Letter To My Mother!

Ma,

I just wanted to say a few things here to clear the air. It is not your fault that I am a Transsexual woman. My gender was determined before I was born. It has nothing to do with the way I was raised. There is nothing to feel guilty about because I have chosen to live out the rest of my life in the gender I have always been aware of since I was about 6 years old.

After 50 years I finally feel comfortable in my own skin. I am more outgoing, personable, self-aware and compassionate than I was before I transitioned. I know my decision to transition caught you by surprise and probably disappointed you too. I realize that me living the rest of my life as a woman is not what you expected or envisioned for your son.

I know I will never be your daughter, and I will always be your son. I have accepted that because you have known Anthony all your life and just had Lillith dumped on you. That was not my intention. I tried to transition the right way so people could process my transition in their own way and that’s why I came to everyone and told them first.  There is no “right way” to transition. I felt that a slow transition was not as congruous to my life so I decided to transition on the “fast track”. I know I am headstrong and have always been. I get my determination and strengths from you and the positive examples you did pass on to me.

There is an actual science behind me being a transsexual woman the same way there is a science behind someone who is intersex. (Hermaphrodite no longer acceptable word) The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) http://www.psych.org/MainMenu/Research/DSMIV.aspx goes into detail about Gender Identity disorder (GID). (Sorry, I know how you hate acronyms)

I have resolved that my children call me dad and I will always be their father. I know that I should be sensitive to how the family feels but it should be reciprocal. For example, Jason calls me dad because I am his father but when other people are around or we are in public he will call me Lilli because he doesn’t want me to feel humiliated when other people happen to hear us talking. Also, even though I am his Father, he sees me for me and is comfortable having a Transsexual father for a parent. Gender is not black and white but is actually many shades of grey the way a white pearl is not actually white but many colors of the spectrum.

I don’t try to justify my transition or educate anyone on the fundamental mechanics behind being transsexual. I do try to be sensitive to other people without compromising my own self being. I try to help other people as much as I can to the best of my ability. I have started a support organization to provide resources and services for other people like me and their families. North East Transwomens Alliance (NETA Inc.) http://netahealth.org/ and I hope you look at my web site and see who your son is.

I hope you read this, and we can reconcile our relationship mutually and it will be beneficial and peaceful.

“As I Walk Through Life”

I live each day to be myself.

The people around me deny my worth.

I treat each one as I wish to be.

They talk and whisper and say,

“You don’t belong.”

 

I pray each night

That I would wake up and be normal

Like everyone else.

The answer is always the same,

“You are my child and I love you as I made you,

special and unique.”

 

I walk each day in my own torture and misery.

I look around and the see the hell other people live.

I remember those comforting words from GOD

And smile inside.

 

My days may be long and unpleasant for me

But this too shall come to an end

And my tears will be turned to joy.

 

– LiLLi…

Who makes my arrangements after I’m gone!

I recently sat down and had coffee with a funeral director.  Our discussion was specifically, who has the legal rights to present the final arrangements for someone Transgender after they pass on.  Obviously, after you pass on, you really don’t have a voice in your wishes being carried out.  I proposed a few scenarios to the discussion.

  1. There is a Transsexual woman who passed on and she is pre-op and lived full time in her gender.  Her family didn’t “accept” (I don’t like the word accept because it implies judgment.)  the changes the woman made for self congruency.  Does the funeral director follow the family’s decision to present the woman as a man?
  2. The Transsexual woman had her gender marker changed to F on her birth certificate and she was still pre-op.  Does the funeral director follow the anatomy or the documentation?
  3. The Transsexual woman was post-op but she never changed her birth certificate to align with her physical self.  Does the funeral director follow the documentation or the anatomy?
  4. The Transsexual woman was still married to her estranged spouse who still retains all the legal rights to dictate final arrangements.  Does the funeral director have to follow the wishes of the estranged spouse?
  5. The Transsexual woman was divorced but had biological children from the marriage.  Do they make the final arrangements even though the deceased made her wishes known before her demise?
  6. The Transsexual woman had no immediate family and didn’t make final arrangements.  Does the funeral director make the final arrangements based on the birth certificate or the death certificate?

Obviously, the scenarios can go on and on.  They can also be adapted across the LGBTIQ spectrum.  Do you think we should legislate to effect change when it comes to your wishes for final arrangements?

Internal Discrimination

I find it ironic and sad that there exists blatant discrimination within my own community.

