Today’s blog is brought to you by the letter “J” and the amazing Jazz Jennings. Jazz, in her own words from her Facebook page, “My name is Jazz and I’m transgender which means that I was assigned male at birth but was a girl right from the start. I expressed myself as a girl to my family by gravitating towards dolls, dresses, sparkles, and everything feminine. I didn’t just like girly objects, but I heavily insisted that I WAS a girl. All my family wanted was my happiness and they assured that by providing me unconditional love and support. As kindergarten approached, I would be heading to a new school and a fresh start was coming. We took this opportunity to begin my transition as a girl. I finally blossomed into my authentic self. Although this seems like it might’ve been the end of my story of me finally becoming a girl, it was only the beginning…”
I was lucky enough to meet Jazz in Portland, OR, at the Human Right Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference. She was coming back from Voodoo Donuts with her mom as we were heading out to get our own donuts. She was poised as gracious when I told her how proud I was of her. And of course I had to hug her! Why didn’t I get a picture with her? ARRGGG, I guess I thought these otters were cute…
Times are changing, but I still can’t imagine the strength, courage and support Jazz had and still has to this day. She knew she was born in the wrong body when she was 6 years old. When I was 6, I was playing with my tractors and my G.I. Joe, not appearing on television next to Chaz Bono. Read on to see how Jazz and Wisconsin crossed paths…
In 2015, the Wisconsin State Journal reported on the reading of I am Jazz in the small Wisconsin town of Mount Horeb, population 7,421:
MOUNT HOREB — In a turnout that stunned organizers, nearly 600 people filled the library here Wednesday night to hear a public reading of a children’s book about a transgender girl, with many in the crowd expressing strong support for a local family with a transgender child.
The library event — and another reading at the high school on Wednesday morning that drew about 200 — followed the cancellation last week of the reading of the book “I Am Jazz” at the Mount Horeb Primary Center, a public elementary school where a 6-year-old student had just transitioned from a boy to a girl.
School staff said they sought to read the book to the girl’s classmates to help them understand what was happening to a fellow student, and to help the girl feel safe and accepted.
The school canceled the reading after a conservative Florida-based group threatened legal action.
The centerpiece of the library program was the reading of “I Am Jazz” by its co-author Jessica Herthel, who flew in from California to support the family. As a straight parent, Herthel said she wrote her book with Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl who stars in a TLC reality show, in part because she felt there were not enough resources for parents like her to teach their children about acceptance.
She said she was overwhelmed by the community response in Mount Horeb.
“I think it’s a barometer of where we’re at as a society,” she said in an interview. “I think we’re more ready to hear about this issue from a child’s perspective, because we know a child isn’t making a political statement or rebelling against society. Kids don’t know not to tell the truth, and we’re getting more comfortable with that idea.”
“When people take the time to read the book, they realize that ‘I Am Jazz’ is about identity — who you are. Not sex — who you are attracted to. And the book’s message of ‘Be who you are, no matter what’ applies to all children,” Herthel said. Read the full article here.
Two Eleanor Roosevelt quotes come to mind when I think about Jazz’s journey: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” and “People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” Jazz knew who she was at a young age, she is a courageous trailblazer.
Want to learn more about this amazing person? You can read her children’s book I am Jazz, you could watch her on YouTube, or check out “I am Jazz” on the TV channel TLC. In 2017, the Tonner Doll Company announced plans to produce the first transgender doll. Please notice we use the term transgender and not transgendered. A person is a noun, not a verb! Right now in 32 states there is no state law protecting transgender people from being fired for being who they are. Only 18 states (CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, IL, IA, MA, ME, MD — effective Oct. 2014, MN, NJ, NM, NV, OR, RI, VT and WA) and D.C. currently prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Transgender FAQ from the Human Rights Campaign.
In our every day lives, you will hear more people identify as transgender or trans and becoming their true selves — comfortable in their skin and their bodies for the first time in their lives. You’ll have multiple opportunities to embrace and enhance your ally-ship, and I invite you to turn to me with any questions along the way. Ask questions, and share resources like this blog post with others. Please check out the book I am Jazz, or buy it and donate it to a school library. Thanks in advance!
