Transgender prison inmates who did not begin treatment prior to entering federal custody can now receive hormones, specialized mental health counselling and possibly gender reassignment surgery while they are in prison, according to new rules adopted by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons as part of a court settlement.
(Under the bureau’s previous policy, issued in 2005, only federal inmates with a preexisting diagnosis were eligible for transgender-related care, which was limited to treatments that would maintain them “only at the level of change which existed when they were incarcerated.”)
Max Adler, who plays the closeted, homophobic bully Dave Karofsky on Glee, is actually a strong advocate who volunteered his time this week to teach kids about how to avoid bullying.
Adler launched “Max’s A-B-C Initiative – Anti-Bullying Through City Hearts” this week at a California elementary school. He visited the school and encouraged kids to get involved in the arts as a way to express themselves and their feelings without having to hurt others.
“If kids understand from an early age that everyone in this world is equal, the thought of bullying others will not even enter their headspace,” Adler says. “The arts, whether it’s music, acting, dance, playwriting, or photography, helps kids realize that we all want the same things: love, laughter, great memories with family and friends and to be given a chance to succeed,
LOVE him. Brilliant how different he is from his character, isn’t it? This is inspiring.
I am from nowhere. A tiny community of 800 called Virginia City NV. I was an actor. I played a 1800s cowboy and did stunts every summer to entertain tourists. I was well-liked and pretty much always guaranteed a spot with the cast.
Then I transitioned. The gunfighters all supported me. After all, I had been one of them and when I told them “I’m a woman” there were very few jokes. There was a lot of concern and “Are you happier now” was the common theme.
I wore women’s clothing much more often, as a matter of fact, every time I wasn’t at work, I was en femme. Work required me to wear male clothing (now illegal in the state of NV) but the rest of the time I was me.
I started to notice there were a lot of men and some women who really resented me transitioning. I had no clue people had clung so tightly to that male image I portrayed for so many years. They got very upset with me.
My ex wife and her boyfriend (she moved him in while we were still married, she simply declared she wasn’t going to be married to a woman) became a source of a lot of stress. After he choked me one night, and the subsequent failure of Storey County Sheriff to even bother pursuing a domestic violence complaint I knew I had to come to Vegas.
No one knew me here, no one knew who I used to be. They only know me as me. I am able to walk down the street, almost invisible. Here it is commonplace.
I don’t know when I first realized that I found girls attractive, but I have for as long as I can remember. I was raised first as a Christian, then a few years as a Quaker, then a few years as a Jehovah’s Witness, then back to Christianity. All of those religions teach that homosexuality is wrong, so that’s what I was raised with.
Even before I was old enough to know what my feelings meant I had a friend named Stephanie who would spend nights at my house or I at hers. We would lay in the dark together, cuddling, kissing and “dry humping” one another. To her it was just “playing” nothing serious but she didn’t know (and still doesn’t) that she was my first love, it was more than “playing” for me but it was “wrong” and I couldn’t voice that. My brothers teased me when she stayed over. “Are you going to make that movie?” “What movie?” “LEZ be Friends!” That added to my being ashamed of what I was feeling so as I got a little older I started seeing guys.
I became very promiscuous, desperately trying to find a man who made me feel what I had felt with Stephanie. I continued trying to be straight, trying to be what I grew up “knowing” I should be. Finally, when I was 20 I decided that I needed to know if being with women is what would make me happy, truly feel complete. I turned to the Internet and found a couple that were looking for a bisexual to join their relationship. I became that woman but only lasted a few months with them because I fell in love with Shanna and I couldn’t stand having to share her. I moved on to the next couple and the next couple after that. I befriended an older lesbian in college, then met a lesbian couple as well. Through those friendships I came into my own and felt more confident about who I was. I finally, at 22 years old, told my family that I am a lesbian. At first it came as a shock to some but as they started thinking back, it all made sense to them and they knew before I was ready to admit it. Still, my family doesn’t speak of my sexuality often, my father only speaks of it when he’s been drinking. It still hurts to know that they don’t fully accept me, but I’m me and will always be me!
No, it was not an overnight change. This was an event years in the making.
Then again, it’s not like anyone was going to think otherwise, were they? What with all the pro-gay propaganda out there, you’d think that by now, everyone would know that gays are not gay by choice. And it’s not like I was exhibiting very heterosexual behavior. It’s funny; I did have a girlfriend once. Five years old, both of us. Back when everyone else was deathly afraid of cooties, we were breaking down the walls of arbitrary gender segregation (when is it not?) common to our age group.
But now? No, I had never wanted a real girlfriend. I had talked about it from time to time; I’d played along when girls were compared among my friends; I even expressed interest in more than one woman. All of it feigned. I was too busy looking at naked men on the Internet to give a care for women.
My mom had noticed this, too. All talk and no walk. She said something along those lines to Dad, the night after I had come out to him. She noticed how I had never made any real movements to getting a girlfriend. She was in the hospital with a severe case of an eroded stomach. That day was her last, and they were trying to get her out of the building when Dad told her what I’d told him the night before.
