hacklikeagirl

Beth 'pidge' Flanagan's blog. Open source queer.

Category Archives: Trans

Be Kind To Each Other – Bryn Kelly (1980-2016)

This past week has been, to say the least, not a good one.

Last week, my friend Everett contacted me to tell me that a friend of ours, who we had known for almost two decades, Bryn Kelly, had committed suicide. I had seen Bryn pop on to Facebook last week, sent her a message just saying hi. She never responded and I’m still angry with myself for not following up.

I’ve not been able to have a whole lot of days since where I didn’t spend at least part of it crying and I’m sure this has been a common enough scenario in all the communities Bryn touched. She had that effect on people.

I want to tell you about Bryn. I appreciate that there are going to be a lot of folks who knew Bryn from lots of different places and they’re going to tell you how they saw her. This was kind of her secret super power, I think, to be able to move in and out of lots of different spaces. I want to tell folks about the Bryn a lot of us knew.

bryn

Bryn would probably laugh about me posting this picture. Bryn, circa 2004, out target shooting with me and my adopted sister.

She was the woman dressed up as the uterus, campaigning for reproductive rights. She could play the autoharp like no ones business and belt out old timey tunes. I heard more of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors with her in the room than with her not. She was a proud rural woman and I loved it when she talked about where she came from.

She was a tireless advocate for trans women. She was involved in Camp Trans, involved in HIV activism, involved in the Fully Functional Cabaret, writing….. so much stuff that it was very very easy to lose track. A lot of it was centred on trans women. If you’ve read any trans feminist thought in the past 15 years, it was more likely than not, built off of things Bryn contributed to back in the days of livejournal and message boards.

She was funny as hell. Literally one of the funniest women I have ever known. She was also kind and loving and snarky. SO SO snarky. And strong, so amazingly strong, strong in ways I wish I could be. She had a spine that was made of steel and we loved her for it.

I doubt she knew just how many of us looked up to her and admired her. I wish I would have told her that more.

brynbkteo

Art by Kat Endgame

Our hearts are broken, our worlds a little less bright without her. The only sense I can take from this is the last thing she posted on Facebook.

“Be kind to each other.”

We’re trying, Bryn.

It is so hard sometimes but…

We’ll keep on trying.

A letter to the next generation of trans women..

“A sure sign that something is seriously missing in a society is a generation gap. If the younger generation does not take pride in becoming like its elders, then the society has lost its own continuum, its own stability, and probably does not have a culture worth calling one, for it will be in a constant state of change from one unsatisfactory set of values to another.

If the younger members of the society feel the older ones are ridiculous, or wrong, or boring, they will have no natural path to follow. They will feel lost, demeaned and cheated and will be angry. The elders, too, will feel cheated and resentful at the loss of continuity in the culture and suffer from a sense of purposelessness along with the young.”

The Continuum Concept: Allowing Human Nature to Work Successfully by Jean Liedloff

This was the sign on the door of the surgery of the first surgical clinic ever run by and for trans women, THI, 2002-2004

Hey,

My name is Beth. You probably don’t know me. I’m substantially older than most of you, transitioned longer ago than you did and frankly, spent the past decade kind of out of trans circles fixing my life up a bit. If you were involved in trans/queer feminism about 12-18 years ago, you’ll probably know who I am. If not, go find someone who was involved in that stuff from that era and ask them about me. They’ll probably know who I am. Don’t worry, I’ll wait right here.

Back? Good. I asked you to do this because I think it’s important to know something about me before you continue reading this. That this letter comes to you not out of anger or malice but out of love. I know the past few weeks have been a bit low on the love side all around, but, please believe me, I’m writing this out of love and respect.

That said, I think I know who some of you are, at least what your tweets and tumblr posts say you are. I’ve even talked to a few of you. But mostly, I’ve sat in the back, mostly quiet for the past decade, watching you and this new community of trans women grow. Sometimes I’ve silently rolled my eyes at you. Sometimes I’ve wanted to twist your ears and sit you down and wag my finger at you. But more times than not, I sat there, proud of you and of what you’ve accomplished.

So, that said, I’m going to ask you to take a seat for a moment. We need to have a talk. A heart to heart. A come to Jesus moment. But before we do that, I have to tell you something.

I’m sorry.

