From The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/well/transgender-teens-binders.html
By Amy Sohn
May 31, 2019
It used to be that when a 13-year-old wanted a binder for school, it meant a trip to Staples. For today’s tweens and teens who identify as gender-nonconforming or transgender, shopping for a binder may mean a compression undergarment worn to flatten breasts.
Made of thick spandex and nylon, binders resemble tight undershirts, creating a masculine profile. The American Academy of Pediatrics has estimated that 0.7 percent of 13- to 17-year-olds in the United States, about 150,000, identify as transgender. Dr. John Steever, assistant professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in Manhattan, who runs its transgender health program and has evaluated over 500 patients from ages 8 to 23, said that almost 95 percent of the transmasculine teenagers in the program bind.
Binders are not classified as medical devices, but some doctors and parents have concerns about their safety. (Common-sense binding guidelines include: Don’t use Ace bandages or duct tape, don’t bind at night, limit a binder to eight to 10 hours a day, don’t shower in it, don’t wear two, and don’t wear one that is too small.)
Though breast compression has been around hundreds of years — think of corsets — commercial binders, primarily sold online, have been available for about 15 years. Marli Washington, 26, a transgender man and founder of GC2B Transitional Apparel, an online binder company, wrote in an email that the company had had “at least a 200 percent growth” since 2015.
Some transgender teens say they buy binders so that they can “pass” as male or to diminish feelings of discomfort with the body known as body dysphoria. And though wearing binders is temporary, their use can be associated with later medical transition. Dr. Steever said most of his patients who use binders “then tell me the next things they want to do, like testosterone, mastectomy and maybe phalloplasty. Ninety-five percent of the people I’ve evaluated get started on cross-hormones.” (Cross-gender hormone treatment in young people may affect future fertility, but data is limited.)
For transgender or gender-nonconforming teens who cannot afford binders, which start at around $30, there are free binder programs. FTM Essentials runs an application and lottery for those age 24 and under. Point of Pride, a transgender nonprofit based in Eugene, Ore., ships binders free to people of any age who express need and has sent over 4,000 nationally and internationally.
Often, teenagers first learn about binders through YouTube videos hosted by young people. An instructional video called “Chest binding” by a Norwegian teenager named Kovu Kingsrod, who wears as many as three sports bras a day, has more than a million views.
By Lara Takenaga
June 17, 2019
A recent Times article on chest binding prompted a discussion among readers about the practice, which some transgender and gender-nonconforming people use to compress their breasts and treat body dysphoria, as well as how we covered it.
We wanted to hear more from people who have used chest binders, so we asked readers to tell us why they’ve worn them and what effect binding has had on their lives. We received more than 200 responses, mostly from teenagers and young adults.
Below is a selection of the responses, which have been edited and condensed.
If you have used chest binders, please tell us about your experience in the comments.
Continue reading at: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/31/well/transgender-teens-binders.html
Guardian investigation finds increased hostility towards trans people who could lose everything if they are outed
by Ed Pilkington in New York
Thu 13 Jun 2019
Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the US military has spread a pall of fear over the 15,000 personnel it touches and emboldened hostility towards even those on the frontline of active duty, an investigation by the Guardian has found.
The ban kicked in on 12 April and, two months into its imposition, the full chilling effects are only now becoming apparent. Under its terms, trans people seeking to enlist in the military are subject to an almost total exclusion unless they keep their gender identity hidden.
Most individuals who are already serving are similarly forced to keep their true selves tightly closeted. There are exceptions, but they are narrowly defined and hard to procure.
Last week, Trump tried to justify the ban by complaining about the high costs associated with treating military personnel for gender dysphoria, the formal diagnosis when an individual’s gender is different from the one assigned to them at birth. In fact the entire medical budget for gender transition-related care is a tenth what the armed forces spend annually on Viagra and Cialis.
The US president has also blamed trans individuals for causing “tremendous disruption” within the armed forces. That conflicts with the experience of 19 countries including Australia, Canada, Germany and the UK that have allowed trans people to serve without incident.
In the US, all four military service chiefs have testified before Congress that there were no known negative effects during the three years in which President Obama opened the doors to trans people.
