“I am a doctoral fellow here at UNT, teaching in the art education program. I’m a 45-year-old man of trans experience. I used to be the director of Denton Transendence, which is a support group for trans people, family, friends, and allies, so it takes a hollistic approach to trans support.”
Could you tell me about your experience?
“Well, my book title is Trans with Privilege, and it’s one of those things I was thinking about the other day, that there’s this sort of narrative that goes around about being trans as if it’s this homogeneous experience without taking into consideration intersectionality and how privilege can happen within the trans community. I have to take into account the great privilege I have now walking through life as a heterosexual white man who’s highly educated, as opposed to friends I have who transitioned in different ways to where it actually deprivileges them. One of the young adults in my family is a trans woman, and so I have to think about even within my own family, both of our positions have shifted, with me being read as male, and my niece going from male to female. With similar family, neither of us are treated well, but even within that, they’ll be more cautious about how they disrespect me, as opposed to how they disrespect her.
Lately I’ve been reminded of this story where in 1993 my motorcycle broke down on the highway off I-35 & Rosedale in Fort Worth in the middle of the night. I had to try and find a payphone to call some friends to help me out. Walking around at that time & place, alone in the dark, as a fairly small person, being read as female, it wasn’t the safest place. When I found a payphone, I realized I had no money. I saw person coming from around the corner of an abandoned building. It was this very tall women in tall heels and a green dress, in the middle of the night, on Rosedale. Sure enough it was a sex worker, but also a trans woman of color. At the time I thought ‘I don’t want this person near me.’ I had a lot of assumptions. They asked me if I needed help, and even though I insisted I didn’t, she knew I was scared, and she even knew I was scared of her. She pulled some money out of her purse, and I was able to call my friends. I told her I was fine and she could leave, but she knew things about the area I didn’t, and wanted to make sure I was safe while I waited. When my friends pull up, I went to talk to them, and when I turn around, she was already gone. I think she was worried, knowing if I’m afraid of her, who knows what my friends are like, and there’s more of us and there’s just her. It’s interesting to think when we look at trans people, I have what’s called 'passing privilege’. Most people have no idea that I’m trans without me telling them. There are so many people who may or may not have passing privilege, which can make things dangerous, especially when sex workers are already targets for violence anyway, and the highest rates of violence are against trans women of color. We often hear about trans people as victims, and here was this woman who stepped up. Didn’t know me and made sure that I was safe.”
What were some changes in privilege you noticed before & after your transition?
“Oh wow, let’s see! I’ve been a professor for several years, and when I started to transition, I did a little experiment. I was getting emails that were really hostile over little things, and they always start with Ms, Mrs, my first name, or just Hey. They would be really demanding emails, saying 'You need to do this…’. Whatever I wrote back, no matter how professionally written, I would be perceived as a bitch. I changed my name on Blackboard, and started replying to emails as Mr. Jenkins. After about a week, even within the same semester and same group of students, about 80% of the emails changed completely in tone, saying 'Mr. Jenkins, if you get a chance…’
On the other hand, around the same time, I took a night class at TWU. I was walking along the sidewalk after class, a million things going through my head, not thinking of my surroundings, except noticing a girl walking a bit in front of me. I was only 8 months into my transition, and after 42 years of thinking I need to bundle up next to somebody at night for safety, I wasn’t thinking about how there was no one around us and I’m walking in pace right behind her. I notice her keep looking around. I thought 'I wonder why she keeps looking over her shoulder like that?’ and it suddenly hit me 'Oh my god, it’s me! I’m like the creepy guy walking too close!’ So I stopped to tie my shoes and let her go on. Those are things I had to stop being aware of. Not that I would do anything, but that’s the perception, that I could be that guy who might do something.”
“I actually made this banner after the shooting at Pulse in Orlando, and there’s one ‘Love Is’ for every person who died in that massacre. I thought it was appropriate for this, it’s served its purpose in multiple protests, because it’s always a good message. The end goal is love.”
“Dermatillomania is an obsessive compulsive disorder where the ‘sufferer’, and I use that term lightly, unconsciously or deliberately scratches at their skin, usually removing scabs, moles, other imperfections, in order to produce a clean flat surface and remove blemishes, even though it creates blemishes.
I first became aware of it in high school, when I would get in trouble for having my hand down the back of my shirt during class, just absent-mindedly scratching at acne or scabs. In college it got much worse. Before I pick I generally feel anxious, and I pick to relieve some tension, because it feels good to have a smooth surface.
After it got worse in college and my 20’s, I went to a doctor and started talking about it and realized there were ways to handle it, to avoid it, to control it. Sitting on my hands is one way. While driving I wear these gloves, because I have a long commute and that’s a period where I’m all by myself and my hands are free to wander. Neck, upper chest, back, face, if I’m wearing a skirt, legs. Cruise control can be my enemy because then I can get to both feet. It can be deliberate, like I know I have these two bumps near my shoulder that I will think about during the day and be ready to go get them. Or it may be completely absent minded, where I’ll get up from a meeting and have blood spots on my legs. I do take medication for obsessive compulsive disorder, because while this isn’t the only manifestation of it, it is the most physically obvious one, resulting in scarring and visible blood. I marked the scars I could see on left side. I try to keep my nailed trimmed short so it’s harder to remove things. I use lotion to keep my skin from getting flaky. Long socks help, because you can always pull your pants up. Long sleeves and pants, to try and keep things covered. But in the summer, it’s harder. It’s not always possible to not search for the bumps.”
Mr. President how do you feel about the women’s march in
San Luis Obispo
New Smyrna Beach
West Palm Beach
Truth or Consequences
Port Jefferson Station
Corpus Christi, Texas
Salt Lake City
Washington D.C. On your front door
And many, many more
2.6 million people took part in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 countries, from Belarus to New Zealand.
Dear Mr. President,
Welcome to the revolution, you are not welcome here.
These guys were hanging out underneath a bird feeder eating spilled seeds and relaxing in the morning sun. I have no idea where they came from as this was in the middle of a suburban environment where pigs are prohibited, and where the living room furniture in most of the homes probably cost more than my Wife’s SUV and my truck, combined.
If you’re wondering, pigs can run just as fast as a dog and are 10 times smarter :).