Bullying is a problem for everyone, sooner or later, at every age and stage of life.
Sometimes it's subtle and other times it's very direct.
In short, a behavior becomes bullying when a person "triangulates," which means bringing one or more other person(s) in to act against the victim.
Others may have behaviors we don't like, such as racism, but this is their problem, not yours. However, we have a right and obligation (bystander) to call out bullies because it creates an unsafe emotional space for all.
Let's take a closer look . . .
What Is And Is Not Bullying
Telling others not to sit by or talk to someone just because you don't like them.
Intimidating others into liking or disliking others.
Shaming others about their weight or body shape.
Intimidating others into following fads.
Intimidating others into not accepting others based on racism, nationalism, ethnicism or gender.
Spreading lies and rumors.
Choosing to not sit by or talk to someone you don't like.
Allowing others to make their own choices about whom to make friends with.
Choosing to not be friends with someone based on the fact they are friends with someone you don't like if they do not agree to not talk about you with their friend.
How To Handle Bullies
Do not answer back.
Do not look at them.
Turn away from them, but discreetly keep an eye on them for safety's sake.
Do not talk about them or the situation except with people that you are absolutely sure are trustworthy (people you know who won't repeat what you say to the bully or the bully's friends).
Realize they will turn on somebody else, when they no longer have access to you. You are not the first, nor the last they will bully!
Remember, everyone has been bullied at least once in their lives.
Listen to music through headphones/ear buds to help you tune them out.
Being the victim of bullying is not your fault!
Be polite and respectful calling out bullies for bullying behavior. Do not be surprised if they deny it or outright lie about it.
Be careful not to be a bully yourself.
Why Do They Bully?
Self-dislike, or worse, self-hate
Abuse survivor without getting counseling or some other kind of help for it
Bullied themselves while growing up
Attempting to raise their "worth" to their friends
Power struggle - they fear others will like you more than them
They bully when their victim does not expect it, so their victim will be slow to respond.
They will try to bully when you are in an enclosed environment, such as working behind the counter, riding the bus, co-working in a small office, etc.
They confuse being aggressive with being assertive.
Preventing bullying is the best way to address the problem.
Allowing it to progress makes our community more and more unsafe, both emotionally and physically, for everyone.
Anti-bullying education should start with parents, as part of a strongly recommended marriage/parenting and family life class for everyone.
Children often get their first taste of bullying in sibling rivalry. Sibling rivalry has to be addressed very pro-actively in a consistent, gentle but firm manner, as well as sibling rivalry.
We won't be able to rid bullying entirely out of our lives because it's driven by insecurity, that we all experience on occasion, but it can be greatly minimized, by mindful living.
Would love to hear from others who have been bullied and how you handled it.
What is Important in a Relationship
What I have noticed is that many people create their own loneliness either by not being mindful of what they are looking for in a partner or what they can offer to a partner.
Many people think that love just "happens," to them ("you'll know you're in love when it happens to you," as my dear Mother used to say, may God rest her soul).
Here's an example, based on my own life, and I recommend people to make such a list so they can be more aware of their needs:
What I Can Bring To The Table
Wide variety of interests
Not looking for a "Sugar Mama"
What My Needs Are
No heavy drinking
Must understand I am on a budget
Open to Living Apart Together (LAT)
Am allergic to pets/tobacco smoke
My partner must be clean and dress neatly
My partner must have the same degree of femininity (mid-butch) as me, or more feminine
Basically, I could be with a wide range of women, rather than a "type," but they have to have an excellent CHARACTER.
This is an example of writing it all down, instead of keeping it all in your head, so that you will have a more clear idea of what you can offer others in a relationship and what is important to you in a relationship.
The Headlines Are As Stunning As They Are Frequent
An article by Corrine Goodwin for "The GayJournal Magazine"
"Trump's transgender military ban 'worse than don't ask, don't tell,' advocates say."
U.S. rolls back protections for transgender prison inmates
Trump administration dismantles LGBT-friendly policies
Health care new front for transgender rights under Trump
In fact, the only thing that seems to happen more frequently than these headlines are the tweets emanating from the White House. The result is that almost every time I log-on to my computer or turn on my phone I prepare myself for the worst.
Surround yourself with people who will cheer you on!
It's More Than the Political Climate
It goes beyond the politics of Trump and LGBTQ issues. You can't turn on the TV or the radio without hearing about the latest Hollywood scandal or sports star who has run amok. If you pick up the local paper you read about corrupt business people and politicians. But the worst - without a doubt - is Facebook and the ongoing barrage of memes and articles.
I, of course, am a guilty party. I post news articles (I hope from legitimate news sites) and like the occasional snarky meme. But what I have learned not to do is to lull myself into thinking I am going to change anyone's mind about issues in that forum. Long ago, I discovered that no matter how many responses I might write to a post that I disagree with I am not going to suddenly gain a convert.
The result of all this bad news can be challenging. I see it during our Renaissance Transgender Support Group meetings (www.renaissancelv.org) during social events, in emails, phone conversations and, of course, on Facebook - feelings of despair, powerlessness and even depression. Some people cope by ignoring the issues. Some simply become numb to it all. Other individuals focus on the fight. But in all of these cases I see one thing in common - a lack of optimism.
Don't Dwell on Problems - Instead Find People Who Will Help You to Win!
While not inevitable, a better future is possible. Working together we can build it and shape it. But in order to do so we need to surround ourselves with good people - people who will cheer us on.
Cheerleaders are everywhere if you look for them. They tend to be future-focused, positive in their outlook, happy with themselves, they work to overcome challenges, and they find ways to enrich their lives. They are people that will inspire you to be a better person, provide you with motivation to achieve your goals, empower you to make the changes you need to succeed and cheer on your successes.
They may be family members, friends, coworkers, or even the server you see every week at your local coffee shop or neighborhood bar.
How Do You Find Cheerleaders?
One answer is to exude a sense of optimism yourself. If you show a sense of optimism and positivity people will be attracted to you. Another tactic is to get active. Seek out causes that get you energized. Try to make a positive difference each day - even if it is with just one person. For me, I get positive feelings from teaching others and volunteering.
By the way, cheerleaders don't have to have similar interests or goals as you. In fact - hanging with too manly people who have the same worldview can be suffocating. Instead, seek out diversity while looking for positive influences.
Pride Season - The Perfect Time to Start
Speaking of diversity and positivity, your local Pride Festival is a great place to find your cast of cheerleaders. You will be surrounded by people who understand and empathize with the struggles and challenges being a LGBTQ person and you will find that many of them have overcome adversity. That means that you can learn from their journeys and experience while taking in the sights and sounds of our wonderfully diverse community
So, during your next Pride even, look around. Cheerleaders are everywhere. Seek them out. Let them know how much you appreciate them. Then, get active and make a difference!
When You Transition . . . Everyone You Know Transitions, Too
Written By Corinne Goodwin in "The GAYJOURNAL Magazine"
I began my so-called "path to transition" at the age of 55. That is when I finally said the words "I am transgender and I have to live authentically" out loud. Of course, I knew that I was trans decades earlier. I was not able to put a name to it, but I knew there was something different about me even before I started kindergarten. I was a real hard charger who worked 60 - plus hours a week and reveled in the privilege that mature white men possess.
Of course, much of what people saw was an act. Finally, after all those years, the pressure had built - up to the point where it needed release or I would sink into an unrecoverable depression. Thank goodness I said those words.
As most LGBTQ people know, there is an amazing amount of angst that is associated with being in the closet. There is also an intense feeling of being free when you step out into the sunlight. That, of course, it where Newton's third law of physics kicks in. You are finally stepping out into the light but for many of the people in your life, they begin to experience their own worlds of anxiety. In effect, you are transferring many of the burdens you have been carrying to them.
THE TERROR ASSOCIATED WITH NEWTON
When a trans person comes out to a family member the first thing they worry about is rejection. In my case I was married for over 30 years and I could not imagine not having my wife by my side going forward. I also had a son who is the light of my life and I had a small but close group of friends and work associates who I depended on. "What," I asked myself, "would happen if they reject me?" Would I be alone? Would I be disowned? Would I lose my livelihood?
