transgender

Realities and Lies Around Transgender Issues

The past 20 years we have seen a large surge in scientific research and understanding around sex and gender. This has been prompted no doubt by the voluntary outing of more and more trans and gender non-conforming folk. And as has been the case every time a minority group finds their voice, bigots and commentators on the “other side” find reason to increase their attacks. The realities and lies around transgender issues grows with time. Because of this, there is quite a lot of conflicting and confusing information out there about what it means to be transgender and what transitioning entails.

Why the confusion?

This is *mostly* not the fault of the scientific and medical community. Who’s main institutions agree almost unanimously that gender and sex are much more diverse and complex than our binary system teaches. Which isn’t to say that every doctor and nurse is on board. One survey showed that 28% of transgender people were verbally harassed in a medical setting. And that’s just the trans/NB people who have the courage to go to a doctor or hospital at all.

However, over the last decade the majority of medical institutions, research facilities, and even many insurance agencies have made huge strides to become informed and educated on transgender issues. So, in order to counter the attack of science and reason; every conservative blogger, preacher, and self-appointed authority has publicized their own – often uneducated – thoughts on gender and sex. All one has to do is google the word transgender. And there’s bound to be an article criticizing gender non-conforming people within the first search page. Add in the hype and flat out lies surrounding trans kids and any person would be terrified by what they heard or read. 

I’m not going to address every lie out there as that would take a book and not a blog post. However, on our 76th episode of the Your Queer Story podcast, we spoke on some of the big misconceptions about sex and gender. As well as some general information about the trans community and how non-binary people fit under the umbrella. So let’s start off with the basics.

 

Misconception #1:

What Is a Transgender Person – A transgender person is someone who’s gender identity or gender expression is not in agreement with their biological sex or their sex assigned at birth. This term is an umbrella term for anyone who falls in this category. And therefore covers the following:

Transsexuals: people who seek medical treatment to change their bodies  – Transsexual is an older term and specifically and only refers to those who seek medical intervention. Even so, most younger trans individuals prefer the umbrella term of transgender to the older term of transsexual.

Cross Dressers:  This term is used in a legal sense to cover anyone dressing outside their perceived gender. But in the queer world it applies specifically to men who cross dress. Meaning they prefer to occasionally wear the clothes and makeup culturally associated with women and temporarily act in feminine fashion. Cross dressing men still identify as male and most are heterosexual. The old and outdated term for cross dressers is transvestite. But that term along with the word “tranny” are offensive and should not be used. *Side note* Drag is NOT considered  cross-dressing in this sense. Drag is an art form while cross-dressing is a lifestyle.

Non-Binary/Gender Queer – There are a few terms which people who don’t fit into the gender binary use. We will not get into the various definitions on this post. Though I will point out that those who don’t identify as male or female are still considered transgender. This is because they have all been assigned a gender at birth and their expression or identity does not fully match that gender or perhaps does not match any gender at all.  

Misconception #2:

Gender and Sex are the Same Thing: The more research is done on sex, gender, and sexuality, the more concepts on binary genders and orientations are broken down. But a big misconception is that sex and gender are the same. In reality we have three categories; Sex, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression.

