What Black Women Taught Me About Self Determination Skills

What Black Women Taught Me About Self Determination Skills

0Shares0 0 0 0 TweetPocketMy lesson in Black women’s self determination skills began during high school. You know, the place where it’s hard to feel a sense of belonging? Being a kid who was different, way different, I congregated with others who felt like outsiders. Some were going through normal adolescent rebellion against problems at home or in school. Others had emotional and psychological difficulties that would  cascade into serious mental health disorders later in their lives. Then, there was Tee. Tee was one of very few African-American students at our high school on the northeast side of San Antonio in the 1980s. When we met in Mr. Merrick’s Biology class, we hit off, discovering a shared love of music and movies, including the fact that we were probably the  only kids at MacArthur High who’d seen Prince’s “Under the Cherry Moon” twice. She was warm and genuine, and way too together to abuse alcohol or drugs. I didn’t think about it much at the time, but wonder now how it might have been for her to go to an almost all-white school in south Texas during the 1980s. I imagine her mother telling her something like, “remember that no matter what anyone says to...

The Six Things I Love Most About Being Transgender

The Six Things I Love Most About Being Transgender

0Shares0 0 0 0 TweetPocketOne of the most revolutionary things I’ve come to realize about being transgender is that, try as I might, there’s never a day when I don’t think about it. I really do love being transgender, though. When I was younger, I really expected that someday I wouldn’t feel different from other women. I would just go about my business of being a heterosexual woman, not thinking about gender. Just, sort of…doing what straight women do. A simple desire, you see. Psychiatrists used to tell transsexual women to think that way when we we went to see them for our psych evals (in order to have sexual reassignment surgery, transsexuals are required to have two different evaluations of the diagnosis that today is called gender dysphoria). In the olden days, the psychiatrists directed us to begin thinking of ourselves as women, not as transsexuals. This way, we would have smooth and easy lives following our surgeries. This made a great deal of sense to me at 22. If only such direction had been useful or appropriate. Aside from fueling an artificial us-and-them barrier between pre- and post-operative transwomen, which exists on top of all of the other...

Suicide Survival Strategies for Loved Ones Left Behind

Suicide Survival Strategies for Loved Ones Left Behind

0Shares0 0 0 0 TweetPocketIn honor of Robin Williams, and my Own Father, Jimmy Reicherzer Losing a person who touches our life even remotely is difficult.In this week’s blog, I’ll discuss suicide survival strategies for loved ones who are left behind. Robin Williams entertained us on the big screen and in our homes, and while relatively few of the millions of people who adored his work knew him personally, we all share in the loss. Virtually inconceivable for most of us, suicide is a horrifying loss that deepens the closer that we are to the person. Even those of us closest to the suicide though are capable of healing, mending, and knowing peace. To do this, though, we must pass through the hellfire of self-blame. In the beginning, everyone remotely connected to the deceased wishes they’d said something, done something, or carried out any of a variety of actions. We all take responsibility, asking ourselves what might have been different if we’d only ______ed. When the person in question is an able-minded adult, people around us will try to offer comfort by saying, “there’s nothing you could have done.” We don’t believe it, though; because of there’s an small, scornful...

The First Time I Knew I Was Other

The First Time I Knew I Was Other

2Shares2 0 0 0 TweetPocketThe first time I knew I was Other, I was in second grade. I had never heard the word “fag.” I didn’t know what this meant, and at the age of 8, wasn’t aware enough about my own sexuality or gender identity to understand what exactly about me was being called out. In this case, it was other kids at my school telling me that I was feminine by their standards and therefore different from other boys. They decided to cast me as outsider, even though I had only known the skin I was in and didn’t feel especially weird or different. I was just me. They knew something else, too. They knew the power of words, and fag was the worst thing they could think to call me as punishment for being different. Message received. That was the first time I knew I was Other. Since that time, I’ve learned from many people about what it’s meant for them to be Other. Childhood stories abound of being tormented because of skin color, accent, a family’s religion or culture, or whether one’s parents struggled financially. For some, Otherness was about a physical quality: a birthmark, scar, or eyes that don’t align....