I attended First Event 2012.  The conference is designed for people of the LGBTIQ community to come together and share thoughts, experiences and learn about resources available to them.
I had my usual vendor table at the conference and networked with a lot of new businesses and people.  There was one particular lady that stood out to me.  On my way to the ladies room I noticed a tall woman with facial hair.  I mean, you see everything at First Event, but it’s normal.  When I got back to my vendor table, I didn’t see her in the room.
After the raffle I sponsored, I decided to clean up early and get ready for the evening banquet.  While I was in the ladies room getting changed and refreshing my makeup, she happened to walk in.  We greeted each other as is the custom at an event like this.  She went on to tell me she had spoken with my associate working my vendor table, asking her a lot of questions.  My associate said to her to come find me and I would be able to explain and answer her questions more easily.
We spoke for a brief minute and I told her I was preparing for the banquet.  I asked her if she was attending and she said yes she was.  I then told her to look for me and we could sit together.  She said thank you and left the ladies room.
When they opened the doors to let the guests enter the banquet room, I sat near the DJ and Stage where the entertainment would be for the evening.  People were filing in all the banquet room entryways. (4) I spotted my newly found friend and waved her over.  She was dressed casual and looked a little embarrassed as everyone in the room were dressed for the banquet.  I told her she looked great and she sat down next to me.
We began talking and the DJ sat down on my other side for dinner.

We talked and joked during dinner.  I did notice the rest of the people at the table staring frequently at my friend.  I think she noticed also but said nothing for fear of embarrassment to herself.  I chose at that time not to say anything to them.  As dinner progressed, my friend told me her story.  She explained that her spouse insist that she keep the facial hair to prevent her from coming out in the community.  I responded by saying “The important thing is that you are out sitting here now.”  She thanked me for my encouragement.  Half way through dinner she excused her self and said she would be right back in a few minutes.
While my friend was away from the table the chatter started.  I couldn’t believe what I was listening to.  The other people at the table were saying things like, “What gives HIM the right to attend the conference.”, “He’s embarrassing to the conference.”, and “He should be banned from attending.  What a slap in the face.”.  I chose to still keep quiet.
My friend was gone such a long time, I thought that maybe she decided not to return.  All of a sudden, she returned wearing the most beautiful black, sleeveless dinner gown.  I was so amazed, I complimented her on her dress.  She said thank you and we finished dinner.  I glanced around the table subtly and noticed the glaring stares from the other people at the table.
The entertainment for the evening started and we watched and talked about each other’s lives and experiences.  She told me she was so glad she attended and next year the facial hair wouldn’t be there.  I asked her if that was a Wise decision, knowing her circumstances.  She then conveyed “Absolutely, it is my decision and I will live with it.”.
We talked a while longer and I started to get fatigued.  I told her I was going to call it a night and go home.  We exchanged our pleasure in each other’s company for the evening.  At that time, I decided to give her my black wrap I was wearing.  I explained that I got it at MACYS and she asked me if I was sure about giving it to her.  I said, it looks better with her gown than mine.  She said she was so pleased and she wanted to repay me by offering me a gift card.  I told her that this is my gift to her and to remember out of all her experiences at First Event 2012, she met someone who cares about her for who she is unconditionally.
I hugged her and  I left and went home.

Ponticelli: Bono a voice for the transgendered

Local trans rights  activist discusses DWTS cast member

Photos

Lillith Ponticelli
Local transgender rights activist Lillith Ponticelli,  founder of the North East Transwomen’s Alliance.
phoSAchaz_0915.jpg

 

Photo by Sarah Thomas
By Sarah Thomas /  salem@wickedlocal.com
Posted Sep  15, 2011 @ 03:41 PM
Last update  Sep 15, 2011 @ 04:04 PM
Salem —

When author, singer, and activist Chaz Bono makes his debut on the premiere  of the 13th season of Dancing With The Stars this Monday, for many  Americans it will be the first time they knowingly welcome a transgendered  person into their living rooms. Though the announcement of Bono’s inclusion in  the show created controversy among some media pundits and viewers, local  advocates for trans rights hope that the increase in visibility will improve the  lives of those they serve.

“The Chaz (Bono)s of the world help us to have a voice,” said Lillith  Ponticelli, founder of the North East Transwomen’s Alliance Inc., the only  active organization in the region dedicated to serving transsexual and  transgendered individuals. “Some people will say they have a problem with him,  but we need more people like him out there.”

Ponticelli is not only an advocate for the rights of trans people on the  North Shore, she is also a transsexual woman, and she spends her days educating  and connecting trans people to vital services.

“There is a lot of things people don’t realize about the lives transgendered  people lead,” Ponticelli said. “There are misconceptions that we are all gay, or  all involved in sex work. We are more likely to be discriminated against by  employers and even doctors, and more likely to be the targets of sexual  violence. There’s a lot of work to do for trans rights, even in open and  accepting communities like Salem.”

Ponticelli formed NETA in 2009, two years after transitioning full-time. For  the first five decades of her life, she lived as a man, married with children  and a career in the Marines and later as an information technology  contractor.

“The average age for a transgendered person becoming aware of their identity  is around 6, and that was true with me as well,” Ponticelli said. “But I stayed  in the closet for years. Then in 2007, my children were grown, and it got to the  point where I couldn’t hide anymore.”

Ponticelli began presenting as a woman in the workplace and legally changed  her identity. Since then, she has lost many things — her job and home in  Beverly, and contact with many members of her family — but gained a  vocation.

“I went into this naïve, and didn’t realize how much I would lose,” Ponticelli said. “But as I was doing the research to find services I could use  for myself, I realized other people could benefit from my experiences. That’s  when I started NETA.”