Sex- It is the biological makeup of an individual combined with their assignment at birth. If we base sex upon gonadic criterion (meaning based upon genitals), then we have 3 sexes; male, female and intersex. But there are other ways we measure sex such as genetic (Chromosomes), hormonal (the predominant hormone either testosterone or estrogen) and anatomical (how the genitals look). In the 1990’s Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling found 5 sexes in her gonadic research alone. When we factor in the following 20 plus years of genetic research, the number of sexes becomes almost infinite. Regardless of what an individual wants to use to define sex, what we know for certain is that there are more than 2 sexes. 
Gender Identity – This is the internal sense of one’s gender.  Here is where a lot of the confusion comes in. Most transgender people will not debate on whether sex is limited to a few (current) definitions. However, gender identity is socially constructed and therefore is the neurological aspect of sex and gender. Studies have shown that many trans people have the brain scans of the gender they identify with rather than the gender they were assigned at birth. Though I must point out that these studies have not yet proven conclusive, there is more research to be done. Yet when people say socially constructed they mean is that gender identity is created by the surrounding society.
On the podcast we have spoken at length about the various gender identities in other cultures in times past and today. One of our most in depth episodes spoke about the Two-Spirit individuals of the North American tribes. Almost every Indigenous society in America, pre-Columbus,  recognized 3-5 genders. And this was not central to North America by any means. In 2015 PBS produced a map which shows multiple gender identities all around the world. 
Gender Expression –  This is the outward expressions of gender through name, pronouns, clothing, etc. The final ladder on the rung of gender is by far the most culturally obvious and most dangerous. Most people in Western Society today won’t argue that an individual can dress and express themselves how they please (I emphasis MOST PEOPLE). Provided of course that the individual chooses a “gender” and sticks with it, except when entertaining – such as in Drag. And this is where our non-binary friends truly struggle. Because while a binary trans person “sticks to their role” so to speak, a gender queer or non-binary individual does not fit any role.
There is certainly a large amount of hate spewed at trans people daily simply because they ask to be acknowledged for who they are. But Ironically, it is often the binary trans community which gives their non-binary trans friends the most trouble. For instance, a transgender man wanting to put on a dress draws much harsher criticism than a cisgender man doing the same thing. No doubt this is a result of fear of further backlash from the bigots. Yet this reaction ignores the lines between identity and expression. Every individual – trans or cisgender – has the right to identify and express themselves how they please. And if the expression doesn’t seem to match the identity, then it is our perception of expression that is skewed and not the expressive individuals error. 

Misconception #3:

It’s Easy to Transition – That’s  such a loaded and false statement. The reality is there are many layers to transition and most transgender people never feel that they are quite done transitioning. The three main stages of transition are Social, Legal, and Medical. Not every trans person will undergo all of these stages. This does not make them more or less trans. Transition is a personal journey that varies from individual to individual. Each stage comes with its own risks and rewards. There are as follows:

Social – Coming out as transgender, possibly changing names or pronouns, possibly changing clothing and grooming habits. 
*POSSIBLE REWARDS – Living openly. Expressing how one pleases. Being true to one’s self.
*POSSIBLE RISKS – Loss or ostracization of friends and family. Loss of job or housing. Social ostracization. Physical harassment and violence.  
Legal –  Changing one’s legal name and gender identity on government and public documents.
*POSSIBLE REWARDS – less risk of being outed by documents. Having the correct information on one’s I.D.’s
*POSSIBLE RISKS – Often lengthy and expensive process. Chances of denial by schools or government branches. Having to come out every time you go to have a new form/I.D. corrected
Medical – The first step for most trans people who want to medically transition is hormones. Testosterone for trans men and Estrogen for Trans women. Many transgender women will also take testosterone blockers in order to aid the Estrogen as testosterone is the more aggressive hormone. Surgery is a different topic all together and there is no such thing as “the surgery”. Meaning, there is not one single surgery which makes a person a man or a woman. Our identities make us who we are, not our genitals. However, the most common surgeries are as such:
For Transgender Men – Top surgery (male chest reconstruction), Hysterectomy (removal of ovaries and uterus), and sometimes Phalloplasty (construction of a penis) or Metiodioplasty (which causes the clitoris to somewhat grow and work like a penis).
For Transgender Women – Breast Augmentation (implants), Orchiectomy (removal of testes), laser hair removal on face and sometimes body, tracheal shave (reducing Adam’s apple), facial feminization (smaller and more feminine face), and Vaginoplasty (inversion of penis to create vagina).
*POSSIBLE REWARDS – Finally feeling affirmed in one’s body. More chance of “passing” so as not to be harassed. Able to change legal documents (many states require sex affirming surgeries before legal documents can be changed).
*POSSIBLE RISKS – Financial instability especially if rejected by insurance. Slow healing time. Botched surgeries. Loss of job while recuperating.
The most important thing to note about medical transition is that it is a very long, very painful, and very expensive process. Surgeries are almost never covered out of pocket and must be paid for up front as they are considered elective surgeries. In addition, few places of work will allow for the months of time off required to heal from these surgeries and even fewer jobs will give paid time off. Because of these many obstacles, the majority of transgender people undergo few if any of the above surgeries. And as stated, not every transgender person feels it is necessary to have surgery to feel comfortable in their own skin. But others will struggle with the knowledge that they need a surgery which they will never be able to afford.