See, this whole fucking mess the past few weeks, with RuPaul, terminology, Andrea, Calpernia, Parker, everything… it all exists, in part, because my generation failed you. Please, don’t think I’m letting you off the hook over what has happened the past few weeks or siding with one side or the other. I’m not. Frankly, the two critiques I somewhat agree with about your part in all of this is that this whole thing smells very privileged and that many of you lack a lot of historical and cultural context of North American trans culture. The former issue is something we all need to own. But the latter? That you lack this history, this context, is, in many ways, not your fault. It’s ours.

It would help if you understood what life looked like for most trans women in the States who came up during the late 80s to late 90s. It was the time of HBIGDA and the DSM-III. It was a time when being an out trans woman wasn’t possible in most cases, outside of the gay and drag communities. If you wanted to survive, it meant being quiet. Hiding. Disappearing. If you were privileged (pick one. White. Middle class, urban, etc), you *might* have some protection, but not a lot. You might have had access to communities outside of the gay and drag communities. Access to #transgen on EFNet or to USENET or the AOL rooms. If you lacked that access you most likely came up through the gay/drag communities or through the gender groups/clinics.

I tell you this because this narrative is in many ways, far different from what many of you experienced. I can’t fully explain what it was like back then in a way that will make you understand, and to be honest, I don’t *want* you to ever have to understand those times. They were horrible and awful times in a lot of ways. We lost a lot of friends. To HIV. To drugs. To depression. To the streets. To insanity. To poverty. To murder. To suicide. That’s not to say this stuff still doesn’t exist. It does. But in many ways, things are better, especially for those of you who are able to access some form of privilege. Many of the women who are your contemporaries, who are working class or trans women of color or rural women, may recognize some of what I’m about to talk about because many of these women still come up through these communities.

I would say that a tragicly large percentage of the women that I knew from the drag/street queen communities back then are dead now. The ones in the internet communities survived. I still look those women up from time to time, living stealth lives, making it through life the best they can. I love them. I love them in their imperfection. I love them for their ability to survive and to make a life, no matter how imperfect it may be to most. But I don’t miss them as much as the women I knew from the drag communities. I miss those women the most. For their courage. For their resiliency. For their carrying on of a culture of trans women that is decades old, that has it’s own in jokes, it’s own customs, hell, it’s own language (fidaga ouyaga eakspaga agaey enthaga ouyey ownaga utwaye iaga eanmaga).

I’m not going to patronize you by spending an entire letter telling you that we had it worse. Things still suck. I think all of us can be honest with each other though and say that each successive generation has had it, generally, a bit easier than the last. We all stand on the shoulders of imperfect, fucked up giants.

I tell you this, at the risk of becoming a bit nostalgic and seeming silly to you, not because I want to tell you about how I had to trudge through 10 feet of snow, up hill, both ways, to visit the hormone doc. I tell you this because I think that it’s important for you to understand the women who transitioned 15-25 years ago. To understand our cultures and histories in context. Understanding this is vital to understanding exactly how we failed you and how we move forward.

I know a lot of you may see us as retrograde dinosaurs, not able to grok “your” theory. As binarist assimilationists. You’re right. A lot of us are. Many of us didn’t have a choice. We became what we needed to become in order to survive. And a lot of times, we get angry at you because a lot of the theory you espouse is stuff we hashed out over a decade ago (seriously, I’ll be more than happy to show you the archives if you don’t believe me).

Our biggest failure is that we failed to give you a culture that you could enter into when you came out. A culture that welcomed you and cherished you and made you feel safe and gave you a sense of history, a sense of place, a sense of being part of a community. That was beyond our ability. I’ve cried about that for years. I don’t know how to make that right and the most I can offer is that I’m sorry.

We left you to fend for yourselves. Instead of raising you up, we allowed some of the crappiest places on the internet to do what we should have been doing. We really can’t complain when you look upon us as silly old trans women, backwards in our thinking, hold overs from a fucked up era. We never gave you a place in what communities we had, so you went off and created your own.

I wouldn’t say we tried very hard to create those communities. We couldn’t. Most of us were too caught up in just trying to survive or too caught up in believing what the shrinks told us we had to be in order to help with that. Or, we became insular, distrustful of this new generation, trying hard to heal our wounds, but at the same time, jealous at what we perceived as your calk walk through transition. It’s bullshit, right. But it’s bullshit that we created because of our damage because we were trying to protect our broken selves.

I know that it’s little consolation. In fairness to us though, the damage done to us by a trans misogynistic society reverberates down through the years. You see it in many of the women who are my contemporaries from time to time. In Andrea. In Calpernia. In me. We’re damaged people, hurt and angry. We spent our 20s, the time when people are supposed to be living their joy, on a constant war footing. We’re mean to each other, we’re mean to you. We lash out. In a lot of ways, it’s not too different than a lot of people who experienced serious oppression. A generational divide that in reality is a chasm created by trauma.

