed or anxious, especially the ones involving interacting with people.


Within the US, we are particularly great at upholding stigmas and negative stereotypes about mental illness (and not just for depression and anxiety). And even those trying to seek help for the struggles they face with exceptionally real problems can run into problems from the very people they seek help from. There are trends of forcing students out of universities on medical leaves for some time, usually with the disguise of a choice. CarmenLeah Ascencio wrote on Black Girl Dangerous about going to therapy as a queer/trans person of color without having to go through experiences of being harmed, erased, or baffled by professionals.

There are so many problematic beliefs around mental illness that continue to do significantly more harm than good for those struggling with one issue or another. A big part of why I never got help before my 23rd birthday is because of the stigma that exists – I felt guilty, shameful, and like I was broken beyond belief. I never had the resources growing up to realize that all that extra angst, frustration, anger, and sadness was significantly worse than what I should have been feeling. Ray Filar wrote about the stigma of mental health over at openDemocracy in an article about why we’re all sick under neoliberalism and articulates it significantly better than I could ever do:

The silence and social stigma around mental health is deliberate, the product of an institutional refusal to talk about the affective impact of socio-political conditions. Some people get depressed, or psychotic, we think, because of chemical imbalances or individual traumatic experiences. They’re just lazy or making it up. We don’t talk about austerity, poverty, demonisation of the unemployed – the politically-driven stigmatising of the least privileged groups of people – but is it any wonder we’re unhappy?

USAToday did a series called The Cost of Not Caring, in which the topics of a failing health care system, waiting years and years before going in for treatment, discriminatory practices, and immense amounts of shame around mental illnesses are all addressed. I really recommend reading through the series if possible – there are quotes and videos of people struggling with different mental illnesses talking about different issues around the stigma and struggles of mental illness. In that series, Liz Szabo (the author of the series) also wrote that:

Nearly 40% of adults with serious mental illness received no treatment in the previous year, according to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Among adults with any mental illness, 60% were untreated. Though some people with mental illness don’t realize they’re sick, others simply can’t find help.

And all of this is only the very tip of the iceberg as far as mental illness stigma. My limited experiences of struggling both with depression/anxiety and the stigma around them are just some of the numerous experiences that exist. There is significantly more out there about not only mental illnesses of all variations (not just depression and anxiety) but the many stigmas and discrimination that also exist. It seems easy to just pawn off mental illnesses as “fake” or things that are incredibly easy to overcome. The whole argument that they’re “just in your head” and to stop being sad (etc) downplays the often significant role that these illnesses play for the people struggling with them.

Having an Escape: Reading and Writing

I’ve written and tweeted (or at least I think I’ve implied) how difficult transitioning home after several years away at college has been not only on my mental health but on my relationship with my parents. The good news is that I’ve started going to therapy (and now go twice a month instead of every week!!), got on anti depressants (which have helped in an incredible way), and have started to climb out of the hole my depression dug. In all of this, I’ve also started doing a lot of the things I use to love doing – I go for walks every day (sometimes with a dog, which is nice), I’m reading more books, and I’m writing a hell of a lot more.

th (5)

Reading and writing were always two hobbies that I really got into when I was growing up. Looking back on my life, I’ve realized that I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for really as long and I can remember. Add those with being an introvert and going outside (or even out of my room sometimes)  and interacting with others became really difficult. So reading and writing became an escape for me. It was through reading that I got to discover new worlds and characters, whether real or fictional, and often learned powerful life lessons. And I often explored by own imagination through writing my own stories (although I don’t think I have any of them left nor did I really share them). Plus, I have a pile of journals in which I shared my angst, anxiety, and depression from puberty on.


It was through writing in journals and random pieces of different stories that I really explored myself and imagination and it was through reading that I got to experience the world from a different perspective. Both gave me the chance to feel better about what I was feeling, which was a hell of a lot more angst, anger, sadness, and loneliness than what seems like the typical teenager goes through. I wrote to make sense of the world and to feel less broken within it. I wrote to remember and to evolve from my mistakes. That’s still very much the case now. I write on this blog as a way to understand the world we are all living in, to see the pieces of the puzzle I’m still turning out to be. I’m writing a fictional story not to publish but so I have a space to use my own imagination. I’m not particularly artistic when it comes to drawing or painting or playing an instrument or acting. My written words are the most artistic I can be.

