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28
Jul

Cisgender

Welcome to the letter “C” in Lisa’s LGBT FAQ A-Z resources blog. Enough letters for you? The word Cisgender was a new term to me, maybe it is a new term for you as well. Let’s explore together!

Cis(gender): Adjective that means “identifies as their sex assigned at birth” derived from the Latin word meaning “on the same side.” (Gale Stone, that’s for you!) A cisgender/cis person is not transgender. “Cisgender” does not indicate biology, gender expression, or sexuality/sexual orientation. In discussions regarding trans issues, one would differentiate between women who are trans and women who aren’t by saying trans women and cis women. Cis is not a “fake” word and is not a slur. Note that cisgender does not have an “ed” at the end. http://www.transstudent.org/definitions/

So, I, Lisa Koenecke identify as cisgender. That is my gender identity. I also identify as a lesbian, that is my sexual orientation because I am attracted to women. Confused? It’s ok if you are, I appreciate your willingness to learn with me. The use of the term cisgender took off around 2010– See, you haven’t missed a lot!

In fact, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary this word, cisgender was added in April 2017.

As the term transgender has become increasingly prominent in the lexicon, a contrasting term has also settled into the language. Cisgender (often shortened to cis) describes someone whose internal sense of gender corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth. According to a 2016 New York Times article, it’s estimated that approximately .6 % of people are transgender, so it follows that most people can be described as cisgender. If the pronouncement your mom heard at your birth—It’s a girl! or It’s a boy!—still feels like it was accurate, then you’re cisgender.

Cisgender/Cis is the opposite of transgender. Dang, look at your brain growing! Impressive!

Thanks for taking time to learn about the term Cisgender. Here’s your call to action (CTA): When you are invited to a baby shower, or you have a baby present to give, please think about using neutral colors like green and yellow (Go Packers) rather than pink and blue. Gender reveal parties are all the rage, however, they might box the new human into a binary box. (You’ll learn more about “binary” when we get to the letter G. Stay tuned!) I have pictures of me in dresses and wearing pink…back in the early 1970’s that’s what was done. So, why did I like playing with my GI Joe and my Allis Chalmers tractor? Stay tuned to find out more. #spreadpride

~Lisa

21
Jul

Bisexual & Bystander

Thank you #HRC

Lisa Koenecke

In this fifth edition of LGBT FAQ, we are on the letter “B.” Here’s another flag to represent those who identify at Bisexual (You guessed it — the B in LGBT!) Here is a link to the 6 facts about the Bisexual Flag (I didn’t know all of these either. Fascinating!). Sometimes in my travels and presentations, the comment I hear or question I get asked is, “why can’t ‘they‘ choose a side?” I do not have an answer to that question other than to say, “Why are you attracted to whomever you’re attracted to?” It’s not a choice.

As a middle school counselor, this was the number one term used (usually by females) to describe thier identity if they had a very close female friend but didn’t want to be called a lesbian. Perhaps in a young adolescent mind it left the door open to other…

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21
Jul

Bisexual & Bystander

21
Jul

Bisexual & Bystander

In this fifth edition of LGBT FAQ, we are on the letter “B.” Here’s another flag to represent those who identify at Bisexual (You guessed it — the B in LGBT!) Here is a link to the 6 facts about the Bisexual Flag (I didn’t know all of these either. Fascinating!). Sometimes in my travels and presentations, the comment I hear or question I get asked is, “why can’t ‘they‘ choose a side?” I do not have an answer to that question other than to say, “Why are you attracted to whomever you’re attracted to?” It’s not a choice.

As a middle school counselor, this was the number one term used (usually by females) to describe thier identity if they had a very close female friend but didn’t want to be called a lesbian. Perhaps in a young adolescent mind it left the door open to other opportunities? All I can tell you is that I would support the student through their journey and felt honored to be a safe person in whom they trusted.
So, what is the definition of Bisexual? Thanks for asking. Here’s the answer according to Dictionary.com: noun

1.
a person who is sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender.
For more information, please check out the Bisexual Resource Center. Here you’ll find resources for youth and adults, a history of the organization and contact information.
My tip for those allies out there, check out this website for more information.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Bystander is the level before becoming an ally. A bystander watches someone being bullied or attacked or hurt and yet does nothing. A bystander is the one who might not laugh at anti- LGBT+ jokes, but who remains silent. By not stopping the joke or remark, you are not an ally, merely a bystander standing on the sidelines. It’s a first step in becoming brave enough to fight against bullying, however it’s just a single step. In some spaces, it may feel like you would be the next in line for being attacked by standing up. And yet without your voice, the unitented consequence is that those who are doing the bullying feel like they have carte blanche to continue their attacks. Because, after all, everyone thinks this is funny! By merely saying, “That’s not funny,” you shift the conversation and put others on alert that it’s not o.k. to attack another person. Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” I challenge you to make your one thing speaking up.