So, now that I’ve fully impaled myself on the sword, it’s time that I twist your collective ears a bit. I do not disagree with you about hurtful language. About the T word. About the S word. I’ve always hated those words, BUT, I will be the first to admit to ingroup use of them. It’s important for you to get where a lot of us came from. I straddled the internet and street queen communities, but, when push came to shove and I lost my biological family, it was the trans drag queens who took me in, fed me, and made sure there was a roof over my head. As imperfect as they are, I will ALWAYS love them. Without them, I would not have survived my 20s.

When I had no place to go, it was my adopted trans mom and her drag queen roommate, Garry, who took me in. When Garry died, it was his old roommate, a trans woman drag queen, Joanne, who gave me the most comfort. We sat upstairs in his room for hours, tossing shade at the ragtag collection of internet trans women downstairs. These people gave me a sense of community, a place to feel safe, love and most of all, they gave me a backbone. And yes, we were fucked up in oh so many ways.

I’m not proud of how I acted back in those days. It’s a bit too easy for me to say “welp, that was the way it was”. In my defense, though, we are all molded by the culture by which we were surrounded. But how do you fight against that when none of us really controlled those cultures. A lot of drag culture was and is run by, or at least heavily influenced by, cis gay men. We were what *they* wanted us to be. Fierce. Bitchy. Mean. With tongues so sharp they could peel the bark off an oak tree. (If you really want to see an excellent movie about that culture, even if it did predate me by two and a half decades, go track down “The Queen” from 1968 )

Or, if we came up through HBIGDA style groups, we were what the medical establishment wanted us to be. 50s housewives. Assimilationists. Hiding in the shadows, cut off from any community in order to at least appear “normal”. Perpetrators of the primary/secondary load of holy horse shit we were fed. And honestly, we had to be. When you do not control your own medical destiny, you jump through the hoops, you get indoctrinated or you don’t get treatment.

When we did have some continuum to prior generations, it was sporadic. Remember, we had just been through a decade where AIDS had killed a large portion of the trans women who could have carried on that continuum. I’d love to quantify that number for you, to give you a sense of what *that* horror looked like, in real numbers, things you could understand, but the fact is, I can’t. Those women were listed as MSM (men who have sex with men) and are lost to us, a data point in CDC statistics. And it’s still happening.

I’m sorry. I knew this letter would ramble a bit, but thinking about what we were back then and seeing you and where you are now, makes me want to get a time machine and fix all of our screw ups or at least bring you back to those years so you can understand why we are what we are, so you don’t make our mistakes or maybe so you understand us better. I guess the point of all this though is a request? Cut us a bit of slack, OK? Be gentle with us. We are wounded and hurt and scarred. Many of us carry anger over situations that fortunately are much rarer these days. (And my dear contemporaries. Don’t think you’re off the hook here either. A preview of my letter to you: Stop acting like a bunch of cruel jerks.)

You may see us as binarist assimilationist dinosaurs who are backwards and screwed up. And you’d be partially right. We are. But we’re also the strong, tough, self-reliant women who fought tooth and nail to make sure you didn’t have to go through what we went through. That fighting, that constant, never ending battle, took its toll on us and because of it, we’re broken in ways I hope you never will be.

We are your history and you are our futures. If I could have one thing out of this entire mess, it’s that we all use this as an opportunity. For you to understand us better and for us to understand you better. To work together to make a healthy community, that includes all of us, from no matter who we are or where we came from.

We need to start this work now. Not for us, but for that little trans girl, who is secretly crying herself to sleep every night, praying to whatever god she believes in, to somehow make this either go away or make it not hurt anymore or make her not wake up at all. When she’s old enough, she will need a space, a healthy community to recover in, a place to feel safe and loved and to know our history. If we all don’t work for that community, right now, I’m afraid that one of you will be writing a letter like this to her in 10 years, begging for her forgiveness.

With love,

-b

This is a two part post. The second post “A letter to my contemporaries” will follow up when I have the time/energy/know exactly what I’m going to say.

On writers block. Now with Choose Your Own Adventure!

I’ve been walking a lot recently. I walk mainly to think, to process, to figure out things. The past few weeks have been me walking and thinking about this unending stream of topics I want to write about. As I walk (like a NJ/NYer, which means, two speeds, fast or GTFO of my way!), I think, fleshing some of these things out a bit. I end up telling myself “Oh, that would be something people would care about! File that away!”