Reading and writing have provided an escape for me to be able to understand not only the world and space I occupy but to have a safe place to be alone in my thoughts. It’s through the many books I’ve read that I’ve come to at least start understanding different perspectives and practice empathy. It’s through writing that I’ve found my own voice and have worked on finding my beliefs. I have a hell of a long journey ahead of me but I know that books and writing will always be there as an escape.

(yet another belated) Media Monday: What We Do in the Shadows

*trigger warning of blood, body gore in the movie and the videos I’ve posted*

Last week, I had the lovely pleasure of seeing the mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows. The movie comes out of New Zealand, from one of the Flight of the Conchords duo Jemaine Clement, and follows around a few vampires that all live together in the modern world. The movie does center on vampires and a few other members of the undead nature so there is some horror/blood/body gore throughout the movie, just as a warning.

Where do I even begin with the things I love about this movie. The mockumentary style has been done so much over the past few years and can easily be done wrong but not here – the style works so well with the story and writing and is very well paced. The movie also brings this dry sense of humor to the extremely overdone vampire trope, allowing the movie to be funny rather than annoying. And there’s enough of a modern humorous twist to the characters and story that allows for this movie to be a refreshing parody than repetitive.

The characters are each hilarious and wonderful in their own ways, with the supporting cast of characters just as wonderful as the main trio. There is the massive downside that most of the cast are white men (with very very few exceptions of a few ladies and far fewer people of color in any regard). As a sidenote, I’ll eventually write about representation and how a lack of diversity within media is incredibly annoying but that’ getting slightly off topic for today. And the mockumentary style allows for some history and context of the vampires, giving each a little more humanity (if possible). Plus, the rivalry between the vampires and werewolves is yet another hilarious aspect of the movie.

Overall, I really liked this movie – it’s definitely a refreshing parody of the vampire genre and great use of the mockumentary style. I definitely recommend seeing it if you have the chance!

Feminist Friday: Classism, Feminism, Racism, and Food

I’ve written a lot recently on farming, the environment, and food; this is partially because living in Bellingham can do that to people but also because I’m starting to realize how passionate I am about these topics. But this week is all about how classism, feminism, and racism all interconnect with food in the United States. Of course, this will only be the tip of the iceberg that is this topic because like many of the other things I write about, there’s so much that goes on.

Paige Lucas-Stannard wrote about how difficult it can be to raise a family on food stamps, including the fact that not everyone has all the tools to be able to cook healthy meals:

A couple other things to keep in mind with regards to Food Stamps: it is easy for me to cook from scratch and that is a very privileged position.  I have time, a plethora of tools that I had before going on Food Stamps, and the knowledge from a mother and grandmother that cooked from scratch.

This is not something that all Food Stamp recipients have at their disposal.

Lucas-Stannard goes on to debunk so many of the myths that surround those who use food stamps and the reality that many of those who use SNAP resources. There are many that are the working poor, where their income can’t quite cover everything. Or others who need the help because of disabilities or age. Whatever the reason, using SNAP/food stamps to help provide food on your table should never be an embarrassment. The people who SHOULD feel embarrassed are the rich capitalists who rob the poor/middle class of an actual livable wage.

And within the US, we tend to hardcore judge and dehumanize those who are living in poverty, on welfare, and/or part of the working poor. There is often this extremely classist judgment from upper middle class and rich individuals who fake concern to try and tell others how to live (including but not limited to how to eat healthy). We dehumanize the poor through assumptions, societal myths (including what welfare is and does), and false stereotypes but the solutions being carried out aren’t helping.