“So?” she said.
I always loved her for that. Such a predictable response, coming from my mother, and in that kind of rushed, hurried situation for that matter. A supporter of gay rights, she didn’t care that I was gay, just that I was happy. Still, it was too hard for me to tell her in person. It was bad enough that I had to face my dad the night before. A general status update of Facebook would let the general population know, and Dad would tell Mom for me, so I wouldn’t have to face anyone else. Talking to people about it was the last thing I wanted to do, though it was inevitable regardless of how I chose to reveal the truth.
My family sans mother was at dinner the night before. One of my favorite burger joints. October 1st, 2010. On the way home, in the car, sister in the back with her iPod, the conversation had somehow ended up regarding homosexuality. My homosexuality. Jokingly, at first, but I knew it was going to come out eventually, and that eventually, considering the circumstances, would probably have to be soon. So I told him. I told him the truth. I told him everything. I had no secrets after that. I told him I had a boyfriend.
That man changed my life. Dad, yes, forged my life, but I mean my boyfriend. He cheated on me, but I like to remember him for the life-changing part. I met him one day while I was having lunch at my college. We met after that, and after that, too, and eventually we exchanged phone numbers. It wasn’t shocking to find out he was gay. It sort of radiated from him. Plus, his Facebook page said he liked men. In short, it wasn’t hard to figure out.
He was in the middle of a failing relationship. Even so, that didn’t stop him from expressing interest in me on several occasions. I didn’t tell him I was gay at first. I was in the middle of a revelation. All those questions… Could I fall in love with a man? Am I gay? For sure? All those questions were being answered for me, one by one, because of this man. I knew I was physically attracted to men before, but now I knew I could love one, too, so when he broke up with his boyfriend and asked me out the next day, I didn’t hesitate to accept.
I couldn’t hide it anymore. It would be suspicious that I was simply going out at least once a week to God knows where; I’d have to come up with some kind of excuse, and back then my mind just wasn’t wired for seriously lying to my parents. So I came out. I came out to open arms. The extended family I thought would disown me welcomed me with renewed love. The friends I thought I would lose shook my hand with newfound respect.
I grew up in Lewiston, NY which is a small town not too far from Niagara Falls. Back then the only thing that made me different was the fact that I was hearing-impaired. Somehow being deaf meant that you were a freak, but little did I know that 20 years later I’d find something else to add to the supposed “freak” file.
I always had stronger bonds with women than I did with men, which was odd as my family was pretty darned normal in every sense of the word. I didn’t notice that I was attracted to women until high school, but since I was at a Catholic high school at the time I kept my mouth shut for fear of being bullied or beaten up. I hid myself in the metaphorical closet and turned to the Internet for solace, but back then you didn’t have Facebook, or Twitter, or YouTube or any of the other cool networking sites. All I had was AOL and this rinky-dink chatroom called M.O.T.S.S. which stood for Members Of The Same Sex. I met other GLBTQ people online, but as far as I knew I was the only dyke in Lewiston, NY and man oh man did that make me feel lonely.
I did the usual stupid stuff that lonely people do like drink, smoke, get caught up in cybersex and meaningless long distance relationships. I thought I was hiding everything from my parents, but I forgot how rotten of a liar I am.
I remember sitting in therapy trying to come out to my mother. I was beyond terrified as I thought for sure I was going to be disowned. I remember the conversation went something like this:
Me: “Mom… Uh… I like girls” My Mom: “OK honey.” Me: “No Mom. I mean I really like girls… a lot” My Mom: “OK honey.” Me: Mom! I mean I want to have sex with women!” My Mom: “OK HONEY” Me: Mom, you don’t get it! I’m trying to tell you that I’m gay!” My Mom: “And I’m trying to tell you that it’s OK.” Me: Mom, you must have gotten the wrong script because in this country when someone comes out to their parents as gay the parents disown them.” My Mom: Well that’s stupid because you’re my daughter and I’d love you even if you were a 6 foot tall alien with purple spots!”
My parents were actually quite fine with me being gay, which always surprised me as everything I saw on TV or in the movies always said your parents were supposed to hate you if you were gay. I never really found the GLBTQ community until I moved down to Maryland six years ago. Now I’m in a wonderful relationship with my partner, who I met at school two years ago and I couldn’t be happier.
Milan is the most gay-friendly city in Italy, but this doesn’t mean everything is good. I have been living here for the past 6 years, but I am from a small town by the sea, much more beautiful but also much more close-minded.
I’ve grown to love Milan, its gray landscape and box-like buildings, its traffic, its people, its way of life, its mentality, which is still far from being of tolerance and love… I am always looking for my real home, which might be lovely San Francisco, amazing New York, old London, cold Berlin, don’t know yet… I like to think of myself as a son of the world, a traveler, hopping from place to place, from town to town, always looking for something beautiful, new, interesting.
My ideal place is one where freedom is an imperative, where one is free to live happy, respecting others and being respected. Maybe one day Milan will be such a place!