HERE COMES NEWTON
Like I said thought, Newton's third law does apply. I came out gradually to my friends and relatives. In person when I felt I could and in letters, emails and phone calls when appropriate. Each time I did so, virtually everyone made the right noises and had the desired reactions. But, as I have been transitioning, some of the people who matter the most to me have struggled.
My spouse, who has a large network of friends from our old neighborhood, through her church and her job stopped inviting friends over to the house because she did not want them, me or her to feel uncomfortable. To make matters worse, I was so wrapped - up in my world, I did not notice until she brought it up two years after the fact.
My son was engaged to be married. In my mind, it was important to let him and his fiance know about me and my pending transition prior to the wedding - after all, it was only fair that she know what she was getting into. Unfortunately, despite an initially positive reception, soon thereafter, the engagement was off. To be sure there were other issues involved, but there is no doubt that my transition added to their tensions. Now I ask myself, what will be the impact on his future relationships?
In my business circles, I began the coming out process as well. I have largely done so by having individual conversations but coming in this slow - roll fashion has its costs. One of them is that I asked my associates to hold my "secret" while I worked thought my lists. That is definitely unfair. Plus, clients and business contacts have not known which name, e-mail or phone number to use. Even more critically, it forces them to pause and think carefully about how they address me in meetings or group e-mails. This is confusing, a real time waster and an unfair burden.
My friends have had to pay a price, too. I am excited about finally getting to live my life in a more genuine fashion. That excitement can lead to fixation where all I want to talk about is transition and everything related to it. Luckily, a friend recently said to me, "You know, it does not have to be 'all trans, all the time.' How about we change the topic?" After a bit of shock and self - examination, I came to realize that I may not have been paying their friendship back very well.
THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY COIN
Partners and spouses definitely have the hardest road. While a transitioning person's path is not an easy one, for them there are clear mileposts along the way to achieving an ultimate goal. That is not necessarily the case for a partner.
Think about it . . . beyond navigating the issues of potentially coming to terms with a new version of the sexuality and the possibility of being ostracized by friends and relatives, there are dozens of new rules (mostly unspoken) that have to be renegotiated. These range from who buys the flowers on Valentine's Day to how you introduce your partner at a cocktail party or casual meeting to how you sign greeting cards during the Holidays.
In other words, prior to the transition there was a relatively easy to understand script to follow. Now the script has been torn - up and there are few resources available to help a spouse or partner to find a new one. It is no wonder surveys show that fewer than 50% of all relationships survive a transition.
IS TRANSITION SELFISH?
The quick answer is "yes" and most trans people I know have struggled with the guilt associated with that selfish act. But, in the long - run you can not take care of the people who matter to you most if you do not take care of yourself first. In my case, I had to come to the realization that while transition is something I am doing for me, it is not exclusively about me. This is a reality that most transitioning people come to terms with sooner or later.
Our family members may grieve just as we feel we are being born and our friends and coworkers will have to make significant adjustments in their thinking and relationships with us. But, in the end, if everyone truly cares about each other and are willing to negotiate and make the adjustments necessary, transition can be successful for all parties.
Recently I commented on someone's post about being bullied, and, literally, I was bullied in the public library by two teenage girls only 15 minutes later!
That evening, I called a T/LGB Warmline to discuss this idea further.
First of all, I believe, due to the current Administration, that T/LGBs will encounter an increase in bullying, no matter where they live.
The first thing is that you deserve to be welcome, not just tolerated. Be sure your overall situation improves with each move. Thus the first question: do you feel welcome, not just tolerated, where you live?
As in dating potential partners, you should look for red flags, when you explore places to live. These can not be explored only on the Internet (although that is a good place to start!) or on a casual, brief vacation. You are not visiting on a vacation; you are exploring to see if this is a place where you want to spend the next several years of your life! Please visit for a minimum of a week. Ride public transportation, if you don't drive, visit the local T/LGB Center (ask questions!), look at housing that you can afford (in my case, public housing), etc.
Do consider carefully what size town you would be most comfortable in.
In a small town, often, "everyone knows everyone." It has been my experience in small towns that most people are partnered, and it can be uncomfortable living there if you are single. Many singles date through online dating websites rather than people who live in town.
Large cities are the opposite. There are many residents who are single, but often they are not seeking a committed relationship. However, large cities have neighborhoods, where people find community. They have many organizations to explore.
Medium sized cities seem to have the best of both worlds.
Questions To Ask The Locals
Do you like living at this apartment complex?
Is there anything I should know about personal safety? How is crime here?
What are the average rents here (for studio, one bedroom, two bedroom, etc.) for apartments?
How expensive are houses here? Are housing/rent prices going up (you may need a longer lease or buy a house sooner than later).
Is there public housing here? Is it owned by the city/county/federal government or privately managed/owned? Usually city/county/federal government owned public housing includes electricity/gas and private does not, and is better maintained.
Do you have easy access to banks, supermarkets, stores, and a variety to choose from? Go into stores and supermarkets and price the items there, to be sure you can afford buying in a particular town.
Do you have quality hospitals, doctors and dentists nearby that take your insurance?
Is the mail secure? If not, is the Post Office convenient and offers Post Office boxes at a reasonable price?
Observe the vibe - do you feel you will likely fit in here?
If you do not drive, is the town "walkable," and offers good, affordable public transportation?
Are a variety of support and social groups that meet regularly available?
Is there an active T/LGB Center with a wide variety of affordable activities nearby?
Are the police, fire and emergency medical technicians sensitive and supportive?
If you work, are there career opportunities in your field available that pay a good wage?
Would like very much to hear about your experiences in moving. Thank you.
Looking back, I accepted my birthdays quite happily and proudly except for the last year before the decade turned and the first year of the new decade.
For instance, I grieved turning 19, as I knew this was the last year I could call myself a teenager, and grieved a little more at 20, as I knew I was not only no longer a teenager, but never will be again.
This happened at ages 29 and 30, as I knew I was leaving "young adulthood" behind.
Again, at ages 39 and 40, I knew I was definitely middle aged.
At 50, I realized I was medically a senior.
And now, at 59 turning to 60, I definitely was a senior!
Sometimes, I am unexpectedly reminded that I am getting older, such as the time I visited a beautiful library in downtown Brooklyn, that was filled with young people. Finally I found a seat, among a large group of teenagers, and I settled down to my work. Noticed adults pacing up and down between the tables. Finally I got up and asked the librarian if it was OK to sit where I was, and she answered that I was sitting among high school students taking their SAT's! The adults walking around them where proctors! Apologized, and moved my stuff. This scene reminded me so much of myself when I was their age, and how different I am now to what I was then.
Somehow, I seem to see my life by decades.
0 - 10 Child
10 - 20 Preteen and teen
20 - 30 Young adult
30 - 40 Young middle-aged
40 - 50 Older middle-aged
50 - 60 Young senior
Interestingly, the last few years I dream about being 18 - 22 years old and not using mobility aids (a cane)!
In my case, I feel like in my early 40's, except when I am reminded that I am 60 when I look in the mirror or notice I suffer more aches and pains than in the past.
Recently I had what I call, "The Linear Dream." At the time I was 58. There was a marked linear line, marked off by feet. At the other end of the linear line, was my two year old great niece, standing, facing me, at the two foot mark. In my case, I was at the sixty foot mark, having stepped forward to the fifty-eight foot mark, as I was fifty-eight years old. Know the dream was about age, but, beyond that, I do not know what it means.
Somehow, I feel more comfortable about aging, when I think in terms of "the circle of life," rather than linearly.
Here are some of the changes I have observed in myself due to aging:
Fear of being "out of date."
Fear of being alone (dying alone).
Don't have as much a sense of purpose as I used to.
Can't be as much "hands on" as I used to (accepting physical projects)
More "word finding" difficulties.
Having trouble with spelling and grammar.
Feel "underfoot" by society at large.
Less eye/hand coordination.
Difficulty learning new material.
Feel less confident in finding a partner.
Don't feel needed by my family.
Can't walk far.
Difficulty hearing with background noise.
Greater difficulty losing weight and keeping it off.
Can't see as well, requiring a magnifier as well as glasses.
Dry and thinning skin.
Dry scalp and hair falling out at the scalp, as well as thinning and finer hair (don't mention the gray!)
Dry mouth and eyes.
May I ask how you have coped with aging?