And I have some real winners too. About the pitfalls of dating as a dyke identified trans woman. About how I almost died from a botched surgery. About the time I had to deal with 40 Philadelphia vice squad cops. About the for and by trans woman health clinic/surgery I helped start. About really personal things, some funny, some sad, all of them honest and (hopefully) interesting.

So, I sit down to start banging away on the keyboard and I realize that I don’t know where or how to start. How do I begin to even write about some of this stuff? Written words can’t even wholly express some of it. How do I put on paper what will be, in a few years, some of the more colorful parts of half my life? Maybe I should just say “Fuck it” and do what everyone else does and write about current events, just to avoid trying to figure out how to fit part of a life into an easy to digest blog post?

I guess part of why I’m so blocked up right now is because of Edward dying. I know, maybe I’m blaming everything on that of late, and I KNOW I haven’t really gone into that whole bit here and I should. But not right now. I can’t even pass a Burberry store (He *loved* Burberry) without crying.

When someone so close to you in age dies suddenly from a health complication, your thoughts are going to naturally turn to one thing; you’re next. I think that has something to do with what’s going on. I think I have so many things I want to get out of my head NOW, that I’m clogged up.

There is this story I want to tell about all these really awesome trans women (shout out to y’all, you know how you are) who I’ve come across in my life. These women literally transformed what it meant to be a trans women in this world, changed how the world related to us and how we related to the world. I can’t even begin to describe how different things were 20 years ago and how these women literally changed it. Every time I try to begin to explain *that* history, I just don’t even know where to start. But. again. I don’t know where to start because stories like that are just. so. big. So, I guess I’ll just start a bit smaller. But that begs the question. Where?

I’m going to be lazy and just leave this up to you. I figure that if I’m assigned a topic, I’ll feel a bit of pressure to stick to that topic and not wander. So, have at it folks. I’ll pick whichever is in the lead when I get a bit of writing steam going again (a week or so, probably).

P.S. I know, I haven’t written much about my Europe trip. I’m processing. I will, I promise.

Out of the cage.

“Later, as you get to be my age, you will see your friends begin to die, to lose their memories, to see their skins turned wrinkled and sick. You will see the effects of dark secrets making themselves known. The only payback for all of this – for the conversion of their once-young hearts into tar – will be that you will love your friends more, even though they have made you see the universe as an emptier and scarier place – and they will love you more, too.”

– Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

Friends,

I think I’ve tried writing this letter about 20 times over the past two months. Every time I’ve attempted it, I’ve never been able to quite say what I wanted to say. It always ends up reading flat, like a technical manual. So, I end up deleting this letter, over and over, and reading the above passage after every failed attempt. I read it and sigh to myself, for this letter is about my once-young heart and how it is now quite dripping with tar for keeping a secret that I honestly believed that I would take to my grave. This, dear friends, is my attempt at trying to scrape some of that tar off my heart.

We all have our secrets. Some more dark than others. One of mine, for I’m sure I have many, is something I have kept to myself and all but a few close and trusted people for almost 20 years. Secrets are powerful things and keeping one is always fraught with danger. It eats at your soul, with a constant low level of stress pounding in your chest, keeping you in a steady state of fear. About someone finding out your most secret of secrets. About someone telling. About it being used against you.

With secrets, you are always doing the math, trying to balance the equation. Is the danger and harm of this secret coming out more than the pain and stress of keeping it? That answer, back in the mid-90s when I started keeping this secret, would have been a resounding yes. Now? While it is still dangerous for me to tell you what I’m about to tell you, the damage I cause my heart and soul daily by keeping this secret is worse than it being out there. Please do understand, though. What I am going to tell you, while it is no longer a secret, is still something I have trouble discussing. Secrets are like that, if you’re not use to talking about it, discussions are hard to have. I’m getting better at it. It is however, not something I particularly want people to focus on when they think about me. It is in fact, the least interesting thing, in my opinion, about me.

So. Let’s cut to the chase. About 20 years ago, I transitioned from male to female after many years of anguish that started around age 6. Some of you know this already. Some of you might have guessed. Some of you have no idea. Well, now you know. I started keeping this a secret after having been forced out of the job I loved because my employer at the time couldn’t deal. I lost my entire family over this and that still hurts my heart. I have had my status as a transsexual woman used in some particularly vile ways against me over the years, but for the most part, that is in the past. So, this is a part of who I am. It influences my views on life. (Example! I have a great insight into the relative cleanliness of gendered bathrooms!) It is the source of my strength, my sense of humor and how I see the world.