~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)
Given the events scheduled for this week, we’re taking a break from our usual posts to bring you a special announcement. (I’ve always wanted to say that!) For those of you playing at home, perhaps you were expecting the letter “J” today? I promise you will have information on Jazz Jennings next week. Stay tuned…
This week’s contribution is brought to you by GLSEN (Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network). Learn how to be an Ally to LGBTQ Students, Trans and Gender non-conforming students, LGBTQ Students of Color & LGBTQ Students with Disabilities. I encourage you to register and learn more at GLSEN’s site. Did I mention it’s FREE? Get some cool swag and stickers to show your support as an Ally. Need a refresher on what an Ally is? Check out my blog “Ally or Ally.” from July 15th. Note that these tips can apply to any marginalized population, not just LGBTQ. We are also celebrating Latinx Heritage Month (September 15-October 15). Because Bi Awareness Day is on Monday, September 23, let’s kick off Ally Week by being in solidarity with Bi Net in bringing visibility to bisexual identities! (glsen.org/allyweek)
Ways to Be an Ally to:
- LGBTQ Students(active tab)
- Trans and GNC Students Gender Non-Conforming
- LGBTQ Students of Color Remember my Intersectionality blog?
- LGBTQ Students with Disabilities …more Intersectionality (9.15.19)
|On Your Own:|
Intervene when you hear anti-LGBTQ language or remarks. Be conscious of your privilege and speak from your own experiences, rather than assuming the experiences of LGBTQ students and other marginalized folks. Sign up for GLSEN UP to take policy actions in support of LGBTQ students on the local, state, and national level.
|In Your Student Club:|
Create a student bill of rights describing the climate of respect and inclusion you’d like to see at your school. Create a bulletin board to display at school about what allies can do to support LGBTQ youth. Do an inventory of LGBTQ-inclusive resources at your school, like Safe Space stickers. Talk to your advisor about how to bring more resources to your school!
|As an Educator:|
Collect LGBTQ-inclusive books for your classroom/library. A shout out and HUGE Thanks to Mande Shecterle and Laura Frost for always being amazingly LGBTQ supportive Library Media Specialists and providing a rainbow of resources for staff and students. Need suggestions? Check out the American Library Association’s Rainbow Lists and Stonewall Awards. Learn about how to become an advisor to your school’s GSA or other LGBTQ student club. Learn about the experiences of LGBTQ students from GLSEN’s National School Climate Survey.
Here is the Student Guide resource for everything you need to know plus ideas for organizing your Ally Week!
- 6 Questions About Allyship Answered by LGBTQ Students
- 9 LGBTQ Students Share What They Need From Their Allies
- These Trans and Gender Nonconforming Folks Share What They Need From Their Allies
- I’m a Gay Chicanx High Schooler. Here’s What I Need from My Allies
- Here’s Why Non-Binary Students Need Allies
- Allyship in Action
I would love to hear how you used these resources to become and even better ALLY! Thanks for sharing this article with your friends.
~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)
This blog goes out to Dr. Erin Mason in Georgia. When I was seeking advice on what topic I should present on next, Erin said, “Intersectionality.” A fairly new term to me in 2017. So, what is intersectionality? Let’s find out and as always…thanks for asking!
According to Merriam Webster: Intersectionality—the complex, cumulative manner in which the effects of different forms of discrimination combine, overlap, or intersect
Update: This word was added in April 2017.
That’s a lot to take in, so let’s break it down. While the concept has been around since the late 1980’s but intersectionality is a word that’s new to many of us. It’s used to refer to the way that the effects of different forms of discrimination (such as racism, sexism, and classism) can combine, overlap, and yes, intersect—especially in the experiences of marginalized people or groups.
The term was coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in a 1989 essay that asserts that “antidiscrimination law, feminist theory, and antiracist politics all fail to address the experiences of black women because of how they each focus on only a single factor.” Crenshaw writes that “[b]ecause the intersectional experience is greater than the sum of racism and sexism, any analysis that does not take intersectionality into account cannot sufficiently address the particular manner in which Black women are subordinated.”