Misconception #4:

Transgender Kids Get Surgery – One of the biggest lies around the trans community is spun by alt right pundits who write articles with titles like “Trans Child Experimental Guinea Pig” or “Transing Kids is Child Abuse” or “Why Are We Encouraging Girls To Mutilate Their Bodies?”. These are all real headlines that spread the myth that young children are undergoing surgeries and life altering transitions during their childhoods. It’s an absolute, flat out lie.

Children under the age of 15 do not undergo trans related surgery anywhere in the world. And the few surgeries that teens can go through at age 15 are reversible, require multiple doctor referrals, parental consent, therapist approval that the teen is cognitively aware of the consequences, and generally more than a year of social transition with the teenager living in their correct gender. More advanced surgeries such as genital deconstruction or reconstruction are only available to teens 17 and older and hold the same requirements (minus parental consent).   

Social Transition is not Medical Transition
A lot of people assume that a child coming out as transgender means it’s all over for the kid. This is again due to the misconceptions about identity, sex, and expression. Doctors have found that a child expressing themselves through clothing and actions is incredibly healthy and helpful for their development. Transgender kids especially have an outlet for their frustrations over being in the wrong body. But social transition has nothing to do with medical transition. A child wearing a dress does not produce estrogen. Neither will a short haircut create testosterone.
Medical Transition is SLOW
The earliest a child can start any form of medical transition is at age 12 when they can receive puberty blockers. Puberty blockers are approved by the FDA and have been used for decades to stem hormones in children who hit puberty at an extremely early age. They are completely safe and completely reversible. From ages 12-14 a young teen can use blockers to prevent their body from changes and thus prevent the start of the wrong puberty. Again, this is after doctor and therapist have agreed the child is suffering from Dysphoria and after the parents have consented.
In the Netherlands a large study of transgender youth found that only 1.9 percent of participants chose to stop transition after starting puberty blockers. At age 16, in most Western countries at least, a child can begin the proper hormones for their correct gender. Again, these hormones are reversible, though some of the effects may not go away entirely if they are used for a prolonged period of time. For instance, several years of testosterone may cause an individual to always have facial hair. But this is only after a lot of exposure to the hormone and varies from person to person.

Misconception #5:

Trans People are Unstable and Unable to Fully Adapt to Society – This is perhaps the most foolish and harmful notion out there about transgender individuals. If you’ve followed our podcast over the last year then you know this is not true. On the podcast we covered trans heroes who made advances in the medical industry such as Alan Hart. Business entrepreneurs such as Lucy Hicks Anderson and Reed Erickson. We’ve covered activists like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. Author and local character Joseph Lobdell. Even veterans such as Albert Cashier and Kristen Beck. Wherever you look in history there the trans community exists. Yes, often in the shadows or hidden in the back of history books; usually overlooked and many times maligned. But still trans people have been contributing to society the same way as every other human.

So What’s the Difference?
The biggest difference  is we’re still being murdered for who we are. Since accurate record keeping began in 2008, well over 3,300 transgender people around the world have been murdered just for their identity. The slaughter of trans and gender non-conforming people is an epidemic. One that is fueled by misinformation and hate. If you would like a full list of those murdered check out tdor.info.com.
And I strongly encourage folks to be careful about who they’re listening to when researching trans issues. If the individual has a history of attacking the queer community, is this really where one wants to get their information? Wouldn’t it be better to go directly to the source and just ask trans educators? Misinformation is more deadly than no information so make sure to help spread awareness. And for those still seeking info then check out the Your Queer Story podcast. Its available on most platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher,and more! And of course you can always just tab over to the link right here on our website.