One phrase that has benefited from bystanders becoming allies is the phrase, “That’s so gay.” It wasn’t long ago that you’d hear that phrase tossed around constantly. Thanks to a ton of hard work led by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) & the National Education Association (NEA) teaching allies what to say when they hear “That’s So Gay”, coupled with the even harder work done by schools across the country, it’s rare to hear that particular phrase. It’s a true testament to the power of shifting from bystander to ally. We will explore more of the HRC’s Welcoming Schools Campaign when we reach the letter “W.” Until then, I encourage you to be brave! Be an ally rather than just a bystander, please and thank you!


15
Jul

Ally or ally?

Welcome to the fourth submission of my LGBT FAQ. The first three submissions were focused on Pride month. My goal with this blog is to give you a quick, A to Z reference to #spreadpridetosavelives. Yep! Twenty-six entries each focused on a different letter of the alphabet. Nowwwww, let’s jump into the A-Z resources starting with the letter “A!”

I was a middle school counselor for many years and taught classroom lessons (LOVED it!). One lesson that made me stop in my tracks had to do with introducing the term “Ally” to a group of 7th graders. As I was getting my groove on to engage these adolescents, a small hand shot up to ask a question. I called on the student and loved her comment as I wrote the term ally on the board (yep, old school)…

Student named Ally: “Ms. Koenecke, that’s my name”

Me: “Why yes it is”

Student named Ally: ” So does that make me an automatic ally?

Me: “What do you think?”

Student named Ally: “Absolutely, and now wherever I go, people will know that I’m an ally just by looking at my name Ally.”

Me: “Ally, thanks for being an excellent ally, and students, that is also called a homonym.”

After this lesson, I reflected upon this homonym and how in later lessons we would discuss that homo means same in Greek. So, if we are all the same in theory, why is there so much hate?

So, what is an ally? Great question! If you’re reading this, YOU are an ally! Congrats and THANK YOU! An ally is a friend, a pal. In any marginalized community, an ally is a supporter that will stand up to discriminatory practices, using their position of strength as a member of the community not being marginalized. An ally acts when they hear or see anything offensive against a marginalized community. When they hear a homophobic, transphobic, or any slanderous joke, an ally stops the joke and stands up for any inequities.

In my recent podcast with Holly Duckworth of Everyday Mindfulness, Holly asked my advice on being an ally. My advice to her — and to you, dear reader — is to display a rainbow in your space. This could be a rainbow ribbon, a rainbow sticker, or even a rainbow flag to denote you are an ally. As in my first submission, the rainbow is a symbol of unity for our LGBTQIA community. Thank you for saving a life!

~Lisa “Lady Rainbow” Koenecke

7
Jul

Freedom & Independence

7
Jul

Freedom & Independence

The 4th of July 2019 is recently behind us, with both pomp & circumstance and heated political debates from sea to shining sea. Have you considered your definition of “freedom” lately? In the United States, we tout the holiday as our Independence Day. These are the two words for your consideration in this edition. (Brief U.S. history lesson included free of charge. You’re welcome.)

Many different populations, cultures, and religions have fought for their freedom and independence throughout our country’s history. How is it in the year 2019 in the USA that some are not given the “inalienable right” to be treated equally? July 4, 1776 was the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which included the words “Where all men are created equal.” Are we all men? Are we all created equally? NOPE!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  (Link to the actual Declaration of Independence — cool, huh?)

There are some really basic tenets of freedom that most people take for granted. For example, I’m seriously afraid for those LGBT+ friends who can be fired from a job because of who they love or how they identify…yep, that can still happen in 26 of our 50 states. (For my Sconie friends, here’s Wisconsin’s Equality Profile.) This might change in October, especially for Americans who identify as transgender, if the US Supreme Court sways to the conservative side of the aisle. (Yikes)

My wife, Angela, and I wanted to wait to get married until it was legal in all 50 states. So, on January 11, 2017, we did get married. (Yay us! Hope we didn’t cause a ripple in the marriages of all of the straight people!) Yet we still worry about our freedoms and our independence according to the law.

For example, can I make medical decisions for her in the hospital without a physical copy of our marriage certificate? We’ve been told it would be best to have a copy on file at the hospital. Or at least with our lawyer since Angela travels so much for work and she could be anywhere in the country and in need of proof of marriage. Which of course means we both a) have to have a lawyer; and b) Have to have that number programmed as a priority in our phones should the unthinkable happen. Evidently the rings on our fingers don’t mean the same as they do for a straight couple.

I recently tried to make her an appointment with our doctor. I was asked for her birth date and had to wait for the clearance to be able to speak on her behalf. I get HIPPA laws, yet I still wondered how long I would have waited if I was part of a “traditional” married couple? The first amendment allows me the freedom of speech, but is my speech equal to that of the haters? The term wife means something different if we are of the same sex.

Next week we will delve into the LGBTQIA resources A-Z that are most frequently asked. Thanks for reading this and for being an ally. #SpreadPrideSaveLives. Please pay attention to the freedoms you currently have. If you see an injustice in the workplace or in your community, please say something. Your voice will help those with no voice. Please feel free to add a comment on how you are changing your corner of the world!

Mahalo,

~Lisa (Lady Rainbow)