Some people feel there is a new definition of friendship: persons can be friends even if they never met face-to-face or even spoke on the telephone, such as Internet "friendships."
They argue the old definition of friendship, such as knowing each other's personal information (first and last names, home addresses and telephone numbers) and regularly entertaining each other in each other's homes), no longer holds true in today's day and age.
In my opinion, I think some people are confusing a good acquaintance (knowing each other on a first name basis, meeting regularly at a mutually convenient spot or organization and enjoying some common interests) with a friend (the "old" definition of friend described above).
Think there is confusion between "friend" and "acquaintance" because part of their definitions intersect.
In my case, I break down "friends" into "close friend," "friend," and "casual friend." When it comes to an acquaintance, it is "good acquaintance," "acquaintance," and "casual acquaintance." Usually, a friendship starts as an acquaintance.
When two people do not become friends, it could be because of a neutral reason, such as having nothing in common, a person having a problem (they may be ashamed about something about themselves they don't want the other person to know) or a person having a problem with the other person, such as the other person having a much lower income, I.Q., or social status, which is important to some people.
There have been times in my life where I had many acquaintances/friends and other times, very few. Feel this had much to do with the culture of where I live rather than with me (or as some might say, my age).
A friend recently commented to me that she had fewer friends the more successful she became in her career (it is lonely at the "top").
Would love to hear from other how their acquaintances and friends ebbed and flowed through their lives. Am grateful for your feedback.
All my life I sought a life-long relationship, and, yes, I found true love for ten years, (in my forties), only to lose it for my refusal to marry her (back then, a Holy Union), for fear of losing my Disability benefits and bankrupting her as a result.
As I approach my 60's, I realize I have become more complex, because of all the life experience I have been through, making it more difficult for me to find someone with whom I am compatible. What brought this home to me was my experience with four Lesbian dating websites, (from my mid-fifties to the present), where the women my age (59) were more complicated and had more complex demands on a potential partner.
Slowly, it gradually occurred to me, that if I didn't find an alternative way of looking at love and companionship, that very likely I would remain single and have no romantic love and companionship for the rest of my life.
Gradually, I realized serial brief relationships (with the possibility of a relationship growing into a friendship or even a long-term relationship) would be a lot more realistic.
Here are my reasons:
WHY IT'S BEST I LIVE ALONE
Am set in my ways.
Needs to use the bathroom on short notice.
Terrible odor when I use the bathroom.
Never shared my living space (not even with my lover of 10 years).
Can not share my apartment and finances due to being on Disability.
Needs to live in HUD Public Housing (if anyone wanted to live with me, they, too, would have to be "very low income," too).
Allergic to horses, dogs, cats and birds (most Lesbians not only have cats and dogs, but sleep with their pets).
Am actually happy with my apartment (and I am unlikely to find as good an apartment - especially HUD Housing - anywhere).
Only negative where I live is some residents in Beacon and many residents of my apartment complex, I don't like. Avoid them and save money to take trips every three or four months.
Love my building.
Management treats me humanely.
Maintenance treats me humanely, and does an efficient and thorough job maintaining and cleaning the building as well as making repairs in my apartment. (Most HUD Public Housing properties are poorly maintained.)
Very low crime rate where I live. (The lowest crime rate I have every seen at a HUD Public Housing property I have ever seen.)
Here are what I think are the advantages of short-term relationships:
The Advantages of Short-Term Relationships
Due to very low income (some would call this a "budget income," I can not relocate quickly to continue dating a woman (in order to avoid a "U-Haul" situation where I would move in with her, and hope for the best!)
Most women do not qualify (very low income) and are uncomfortable dating a woman who lives in HUD Public Housing, especially if it is poorly maintained and is in a dangerous neighborhood.
Able to enjoy the relationship before the drama and games begin.
Can't find a woman locally to me because of homophobia where I live. (Most women are already coupled before they move here.)
Both parties should be single out of respect for other relationships and for themselves.
Sex is not the primary reason for such a relationship, but companionship.
Of course, there are many other reasons people may choose short-term relationships rather than long-term or lifelong relationships.
Would like to hear from others if they resonate with this in their own lives (especially if they are 60 +) and how realistic they think this is.
Am I selling myself short? Or am I having realistic expectations for a 59 year old, average-looking woman, who is kind, compassionate, supportive and has many interests?
Thank you in advance for your comments!
In my opinion, there are three kinds of people when it comes to celebrating the holidays.
The first group of people had wonderful memories of the holidays. Even if they came from dysfunctional families, sometimes all the dysfunction stops during the holiday, and, however so briefly, everything is "normal," or even idealistic during the holiday, before returning to the dysfunction of everyday life. Often, as adults, they strive to recreate these idealistic holidays they enjoyed as children, which is often unrealistic and leads to frustration.
The second group of people had nightmarish holidays as children, usually caused by dysfunctional and addictive behavior by the adults in the family, which the now-grown children strive to "put right" for their children, only they often have no vision of what a healthy family celebration should look like. If they are lucky, they may have functional/healthy neighbors and friends to show them what a healthy holiday celebration/tradition looks like.
The third group, by far the smallest, were lucky to have a functional (although not perfect - no one's perfect!) family life and holiday celebration. Often they are able to replicate it as adults, but not always.
Here are some alternatives to celebrating the holidays:
Volunteer during the holidays, ie, helping out at a soup kitchen or at an apartment complex for seniors, nursing home or Adult Congregate Living Facility. Also consider helping out at a hospital, preferably a children's hospital.
Contact a LGB/T - friendly travel agency, and ask about cruises and vacations during the holidays. If you are single, ask about Christmas vacations that are geared for singles. Often, holiday excursions are deeply discounted.
Go out to a restaurant (especially one with beautiful holiday decorations) with a friend or relative that has no one to celebrate the holidays with.
Instead of gifts, make donations in honor of friends and family to charity. This is most important when it comes to well - to - do people, who are often very difficult to shop for.
Shop year 'round for the holidays, if you can, instead of the last minute.
Celebrate the holidays year 'round, such as treating friends and relatives to lunch or giving surprise gifts, and then on the holiday itself, call them or send them a holiday greeting card.
Cut back on sending greeting cards.
If you are artistic, make greeting cards. There are often free or low cost classes on how to do this, as well as ideas on the Internet.
Explore a hobby during the holidays, such as creating artwork, writing or making music.
Look at http://www.meetup.com to find holiday alternatives in your locality.
Some churches and organizations put on holiday parties on the date or near the date of the holiday.
Contact your nearest LGB/T Center for any holidays they may be celebrating or parties they may be giving. Many have these occasions on the actual date of the holiday.
Seek out others who may be alone for the holidays, and celebrate with them.
You are not alone. Remember almost all people experience stress during the holidays and for a variety of reasons.
You can, reduce holiday stress by taking the time to finding your way of celebrating the holidays, instead of following how your family celebrates the holidays or copying how others celebrate the holidays.
Today people are confusing becoming "friends" with people they "meet" on the Internet with the friends they meet in real life.
Ideally, people would physically meet and become friends with people, then use the Internet to maintain contact between meetings, or to grow these friendships if they're long distance friendships.
Rarely I have experienced friendships I met on the Internet to progress to face-to-face friendships, or that they have lasted, usually "petering out." However, the friends I have met on TGGuide have been lasting, quality, emotionally safe and supportive friendships, which is the exception.
Sometimes people make lifelong friends at school and work, but it is getting more difficult as it becomes standard to have many employers over a lifetime.
People often confuse acquaintances with friends.
This is how I break it down:
Light/Casual Acquaintance - You recognize someone as a familiar face.
Moderate Acquaintance - You are comfortable exchanging first names.
Good Acquaintance - You share a cup of coffee.
Light/Casual Friend - You go out as part of a group.
Moderate Friend - You exchange full names and cell phone numbers.
Good Friend - You share sensitive information, such as your home address, landline phone number, and issues that are occurring in the home, etc.
Be aware, so-called "popular" people, especially in a high school or college setting, really do not have that many friends, but many acquaintances, that they call "friends."
In my opinion, people of my generation, the "Baby Boomers," seek friendship mostly within romantic relationships.
First, people in a coupled relationship are able to become more easily friendly with others who are also in a coupled relationship.
