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    Why have we forgotten the Trans Women Community?

    Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells

    Why have we forgotten the Trans Women Community?

    The year 2020 faces a grim statistic regarding the Trans community.  (1) In seven months, at least 28 Trans women have been murdered with little recognition by the media.  Why haven’t we heard more about the issue and challenges of this community?  It may start with the fact that they are misunderstood. All most of us see when we look at them is a man in a dress.  For most of us (even some of us within the gay community) the idea of understanding what they go through just to exist is something that does not cross the average person’s mind.  Many regard the Trans community as being the sub-culture of the LGBTQ community.  They are regarded with disdain if not downright disgust…especially among heterosexual men.

    The average man does not want nor do they desire to understand the Transgender community because they view it as something that is in direct conflict with who they are as men.

    Some of us regard their existence as being for entertainment value and then dismiss them when the show is over.

    Many trans women live dangerously; often relegated to the sex industry as a means of making money to survive.

    The stories behind their lives are filled with hurt, disappointment and rejection.  Their families do not provide the support and understanding that they need to survive.

    Some of them have taken to forming their own family within the gay community; hiding during the day and only coming out at night.  And it is at night that the horror begins.  The listing below is a listing of the 28 Trans women that have died this year:

     (2) Names of those murdered, or suspected of being murdered, compiled by NCTE:

    • Dustin Parker, McAlester, OK
    • Alexa Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico
    • Yampi Méndez Arocho, Moca, Puerto Rico
    • Monica Diamond, Charlotte, NC
    • Lexi, New York, NY
    • Johanna Metzger, Baltimore, MD
    • Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Bayamon, Puerto Rico
    • Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Puerto Rico
    • Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Puerto Rico
    • Nina Pop, Sikeston, MO
    • Helle Jae O’Regan, San Antonio, TX
    • Tony McDade, Tallahassee, FL
    • Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Philadelphia, PA
    • Riah Milton, Liberty Township, OH
    • Jayne Thompson, Mesa County, CO
    • Selena Reyes Hernandez, Chicago, IL
    • Brayla Stone, Sherwood, AR
    • Merci Mack, Dallas, TX
    • Shaki Peters, Amite City, LA
    • Bree “Nuk” Black, Pompano Beach, FL
    • Summer Taylor, Seattle, WA
    • Draya McCarty, Baton Rouge, LA
    • Tatiana Hall, Philadelphia, PA
    • Marilyn Cazares, Brawley, CA
    • Tiffany Harris, The Bronx, NY
    • Queasha D. Hardy, Baton Rouge, LA
    • Brian “Egypt” Powers, Akron, OH
    • Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, Portland, OR
    HRC Mourns Queasha D Hardy, Black Trans Woman Killed in Louisiana

    Hardy’s death is believed to be the at least 25th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S.  She was fatally shot in Baton Rouge, LA.

    Johanna Metzger

    Johanna Metzger is believed to be the sixth transgender or gender non-conforming person violently killed this year in the U.S.

    Nina Pop

    Trans Woman Nina Pop Stabbed to Death in Missouri

    By highlighting just a few of the deaths of people that belong to the gay community, the hope is that a light is shone on their lives and how they are no less loved, no less cherished and deserve better treatment by our law officials.

    The police do not have a good relationship for most of the women that encompass the trans community largely because they are regarded as men that are breaking the law.

    Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells

    Figure 2Riah Milton of Liberty Township

    Two Black trans women have been reported dead this week. Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells of Philadelphia, PA and Riah Milton of Liberty Township, Ohio. #RestInPower #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter

    Riah Milton

    Often, the women are dismissed not as women but as things that don’t have emotions or feelings because of when they come out, what they do to survive and the fact that most of them do not have insurance and as a result have to pay out of pocket for any hospital visits for injuries incurred during their time of existence.