For More Transgender Resources:

  1. Trans Equality – https://transequality.org/additional-help
  2. Point of Pride – https://pointofpride.org/
  3. Trans lifeline – https://www.translifeline.org/
  4. TWOCC – https://www.twocc.us/
  5. QTPOC Conference – https://queer.ucsc.edu/resources/qpoc.html

.

  • Evan 

 

Episode 76: Transgender Awareness: Facts, Myths, and Information

It’s Transgender Day of Remembrance and in honor of those who have passed we cover the origins of TDOR, the many trans people lost to anti-trans violence this last year, and 5 of the biggest misconceptions about the transgender and non-binary communities. If you were not able to make it to a vigil this year then perhaps our small reading will help.

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Episode 59: Alan Hart

Today we cover an amazing individual who’s all but been erased from history, Dr. Alan Hart. While he achieved much academic success starting at a young age, Alan would struggle with his career for decades. This was due to his transition from female to male in the early 1900s.

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Keep The Pride Going – A List of Queer Related Books, Movies and More

Alright ya bunch of queers. We’re reaching the end of pride month. And if you’re like me, you’re hitting those post pride blues. So how can we keep the pride going? Well here’s the most buzzfeed-esque article I’ll ever write. Below are some of the songs, shows and books I recommend to keep the pride going all year. Or at least for a little longer.

 

SONGS

I grabbed these from Spotify so if you’re listening from another platform I’m not sure how accessible these may be. Most of these are newer music and most are pretty upbeat even club style. But I had to put in a plug for Ben Platt of course. I mean, come on.

  1. Back In My Arms – by Carlie Hanson
  2. I Wanna Let Love – Aaron Porter
  3. 1,2,3 dayz up – Kim Petras feat. Sophie
  4. Don’t Hate Me for Me – Dizzy Fae
  5. Grow As We Go – Ben Platt

ALBUMS

  1. Haus Party, Pt. 1 by Todrick Hall – definitely one of my favorite albums released this year. The entire thing is one gay anthem.
  2. The Prom, Original Soundtrack – yes, this is a musical. Maybe I’m biased because it’s about Indiana. Maybe I just want more queer musicals.

BOOKS

  1. Gentleman Jack; The Real Anne Lister by Anne Choma – Does this sound familiar? Well that’s probably because it’s currently a show on HBO and will be listed TWICE in this article. Honestly though, I recommend this twice because the book has more excerpts from her diaries. The story of Ann Lister is fascinating, and don’t worry, it WILL be covered on our podcast.
  2. Indecent Advances; A Hidden History of True Crime and the Prejudice Before Stonewall by James Polchin – The name says it all. If you’re a true crime fan and a queer history fan, then this is the book for you.
  3. The Stick McLaughlin Series by CF Frizzell, published by Bold Strokes Books – This series has been around a while but only recently came to my attention. I admit that when I started reading the first book I though it was cheesy. But then things quickly turned and I was sucked into a 1920’s-1930’s mob drama. Complete with all the lesbian romance a person could want. Check out boldstrokesbooks.com for tons of queer novels.
  4. On My Wish-list – Ordinary Girls by Jaquira Diaz – this book isn’t released until later this year. But it is the memoir of a queer woman who grows up in Puerto Rico before moving to Florida. She speaks of the pain of watching family struggle with addiction and acceptance. I’m all in.

TV SHOWS

  1. Tales of the City on Netflix – The show is a continued story and it is beautifully done. The way the cast and writers confront some of our biggest issues today – including racism and transphobia within the community – is necessary and flawlessly executed.
  2. Bonding on Netflix – As I said in one of my episodes, these people ripped off my story!! But seriously, this cute – super short – show, so accurately portrays the BDSM/Fetish community. I can’t recommend it enough.
  3. Gentleman Jack on HBO –  It’s a period drama, based in history, following the life of Anne Lister. The first woman in England to record her marriage to another woman. Check. It. Out.
  4. Pose on Netflix – Yes I know it’s just the first season. But you need to get caught up! And if you’re already caught up, you need to re-watch and make sure you have all the details fresh in your memory.