For instance, during my ten year relationship with my Beloved, (she was a transwoman who identified as a mid-fem Lesbian, and I am a cisgender mid-butch Lesbian), we became good friends the first two years we knew each other through a transgender support group (I was exploring the possibility that I may have been a FTM, but I concluded I was not - that's another story!) and gradually fell in love. As we started dating, we became friends with three other couples, where the transwoman identified as a Lesbian and the butch was a cisgender Lesbian, all of which I am sure the butch would not have been friendly to me had I or both of us were single. About the fems, I am not sure, to be honest with you, but my partner and I only had good acquaintances at work and in professional societies.
Friendship is very important at every stage of life (I will be 59 years old on January, 2017). It is important to get out there. You won't make friends in front of your T.V. or computer screen. You need to join organizations that you truly find interesting that meet regularly. No one is going to want to be your friend if you only meet them once or twice, or once in a long while.
Here are some resources and ideas:
Gender support groups
LGBT - friendly churches
Please share with me your comments and suggestions!
The following is an article that a friend sent me, with which I really resonate with.
"Wondering what relationship stage you're in right now? Here are the nine relationship stages that all couples go through, not how love starts."
"Relationships are unique. No one experiences love in the same way."
"You may have been in several relationships in your life, and every relationship is unique. But there are a few traits that are in common with every relationship."
"Relationships, just like life, have their own stages. It starts off with infatuation/limerence and goes through several stages. These stages are like tests that check your compatibility with each other. Go wrong anywhere along the way, and your relationship will take the brunt of the fall."
"Have you ever met a couple who seemed like they were going to stay together forever, but ended up breaking up a few years later? Perhaps, in all probability, they went wrong in one of these stages of the relationship."
"Are you in a new relationship? Or are you in a seasoned relationship with someone you've been with for several years? It doesn't matter how long your relationship lasted because all relationships will fit in one of these relationship stages."
"Find your own relationship stage here, and it'll definitely help you understand your own love life better."
"Stage #1 THE INFATUATION STAGE. This is the first stage in every relationship. It almost always starts with an intense attraction and an uncontrollable urge to be with each other. Both of you may be intensely sexually attracted to each other, or both of you may just love the cuddles and each other's company. In this stage, both of you overlook any flaws of each other and only focus on the good sides."
"Stage #2 THE UNDERSTANDING STAGE. In this stage, both of you start getting to know each other better. You have long conversations with your partner that stretches late into the night, and everything about your partner interests and fascinates you. You talk about each other's families, ex's, likes and dislikes and other innocents secrets, and life seems so beautiful and romantic."
"Stage #3 THE STAGE OF DISTURBANCES. This stage usually forces its way into a happy romance after a few months of blissful courting. Do you remember the first fight or angry disagreement you and your partner had? For the first time ever in the relationship, both of you confront each other over a conflict, even thought it's sorted out quickly."
"Stage #4 THE OPINION MAKER. In this stage, both of you create opinions about each other. As the months pass by, both of you know what to expect from each other, and you make an assumption about your partner's commitment towards the relationship."
"When these opinions and expectations about your partner differ now and then in real life, it can either leave you ecstatic OR depressed."
"You don't expect your mate to buy you flowers, but they do. You feel ecstatic. At the same time, you expect them to pick you up from the airport on time. But they arrive an hour later because they forgot all about picking you up. It depresses you."
"Stage #5 THE MOLDING STAGE. You have your own expectations from an ideal partner. And in this stage, both of you try hard to mold each other to fit your own wants in a perfect partner. This stage is a lot about give and take, and both partners constantly try to subtly convince each other to change their behavior towards the relationship. This can be a power struggle, and one that can end the relationship if both partners are domineering."
"Stage #6 THE HAPPY STAGE. If the relationship survives past the MOLDING STAGE, both of you may have changed equally for each other and understood each other's expectations. In this stage, the relationship cruises along perfectly and both of you may be blissfully happy with each other."
"Almost always, this is the stage when both of you feel like an ideal match. You may even decide to get engaged or get married. This happy stage is also the stage of attachment when both of you truly feel connected to each other and love each other intensely."
"Stage #7 THE STAGE OF DOUBTS. It has been several years since both of you have been in a relationship with each other. And somewhere along the way, doubts start to creep in. The intensity of the doubts depend on how happy both of you are in the relationship."
"You start to think of your past relationships, your ex's, and other prospective partners. You tie your happiness in life with your relationship. If you're unhappy, you blame it on the relationship."
"In this stage, you start comparing your relationship with other couples and other relationships. Would your relationship survive this stage? It definitely could, as long as your relationship isn't monotonous and repetitive."
"Stage #8 THE SEXUAL EXPLORATION OR BUST STAGE. This is the stage when your sex life starts to play a pivotal role. Both your sex drives may change or one of you may get disinterested in sex."
"In this stage, you either give up on passionate sex or constantly look for ways to make sex more exciting. If sexual interests start differing here, one of you may end up having an affair. But on the other hand, if you find creative ways to make sex more exciting, your relationship could get better and bring both of you a lot closer."
"Stage #9 THE STAGE OF COMPLETE TRUST. This is the happy stage when both of you love each other and trust each other completely. But at the same time, the unbreakable trust in each other could also turn into taking each other for granted."
"In this stage, both of you know the direction of the relationship and both of you are completely happy with each other and find it easy to predict each other's behavior and decisions. But with stability in love comes the urge to take each other for granted."
"As pleasant as this final stage of love may be, it's still no excuse to take each other lightly or stop appreciating each other, because love is an intense emotion that can be rekindled by anyone else at any time if you fail to express your romance to your lover."
"If you're in a relationship for a while, you may have experienced all OR most of these relationship stages. And if you're still in a young love, don't let the dark side of these relationship stages scare you."
"Instead, look at these nine relationship stages as stepping stones into a better future, one that's filled with a lot of love and happiness, just as long as both of you remember to keep love alive all the time."
--- Denise S.
And, now, I would love to hear from you, my fellow TGGuide members, whether or not you resonate with this article, or which parts you do and which parts you do not resonate with.
First saw a 12 year old girl
Working on her large garden by herself
Six to eight hours a day
Moving heavy rocks to build up her garden
Mother shouts to her father to come, please help her
He works beside her for a few hours
That summer was a drought
Her garden burns in the heat
Next year, at age 13
She builds up her garden further
Having bags of topsoil and gravel delivered
Enlarging her already large garden
Separating her vegetables by a wall of stone
Proudly sharing her vegetables with her family
Father does not help her
This year at age 14
My, how she has grown!
She looks like her mother
Still working alone
She builds a chicken wire fence around her garden, complete with a door
To defend against the neighborhood deer and rabbits
She builds another garden by the side of the house
To provide her mother with herbs
And another, on the other side of the house
In partial shade, for shade-loving vegetables
Another girl next door builds a large garden
Following her example
And an art student sketches their gardens
Savoring the idea of smelling and eating
Healing her broken heart
Would like to comment on two articles in the May/June 2016 issue of Lesbian Connection Magazine, on the topic of addictions. Please note ALL the articles on addictions were EXCELLENT, but these two, in particular, resonated with me.
"Last Fall I ended my 22-year relationship. We had been in a civil union for the past 15 years, though things had not been very 'civil' for quite some time."
"The very short version of the story begins with her back injury several years ago. The resulting chronic pain, and her increasing use of various medications (both legal and not so legal) to treat that pain, has slowly turned her into someone none of our friends, family, neighbors or co-workers can recognize. She looks the same - maybe a little thinner - but her behavior is out of control. Lies upon lies on top of other lies. Then there's the fraud and check forgeries amounting to tens of thousands of dollars stolen from me, my business, our families, friends and neighbors. We all agree that none of us are equipped to give her the help she needs."
"Various treatments - including massage, acupuncture, spinal nerve injections, TENS units, and yoga - have been little or no help. Ultimatums have had no effect, and our last resort has been to press charges on the theft, forgery and fraud. That way the court holding a possible felony conviction over her head may force her to get into rehab. The courts in our county are very big on treatment for drug use instead of jail. However, they are also very strict about what happens is a person doesn't follow the conditions the court has assigned. Sounds harsh but we (mostly me) had to do this in order to prevent more damage to a lot of people."
"Partners ever again? I doubt it. Friends? Maybe . . . Of all the crap to overcome - the drugs, thefts, fraud, etc. - the toughest one for me to come to terms with is all the lies. Even being friends may be out of the question."