    It is time for the lgbtq community to embrace the members that make up the Trans community because they are truly the forgotten; their deaths meaning nothing in the media.  Their value is in understanding that these people have lives that are led in ways that work for them. Their deaths deserve to have meaning.  Most times, their deaths are reported to the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) which are one of the few organizations that keep track of their deaths. But what if we all could embrace our sisters?  What if we could force ourselves to understand that their existence is connected to our very existence of all people?

    What if we could convince ourselves that it is time to care?

    ~J.L. Whitehead

    1. https://transequality.org/blog/murders-of-transgender-people-in-2020-surpasses-total-for-last-year-in-just-seven-months

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    When you fall in love with yourself

    When I initially heard of the concept of falling in love with yourself, I thought it was a fallacy…something that only existed in movies and books where the main characters have happy endings. For entertainment purposes, that was all fine and well, but it hardly suited real life.  It was easier for me to fall in love with someone else than it was to consider how I felt about myself.  Even though I was half of any personal relationship that I found myself in, I always considered the needs of the person that I was with.  How I felt in the realms of the relationship was secondary which made it easier for me to be at the mercy of the man that I was with.

    The first two relationships that I was a part of made those it easy for those men to manipulate me into being a man that I didn’t want to be.  The first relationship showed me that I had no desire to be involved in extra curricular as a norm.  I realized that my partner at the time wanted a reason to cheat when the opportunity presented itself.  How I felt about it didn’t matter.  I didn’t think about this until later…much later.

    My second partner’s ideals and principles seemed more simplistic at the time.  He wanted me to make him the center of my life.  And for a short period of time, we were happy.  He was happy being with me and I was more than okay with that…until he decided that he wanted something more; or rather he wanted someone new.  I had allowed him to systematically eliminate all my support systems; starting with my family and ending with the few friends that I had.  Once he had me where he wanted me, he took himself out of the equation.  He found man after man and with each one of them, excuse after excuse to keep me hanging on while he acted as if he were free.

    I was young…built and swollen in all the right places.  He knew what I was as well as what I was not.  And with what I was not came other boys that had everything that I didn’t.  He knew this and played the game well; but it wasn’t until I left him that I realized the toxicity of what he brought into my life.

    It is critical to anyone reading this editorial that if you believe that you are in either one of these scenarios, you may want to re-consider why you decided to stay with someone that didn’dt value you.  Even more importantly, why didn’t you consider yourself worthy of deserving more when someone treated you badly initially.

    I thought about this for an exceptionally long time after I came out of those toxic relationships. I would never go through anything like that again. 

    And I haven’t.

    This editorial however isn’t about me.  Its about you.  Do you drink too much, too frequently?  Do you wake up beside someone that you didn’t know after a night of drinking?  Are you moody throughout the day but the life of the party on either Friday or Saturday nights?

    And here is one more profoundly serious question you must ask yourself.  Why do you drink/drug and sex too much?  Think back to a part of yourself that you tried to forget.  Are there any memories that you have that are hazy or the chain of events that you struggle to forget but for some reason can’t?

    I pieced the data together slowly and deliberately.  I took a step back away from the bars and took the time to meet someone that I wanted to spend time with…not for an hour but a significant amount of time.

    I realized that it wasn’t until I fell in love with me and recognized my worth that I stopped taking the scraps of men that wanted to sleep with me; no matter how attractive they were.

    Falling in love with yourself is not that difficult. You must recognize when you’re being mistreated and take the necessary steps to remove yourself from the situation.

    Understand this…the man that is mistreating you isn’t going to change.  He will not get this sudden epiphany that he has someone special.  Why?  Honestly, I can’t answer that. You must know that you are special.  You must carry that with you every day for the rest of your life.  You deserve to be loved the way that you need to be loved. You are worth more than a lame excuse often served up when your significant other comes walking in at three in the morning.

    I am not saying this because it sounds good or that I have a degree in psychology.  I am telling you this because I lived each one of these scenarios.  I can attest to what a selfish man can do to you if you let him, regardless if the man is gay or straight.

