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I don't so much have any news story this evening as some philosophical discussion.  I'd like to invite my readers to listen to a couple of voices they probably have not been aware of.

 photo Johnson_zps10753f4a.jpgDr. E. Jaye Johnson is chief executive officer of KingMakerz Consulting, Marketing and Branding, vice chair of the Transgender Advisory Board of the City of West Hollywood and a member of LA Pride's Transgender Coalition.  He has published an Op-Ed at the Advocate:  LA PRIDE Makes a Transgender First.

Meanwhile Jerry Davich of the Chicago Sun-Times introduces us to Kaden S. in Transgender teen slowly lowering his shield.

 photo Kaden_zpscf23c491.jpgKaden tries not to smile…because when he does it reveals feminine facial features.  He hates this.

It reveals my secret identity.

--Kaden

Kaden, 19,  grew up confused in rural Valparaiso.  He wasn't sure if he was gay, lesbian or bisexual.  At the time, transgender was not on the menu.
I had no idea it existed or other people like me existed.  I thought I was the only one.  It was very lonely.

--Kaden

Dr. Johnson writes about the decision of LA Pride to relabel itself as a TLGB Celebration…placing the T first.
Decades after trans* women of color led the Stonewall riots, the general public still has to learn a lot about our issues.  Yes, language and pronouns are a good foundation.  And we need to talk about why we are targeted at higher rates for hate crimes and other violence, not to mention our higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, and access to proper health care, among other disparities.  But the idea to focus on trans issues isn’t solely directed at educating the straight community.  We need to start enlightening the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community too.

Whether we want to admit it or not, we haven’t done the groundwork in unifying the community.  We can start by engaging in meaningful dialogue that creates relatedness, connection and understanding of each other’s journeys.

--Dr. Johnson

Johnson shares his own coming out as a lesbian first and then as a transman…and the fact that it was easier for him to come out as a lesbian because of the lack of respect and disregard for transpeople from lesbians and gay men.

He's at a different stage in life than Kaden, who is looking forward to starting testosterone therapy soon.

I can’t wait.  

It’s one of my first physical steps.

--Kaden

Growing up, Kaden was teased, bullied, and even assaulted.  He was labeled as gay…a butch lesbian.
If you fit the stereotype in our society then people think they know who you are or what you are.  I hated fitting the gender norms of society.  It never felt right.  I always felt wrong.

--Kaden

After following a spiritual path that allowed me to fully accept my authentic self, I was better prepared to let go of the judgment that I felt and embrace myself as a trans man.  But this is where the journey of trans people is very different from coming out as lesbian or gay.  It’s a completely different evolution of having to explain your identity while pushing through ignorance and stigma.  And that’s while also often being judged within our own community.

--Dr. Johnson

Kaden says that his inner conflict forced him to grow up faster than most children…costing him a portion of his childhood.  He was in a rush to get to an age in which he could dress himself and have his hair cut like he wanted it.
When I finally did, freshman girls thought I was a boy and some had a crush on me.  But that didn’t last too long.  Everyone eventually found out my identity again.

--Kaden

He tried dating boys, but says it felt fake.
My first sexual experience with a boy was horrible.  I hated it.

--Kaden

Admittedly, one could argue that transgender men may have an “easier” journey than transgender women.  It may have something to do with the fact that trans women are objectified and are primary victims of hate crimes around the world.  It saddens me to know that some of the hate and discrimination trans people experience comes from within the community we know and love, our own.

--Dr. Johnson

It could also be because transwomen have made too many cocks hard.

Kaden wears a binder to hide his breasts. It is physically uncomfortable but emotionally liberating.

I want to be recognized for my inner personality, but my outward image and identity is the problem.

Most people think I’m a guy…as long as I don’t talk.

--Kaden

I’m happy, sort of, for the most part.  I feel like if I’m being me, then I’m hurting other people.  Yet I need to be who I really am.

--Kaden

And how sad is that…for us to have to feel like we are hurting others by just being ourselves?

What does he fear most?

Well, I don’t want to be alone in life.  I mean, who does?

--Kaden

No longer will trans people sit idly by and quietly wait for anyone to acknowledge, approve, support, or empower them.  The trans movement is passionately pushing forward.  It’s a young movement and ideally benefits from the experience and knowledge of our LGB community members and our allies and we cannot wait any longer.  Christopher Street West gets this, hence the creation of the Transgender Coalition to utilize the power of LA PRIDE to educate and celebrate, and the reason I am honored and proud to be a part of it.  

Taking massive action is the way to get folks to wake up and get present to what’s going on around them.  Moving the T to the front of the acronym is massive action.  Our community gets to be present to the fact that every time a crime of hate or discrimination or oppression is committed toward a trans person, it is committed toward all of us.

--Dr. Johnson

Originally posted to TransAction on Tue Mar 18, 2014 at 04:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by LGBT Kos Community and Voices on the Square.

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