- Fran, Worchester, VT
Have had a recent brief relationship with a 71 year old woman, 13 years my senior (I am 58).
Although I normally took my time in getting to know someone before engaging in romantic involvement (90 days prior to agreeing to be exclusive and sexually involved, one year before moving in together), I allowed the relationship to be rushed because she said she had "terminal lung cancer," which I later found out to be not true. Should have known better as every terminal lung cancer patient I have ever known had an oxygen concentrator in their home and was on oxygen 24/7.
Was drawn to her charming personality and talent in art, photography and in playing the keyboard.
Later I noticed she was able to RUN up and down the stairwell on a regular basis. There was a reason for this. Turned out she would meet with local drug dealers in the parking lot in the middle of the night and deliver their drugs to tenants in my senior tower (the drug dealers were reluctant to enter the building because of all the security cameras and, because of their youth, they would stand out like a sore thumb).
Also learned she had UNTREATED Bipolar Disorder. She refused to treat it because she enjoyed the mania and hypomania, thinking it increased her creativity. Sadly, she could not see the downside far outweighed the upside, and she would engage in dangerous behaviors as a result, least of which was abusing prescription painkillers and street drugs to "level herself out." Not only was she addicted to prescription and street drugs and alcohol, but also to anything that stimulated her brain's endorphins and adrenaline, such as promiscuous sex.
What have I learned? So-called "alternative treatments," for Bipolar Disorder, such as dietary changes and herbs, do not work, although they may be helpful as an adjunct to medication; in the future, never negotiate on my boundaries, even if she was truthful about having terminal lung cancer, or any other reason; and to be aware of falling in love with a person's talents rather than with them (I was in love with a fantasy).
Luckily, she never stole from me, as being poor as a church mouse protected me. Thankfully, two wonderful friends saw through her and saved my sorry a** before I was too deeply involved.
Partners ever again? Definitely not, as the more I learned about her, I uncovered lie after lie. Was amazed on how many people accepted her "friendship," when she constantly badmouthed her friends, who only the day before spent time with her. Her mood swings were totally unpredictable.
Friends? Again, absolutely not, as I don't believe in building a friendship or relationship upon a fantasy, like a house of cards.
Painfully, I slowly realized I had a lot to offer and I deserve better!
In the second article, I would like to comment after you have read it, as I do not want to spoil the surprise!
No Turning Back
"From the moment I first laid eyes on you I knew we would be together. You had such an alluring way about you. I saw you from a distance interacting with others. You were so popular, the center of attention; it seemed everyone wanted you. There was something so mysterious about you, the way you made everyone feel so special. You were cool, glamorous, elegant, sophisticated and oh so sensual - but there was also something dark and forbidding. I knew in my gut I should stay away."
"I was still young and naive. Looking back, I know you really did take advantage of me. Of course, at the time, I didn't care. I was so drawn to you; you took my breath away and seduced me. The first time we were together you were so forceful, so powerful. I literally thought I was going to pass out. And from that moment on there was no turning back. You had your hooks in me."
"I was obsessed with you, thought about you constantly. I couldn't wait to be with you. We had such a perfect dance. Even though you were the temptress, I would always make the first move. I would pull you into me. I couldn't wait to pull you into me. I couldn't wait to taste you. I was overcome by your scent. I loved the smell of you. I couldn't wait to feel you inside of me. No matter how much time we spent together, I could never get enough of you. I was always anticipating our next rendezvous. When I was with you I always felt so special; sensual and rebellious."
"We began to do everything together. I brought you with me to the clubs, the beach, out to brunch and dinner, to spend time with family and friends. We were together in every room of my house. You even spent time with me at work. We were inseparable. You were truly the center of my universe. We did some crazy things together. And we did nothing in moderation. I spent so much money on you. Over time I realized that I was behaving erratically. I knew I had become irrational, but I was so dependent on you. I would chase after you all hours of the day and night. I covered for you time and time again - although you burned me and ruined my things."
"And then you turned on me, as I always knew you would. It was subtle at first. But I began to see that you controlled my every thought. I couldn't make a decision without you. You kept me from pursuing new interests. I lost out on career opportunities. I stopped participating in activities I used to love. I began neglecting myself and those around me. I felt weak and foggy. I felt dirty. I was isolated by you. You were suffocating me. I was aging before my time. How often was I disgusted by you - repulsed by you? How often have I tried to leave?"
"And now, after all these years, I have matured enough to recognize that I am using you as a crutch. I know I don't need you. I know I can live without you. And I know that the only way to cleanse myself of you - breathe again and regain my strength and my Self - is to just do it. I will miss you always. But I have come a long way, baby. And when I do finally break free of you, there will be no turning back."
"Goodbye forever, Virginia (Slims - Menthol Gold 120's)."
- Theresa D., Patchogue, NY
As you now know, the article refers to an addiction to cigarettes, yet it describes my co-dependent relationship perfectly.
The single word to describe my relationship was not love but "limerance," another name for infatuation.
She was "popular" because she was the number one drug dealer in my building, and she had a car. It is amazing how much people who don't drive will tolerate, when you have a car!
Over time, it was amazing how many things "pointed in the wrong direction," such as lying, secretiveness, infidelity, mood swings, road rage, manipulation, smoking cigarettes and marijuana, as well as drinking behind my back.
What did I learn from this? Do not let your lover separate you from your family and friends. Do not lose yourself in your relationship, as tempting as that may be. Maintain and guard your boundaries. Do not allow your lover to "rush" the relationship, again, as tempting this may be.
As my mother used to say, "a great date does not always make a great mate."
Learned about the concept, "Living Apart Together," (LAT), when I was surfing the 'net for "couples living apart happily," as I love my apartment and my town, Beacon, but miss having a woman (I am a cisgender Lesbian) to love and care about, because my community (Dutchess County, NY) is very TLGB-phobic. My additional reasons are that I am a loud snorer, and have some other habits that I am too embarrassed to talk about.
Interestingly, "Living Apart Together," (LAT) came up. Most of the information about it came from England, Australia, and Germany, with a little about it from the U.S. This is probably because the U.S. is a relatively sexually conservative country.
How it came about was in England, during their census (like ours, every ten years), they noticed starting in the year 2000, but dramatically increasing in 2010, a lot of handwritten comments on people's census forms, explaining they were somewhere between being single and living together. The British government hired three universities to better explain this new social trend.
Most of these couples were monogamous, and had various reasons for being in LATs.
Also, without knowing it, I realized that I was in a LAT! Was very much in love and went with a transwoman for ten years, until her friends started getting married (at that time, Holy Unions), and she wanted to get married, too. Was very happy to marry her, but my reasons for not marrying was I knew Straight and Gay disabled people lost their disability benefits due to marriage, fear of bankrupting my beloved (she wanted to marry me anyways), because she would then be responsible for my medical bills and medications (at that time, insurance did not cover Gay partners), she lived ten miles off the bus line (she was ok dropping me off at the nearest bus stop on the way to work), and, as a butch, I was not comfortable with a fem supporting me. Of course, TODAY, I would have had an "underground marriage," (very common even today for people on disability), and would have kept my public housing apartment, using it for storage and as a mail depot, while living with her, just visiting my apartment once a week to clean, check my phone messages and pick up the mail.
The advantages may be:
Be able to avoid getting "underfoot" with one another
Great for those who travel long distances for work
Be able to keep the relationship "fresh" and "special"
Be able to connect regularly by e-mail, telephone, texting, Skype and snail mail
Be able to be more romantic by sending packages and gifts
The disadvantages may be:
In a crisis, may not be able to get together as quickly as you may want to
Both of you must NOT have trust issues
Won't be able to share quality time together on a day to day basis
May not be the best way to raise children
Realized that my relationship was a LAT, even before they had a name for it. Also, I realized had we moved in together, our relationship would have very likely been short lived.
Today, I am open to a LAT, either as a prelude to a living together arrangement or as a permanent arrangement. Would try a living together arrangement on a trial basis, and, if there are problems caused by living habits, return to the LAT arrangement.
Here are some links about LATs:
Would like to hear from others who have been in a LAT and/or living together arrangement and what you think about each!