    I’ve heard in circles that I travel in that loving yourself doesn’t require a tremendous amount of effort.  Sometimes, you have to tell yourself that no matter who the person that you fell in love with happens to be; it doesn’t matter how many apologies they give you after they beat you; your relationship should be the one place that provides you with peace and harmony.  It should be your shelter from the storms of life.

    Or at least it should be in theory.

    There isn’t a gay man alive that doesn’t know what the term daddy/mommy issues.  I played those schoolyard games at all every one of the elementary schools that I attended. I accepted the role of son to other school aged kids were the norm. It wasn’t until I got a little older and began to love who I was.  This may be difficult if you are beneath the age of consent. I get it.  I was young once.  I stumbled through my teen-age years all the while missing my father so desperately that I would have done anything to fill the void that he left behind.  And yet, this isn’t about me.  This is about you.

    You know who you are.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    RAINN

    Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network

    800-656-Hope (4673)

    https://www.rainn.org/

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    How to get through the era of COV-19 and keep your sanity

    COV-10

    We thought that we would have gotten through this epidemic by now.  We thought that wearing a mask would have passed by now.  It didn’t.  As I write this, there are (1) 2.74 Million confirmed cases of COV-19 in the United States.  844 K cases have recovered.  As of today, 130 K deaths have occurred in this country because of a virus that we do not know that much about.  Personally, I have been sporting a mask whenever I leave my home.  I do not go out that often but when I do, I always have a mask.  Right now, there are at least five masks in the back seat of my car.

    There is nothing wrong with wearing a mask despite the inconvenient factor that accompanies the idea of going to the store, market of pharmacy.  And right now, this is our life…like it or not.

    The hard part would be to get your entire family to wear a mask that is designed to protect others in addition to yourself.  Despite all of this, we as Americans are powering through this epidemic.  We are doing what we need to do to reduce the spread of COV-19.  And it truly is about not spreading it to others’, which includes social gatherings in bars, restaurants or in any venue that can house at least 10 people.

    This is about not spreading the virus that has claimed so many American lives.  We need to show who we are as the American People and put an end to spreading a disease that initially seems so simple.

    I had a medical procedure recently and I had to get tested for the virus.  My results came back negative and I was able to have the procedure.  But admittedly, I do not always cover my nose with the mask because it makes it difficult to breathe.  I try to catch my breath when I lift the mask off of my face for a moment just to breathe normally…and although I may be exposing myself (and others) to the possibility of becoming infected, I have to catch that breath before going into the store.

    So how can you get through this outbreak and keep your sanity?  Believe it or not, surround yourself with immediate family and enjoy the times that you share.  Obviously, if you can work from home, you do your work fairly and log on and off when you’re supposed to.

     You are probably already ordering from restaurants to support the workers and feed your family.  Go to the market and get groceries that will last you a few days so that you can plan your menu for your family.  Select days that you can cook for your family and enjoy the time that you have together.

    And here’s the most important thing…you now have the ability to do some of the things that you put off doing because you didn’t have the time to get them done.

    I have found more time to write.  I spend some time in prayer and I count my blessings.  I realize that some of you cannot work from home and you may be facing issues and circumstances that are larger than I can cover in this article.

    We are going through several epidemics in addition to the COV-19. We have racial unrest like we’ve never seen before.  White people may feel like they are under attack because people of color are protesting the murder of people of color by the police.  I assure you; it is not about that.  Fairness hopefully will come for everyone.  Hopefully, we will see the beauty in diversity in which everyone can have a place at the table.  Obviously, there will be some that will disagree with this and I do not have an answer for them.  Keeping things status quo will not help everyone.

    But what will work for us is wearing a mask when we go outdoors and when you are out, practice social distancing even if you are going to the store.

    As much as we may want to go to the gym, bar or restaurant, until they have a cure, err on the side of caution and don’t go to the event.

    Everything that I am saying I am sure you’ve heard before.  But it bears repeating.  Save yourself the headache and stay indoors.

    ~ J.L. Whitehead

    References:

    How to get through this era of COV-19 and keep your sanity1. https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=how+many+Americans+have+died+because+of+the+corona+virus%3F

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    What kind of people will we be at the end of this pandemic?

    Who will we be after this pandemic?

    I’ve seen so many commercials emanating what the essence of the American spirit looks like.  I’ve seen images of major company’s displaying their generosity to the American public by providing everything from much needed food to supplies to facial masks needed for the survival of the citizens of this country; which gives me pause as to who we are as well as what we hope to be once we come out of this global pandemic.

    Who will we be when we come out on the other side of this illness?  Will we have learned anything at all especially when it comes to the respect of life after a disease that has killed over 1) 106,000 people in this country alone: 370,000 souls worldwide?

    I am constantly reminded of our new normal in the news cycles, the commercials that we take in as well as the people that we see on the street.  Everyone has on a mask that they hope will protect them from the coronavirus.

    But I wonder if we’ve truly learned a much-needed lesson from all of this.  As front-line responders continue to put their lives on the line and fight for those of us that can’t, I am amazed, and I take my hat off to you.  My younger brother is a police officer in Delaware.  He along with many others continue to fight against crime and illness regardless of the provisions they have in place at the moment.

    Will we remember those that have fallen in the name of what is right and decent?  Will their lives continue to matter long after this pandemic is over even as their families continue to grieve their passing because of their unselfish sacrifice?

    Or will we go back to being a divided people?  I wonder if we are more comfortable hating one another for one reason manufactured in our imaginations because we need someone to blame for our misfortunes. Slowly but surely, the middle class is being erased much to the dismay of everyone around us.  The blame does not rest on everyone and everything with the exceptions of where the blame rightfully belongs.

    We have the choice to come out better and truly being our brother’s keeper because that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  It doesn’t matter how you make a difference as long as you do.  Every contribution is appreciated.  Every hour donated to help our neighbors who probably never thought they would need the type of assistance provided is one filled with gratitude.

    More importantly, (and no one is talking about this now) is that we are seeing the slow erosion of the middle class.  The middle class never thought for a moment that they would need the type of assistance that they are getting.  In the meantime, the wealthy don’t experience any of the hardships that the poor and middle class have had to endure.  No one is talking about that.

    So, who will we be after this pandemic?

    We argue, fight and agree to disagree; but we’ll always be at odds with one another. The reason for this difference is not because we don’t understand where we are as a people.  We understand where we are all too well.  One of the main problems with that that thought process is that we don’t believe it.

    There are two America’s that exist…not one.  There is an America for people of color, and there is an America for whites.  The moment we understand this, the better off we’ll be.  We’ll be able to address the issue of race in this country without the anger that is deeply hidden on both sides.

    We march because we’re tired of dying and no one doing anything about it.

    We need to come to grips with the fact that we have always been divided as a country.  The division didn’t just come about because of Donald Trump.  He is a symptom, not a cause. If you look at our history (and I hate to say this) but people of color have never been welcomed in this land unless we were to assume the role of being subservient to white people.  White people need to own how they feel.  They also need to own why because it’s that thought process that caused many people so much pain.

    However, whenever this topic is brought up, it’s often in an accusatory tone in which white people will react with the look that all people have come to know.  Anger runs deep when one race mistreats another.  But the reality is that white people need to own what has happened in the past so that we can move forward as a people.

    ‘There are two America’s that exist…not one.  There is an America for people of color, and there is an America for whites.  The moment we understand this, the better off we’ll be.  We’ll be able to address the issue of race in this country without the anger that is deeply hidden on both sides.” ~ J.L.Whitehead

    Part of the problem is that most white people are acutely aware of what has been done.  In their minds, two things are going on.  One is that they personally should not be held responsible for any mistreatment of people of color in the past because in their mind, they haven’t personally violated the rights of anyone.  The second is that even though the average white claims to not see color, you see it all the time.

    But who will we be once the corona virus scare is over?  Will white people respond with understanding or more hatred?  I’m not sure because the two America’s that I described is so deeply entrenched in our DNA and yet we don’t acknowledge or respond to it.

    We live under a flag that is supposed to cover all of u