“The biggest impact of the ban is that we are denying ourselves future heroes. Our nation needs the best and finest to fight and win future wars and we are turning away people just because they are trans,” said Lt Col B Fram, communications director of SPART*A, an education and advocacy group representing trans service members.
The Guardian partnered with SPART*A to investigate how Trump’s ban is bearing down on trans women and men in active duty settings. Here we profile four people in the navy and air force.
All are in aircrew and at the sharp end of the US fighting machine. They are familiar with the intense sacrifices to family and self that a military career involves, and have put their lives on the line in conflict zones.
Yet they are now having to cope with severe pressures brought about by the ban. That includes mounting hostility from transphobic peers who see Trump’s move as license to taunt and ridicule, as well as the daily fear that if they are outed as trans they could lose everything.
The stakes are now so high that all four spoke to the Guardian insisting on absolute anonymity. As one of them put it: “If I were found out by even one person, that would be the end of my flying career.”
When you meet Emily Finnerty in person, as the Guardian did recently, she comes across as more Tom Cruise than Tom Cruise. She has the same piercing gaze and verbal intensity of the Top Gun star, especially when describing the sensation of piloting an F-18 Super Hornet, the fighter jet that Cruise will fly in the sequel to the classic movie scheduled for release next year.
If Cruise’s role in Top Gun is Hollywood’s attempt to personify American military might and patriotic service, then Finnerty is the real deal. She knows what it’s like to fly at Mach speeds in that state-of-the-art $90m fighting machine. She has felt the punch in the gut when the aircraft explodes from the deck of a US navy carrier and endured the bone-crushing sustained 7.5gs of the dogfights that followed.
She is familiar with the terror and exhilaration of going zero to 160mph in two seconds. She can recall the glory of flying low through the canyons of Utah or the beauty of hugging the mountains of California. And she’s been there when training gets serious, notching up 60 combat missions in the all-too-real war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Through all that, there has been the sacrifice that being on the frontlines of the US military extracts from her family and from herself. “My children didn’t know me, I was away so much. My back’s destroyed from the G-force. I’ve had near-death experiences from aircraft failure and I’ve seen friends die. But I’ve never betrayed the trust of my country and I’ve always answered the call.”
The US military has spent more than $11m in turning Finnerty from a young navy recruit over a decade ago into a lieutenant commander today. But now it is in danger of squandering every cent of that investment, by effectively valuing her as worthless.
Since the age of 10, Finnerty has secretly struggled with dysphoria. Though assigned male at birth, and presenting in public and within the navy as male, she has strong urges to transition and live authentically as a woman.
She came out to her wife and parents only a few weeks ago and is working through the trauma of that shattering revelation with her supportive family. If it is hard at home, it is far more difficult at work. Under the terms of Trump’s ban she will only be able to stay in the navy if she continues to wrap herself in a lie. She must put aside any desire to live as her authentic self and forego any medical treatment in order to present as a man and be allowed to continue to serve.
By Aussie Dave
June 13, 2019
The US on Wednesday accused Iran of violating fundamental human rights after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Sarif endorsed the execution of gay people.
Sarif defended his country’s draconian policies at a joint press conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Tehran on Monday.
A reporter from German tabloid Bild asked: “Why are homosexuals executed in Iran because of their sexual orientation?”
He responded: “Our society has moral principles. And we live according to these principles. These are moral principles concerning the behavior of people in general. And that means that the law is respected and the law is obeyed,” after railing against human rights violations by the US and Israel.
But the real story here is the silence of most of the mainstream media, the likes of Human Rights Watch, and those who accuse Israel of “pinkwashing” because we have the audacity to treat LGBTQ well here (unlike how they treated in every other country in the Middle East).
Plus I am willing to bet if someone turned up to the DC Dyke March draped in an Iranian flag, they would not be accosted with numerous demands to remove it.
By Julie Compton
June 3, 2019
Army Capt. Alivia Stehlik is a graduate of West Point and Army Ranger School, a former infantry platoon leader, a physical therapist and a veteran of the Afghan war. She’s also a proud transgender woman.
When Stehlik, 32, testified before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington in February, she wanted the committee to know one thing: Living openly as a transgender woman has not affected her ability to defend her country.
