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Dedicated Transgender Hotline Aims To Stem Epidemic Of Suicides Like Texas Teen Alex DeChiara's

DeChiara.AlexTR

After relentless bullying at her high school in Texas, transgender teen Alex DeChiara (above) transferred to an alternative school in April. 

But switching schools cut 17-year-old Alex off from her closest friends and her biggest passion: working with special-needs children at Euless Trinity High School, in a conservative suburb of Fort Worth. Alex hoped to one day become a teacher for autistic kids. 

After Alex transferred schools, administrators at Euless Trinity even barred her from campus and threatened her with arrest when she tried to visit. Faced with loneliness and a deepening depression, Alex felt she had nowhere to turn. On May 8, she hung herself from a tree in her family's backyard. 

Alex's father, Rick DeChiara, who came home from work to find Alex and had to cut her down from the tree, told the Texas Observer this week he feels there are a fair amount of resources dedicated to gay youth. But he added: “As far as transgender awareness kind of stuff, that’s a different story. I don’t think that’s quite as popular, as out there in the open.” 

MartelaNow, a San Francisco-based group is hoping to help change that — and to stem the epidemic of trangender suicides like Alex's. According to Greta Gustava Martela (right), the founder of Trans Lifeline, half of people who are openly transgender will attempt suicide at least once in their lives. 

Trans Lifeline is a first-of-its-kind, nonprofit crisis and suicide hotline staffed by transgender people. 

“There are a ton of suicide hotlines. There’s no shortage of them,” Martela told Time.com. “But it’s really difficult to get a person who isn’t trans to understand what it’s like to be trans.”

According to Trans Lifeline's website: "Our hotline is staffed by the true experts on transgender experience, transgender people themselves. Our volunteers are all trans identified and educated in the range of difficulties transgender people experience." 

Although the hotline's goal is to prevent self-harm, it is open to any transgender person in need — as well as the parents of transgender children. 

After a surge in calls thanks to the Time.com story this week, Martela launched a GoFundMe page to help pay for training for additional volunteers. Those interested in volunteering for Trans Lifeline can learn more here. 

The hotline covers the US and Canada and is staffed by volunteers outside the Bay Area.

For those in crisis, the number is 877-565-8860

 

 

 

 


Deceased Transgender Woman Presented As A Man During Wake; Friends, Mentors Furious

Friends of a transgender woman who died suddenly in October were shocked to see their friend presented as a man in an open casket during her funeral service reports The Miami Herald. Jennifer Gable, born Geoff Gable, died suddenly on her shift with Wells Fargo as a customer service coordinator; an aneurysm is suspected of killing the otherwise healthy woman. Gable's friends attended the funeral, but upon seeing Gable's body in the casket they found themselves disgusted with what had been done to Gable's body.

Gable“I am disgusted. A great and dear friend’s mom went to the funeral today. It was not closed casket. They cut her hair, suit on. How can they bury her as Geoff when she legally changed her name. So very sad. Jen you will be missed and people who know you know that you are at peace.”Said Gable's friend, Stacy Dee Hudson, in a post on Facebook:

Gable's obituary explicitly referred to her as male, even though Gable legally changed her name to Jennifer long before her death. Meghan Stabler, a board member of the Human Rights Campaign and member of HRC’s National Business Council, expressed disdain for the lack of respect given to Gable's body and identity.

Said Stabler:

“No mention of the woman she knew she was and had lived as for several years. Just erosion of her identity and an old photograph of how the father perceived her to be.

"She had done what she needed to do legally to be seen as her authentic self. Her father erased her identity either though ignorance or arrogance, but who knows what the parent was going through?”

Stabler met Gable online after she reached out to her for advice on how to proceed with the transition process. Mike Parke of Magic Valley Funeral Home and Crematory in Twin Falls said Gable’s death certificate listed her as male and buried her accordingly.

Said Parke:

"The death certificate says Geoffrey AKA Jennifer Gable. The last few years she lived as Jennifer. They buried him as Geoff. A tormented situation for all those involved."