Ok. So, I know I may have to do a little bit of education here. In the spirit of good engineering, I’ll just do this in a very limited FAQ form. Anything particularly deep, please ask me personally. These are all questions I’ve gotten from people I’ve told over the past 20 years.

Q: Oh, so, you’re really a man!?!
A: No. Not in the least. I hate discussions about this because people always throw “Well, geneticalllly…” out there, not having any access to my medical records. Or they make disgusting comparisons to race or just really really wrongheaded arguments.

So, let me nip this in the bud right now. Gender is really complicated and not at all as cut and dry as people would like to think. I identify and always have, for as far back as I can remember, as a woman. Over the years, I’ve added on a lot of additional modifiers to “woman”. Like “geek woman”. Or “irish american woman”. Or “trans woman”. If you want to discuss the science behind it, feel free to educate yourself on it first and then, if I’m really insanely bored, I might even take you up on the discussion. However, my gender and my identity is not up for debate. It is something I’ve fought long and hard for and I expect that to be respected and honored.

Q: Uh…. what’s your real name?
A: Shit. You got me. It’s not Beth. It’s actually Elizabeth. Seriously, the evil twin brother died years ago. I’ve yet to hear a good reason to expose this information, so you’ll forgive my snark here. If you must know though, it’s Mxyzptlk.

Q: So, erhm… have you had “THE SURGERY!!!” ™(c)(R)
A: The only time I discuss this generally includes dinner and a movie or theater tickets and as much as I love you all, none of you are my type. You would be flabbergasted about the number of people who think this is somehow their business.

Q: She-male, tranny! I can call you that, right! My other tranny friends…. Pronouns… I’m confused about what I should call you. Help me!
A: First, “tranny” etc… No. Don’t. Unless you really want to see my rage face. Those are generally considered offensive terms. If you must refer to me as something other than “Beth” or “pidge” or god forbid “Elizabeth” and it has to be about my trans-status, please utilize “transwoman”. I’ll also accept “transchick” and “bad ass”. Please utilize the same old boring pronouns (she/her/royal “We”) as you’ve always used for me.

Q: HEEYYYY GIRLFRIEND!!! SO, like, we can TOTALLY talk about this at the bar….
A: No. We can’t. Just because I’m being more open about this doesn’t mean I’m still not being “private” about this. The world is still a dangerous place for me. I’ve personally known too many women like me who have lost their lives to murder that I don’t like discussing this in places I don’t feel safe. If you for some reason wish to discuss this with me, pull me off to the side and ask me if you can do so, privately. If I say “Not now”, please respect that.

Q: So, does this like, mean that you’re going to start taking testosterone? I’m confused. Why do you want to be a boy?
A: I swear, someone I love asked me this. I had to blink a few times to grok what she was asking. So, no, wrong direction, dearies.

Q: OMG. You. Are. Like. SOOO. Brave/Strong/Courageous! (alternatively..) Oh, yeah, like, totally knew/didn’t know that!
A: This one is a tough one. I realize folks want to say something and try to be supportive. I really do appreciate that. But this is kind of a minefield for a LOT of reasons best gotten into outside of this letter (for instance, the “Oh, I totally guessed!”. Think about how you’d feel if folks were to tell you that they always kinda suspected you were born in the opposite gender… now turn the volume up to about 100 on that).

It’s best just to sidestep all this and if you want to be supportive ask me “Awesome. Glad for you. What can I do to help?” To which I’ll probably respond with something silly like “Give me all the money in your wallet…” or “Can you juggle these staplers for me?” Or, I’ll actually ask you for help with something.

Q: Bathrooms, locker rooms, etc…
A: Really? The same ones I’ve been utilizing over the past two decades, silly.

Q: Why now? Like… I would NEVER come out like this. You’re done, run away and be done with it. Why do you have to talk about this?
A: See the rest of this letter…..

People call this whole thing I’m doing coming out of the closet, but the fact is, it’s coming out of a cage. If you’ve ever been to a very nice zoo, cages can be comfortable places, full of balls, food, toys and good hay to sleep in. But cages end up resulting with you imprisoned, the rest of the world free to go about their daily business. Every now and then one of the visitors to the zoo will notice you sitting in the cage and start poking you with a stick out of cruelty. It may even be a relatively comfortable imprisonment, but you’re still imprisoned. You’re still not free. But, you’re at least safe-ish with the exception of a few pokes now and then.