Though originally applied only to the ways that sexism and racism combine and overlap, intersectionality has come to include other forms of discrimination as well, such as those based on class, sexuality, and ability.
So, there ya have it from the technical side of things. As a white able-bodied, priviledged lesbian, that would be my intersectionality. I will continue to educate myself more on supporting all populations including those with intersectionality and those identifying as intersex. Intersex flag is below in yellow with a purple circle in the middle.
Let’s talk about a secondletter “I” for today: Intersex. Have you heard of this term? “Intersex” is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.
Did you know that more people are born intersex than have cleft pallets? Truth. The Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) is devoted to systemic change to end shame, secrecy, and unwanted genital surgeries for people born with an anatomy that someone decided is not standard for male or female. This is why I am not a fan of gender reveal parties! Consider gifts of something other than pink or blue for babies, or kids in general. You don’t know what the intimate details of a family might be, and the small act of using gender neutral colors like green, yellow, or purple might just help a new parent feel better about their new baby. Plus green and yellow are Packer’s colors!
If you’d like to learn more on the term intersex, here’s an excellent, award-winning video. One hour in length. Thanks for reading & feel free to share!
Welcome to the letter “H” in my Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning/Queer (LGBTQ) blog. My first thought was to give you information on hetero vs. homo. Then I read an interesting article I had to share along with giving a shout out to the Human Rights Campaign — one of my favorite organizations — and to my friend Dr. Vinnie Pompei who works tirelessly for our collective rights.
Usually I end my posts with the action you can personally take to make a difference. Today, I have a save the date for you right up front! Mark October 10, 2019 on your calendar for HRC’s exclusive broadcating partnership with CNN. They’ll host a town hall meeting with democratic presidential candidates to discuss LGBTQ issues. My DVR is already set to record!
From the article: “This historic town hall event, entitled Power of Our Pride, will take place on Thursday, October 10 at The Novo in Los Angeles, California. The event is set to take place on the eve of the 31st annual National Coming Out Day, a celebration of coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally. The first National Coming Out Day was held on October 11, 1988 on the first anniversary of the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights as a way of celebrating the power of coming out and promoting a safe world for LGBTQ individuals to live truthfully and openly. (HRC.org)” You can read the full story here.
Oh, and my friend, Dr. Vinnie Pompei? He is a rockstar working for HRC. He and I met in San Diego at a CESCAL’s (The Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership) Supporting Students- Saving Lives conference. I love the networking opportunities my friendship with Vinnie has given to me. My goal is to pay it forward and give you resources to save lives. One of the best ways to grow your knowledge is to attend HRC’s Time to Thrive conference. I was fortunate to speak at the conference previously, and I’d love to see you in Washington D.C. this February.
One of my early LGBTQ consultations was with a private Catholic high school. I was asked to help their school counseling department create a safe and welcoming environment. We discussed using rainbows as a universal sign designating the school counseling office as a safe zone for those identifying as LGBTQ. After thinking about what the Catholic Diocese would think about rainbows, that idea was squashed. We had to go back to the drawing board. I mentioned the Human Rights Campaign equality sticker. Only $3 at the time of this article. Rather than the blue and yellow colors in the HRC equal sign sticker, they decided to use their school colors with their school mascot behind the equal sign. Use your imagination, but please know you might be saving a life through your efforts!
HRC is a wonderful organization. Directly from their website (notice I didn’t say straight from their website? tee hee): “The Human Rights Campaign represents a force of more than 3 million members and supporters nationwide. As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.” http://www.hrc.org
Your actions to becoming an even better ally this week:
(1) Save the Date, October 10, 2019, to watch CNN’s coverage of HRC’s democratic presidential LGBTQ debate.
(2) Display a rainbow or a $3 HRC blue & yellow sticker in your workspace.
Thanks for being an ALLY!
~Lisa from Wisconsin (Lady Rainbow)