Trans* Awareness Month: My Journey to Living Authentically

The following guest post comes to us via Kelley Dupps, public policy manager for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

standwithpp picNovember is Trans* Awareness Month — an awareness focused on the lives and experiences of those who identify as trans* (the T in LGBTQ) or queer or questioning (the Q).

It’s important to point out the dubious character of the word “queer.” While used as an epithet to shame LGBTQ people, the word has been reclaimed by many members of the community as reflective of their identity. Remember, Facebook allows more than 50 ways to identify one’s identity and orientation; and for many, “queer” is seen as less restrictive than many of the other letters in the LGBTQ alphabet soup.


When we love someone, gender doesn’t matter.


Planned Parenthood historically has been there for the LGBTQ community — from supporting the early liberation movement to compassionately working with HIV/AIDS patients, to today addressing the issues continually chipping away at equality for all. Planned Parenthood continues to stand with the LGBTQ community in calling for continued equality in all aspects.

Planned Parenthood has always believed in one’s autonomy over one’s own body, identity, and decisions — and that is no different when it comes to supporting and fighting for trans equality. But what are we talking about when we say “trans*”? Identifying as transgender means that one’s own gender identity is different than the gender assigned at birth. The term “trans*” serves as an umbrella for other transgender identities, such as genderqueer and gender fluid to name a couple of examples. Many folks know of Caitlyn Jenner’s decision to come out and live her life authentically. She was honest that she could no longer fake it through life — the toll was too much on her soul. It was a sentiment that I could identify with. Continue reading

Where the Revolution Continues: Inside the Second Annual Body Love Conference

A speaker at the 2014 Body Love Conference. Photo: Body Love Conference

A speaker at the 2014 Body Love Conference. Photo: Body Love Conference

The Body Love Conference debuted last year, riding on Tucsonan Jes Baker’s breakthrough success in body-positive blogging. Baker’s dating woes — and how they affected the way she saw herself in the mirror — sent her on a personal journey of body acceptance. Before long, the personal became political as she launched a blog called The Militant Baker, a place where could share with others what she had learned on her own journey. The Militant Baker soon reached a readership of about 20,000 — and then nearly a million as some of her content went viral.


We are maligned for wanting control over our bodies.


But Baker, along with a team of like-minded advocates and volunteers, knew that the movement needed something else as well: a safe but more public space for seeing, feeling, and asserting body love, where empowering words could translate into empowering actions. The Body Love Conference was their brainchild, and their months of preparation to make it happen paid off on April 5, 2014, with an event that drew more than 400 people.

The momentum continued this year with the second annual Body Love Conference, held at the Pima Community College West Campus on June 6. The message was the same, but a lot of things were different this year. Baker passed the torch to the other BLC volunteers so that she could turn her attention to her first book, slated for release on October 27. Meanwhile, the BLC team decided on a smaller, regional conference, so that they, too, could focus on something further out: a national “headliner” conference in 2016. Continue reading

Selenis Leyva: What Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover Sparked for Me as Sister of Trans Woman

Our 2015 I Stand emcee, Selenis Leyva, wrote about her own personal story in light of Caitlyn Jenner’s debut. Her original post was in Latin@ Magazine, but the Huffington Post has pics with her beautiful sister. Simply, a wonderful story on the still-common struggle of our trans brothers, sisters, and siblings.

Caitlyn, Marizol, and many folks just like me are the next wave of civil rights seekers.

Know hope.

What Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair Cover Sparked For Me As Sister of Trans Woman
by Selenis Leyva, via Huffington Post

Selenis_LeyvaYou may know me as Gloria Mendoza, the no-nonsense, badass head of the Latina crew on Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black.” Oh, did I mention my killer eyebrow game? Yup, that’s me. My name is Selenis Leyva, and I am a true New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx. I’ve been chasing the dream of being a professional actress for 20 years, and here I am!

Granted, “Orange” is not my first gig. I have worked on numerous television shows, including all the “Law & Orders,” “The Sopranos,” “Girls, “Veep” … you get the idea. And a couple of films. I started out in the theater and built a strong foundation for hard work. But yes, “Orange Is The New Black” has changed my life. I am a mother, a daughter and a sister who goes in hard for those she loves and harder for what she believes in. Continue reading