In 2008, a woman named Jenna Karvunidis sliced open a cake, revealing pink frosting within the layers. With her, the "gender reveal party" entered the popular lexicon. A decade or so later, the gender reveal has gone a long way from those humble beginnings becoming something far different from that cake.
Halloween is a time of magic and mystery. Traditionally, it once served as the end of the year, where autumn — and the abundance of the harvest — gave way to the dark and dim days of winter. In that liminal space between the seasons, one could get a moment to pierce the veil between other states, even between life and death itself.
Every week, in my email, I receive dozens of story pitches. Some are quite good, connecting me with engaging people and interesting stories that I might otherwise have missed. Most, however, are pretty useless to me in the overall scheme of things. A lot only tangentially veer into any topic I write about, or are blatant product pitches or just an overall bad fit.
Gavin Grimm, at long last, has won his case. When Grimm was a sophomore at Gloucester County High School in Virginia, he came out as a transgender boy. As soon as he opted to use the boys' restroom, the Gloucester County School Board decided to require that all changing rooms and bathrooms, "shall be limited to the corresponding biological genders, and students with gender identity issues shall be provided an alternative appropriate private facility."
At long last, North Carolina's House Bill 2 is dead. For those few who are reading who may not know the significance, I'll explain: The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, otherwise known as HB2, was a bill passed in North Carolina in 2016.
So often when people who are not transgender speak of transgender people, there is one important thing that is gotten terribly wrong, and I think it's a core part of understanding exactly what it is to be transgender.
I grew up in a Southern California suburb in the 1970s, a short distance from the smog-filled skies of Los Angeles. Right around the time of Fleetwood Mac's Rumors album, mood rings and bell bottoms, there was a veneer of patriotism brought forth thanks to the bicentennial.
Centuries ago, during the witch trials of the medieval era, a unique way of determining who was or wasn't a witch was created. A woman suspected of being a witch would have her right thumb bound to the big toe on her left foot. She would then have a rope tied around her waist, and be thrown into a nearby pond or river.
It amazes me how so many seem to view the notion of "transgender people" as if it was something that magically winked into existence just five years ago. It feels as if so many think the moment they first heard of transgender people is the moment transgender people came to existence, rather than it merely being the moment they stopped living in ignorance about the existence of transgender identity.
So, once again, we reach the closing of the year. For many of us, this is a time of trees festooned with tinsel and glass baubles, or nights filled with candlelight or a myriad of holiday traditions. It's a time of gingerbread and gelt, kinara or hanukkiyah, and all sorts of things we hold dear.
To me, it becomes an issue of accuracy versus truth. It may indeed be accurate, for example, to include the name I was born under, answered to and used on legal documents until I was in my early 20s — but this isn't exactly my truth. That surely isn't me, and isn't my identity now. It's not the person who pens these words, or has been under this name and gender for the more than half of this life.
I look at that photo from 1921, at those proud, resolute transgender people from nearly 100 years ago. How many of them were able to escape what was happening around them, or were they forced into hiding? We're any of them amongst those beaten when the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft was destroyed? Dare I even ponder if these folks enjoying a nice day in the sun would, just a few years later, be forced to wear the pink triangle and live out their remaining days in a concentration camp?
It's pride month, and this means a whole lot of people will take or have taken to the streets across the world, festooned in their best rainbow gear. We'll march, party and do all those things we'll do at pride. It will be crazy and chaotic, and we will be the big messy community we are, in all our glory.
There is a certain popular culture view of transgender people that cannot be easily shaken: transgender people are born as men or women, and choose to become women or men.
Trans people - and I am using the term in its broadest sense, inclusive of gender fluidity and nonbinary identities - tend to have a pretty short list of wants. Really, I can boil it down to one simple statement: we just want to live our lives.
To be transgender in 2018 is to deal with challenging, difficult times. We face attacks from all sides, and the specter of death itself lays heavy upon our community. As a result, I find I often have to spend a lot of time ringing the alarm bells, and warning of dire times.
The Trump Administration has once again attempted to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military. This time out, the ban was secretly drafted by Vice President Mike Pence, with assistance from Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC) and Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation.