Stephanie Mott: The Kansas Republican Party

Stephanie Mott

Guest Column by Stephanie Mott

And ultimately, an ideology that says you can determine my gender identity is broken and is causing a lot of pain, and that’s why it’s important to bring us back to what we know to be true and good.

The Kansas Republican Party has lost its mind, and its heart, and its soul. Not that this is news in Kansas right now, rather more of a status quo, but if any doubt still remained, the recently approved resolution on “sexuality” removed any remnants of even the most basic humanity.

In case you missed it, KRP approved, by voice vote, this resolution completely inaccurate and horribly destructive to transgender and gender non-conforming (TGNC) Kansans, and then turned around and absurdly proposed it was the product of love.

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Book Review: The Toronto Book of the Dead, by Adam Bunch

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Bookworm

“The Toronto Book of the Dead” by Adam Bunch
c.2017, Dundurn $16.99
U.S. and Canada  423 pages

Watch your step!

Be careful where you tread; you don’t want to disturb anything important beneath the soil. Watch your feet; be mindful of where you put them. As you’ll see in “The Toronto Book of the Dead” by Adam Bunch, you’re not the first to walk on hallowed grounds.

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Stephanie Mott: Pink Pussy Hats, Drag Shows, and Confederate Flags

Stephanie Mott

Guest Column
Stephanie Mott

I am offended by pink pussy hats. There, I said it. They can be seen as exclusionary of trans people and women of color. This is a fact. It is also a fact that they mean different things to different people. I am not going to tell someone else whether they should or they shouldn’t wear one. And quite frankly, I am saddened this is causing division, because we have so much to do.

I am also offended by drag. I believe it perpetuates the myth that transgender women are just men in dresses, and it sexualizes women in a world where we need much less sexualization of women. But this doesn’t mean I think we should eliminate drag shows.

Why? Because I also understand drag is an outlet for some people, a lot of money has been raised to support LGB & T causes through drag shows, and just because something offends me does not give me permission to ignore how other people see it or demand they stop.

So you won’t find me complaining about drag or protesting drag shows. But if you watch closely, you will sense I am not at ease at drag shows and will likely leave if my uneasiness reaches a point where I feel like I need to.

I am offended by confederate flags. To me, they represent fear and intimidation, slavery and hatred for people of color and people of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.

A couple years ago, I was driving from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Oklahoma City and a white pickup truck passed me with an image of the confederate flag on the tailgate. In the truck, were three white guys, shoulder to shoulder to shoulder, easily filling the space of the cab.

When you drive a car with a “Transgender and Christian” bumper sticker on it, and a “Black Lives Matter” bumper sticker, and a “Nevertheless, She Persisted” bumper sticker” as well as a few more; you notice things like confederate flags on the tailgates of passing trucks.

About 20 minutes later, the same truck passed me again. I will admit to being more-than-a-little concerned. However, the truck went on down the highway just like it had before, and I surmised they must have stopped for gas or something – nothing to do my me or my bumper stickers.

Back to pink pussy hats. I will not wear one. I have my reasons. I will also not complain when someone chooses to wear one. I suppose they have their reasons, too.

This is what concerns me about pink pussy hats.

The Trump administration just created a new division in the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated to making it easier for health professionals to discriminate against reproductive healthcare, people who are LGBTQ+, and other groups of people based on some definition of a deeply-held “religious” belief.

Kansas has yet to expand Medicaid and continues its assault on some of the most marginalized people in the state. This is just one of many Kansas policies doing the same thing.

There is an identifiable pathway, relentlessly pursued, in which Roe vs Wade could be overturned.

We have an election coming up this fall where we have the possibility of preventing the furtherance of these, and many more, dictatorial policies and actions.

Every single seat in the Kansas House of Representatives is up for election. Every single seat in the US House of Representatives is up for election. And it is possible in this election, control of the US Senate could be taken away from the Trump administration.

I’m not really interested in talking about pink pussy hats; if we should or should not wear them. I think people who love drag should continue to love drag. And I know there will always be people who have confederate flags on the tailgates of their pickup trucks. I support their right to do so. I don’t want to talk about any of those things.

I want to talk about how to save our state, our country, and our world. If you want to talk about these things with me, I’m not that hard to find.

Stephanie Mott is a transsexual woman from Topeka, Kansas and a nationally known speaker on transgender issues. In addition, Stephanie is the executive director of Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project and a commissioner on the City of Topeka Human Relations Commission. She can be reached at stephanieequality@yahoo.com

Lee Lynch’s Amazon Trail: Zipline Vegas

Photo by Sue Hardesty

Guest Column
Lee Lynch’s Amazon Trail: Zipline Vegas

In the end, it’s all about ego. I’ll do almost anything, apparently, to protect my ego from being bruised.

She’s going on a zipline in Las Vegas. That’s what my sweetheart announced this morning. It gets worse. She said the zipline goes over city streets and buildings—and here I was envisioning a sweet pastoral zip across raging river rapids and sharp rocks. Now I only have to worry about her colliding with concrete, metal, and glass. Head first. Seems you have options; she plans zip to belly down, like a diving bird, a Peregrine falcon perhaps, which can reach speeds up to 200 mph.

She concocted this scheme with our friend Heather, who lives in Vegas and knows all the cool things to do. I have a feeling this trip will be a lot different than the one I took to the Lambda Literary Conference back in the early 1990s.

Before my sweetheart and Heather, I traveled alone, so there was no chance of doing anything riskier than surviving the unexpected snowstorm I hit in the mountains of Northern California. But truly, I was more petrified of attending the Lammys than I was of mountain passes or ziplines.

I knew Jennifer Abod, producer of “The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen,” back in New Haven in the 1970s. When I ran into her this summer, she said she remembered me as “very, very shy and very, very skinny.” I mumbled something about being fifty pounds more substantial now, and she may have recognized that the shyness has endured. Or else thought I had the verbal skills of a feral banana.

The truth is that I’m just as shy and timid around people as I was in the seventies. And in the nineties. The easiest part of that Lammys trip for me was walking from my backstreet motel along the fabled “Strip” to the awards ceremony. When I entered the massive room of white table cloths and strangers, I had to about face and find a toilet immediately.

A while later, I found the Naiad Press table and assumed I belonged there, in the one empty seat I saw. This wasn’t long before Naiad changed direction, remaindering books and returning rights to poorly selling writers, but I didn’t know that yet. Nobody but me was freezing me out. Everyone was proper and I was my usual bump on a log self with no conversation in me. Fortunately, I was next to Naiad Press and “Poets and Writers” editor Christie Cassidy, a playful femme who valued my work and gave me the courage to make a brief presentation on stage—to an award winner who wasn’t in the audience and hadn’t sent a proxy. What could be worse for someone like me than to find myself alone on a stage with an unclaimed trophy?

After the lengthy program ended, I felt as isolated as when I’d arrived. I didn’t know who to talk to and was scared someone might talk to me. I slunk through the glamorized halls of the casino, breathing ghastly amounts of cigarette smoke, feeling like a feral banana, an invisible one at that.

That doesn’t change. I go to literary events now, like Saints and Sinners, where I’m warmly welcomed, know my way around a podium, and still quake in my shoes in crowded rooms without my sweetheart. Sometimes I come away from a conference with little memory of it because it takes so much of my spirit to participate.

I know I’m not alone. Even with improved social skills it takes everything I have to start a conversation, or to join a group of laughing, talking people. I’ve been accused of snobbery when I’m actually hiding out. Or people think I don’t like them because I seem standoffish, when I’m actually dying inside, ashamed of my shell of reticence and not knowing how to emerge from it. Or maybe I am snooty, having missed any lessons on small talk.

Thank goodness for women like Mercedes Lewis, who created “Con Virgin” programs at The Golden Crown Literary Society conferences—Vegas being the site of this year’s conference. New attendees get special attention. There are events just for them, if they choose to participate. If they’re not too nervous to accept. I’m one of the latter, more likely to go off in my miserable, lonely corner and become more self-consciously obvious than I would be if I could blend into a group.

In the end, it’s all about ego. I’ll do almost anything, apparently, to protect my ego from being bruised.  But, I have learned how unfair that is to others. I’m one of millions; when I hide, when I won’t risk being tongue-tied, I could instead be making life easier for someone as shy as myself.

I’m still the same person inside, and it’s punishing every time I reach out, but I’ve learned, if I’m not adept at talking, I’m a pretty good listener. If I can manage a few seconds of greetings and questions, if I can get out of myself and show interest, I’ve found that people are generally quick to tell their stories, dreams, ambitions.

Not as quick as my sweetheart and Heather will be, high above the theme park called Las Vegas, but no feral banana either.

Copyright Lee Lynch 2018
January 2018

Lee Lynch is the co-curator, with S. Renee Bass, of the recent collection,
Our Happy Hours, LGBT Voices From the Gay Bars, available from Flashpoint Publications. Her  novel, Rainbow Gap, is available from Bold Strokes Books and other outlets. Her book, An American Queer, a collection of “The Amazon Trail” columns, was presented with the 2015 Golden Crown Literary Society Award in Anthology/Collection Creative Non Fiction. This, and her award-winning fiction, including The Raid, The Swashbuckler, and Beggar of Love, can be found at http://www.boldstrokesbooks.com/Author-Lee-Lynch.html.

Read more of Lee Lynch’s Amazon Trail columns here.

 

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