Though NETA’s services are specifically tailored for transwomen, Ponticelli  said that many transmen and intersexed individuals have taken advantage of her  services as well.

“We have an open door policy and great relationships with trans-positive  therapists and other community service groups in the region,” Ponticelli  said.

NETA was recently incorporated, and Ponticelli said she is working on  getting 501(c)3 status.

“My ultimate dream is to open a transwomen’s group home that would allow  homeless transwomen a safe environment, and I’d like it to be in Salem,” Ponticelli said.

NETA may soon be joined by an affiliated group for transmen that is the  subject of a feasibility study by PRISM LGBT Community Health in Beverly.

“We’re in a discussion now where we’re trying to assess the needs of our  community and find out if that’s a service we should offer, or if maybe it  should be done by someone else,” said Brian King, program director. “If it will  fit into our programming and mission, we’ll definitely do it.”

King said there was a real need for services that specifically target  transgendered people.

“Just this year, the Massachusetts Tri-County Transgender Needs Assessment  was completed by researchers at Salem State University,” King said. “It stated  that trangendered people are more likely to suffer from depression, sexual  violence and discrimination.”

Ponticelli said that she hoped Bono, as well as other transgendered and  transsexual celebrities, would help people become more open-minded in the  future.

“We don’t want to be understood as a novelty, but just as a fact,” Ponticelli  said. “What would the world be like if all the norms were reversed? People in  the majority would have to worry about fitting in. We just want to be.”

Read more: Ponticelli: Bono a voice for the transgendered – Salem, Massachusetts – Salem Gazette http://www.wickedlocal.com/salem/archive/x519378995/Ponticelli-Bono-a-voice-for-the-transgendered#ixzz1Z4JUOA2s

Dreams & Reality

There once was a young girl who dreamed a dream.  She dreamed of being a princess in a castle in a far away land.  She dreamed of knights in shining armor, long flowing gowns and a world of excitement.

She met Peter Pan in her early childhood and embarked on a journey of endless adventures.  Peter took her to places she only dreamed of.  She lived a life of happiness, joy and laughter.  They danced, they sang, they wowed the world!  She learned so much from her childhood friend.  Peter opened her eyes to things she had never known.  Oh what a life of excitement they lived.  The young girl wished it could go on forever.

But just like Jackie Paper and his childhood friend Puff, fairytales come to an end. The little girl grew up to a beautiful young woman.  She knew she couldn’t live in Never-Never Land forever.  Her heart grew sad and she cried.  She wanted to bring her very dear friend with her and continue her journey through life with her.

Now the young woman lives her life as a vibrant, bright and exciting young adult.  She will always remember her travels with her childhood friend Peter Pan and will always hold a special place in her heart for her friend.  And from time to time when she is thinking back, she can relive those festive and joyful days and cherish them forever.

What is tolerence?

They say the average age of awareness for a child to recognize, even if they don’t understand their sexuality is age 5 or 6.  I have been aware that I was different since I was 6.  I grew up in a time, place, and environment where I had to “toe the line” “play the game” and “conform to the norm”.  What is the norm and by whose standards is it dictated?

I lived a lifetime being who I was expected to be by my Family, environment and society.  I went through 50 years of denial, frustration, and anger.  Anger not at society but at myself for not being strong or bold enough to stand up publicly and proclaim “This is me, this is who I am, have been and will forever be!

Coming out publicly is a sacrifice.  Sacrifice and loss, for both myself as well as the people that are closest to me.  When I came out to my family there were a lot of heated mixed emotions.  Enough to go around for everyone.  My mother voiced it this way:  “You will never be my daughter, you’re my son and you will never be a sister to your siblings, you’re their brother”.  Some family members don’t understand it but accept it, some family members understand it and don’t accept it, and some have not talked to me since I came out to them.

The first time I went out in public, as LiLLi in October of 2007 was the second time I went to a social support group meeting in the LGBTIQ community.  I joined several on line groups like Tiffany Club, North Shore Transgender Alliance, Randolph Country Club, and Sisters Family-Sisters of Boston.  The first time LiLLi came out publicly was the last time Anthony ever came out publicly except for work.  I transitioned on the job full time November 27th, 2007 and have been full time 24/7 ever since.

After I lost my job due to company cutbacks and economics I have really seen a lot of paranoid phobias. What is diversity friendly?  It’s a policy that’s only as good as the integrity of the employer enforcing it to be federally compliant.  I was on a job interview once, appropriately dressed in “Business Professional” womens attire and when the interview came to a close the HR Manager asked me if I needed to use the men’s room before I left.

It seems that even though my work history is impeccable and my skill set is highly in demand my gender is in question and prevents me from obtaining gainful employment in my field of expertise.  Some people, well meaning of course but with no idea whatsoever, have suggested that I present as a male just to secure a job and then transition again.  That wouldn’t work as my gender marker is F and my birth certificate is now reflective of my name and sex.

I have since formed a support organization http://netahealth.org to help other like-minded people that face the same socio-economic hardships and challenges.

What is tolerance?  Are we as a nation really tolerant and accepting?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010