“Has my transition made soldiers uncomfortable? Absolutely not,” Stehlik told the subcommittee, which at the time was considering a ban on transgender troops that officially took effect in April.
Stehlik, an Army physical therapist stationed in Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, reiterated that sentiment during an interview with NBC News.
“I went to these remote outposts with the most alpha male types that our Army has, and they were thrilled to have me and invited me back, and the fact that I was trans, they didn’t care,” she said. “They just wanted me to be competent, and I was.”
When, in 2016, the military lifted its original ban on transgender troops, Stehlik was thrilled. She transitioned in May 2017, and has lived openly as a woman ever since.
But her enthusiasm would be short lived. In April, the Pentagon implemented the Trump administration’s new policy to ban transgender troops from serving openly in the military.
While the Defense Department has said the policy is not a ban, the policy states that transgender troops cannot enlist or serve if they live openly in their preferred gender, and are disqualified if they have received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria — the mismatch a trans person may feel between their gender identity and biological sex.
But soldiers like Stehlik, who transitioned before the policy took effect, are exempt from those rules.
“Why am I different?” Stehlik asked. “To me, it’s just clearly discriminatory.”
Stehlik spent a year as an infantry platoon leader in South Korea in 2009. She graduated from the Army’s physical therapy school in 2016, and deployed to Afghanistan from May 2018 to January 2019, where she provided physical therapy to combat soldiers.
She’s optimistic that the ban on trans military personnel will be lifted.
“I have zero doubt that one day this question will be settled and trans people will be a full and welcome part of the military community and of the world,” Stehlik said.
I started hormones in March of 1969. I was already androgynous enough to be asked if I were a boy or a girl and after three months most new people I met assumed I was a girl. Plus it was getting hard to hide my emerging itchy boobs.
The People’s Park Riots in May had delayed my going full time. As May turned to June I stopped pretending and just started letting it happen. Once I decided to be myself, presenting as a boy felt odd and after a few days I was just a hippie chick. One night the people in the commune decided it was wrong to use my dead name. They really made an effort and after a few days it became natural.
People saw how happy I was.
A week or so later Stonewall happened and a couple of weeks later I read about it in the Under Ground Press.
But mostly that summer was about being a Berkeley hippie chick.
Deserter friends split for Canada along with a boy named Morey, who I was seriously in love with.
We landed on the Moon.
I missed Woodstock but saw a bunch of other bands including the Rolling Stones in Oakland. Skipped Altamont because I had a job and it didn’t sound like it would be much fun.
I was a hippie, not part of any trans-community, that would come later.
We have lost the words we used to describe our lives. “Hippie Chick.” The language police would mark that one out just as they would transsexual.
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
The 1960s became the 1970s. Town House Explosions and Kent State. I took up with Jerry, a Marine fresh back from Vietnam and too restless angry to bother waiting for an official discharge. I was doing sex work and we were a couple straight out of the Jane Fonda/Donald Sutherland movie “Steelyard Blues.” We were crazy brave and crazy happy. When Jerry got busted I got him out.
I went to work with the National Transsexual Counseling Unit in SF, co-running it with Jan Maxwell.
Then in June of 1972 around the solstice I had my sex change operation.
The following year I discovered LA and Jerry and I discovered open relationships didn’t work all that well.
In 1974 I went to my first Pride Day, picked from the crowd to speak because of my work with the NTCU my connection to the LGBT world was already becoming more and more about the L-word and less and less about the T-word. I was held by more of a sense of obligation, a need to see others pick up the work.
And the words of “The Circle Game” keep playing. Life is like a river not a quiet lake.
By the time of the internet, long before Facebook, when Usenet and mailing lists were the hottest thing around, I realized language had changed. My experiences and memories remain mine but now I am expected to remember certain events differently and use different words to describe my life.
Somewhere during that half century I stopped feeling trans, stopped seeing others as trans. We became just people a different kind of ordinary not defined by trans-prefixed words.
Now with marriage equality and a nearly 2 decade relationship, hair that has turned gray, I or perhaps I should say we, have joined a much broader community of Elders. I like the word Elder better than senior citizen.