FT_13.07.12_FoodStamps_310pxThe Pew Reasearch Center did a study on the politics and demographics of those who have used SNAP benefits before and found that politics, race, and gender do play a big part in the demographic that has. This, of course, is the proportion of each race that has used SNAP benefits at one point or another, which is different from the total number. Numbers wise, white people make up the most of SNAP recipients but people of color are still disproportionately represented.

Age and disability also come into play with those who have used SNAP at any point, with households that have children, disabled non elderly individuals, and elderly individuals making up a big percentage of SNAP recipients.



I had the chance to work in a food pantry that served mostly low income individuals in one neighborhood of Portland and learned more hands on about the demographics of those impacted by poverty. As a society, I think we (especially the upper middle and richer classes) are very good at maintaining that shame that goes with using federal benefits like SNAP. We tend to believe in the American Dream so much and in that tale of pulling up yourself by the bootstraps when some people aren’t even given boots in life. We need to stop shaming people for trying to provide for themselves and their families, which is so often the case for SNAP recipients, and to stop the continuing cycle of poverty that keeps the poor continuously poor.

All of this is of course only the tip of an iceberg for numerous problems – there is so much more that goes into issues of classism, racism, accessibility to food, and the intersection between them all.

Lowdown in the Hometown: Best Day Trips

IMG_4843One of the nice things about Bellingham is the proximity to several beautiful locations with numerous things to do. There are so many trails to hike, places to see, great food to eat. So for this lowdown in the hometown, I’ll be writing about my favorite day trips from Bellingham.


San Juan Islands

IMG_4858The San Juan Islands are comprised of multiple different islands that are each unique and wonderful to visit. I recently just did a day trip out to Lopez Island and spent several hours just adventuring around the island. There were trails to hike, beaches to explore, and while the village was mostly closed during the winter, it was still fun to walk around and window shop. Shark Reef Sanctuary was definitely my favorite part of the island and has about a mile round trip hike through the forest and gorgeous view of the sound. A few of the other islands include San Juan, Orcas, and Freeman.


th (1)My parents met, got married, and lived in Seattle for many years before moving up to Bellingham just after I was born so I grew up taking day trips down to the city. There are plenty of things I love about the city and many things I can so very easily live without (traffic being the key for that). But definitely my favorite touristy place in Seattle is of course the Pike Place Market. This market is a must see while visiting the city and there’s so much to see. It’s a permanent market, home to artist booths, fresh food, fish and seafood sellers, restaurants, and other stores. There’s a floor below the main market that’s home to a great comic shop, a magic store, and a few other places that are always there in the market. Just outside the market, there’s the Left Bank Books that I really love visiting. It’s a collectively owned radical bookstore and has this amazing window seat on the second floor that overlooks the crowds going into the market.

Mount Baker and Mount Baker Highway

Driving up Mount Baker Highway is so gorgeous, no matter the weather. Along the way to the top, there are plenty of places to stop and hike for a while. One place is Nooksack Falls, where there a couple trails to adventure through and there is an amazing view of the falls near the parking area. Driving up to either of the ski lodges is also great – the lower lodge is absolutely gorgeous but if you’re thinking of skiing or snowboarding, only go to this one if you’re comfortable doing either. Heather Meadows is the upper lodge and has access to a few easier slopes for beginners and there are a couple places to sled if you want! Unlike the eastern part of the United States, we’ve had an extremely mild and warm winter so unfortunately this year has been awful for skiing and snowboarding. But going up the Mount Baker Highway is still beautiful with or without the snow.

Edison, via Chuckanut Drive

Edison is a tiny little town about half an hour south of Bellingham (and I mean really tiny. The 2010 census counted 133 people as the population). But there are several really cool art galleries and a couple really quirky stores to window shop through. The Lucky Dumpster is an artist collective and sells a plethora of different things made by local artists (mugs, scarfs, paintings, clothing, etc). Plus, there’s a cafe called Tweets that’s basically mainstream hipster heaven – the food is not only fantastic but the entire cafe is small and has a very Pacific Northwest vibe to it. And it is possible to take I5 to Edison, driving down on Chuckanut Drive is always beautiful and scenic!