MOVIES

  1. Disobedience on Amazon Prime – None of these movies are new, but who says they need to be. Disobedience is a love story between two women in a Hasidic Jewish community. Tantalizing and seductive, the only thing that would make this movie better is if the actresses were actually queer.
  2. Akron on Hulu – This story of two men unfolds in such an unexpected way. I won’t drop spoilers, so just go watch it.
  3. Professor Martson and the Wonder Woman on Hulu – we don’t know how historical accuracy of this film. Though we do know that the creator of Wonder Woman did live with his wife and his mistress. And we know the two women continued living together for decades after his death. Regardless, I love this positive portrayal of Polyamorous love.

DOCUMENTARIES

  1. All In My Family on Netflix – This story follows the journey of an Asian gay man to find acceptance and understanding from his family.
  2. I Am Divine on Hulu – This is the incredible story of drag performer Divine, once named the Drag Queen of the Century. 
  3. Bridegroom on Hulu – A moving tale of a man who loses his partner a horrific death, this story shows why marriage equality is so necessary.

 

And that’s all of my suggestions for now kids. Feel free to send others my way so we can pass along the information. And even though Pride Month is coming to a close, stay queer.

 

-Evan

A Sobering Pride

My first Pride celebration sober I went in with far too much confidence, and quickly lost it. I was just shy of 7 months clean when I took on one of the biggest alcohol events of the year.

Pride weeks are known for their heavy sale of liquor. Especially events such as the Providence Night Time Parade. Which is held in the evening, on a street lined with bars, and quickly followed by massive block parties. And don’t get me wrong, its fun – it’s REALLY fun. But alcohol and other party substances are EVERYWHERE.

And while most cities have purposefully made their parades early to avoid the heavy drinking, its still a problem no matter where one goes. I grew up outside of Chicago which is (in my opinion) the best parade in the country. But every year people were getting so trashed the city organizers kept moving the time of the parade earlier and earlier. It didn’t matter. Whether drunk at 2 in the afternoon or 10 in the morning, people love to get wasted on Pride day.

 

I’ve Been There.

Up until 4 years ago I was one of those wasted party members. I don’t remember most of the previous pride parades. Though I do know that one year I came to and found that I had wandered into the midst of the Chicago parade. I was marching down Halsted street in a rainbow bikini proudly waving a flag that I don’t remember purchasing. Everything was a blast, until I woke up the next morning and realized I had spent my rent money and had no idea what I did the night before

So four years ago – and newly sober -I headed to the Boston parade, decked out in full queer apparel. I quickly felt that I was in over my head. But managed to power through the pre-parade activities and was relatively distracted during the main event. Until we headed to the after parties. Immediately after paying my $20 entrance fee I regretted the decision.

I could feel my mouth literally salivating for a taste of alcohol. My eyes darted back and forth, wondering what drinks everyone was purchasing. I was on edge and short with my girlfriend. My teeth were nearly ground to bits. I felt trapped and panicked. I didn’t live in Boston and I didn’t know any people in the city, other than my current friends. Eventually I faded from the dance floor and found a quiet spot in the jammed packed bar to sip my Red Bull.

I managed to make it through that night. But I was attending the Providence Night Parade the following weekend and I determined I wouldn’t put myself in that position again.  I contacted my sponsor and we came up with a plan. This is what I have done every Pride -and alcohol fueled event – since.

 

1. Plan Ahead

Take a few moments to answer these questions:

  1. How can I leave if I feel uncomfortable? – Do you have Uber or Lyft downloaded on your phone? Do you have a bus pass? Are you taking your own car? My first year was right before Uber really took off so that wasn’t a very accessible option. So instead, I looked up phone numbers of cab companies and had them saved in my phone. I also made sure I had enough money to pay the taxi.
  2. What will I say if someone offers me a drink? – You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Try saying you’re on a diet, or you’re not feeling well. Perhaps the excuse that you’re in training or you’re allergic to alcohol will get people off your back. You can also get a red bull or sprite. Ask the bartender to put the drink in a glass with some fruit. Most people wont offer anything if you have a drink in your hand.
  3. Where can I go to take a break? – If you’re at a bar or a house party, look for a spot you can dip out to if you need a break. Bring some cigarettes or a vape. Or you can have someone on back up to call you so you have a reason to be on your phone.