The two most popular "free" dating websites are OkCupid ("OkC") and Plenty of Fish ("PoF"), with feedback from people preferring PoF over OkC because PoF has a higher number of members. Remember, you are PAYING for the so-called "free" websites by giving them your private information (check their terms of usage) and they accept advertising that usually shows up on sidebars and above and below their content.
Be aware that when you "delete" your profile, often it is not removed. Be prepared to CALL customer service to ask for it to be removed, and ask them to remove it while you are on the phone with them. Many dating websites maintain so-called "dead" profiles to artificially inflate their membership numbers. "Free" dating websites usually do not have telephone customer service.
Dating websites tend to favor those who are physically attractive and have high income levels. Some who don't photograph well or who have lower incomes may do better at meetups or gender conferences.
Be aware when you upload pictures that they will FILL UP the viewer's screen, showing every little detail. If possible, have a friend take multiple pictures of you doing the things you enjoy, in a variety of clothing, making sure there is at least one good head, waist high and full body shot.
Be wary of scammers. Do NOT send money under ANY circumstances!
Do not be discouraged when you get few replies, because there are many "dead" profiles from people who thought they deleted them, but they weren't.
Focus on profiles that are featured under, "New Members This Week," "New Members Near You," "Who's On IM (Instant Messaging)," and "Who's Online." These are most likely "live" profiles of current members.
Take the time to carefully READ the profile of the member you are responding to, and to write a PERSONALIZED (not canned!) response.
If you are transgender, you need to mention this in your profile and replies.
THINGS NOT TO DISCUSS AND TO AVOID:
Do not share your income (not even checking your "income bracket").
Do not mention any kind of disability (not even checking off "disability").
Do not mention anything NEGATIVE. Avoid "Too Much Information" ("TMI"). When you meet, you will have plenty of time to share details.
Be aware users can look up your profile on OTHER dating websites based on your photographs and by quoting contents of your profile.
Be honest. You hurt others and yourself because you want to attract others who will like you for you, not for someone you are pretending to be.
Do not discuss your work. This includes pictures of you at work and in uniform.
Do not include pictures of others (especially children!), with or without permission.
Do not upload photographs of your home(s), property, cars or of yourself wearing expensive jewelry, etc.
Remember, it behooves you to learn all you can about Internet dating, because one out of five couples meet through internet dating websites.
Suggest trying PoF and OkC for six months, and, if no success, try paid websites.
Have found making friends with partnered couples, because, for some reason, they tend to know well put together singles. Let them know you are looking!
http://www.TGPersonals.com (Free, and found wonderful friends there!). For men and women.
http://www.PinkWink.com (Great deal for $39.95 a YEAR, excellent customer service, and, best of all, VERY trans-friendly!). Lesbians only.
http://www.lastinglesbianlove.com (Blog and although written for Lesbians only, great advice for anyone). VERY trans-friendly!
http://www.youhaulher.com (Again, blog and although written for Lesbians only, great advice for anyone).
Wishing the best for all those who seek love, that they may find it!
The other article on Lesbian Connection that hit me between the eyes was about relationships.
""Where are all the 'real' women?" "I just want someone to be honest and authentic!" "No one I meet knows how to listen and go deep!""
"We offer dating and relationship classes for women, and it's amazing how often we hear this kind of thing from the Lesbians we work with. We have some good news, and some bad news. First - what you find out there is pretty much always a reflection of what you're bringing. Now the good news - when you learn to show up with the beautiful, deep, vulnerable, self-responsible "realness" you seek, you can often magically elicit that same level of authenticity from others. (No, not from everyone. But from many women - more than enough!)"
"For example, years ago I went on a first date with a woman who seemed promising. She was a writer, she was smart, she was funny, and I was attracted to her. But something wasn't going quite right. She just kept talking and talking. Every time I made a comment, or tried to interject something about myself, she'd launch into another story."
"At first it was okay, because her stories were interesting. But as this went on, I started to wonder: Does she always just go on and on like this? Is she really conceited, or is she just nervous? Does she just not like me? What gives? And as more time passed I thought: If this is how it's going to be, I don't want to date her. What's wrong with her? Doesn't she notice she's hogging all the conversational space? Why doesn't she know how to listen? Does she even know I'm here?"
Then, after a while, a familiar litany started up in my head: What's wrong with me? Why do I always end up with women who don't know how to listen? Maybe I am too picky. Maybe I'm destined to be alone. While all these thoughts, fears and frustrations were going through my head, on the outside I was nodding, smiling, being polite, saying "Mmm-hmm," and still trying to get a word in edge-wise about my own life, too."
"What I was not doing was - being real."
"I wasn't taking the risk to tell my date what I was really thinking and feeling. That means I was giving up at the starting gate and not even giving her the chance to go deeper with me. And I wasn't sharing with her the authenticity that I longed for."
"How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation? And how many times have you broken through it by getting more real yourself? If your answers are "a lot," and, "none," you're not alone! Most of us simply don't know how to be that honest, especially with someone we don't know well. Yet how are we ever going to get to know someone well, if we aren't honest with them? It's quite a conundrum!"
"So let's take a look at what I might have said on that date: "You know, I'm starting to feel really confused and kind of sad because I find you attractive, but it feels like our conversation is just going one way - and I'm really not sure why, or how to change that."
""You've got a lot of great stories, but I would really like it if we could switch gears and talk about what's going on between us right now. I'm finding myself starting to have some familiar thoughts and feelings that are keeping me from really being here with you.""
""I was really looking forward to this date, but I feel like something isn't going quite right for me in our conversational flow, and I would love it if we could talk about that together and try to change it. Would you be up for that?""
"You'll notice that in each of these statements, I used "I - language" - that is, I'm trying to talk about what I am feeling, rather than make accusations or assume I know what's going on for my date. When you make I - statements, it's easier for someone to hear you - and it makes it less likely she'll argue or get defensive. And, most importantly, by talking about what I feel and want, I am being vulnerable and real. I am offering my date the chance to go deeper with me - if she's able and willing."
"As I said before, some women won't choose to take you up on that offer. But some will. And for most of us, all it really takes is one!"
"Fast-forward to when I met my partner, M. I can still remember a few key moments when I took these kinds of risks, and she followed, and we ended up connecting much more deeply, because of it. Sometimes it was by e-mail (which for some of us is easier). In fact, that's how I first told her I loved her! But other times it was in person. Once, it was when we were in bed and things just weren't working well for me. Another time, I was having some doubts about whether we should keep seeing each other because I was afraid she felt more for me than I did for her. And every time I took the risk and told her - in an honest, vulnerable and present-moment way - what was happening inside me, she met me there. And that's a huge part of why we celebrated our eighth anniversary - and why we keep growing and going deeper together every day!"
"And it's also a big part of why we started our website (http://www.consciousgirlfriend.com), in order to help Lesbians who are struggling with relationships, learn how to create deep connection. We offer coaching, retreats and classes, such as "Communicate and Be Heard," and, "Take Charge of Your Relationship Destiny.""
Found this an excellent article, and I would like to make some comments.
Feel the writer was engaging in what I call "emotional masturbation," also known as "diarrhea of the mouth." Most of the time, this is caused by runaway anxiety, and R. did an excellent job of supporting her date to get a grip on her anxiety, instead of stressing her further by trying to get a word in edgewise.
The other comment I have is that R. is a butch, and her partner is a fem, and butches have to be sensitive to how fems perceive a relationship. Fems, are, by nature, more sensitive than butches, and expect butches to gently lead the relationship. Forgive me, but it is the butch's job to pleasure the fem in bed, but I applaud this butch for having a conversation about it, instead of breaking the relationship off.
In my opinion, I find people (not just Lesbians) don't give a relationship a chance to bloom, looking for every excuse to break it off, for fear of intimacy.
How do I get past this? Building friendships, sometimes for months and even years, to build emotional safety for both. As I am getting older, I realize I have to speed it up a little bit. With the love of my life, we were friends for two years before we became romantically involved, and we slowly went about it. Not a big fan of Internet dating websites, as I use touch (in the respectful way) and touch is my major communication tool.
Highly recommend Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The Five Languages of Love," even though it was written for Straight people.
Today, I came across a moving and beautiful article by a reader of Lesbian Connection . . .