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article4055600.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article4055600.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article4055600.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/gay-south-florida/article4055600.html#storylink=cpy

Austin Police Department Welcomes First Openly Transgender Officer: VIDEO

Picture 3Austin Police Department's Senior Officer Greg Abbink introduced himself as the first openly transgender man on the Austin police force during his Transgender Day of Remembrance speech outside of Austin's city hall on Thursday reports KXAN News. Officer Abbink, who joined the force a decade ago as Emily, officially changed his name this past spring. This year also marks the first time a transgender officer was chosen from APD's Lesbian and Gay Police Officers Association to deliver the speech.

Said Abbink:

“I was honored when I was asked to speak,” said Abbink. “I can’t imagine the city of Austin or the Austin Police Department, for that matter, being any more supportive than they are. I consider APD my family. They are truly my brothers and sisters.”

Officer Abbink says coming out as transgender comes with its own challenges, but recognizes there are certain rewards that come with it as well.

Added Abbink:

“I didn’t do this for anyone other than me, and I don’t mean to sound selfish, but I had to do this to be the best person that I can be, so that I can serve the public — the city of Austin — to the best of my ability.

"I'd like to be a role model if I can."

Watch Officer Abbink's interview with KNAX, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Austin Police Department Welcomes First Openly Transgender Officer: VIDEO" »


Rikers Island Jail Opening Transgender Housing Unit This Week

Rikers islandRikers Island is opening its new transgender housing wing this week for its male-to-female inmates who have yet to undergo transition surgery reports Gay City News. The news organization toured the new 30-bed facility located on the sixth floor of the jail's north infirmary command, which is not part of the jail's actual hospital. The unit is a large dormitory-style room with another smaller room complete with round tables and fixed seats where inmates can watch TV, eat or play games. Inmates have yard access and can use physical and mental health services located nearby the unit.

The jail is known for its history of unsafe conditions and documented brutality at the hands of officers. Deputy Commissioner for Strategic Planning and Programs at the Department of Correction (DOC), Erik Berliner, is assessing the safety and security of the unit.

Said Berliner:

"We are finding ways to keep people safe, giving them a place where they don’t have to worry about being themselves. This is a place that can be sensitive to them. It is the right time for it. We are reassessing everything about safety and security."

The transgender housing unit is an option offered only to transgender inmates; the inmate can voluntarily choose the unit or a unit with the rest of Rikers' 11,000 general population inmates. Berliner surveyed incoming transgender inmates, who have not had transition surgery yet, about what option they would choose. Half of those surveyed chose the new unit, and the other half chose to remain among the male inmates.

Advocates of the facility have pushed for its implementation for years. More than a 100 jail staff members received training on transgender issues by two of the advocates for the facility; Chase Strangio, himself transgender and a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, and Alisha Williams, director of prisoners’ legal services at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. Strangio spoke about the unique opportunities that the training presents.

Said Strangio:

"It's an incredible opportunity to have advocates on issues impacting trans people in confinement settings to be the ones training uniformed correctional staff. The trainings represented a point of potential progress insofar as they show a commitment by leadership at DOC on meaningful training on trans issues.

"But like with all training, the culture change that is going to need to happen is going to take much more than a two-hour training could ever accomplish. So much will depend on the governing document and our hope is that the directive will permit all trans people who wish to access the unit to do so. One of the reasons why this model is important is that it is a voluntary unit. It is not one they are forced to enter. From an advocate’s perspective, that’s the only way a unit like this could work."

WireBerliner noted that one of the trainers referred to a correction officer as a "guard," which is considered a mislabelling term among corrections officers. However, Berliner felt that it proved educational to the officers as they now understand what transgender people encounter on a daily basis. Former inmate, Maria Lopez, and executive director of transgender rights group STARR is optimistic about the program.

Said Lopez:

"Like most programs that are new and innovative, it's going to take some time to work out the kinks. But I’m optimistic. This is an opportunity to work with law enforcement for a change. I’m elated.

"What is remarkable about this opportunity is that it is about more than just getting trans people jailed better but also connecting them to services. The deputy commissioner said he will do what he can to connect people to non-profits. It will save the city money in recidivism."

Berliner urges staff, inmates and advocates to continue providing input on the new facility.

 


Transgender Woman Defends the Men Who Want to Love Her

3_shaffer

FIRST PERSON

From time to time Towleroad runs first person stories spotted on social media we think will be of interest to the broader community. If you come across a particularly timely, moving, amazing or otherwise worthy post, please let us know through our contact form or drop us an email at tips at towleroad dot com.