If you’ve ever seen animals kept in long term captivity, you’ll notice that they pace their cage and are generally not happy. Cages are incredibly stressful places. You are always trying to balance the safety the cage affords verses the danger beyond those bars. The world is still a dangerous place for transwomen but I live in a relatively safe city, have privileges that protect me to some degree, work with great folks, have an excellent boss and have people who love me. But… cages also get comfortable if you spend too long in them. You get so use to living in them that the very thought of leaving them causes you to feel physically sick. You realize that once you are out of the cage, there is no going back, that the door will slam shut forever. So you convince yourself to leave the cage next year, when things are better. And you just wish that all the other people who exist in cages in the zoo would step out with you. Doing that would make things seem less scary, less lonely, because there exists safety in numbers. But… someone has to make for the door first.

I’m going to be a bit of a downer here, because I think it’s important for cispeople (not-trans for those not familiar with the prefix ‘cis’) to understand the reality of what it means to walk this world as a transwoman and why that cage is so damn attractive.

I live in a world where this is what being a transwoman means in very real terms:

  • 41% attempting suicide as opposed to 1.6% of the general population
  • 55% of trans people are living with severe social anxiety, compared with 6.8% of the general population, and 8.2% of military personnel.
  • 26% have been fired from a job due to their trans status
  • Double the rate of unemployment. If you are a transwoman of color, you have five times the rate of unemployment.
  • 64% have been sexually assaulted
  • 90% have experienced harassment on the job
  • 16% work in the underground economy (drugs/sex work)
  • 20% have been homeless
  • about 1/3 live below poverty level

I’ve yet to meet a transwoman who hasn’t had at least one of the above effect her. This is the bargain you make with the cage. Don’t be out about it and you can keep your job. your home. your life. Maybe you can limit some of the hostility and micro-aggressions you experience daily. It’s a bargain made out of fear, a deal I personally made after I had literally done the most terrifying thing I ever had to do in my life, transition, only to face horrible consequences.

My time in this cage has without a doubt turned parts of my heart into sludge. I’m very vague about life before a certain age, prior to my transition. Vague about my family situation. Vague about my social life. Many of you only get about 50% access to my life with me holding onto and protecting the other 50% with Gollum like obsession. And that’s not fair, to you or me. We all deserve a better world than that.

I’m coming out of this cage, in part, because I’m doing more work around transwomen’s issues, specifically, utilizing open source to get more transwomen into economically sustainable fields. I will be doing this work, in my spare time, under my own name, working with other transwomen in the tech sector to provide training and mentorship programs to this community in order to improve employment opportunities. The majority of transwomen I know make less than 18k a year, an absolutely deplorable number. I will of course still be doing my regular work for the various open source projects I’m a part of, still be working on women’s issues within FLOSS, still pulling all night hack sessions. I’ll just be adding this to the list as well (which means I’m just giving up on sleep!) And yes, when I have more to share with folks on this project, I will, but, if you want to help out, please, contact me!

What does this mean for you? Probably not much other than you know a bit more about me than you did before. It means that you’ll see me talk about being trans in social media from time to time, whereas before I had a very firm wall in my social media life that I refused to break. You’ll probably notice that I’m stressed a lot less. It means that some folks outside of my immediate circle of friends may ask you questions. Feel free to send them my way. I would prefer if people, obviously, didn’t introduce me as “Beth, the transchick” although “Beth, the bad ass build engineer” is still appropriate. I’m sure there will be talk in the communities I’m involved in, some of it not particularly flattering. Let me know if there is, please, so it can be dealt with appropriately. I obviously expect folks to call out bad behavior when they see it. There are a lot of mean folks out there and I’m sure this letter will expose some of them.

And lastly, I expect that if you have respectful questions, you’ll want to get answers from the source. That’s fine. We’ll do lunch and you can ask away. Or you can ping me on IRC at ‘pidge’. Or email of course.

But mostly, I just expect people to treat me the same as they always have.

Yours truly,

Beth ‘pidge’ Flanagan

June 2013

1) I know I focus a bit on the horrible awful things people say about transwomen in my FAQ and I know some folks may think this is me being overly concerned and blowing things out of proportion. My concerns are not unfounded. See: http://lwn.net/Articles/252073/ and read the comments to understand why I am concerned about some of the particularly vile individuals out there, especially in geekdom.

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