"I am 64; I was born female and I have been Lesbian identified since I was 19 (soft butch). I was active in the Gay Rights and the Women's Rights movements. It is now 2015, and many things have changed."
"I am weary of the ANTI-TRANSWOMEN words I keep reading here, and I'm having a hard time with some of the more caustic comments! I have not heard anybody say whether or not these women are actually transgender or transsexual; I am assuming transgender. If they are transgender, do they identify as Lesbian? Many do. I am also disappointed by women who insist on calling transwomen "men." I don't care what chromosomes they had at birth; I care about who they are. Are you still referring to Chaz Bono as 'she'?"
"As Lesbians, we fought so hard for acceptance, and it is just inconceivable that we could be so unaccepting of another subculture whose journey is more difficult than many of ours. When I was younger, I was involved for nearly two years with a transgender woman (her physical and legal transition was complete when I met her). Because of this I had the enlightening opportunity to meet many other trans folks of both genders, and the chance to learn about and try to understand their world. I met many wonderful and sincere people, some of whom had suffered terrible abuse as transpersons. It does not matter what gender a person is born; if they do not identify with that gender, then life is a nightmare. I applaud those who have the strength and resources to make a very difficult change. Once they make it, they have every right to be seen as that gender, be it male to female, or female to male! I also happen to think that those in between have the right to be called whatever they feel identifies them."
"I feel strongly that it is time to acknowledge that the world has changed considerably since the '70s. Lesbians have NOT been erased; we have been mainstreamed! Isn't that what most of us wanted - to be treated the same as Straight folks, with the same rights and opportunities?"
"During my thirties, I pretty much lived in a Lesbian-dominated world, and I loved it. Then things started to change. I found myself with more Straight friends and working mostly with Straight people. Although I did not like the changes at first, I now realize I live in a much larger world. While I miss some things about the old days, I believe that living in this larger world is a good thing, and for my part, I am determined that it will be open to diversity, including transgender women. And I want to give my thumbs up to the readers who had the courage to give supportive comments about transwomen!"
- Margaret P.
Margaret P. writes a beautiful article about the importance of Lesbians to deal with their fear of losing their identity as they become mainstreamed rather than lashing out at another minority culture.
Couldn't agree more!
As a cisgender Lesbian, the price for immediate interaction, as provided by the Internet, rather than meeting face to face, is a loss of community.
It is important to maintain community. In the age of the Internet (especially social media), cell/smart phones, and other technology, it is becoming more and more difficult.
In the Lesbian community, as I am seeing Lesbians approaching gaining their full civil rights, I am seeing less community.
Presently, I only see Lesbian Connection and Golden Threads, among a few others, trying to maintain community among Lesbians, and they are struggling. Sadly, I have also noticed that most Lesbian bookstores no longer exist.
My great concern is, when, as transpeople achieve greater acceptance, are they going to lose community, too?
The challenge to the TLGB community, is to maintain community as the emphasis in our society shifts from face to face to online interaction.
In my opinion, I feel we have it reversed. People should meet face to face PRIMARILY, and maintain contact (and community!) through technology. The Internet should be seen as a tool to support face to face interaction, but not to supplant it.
My Dear Friends,
When I learned about demisexuality, (here at TGGuide!), I was really excited because it described me to a 'T'!
Demisexuality, in my opinion, is not about sexual orientation, but about a person's APPROACH to sexuality, no matter what their sexual orientation is.
It is "one step up" from asexuality, in that a demisexual is not easily aroused, because it takes time for the demisexual to get to know the person before becoming aroused.
A demisexual is defined by a person who is sexually attracted by a person's character or interior, rather than their exterior, or looks.
In my opinion, a demisexual can be Straight or TLGB.
Ideally, a demisexual would be attracted to another demisexual, as they would more likely resonate with one another.
Consider myself a demisexual, as I always took my time to get to know a person before becoming involved with them. My friends would jokingly say that I was "slow as molasses," and that by the time I decided I liked a girl, that she would think I was not interested, and be long gone by the time I share with her that I was interested in getting to know her better! Have passed up many a beautiful woman (not that they would be interested in me!) because I did not resonate with her heart.
Found true love with another demisexual, a beautiful, brilliant Lesbian transwoman who was a scientist. We were friends for two years and even "hung out" together, before dating. On my side, I thought that such a beautiful woman would never be interested in a woman that looked like me, and such a brilliant woman as her would not be interested in an intelligent, but not brilliant, woman as me. She was a scientist and I was a human rights/civic activist. She read Scientific American and I read a wide variety of magazines and newspapers. She had a laser intellect and I had broad interests. Thankfully, she never humiliated me with her great intellect. She was a truly humble woman. We complimented each other very well. Recently, while Spring cleaning, I discovered her address and telephone number. Called her and found her she was still the beautiful woman (inside and out) that I always loved, but now is happily involved with someone else. Am very happy for her.
Two excellent websites about demisexuality:
Some say being a "romantic," is a sexual orientation, but I think that is a way of showing love that could apply to ALL sexual orientations and ALL approaches to sexuality.
In my opinion, I think I am a "romantic," because I love celebrating the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, and I never forget birthdays and anniversaries. Know many people of different sexual orientations who are the same way. In short, I am a hopeless romantic!
A great big "thank you," to my beloved, who showed me that I have a lot of live to give to my lady, no matter what I may want to call it!
Was deeply moved when, while surfing the 'net, I came across a blog from a young Gaymale who wanted to no longer be a Gaymale.
We ALL want to, on occasion, to "quit ourselves." NO ONE IS EXEMPT.
It is OK to "shut it down," for a limited period of time, "give it a rest," to let our minds clear, to reassess WHAT KIND OF PERSON we want to be.
Would have liked to beg him NOT to run away from himself, as that invites guilt and shame into one's life.
Even though this blog addressed a Gaymale, his story resonated with me, as I left the Lesbian community, after I broke up with my beloved (a ten year relationship) as I was confused as to where I belonged in the Lesbian community. Think many in the transgender community will resonate with Luis' story, too.
Left the Lesbian community for ten years. Even though that was a much longer time that I would recommend to others, I feel (because I hopefully matured in ten years' time) more confident in the woman that I am, and I am not as easily swayed by what others think of me.
Looking back, I would have sought out another crowd, perhaps by starting with a one to two week vacation out of town.
In the past, after every breakup, amicable or not, I automatically had six months of weekly counseling and gave dating a rest for two years. This breakup was different as I could not find a good counselor that I could afford.
Had I been able to do it over, I would have continued to search for a good counselor, and been more assertive in offering office and parking lot cleaning (as I had in the past) in trade for counseling.
To my dear Gaymale friend, please seek counseling and give dating a rest. IT DOES GET BETTER!
Your sister in friendship,
Found two very supportive letters in the May/June 2015 issue of Lesbian Connection, and I will keep the authors anonymous. Slowly but surely, transwomen who identify as Lesbians are making progress . . .
"My heart was crushed when I read in Lesbian Connection (LC): 'Currently, persons with Y chromosomes and intact male genitals want to attend, and in misogynist, anti-feminist ways they are attacking the (Michigan Womyn's) Festival . . . '
A misogynist is, by definition, 'a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.' How can a TRANSWOMAN, who has spent her life hating her male genitals and saving up money in order to have the surgery to remove them, be described as misogynist? A transwoman must do more than any female-born woman to become the woman she believes herself to be. Her identity is in her brain, not between her legs.
In the process of becoming the woman she so desperately seeks to be, she must face the rejection of friends and family, not to mention the humiliation when she is not allowed to use either washroom. She must go through the challenges of changing her name, and, more often than not, losing her job. In addition to all the emotional and surgical struggles, she must go through painful hair removal, learn to use her voice in a new way - the list goes on.
If you think being Lesbian is difficult, can you imagine, even for a moment, what it is like to be trans? Instead of excluding, may we please learn to be accepting and supportive?"
The second letter . . .
"In the last issue, two writers state: 'Anyone can submit to the medical/pharmaceutical industry, declare himself (sic) a woman, and find acceptance almost everywhere.' They add, 'Trans support people are very clear that trans is a choice of gender, not of sexual preference.' Not at all!
It is by no means a CHOICE TO BE TRANS, and indeed many trans people have struggled for years, even decades, against an inner identity that's at odds with who society tells them they're supposed to be. Transwomen do not choose to be women, any more than cisgender women do. Gender identity always comes from within.