 

2. Be Honest

Not just with yourself. Be honest with your friends and sponsor.

  1. Be honest with you – My biggest problem my first year sober was that I wouldn’t acknowledge how I was actually feeling. I had to be willing to let some things, and people, go.
  2. Be honest with your sponsor or sober companion – Find someone to hold you accountable and tell them the truth. Let them know when you’re struggling. Again, you can’t do this unless you are first honest with yourself.
  3. Be honest with your partner or friend – No doubt you’ll spend Pride with other people who drink or use other substances. Sometimes this can hold us back from being honest because we don’t want to be a “buzzkill”. But chances are, if you’re sober, you’ve got people in your corner supporting this decision. Rely on these people, let them have your back. And if you can’t think of any friends who want you sober, then you might need to re-evaluate your friends.

 

3. Let Go

Let go of the person you were and experience a new person

  1. Be a new party animal – For so many years I believed I could only party if I was drunk or high. And my first Pride I stayed in that mindset. But the next year I tried again, and this time I let go of that old me. I had a blast. Last year was also fantastic and this year I expect my Pride partying to be the best pride yet. But I don’t party the way I use to. I’m more reserved, I’m not the center of attention, but I have fun.
  2. Realize other people aren’t watching you – You may be watching everyone else (because it’s fun AF to watch wasted people when you’re sober) but I promise they’re not watching you. So let go. Dance, sing along, get in the mosh pit, scream your head off. To be honest, that’s what everyone else IS doing so really you’re the odd person out if you’re not joining in.
  3. Enjoy being able to absorb the experience – Many people at the parades, bars, and block parties won’t remember the majority of events the next day. Like I said, I can’t remember most of my first four years of Pride. But I remember every detail of the last 3 years and there are so many moments that still make me smile. The gift of sobriety is that I can absorb the moment and hold those feelings with me. Embrace that gift.

 

So have a wonderful Pride Month my friends. And remember, you’re not alone and you don’t need a substance. To thine own self be true.

 

-Evan

Episode 51: Kristin Beck – Transgender Military Hero

With all the controversy surrounding the Transgender Military Ban, Kristin Beck defies the government’s claims.

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Episode 48: Sylvia Rivera

Queer Revolutionary – We’re back with guest host Vima Manfredo to cover the infamous Sylvia Rivera.

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Episode 37: Lucy Hicks Anderson: The Story of a Transgender Woman of Color in the 1940’s

We don’t know much about Lucy Hicks Anderson. Like many people of color living in the U.S. before the Civil Rights movement, her history has been buried beneath a white shrine. Yet we know enough from news articles and fragmented documents to know that Lucy was a badass in every sense of the word.

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So You’re Being Discriminated Against At Work

I’ve been in retail for almost 10 years now and spent the majority of my time in management. I’ve worked in several different companies in at least 3 different states. And I say all that to say that I’ve had quite a bit of training in Human Resources and workplace discrimination policies. I guess I’ve always take my experience for granted and assumed that others would be as knowledgeable of their resources as I am. However, I often find that is not the case. So here’s a few basic tips on what to do if you think you’re being discriminated against in the workplace.

 

1. SAVE EVERYTHING

The first signs that things are going south usually start with write-ups/corrections/counseling or whatever term your company uses. Basically they’re starting to take steps towards termination. Now, of course, this doesn’t mean that every corrective counseling means you’re set for the boot. Perhaps you truly have some areas you could work on, and your employer or manager is just trying to get some better performance out of their colleagues. Don’t panic, but be aware.

And most importantly, save EVERYTHING they give you. Copies of schedules, write-ups, requests off, company guidelines and handbook. Most places are required to give their employees copies of all these items and you will need them if it goes to HR, mediation or court.