Towleroad reader Brooklyn Shaffer writes:

So, I met a guy I liked. We started dating and, like any girl, I had high hopes that this might be someone I could form a great relationship with. After an amazing night out at a lavish charity ball for a cause that assists people with HIV/AIDS here in my hometown New Orleans, things went south overnight. A picture of the two of us having a great time was posted online and he decided to end things with me. Unfortunately, this is not unusual.

I have had the privilege of personally knowing several amazing trans men and women. Most people have not, so this is still something that most do not understand. Fear stems from the unknown or unfamiliar which is why I like to post and be public about my transition in hopes of educating and creating familiarity in hopes of gaining acceptance not only for me but also for others like me. 

I remember a time only two decades ago when two men who love each other had to defend their right to do so. There were no gay role models or positive examples of gay people on tv. It is beautiful to see things have changed so much in a relatively short amount of time although it feels like it took forever.

For the second time in my life, I find myself in a culturally unfamiliar position as a transgendered woman. I'm writing this not in defense of my right to love as a trans woman but in defense of the men who want to love me. There is a huge part of the male population who are biologically attracted to trans women. Their attraction is as ingrained and natural as yours. No one can explain why they like who they like. 

I am here to explain that these men are no less masculine, or straight. By 'straight' I'm referring to a man who loves a woman. They are not secretly gay and are in no way attracted to other men. They are actually attracted to all things feminine. Most trans women are in tune with their femininity which is very attractive to these men. The sad reality is that this group in our society is the only group with no label.

The LGBT community has each other to identify with and to turn to for support. People who were born 'straight' have each other to relate to. The men who love trans women have no one to relate to or lean on and tend to have a great deal of shame about their attraction, keeping it from everyone they know, terrified of alienation should others find out. No one should have to be ashamed of loving another person. 

This makes things incredibly hard for women like me. I don't want to be someone's secret. By writing this I'm hoping to start a dialogue. One that will help bring this into the light so it can become familiar and no longer be feared. We all deserve to find someone to love. Including me.

Brooklyn Shaffer is an actor, an artist and a transgender woman. She lives in New Orleans. In her own words: "I'm 44, blonde, single and I love to laugh lol. Any takers?"

Previously in our FIRST PERSON series...
A Gay Man's Coming Out Letter to His Tough Ex-Marine Father [tlrd]
#WhyILeft What I First Thought Was a Consensual Leather Relationship [tlrd]
How Three Restaurant Workers Restored a Gay Man's Faith in Humanity [tlrd]


Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Transgender Son Speak Out in CBS Miami Interview: VIDEO

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL.) disclosed in an interview with CBS Miami last night that her views have changed on LGBT people after coming to terms with her transgender son's transition Mediaite reports.

Watch Ros-Lehtinen and her son's interview with CBS Miami, AFTER THE JUMP...

RoslehtinenHer son Rodrigo, born Amanda, started the transition process in 2007, and he officially went public with his identity in the interview that aired last night. Ros-Lehtinen is 100 percent supportive of her son's decision.

Said Ros-Lehtinen:

“As parents we wanted to make sure Rigo understood we were totally fine with it. We wanted to make sure he was safe. Our society is sometimes not inviting and not caring enough and there is no mystery that LGBT kids when they are younger are bullied."

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen originally voted for the Defense of Marriage Act back in 1996, but she is the only Republican to vote for its repeal. Although Rodrigo's mother is a part of a political party that aims to derail LGBT rights, Lehtinen's son loves her dearly.

Rodrigo

Said Rodrigo:

“I think she’s genuinely a good person, she may be Republican and I may not be, but she cares about people enough and the tide of history is going so much in that direction.”

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also gave advice on how parents should react to their children coming out to them. Fortunately, none of her suggestions included conversion therapy as a solution, which some members of her party support.

Said Ros-Lehtinen:

“Don’t freak out, stay calm and don’t be afraid. Love your child because that person is your child whether it’s the person you wanted him or her to be or not. That’s my advice to parents, never, never reject your child. That’s unconditional love no matter what.”

Watch Ros-Lehtinen and her son's interview with CBS Miami, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen and Transgender Son Speak Out in CBS Miami Interview: VIDEO" »


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