Unfortunately, the patriarchal Judaeo-Christian-Islamic cartel that rules much of the world has brainwashed most people into believing human beings are entities born at a specific time and place and destined to fulfill during a single lifespan whatever was determined for us at birth. Older, less patriarchal forms of spirituality have long understood that each of us embodies various combinations of masculinity, femininity, and everything in between, with the emphasis changing as we undergo rebirth again and again.
Why is there so much attention in the LGBT movement on trans issues now, after so many years of neglect? Because transwomen, especially transwomen of color, are being attacked, assaulted, murdered and driven to suicide on a daily basis. Except for a few celebrities, the majority of transwomen, especially transwomen of color, are stuck in the lowest socioeconomic classes, struggling daily to survive as the women they know they're meant to be.
While transwomen struggle daily to survive, the Religious Right and their Republican friends are determined to destroy them. Realizing they have all but lost the battle against gay liberation, the bigots are now turning their hateful ire against the most powerless sexual minority they can find. And they're beginning to find success this time. Legal protections are being rolled back. And to the chagrin of transpeople and their allies, fighting alongside all those thugs and right-wing religious crazies arrayed against them are some avowed members of the Lesbian Feminist community.
Let's reflect on the founding principles of feminism: the rejection of the belief that biology is destiny; the conviction that womanhood is known from the inside out; the right of every woman to live her own truth; the sisterhood of women of all races, nationalities, classes and cultures, regardless of birth. 'One is not born, but becomes a woman,' said Simone de Beauvoir.
Yet some 'radical feminists' are willing to toss these foundational principles of feminism right out the window. Suddenly biology is destiny, and one should not call herself a woman unless she was pronounced female at birth, regardless of her inner feelings about herself. In the name of sisterhood, women are being set against women, and those that do not meet their criteria are to be excluded.
If you truly want to overcome women's oppression, you will never succeed by joining the oppressors in persecuting a small minority that is even more oppressed. Nor can you overcome patriarchy by walling yourselves off in your own little world, building up the porous gender binary into a wall with worse oppression than you have yourselves.
We need to complete instead the very process that these two women unaccountably deplore: to tear down the walls that divide the various genders until everyone, regardless of who we were told to be from birth, is able to find our own power and fulfill our own potential. Then women and men will at last be truly equal. Isn't that what we've been fighting for?"
To these two courageous Lesbian women, I say, THANK YOU, and I need not say more . . .
Everyone, and I mean everyone, no one is immune, experiences both open (obvious) and closed (not so obvious) rejection in their lives, through all stages of their life, starting in the very earliest years.
The reality is not everybody likes and/or loves you, but there will be some who do. The secret is to focus on those who do, and inoculate yourself from those who don't, thus removing their power to hurt you.
Examples of open rejection are:
Owner of a small restaurant saying they are closed when they are full of customers at lunch time.
A person that you thought was 'friendly,' "turning on you," followed by their friends, without cause.
A clique or clan excluding you.
A doctor writing you a letter saying they no longer want you as a patient, without good reason.
A beauty school refusing you service, without good reason.
A family member humiliating you in public.
A person changing their seat to avoid sitting with or near you.
A person sitting in the back of the bus so that they can see you but you can't see them, without turning around.
A note left on the soda machine by a tenant moving out calling me a pig, accusing me of drinking all the diet soda (which I rarely drank, but requested the management to provide the diet soda).
People making disparaging remarks or noises as you pass by in a public place.
Examples of closed rejection are:
A big, wad of chopped up fat placed in the middle of my taco.
A person urinated on my blanket at the dry cleaners.
A person broke ink pens all over my blanket at another dry cleaners.
Continuous difficulty in making an appointment at a doctor's office (one "glitch" after another).
A party guest deliberately spilling her coffee on my carpet when no one else but me was looking, and when I tried to clean it up, said it was rude to clean it up in front of guests.
People turning their noses up at you because they think they are better than you.
Your disability questioned by government workers because it is invisible.
Ignoring you or looking "through" you, as if you do not exist.
The best defense is an offense: remember that this reflects on the hater, and not on you. The best response is no response at all: by not answering back, they end up making a fool of themselves. HOLD YOUR HEAD UP HIGH; YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF!
Please allow me to explain what a body map is. Many are familiar with the concept of an amputee having the feeling of where the toes or fingers of their missing limb are, and feeling as if the missing limb is present.
When some FTMs stand before the mirror and as they relax, they can see the outline of their male body, such as how tall they are, the thickness of their arms and legs, how broad their chest is, the features of their face and the shape of their privates. They can also tell how muscular they are.
Likewise, some MTFs can stand before the mirror, they can sense how tall their female self is, the bone structure of their face, the size of their breasts, etc.
In my opinion, this is not the product of fantasy, but the observation of their true gender, just as a person who has lost a limb can not only sense the limb that is not there, but the location and what the limb looks like.
Feel strongly this exercise before the full-length mirror, if at all possible, but the bathroom mirror will do; and making every effort to replicate what is seen as the true gender, will create the best closure.
Especially early in life, it is difficult to tell tomboys, butch Lesbians and transmen apart. This demands that parents and other caring individuals develop strong observational skills and to learn all they can about parenting. Parents and other caring adults, such as aunts, uncles, great aunts and uncles, grandparents, teachers, and coaches help the child build a foundation that will serve the child for the rest of his or her life.
The tomboy cycles rapidly between male and female energies and behaviors. She does not feel acute stress when an occasion calls for feminine attire/behavior, such as wearing an Easter dress on Easter,etc. The tomboy is often heterosexual and grows out of it, sometimes as late as high school or college. She may have a boy's nickname, sometimes only at playtime, or when playing sports. Often a tomboy does this in an effort to gain male privilege. Occasionally the tomboy grows up to be a butch Lesbian.
The butch Lesbian may have been a tomboy earlier and acknowledges feeling "different," or a romantic attraction to girls (crushes) at an early age (often age four or even earlier), but these feelings become stronger during puberty and often she becomes more masculine as she ages. However, she never hates being a woman, even though she may dress and act very masculine, and does not seek gender reassignment. The butch Lesbian may be able to stop homosexual BEHAVIOR, but the desire is always there. They have been known to marry and have children, due to family and societal pressure.Often she seeks the company of heterosexual men as friends and work mates, but dislike other butch Lesbians, with whom she sees as competition for the attention of feminine Lesbians. Obviously, she seeks romantic relationships with feminine Lesbians. Butch Lesbians are NOT about gender but about SEXUAL ORIENTATION.
The transman, like the butch Lesbian, and the tomboy, feels "different" at an early age, age four, and sometimes earlier. The transman adamantly demands to dress in boy's clothing, have a boy's name (not a nickname!) and questions why his body does not look like a boy's. A transman is ALL ABOUT gender, BUT can be ANY sexual orientation in relation to his TRUE GENDER, the gender he identifies as being (internal gender). A heterosexual transman may have mistook himself as a butch Lesbian prior to learning about the concept of transgender. During this time he may have had trouble "connecting" with the Lesbian community.
A note to parents: On the surface, the behaviors of a future tomboy, butch Lesbian and transman are remarkably similar. One must become familiar with your children and develop excellent observational skills, especially at playtime, when a child feels most free to be themselves. One wants to support your child into becoming an healthy adult, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, without inadvertently encouraging a child to become something they are not. Being a parent is the hardest and most important job you will ever do, but will also be the most satisfying.
There has been an argument in the Lesbian community for decades about whether transwomen are the same as cisgender (born female) women. The argument goes, "the transwoman has not suffered GROWING UP in a misogynist (woman hating) society."
My answer is that it takes courage to transition from a man with male privilege to a woman in a misogynist society.
So, BOTH are to be commended.
In both the cisgender woman and the transwoman, I sense the female energy, that they BOTH had from birth suffered, but in different ways. They are both women, and as such, they should give each other support as women.
A corollary to this would be a person with epilepsy and another person who is a paraplegic in a wheelchair, very different disabilities, one may have been born disabled and another became disabled as an adult, are also both disabled and should give one another support rather than nit-picking who is more disabled, or even if one is disabled at all.
The upshot is that we are part of the human family and we should celebrate our differences rather than let them drive us apart!