 

2. KEEP A JOURNAL

Factor in the tone and atmosphere of the office to see if there has been a shift in authorities attitude towards you. Write all of this down in a notebook, every little instance no matter how small it may seem. Again, this all matters and will benefit you in the end. This includes a change in your schedule (have your hours dropped? Did you switch from days to nights for no reason?). How about request’s off? (Are you suddenly finding all your requests denied even though you have the vacation or personal days to spend?). Is your boss making rude or sarcastic comments towards you? Are you suddenly being written up for issues that weren’t a problem in the past?

I have a friend who worked for a company for over 10 years. She was a good employee, but she had a bad habit of being late. And this was true in every area of her life, not just when it came to work. But because she was such a benefit to the company, they overlooked her tardiness. Now I’m not saying her lateness should have been excused, but I am saying the company and the manager had set a precedent. So when my friend came out as transgender to the company, it looked pretty suspicious that after 10+ years she was suddenly being written up for her tardiness.

But the write-ups didn’t start immediately. First she noticed a change in her supervisors attitude towards her. Then she overheard the staff making some inappropriate comments. Finally, she felt isolated and cut off from her work family. Then the write-ups began. I can’t say that a journal would have saved her as she did break company policy by continuing to be late. But I can tell you that evidence goes a long way.

 

3. FOLLOW THE RULES

I know. It feels like we’re forced to dot every i and cross every T just to avoid illegal termination. But the simple reality is, if your boss is looking for a reason to fire you, don’t give them one. I understand that my friend’s company set a precedence of ignoring her tardiness for over a decade. And that’s why she would have a legitimate case to bring to court, or at least to the HR department. However, at the end of the day, there’s still a handbook (which she probably signed) that boldly states tardiness is not permitted. If you have a weakness at work and you’re being targeted, focus on that weakness. In the long run it will do you a lot more good. But don’t stop there and simply tread water. Move to the next step.

 

4. UTILIZE YOUR HUMAN RESOURCE DEPARTMENT

I don’t know how many times I’ve talked to queer individuals who never reported their discrimination. There are federal laws in place that prohibit workplace LGBTQ discrimination. In addition, most states and most national and local companies also have these protections in place. YOU HAVE TO GO TO HR! The biggest fear people have about going to HR is retaliation from their team or supervisor. However, if you’re already being targeted then it’s too late to worry. You need to protect yourself and that means leaving a long paper trail. If you can prove you reported these issues then that’s more on your side for the future. Regardless of whether HR has your back or not, set yourself up to be legally protected.

Also, you may be very surprised to see that HR actually does care about your well-being. There is a reason companies develop and staff a human resource department. Now reporting may mean that some changes will occur. Perhaps you’ll be offered a transfer, or a position in another department. You are not required to take these offers. But maybe the change will be beneficial in the end. Or perhaps you’ll aid in the removal of an unhealthy supervisor.

If nothing comes from your report, again, request a copy. Keep it on file and continue to keep your journal. This is extra stress and worry, but in the end you are protecting yourself. Don’t let a company or a group of supervisors beat you into silence. If you are being unfairly treated, take steps to fight back. If all else fails, take this to a legal level.

 

5. REACH OUT FOR LEGAL AID

There are many companies out there that offer free legal aid for those who have been discriminated against at work. Utilize these resources. You are worthy of help and fair treatment. Don’t sulk away in fear and rejection. We are a resilient people! Dig deep for that strength inside of you and ask for help. Lamba Legal, GLAAD, the HRC, and more. Also, check out this link for the Huffington Post that lists a state-by-state directory of aid specifically for queer people of color.

There are so many ways we can stand up to workplace discrimination. You don’t have to take this lying down and you don’t have to face these attacks alone. If you’re still struggling or in need of advice, feel free to message us here or on social media @yourqueerstory. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Or email us at yourqueerstory@gmail.com. We’re always here to help.

Episode 28: Don’t Donate To The Salvation Army

Ding, ding, ding!! ‘Tis the season for giving. But make sure you know where your money is going. Don’t donate to the salvation army!

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