Thursday, January 7, 2010

5 ways to support equality at the 2010 HRC gala while on a limited budget

On February 27th 2010, The 15th annual HRC Gala will be held at the Raleigh Convention Center. This weekend full of events is both a celebration of the LGBT & Allied Community and a fundraiser to support HRC's mission of to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. Unfortunately though, for many in this time of economic hardship, a full price ticket to the gala is beyond our means. Not to worry though, there is a way for almost everyone to take part in the celebration. Here are 5 of them:
  1. Scholarship - If you are between the ages of 18 and 25 and are active in supporting the struggle for equality, you could be illegible for an Emerging Leaders scholarship. This program includes a short course on LGBT advocacy, volunteering on the day of the gala, and complimentary attendance at the gala itself!.
  2. Fellowship - If you are of limited income and can demonstrate a need, you may be elligible for a Gala Fellowship. If granted, the fellowship is a half-price ticket.
  3. Student Ticket - If you are a student and can produce a valid Student ID on the night of the gala, you can purchase a half-price ticket.
  4. Volunteer - It takes dozens of volunteers to set up, run, and clean up after the gala. If you don't have money for a ticket, consider volunteering instead. You'll at least be near enough to hear the speakers and you still get to eat free. :)
  5. Attend the supporting events - If the previous ways do not appeal to you, there are plenty of other events surrounding the gala weekend. From the Friday night takeover, art, bar and restaurant crawls, to the Saturday night after parties, and gospel brunch on Sunday. All of these events are $35 or less and most of them are virtually free (minus the cost of what you eat and drink of course)
So you see, there are plenty of ways to take part in the 2010 HRC Carolinas Gala, even if you are on a budget. :) For more information on the gala, schedule of events, application forms, and contact info, please visit the website at

Happy Holidays,

Madeline Goss, Joni Madison, Robert Dogens
Your 2010 HRC Carolinas Gala Co-chairs

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I had the distinct displeasure of visiting the emergency room last Monday. I thought I was having a stroke! Given the intense dosage of hormones that I'm currently on, this was not an irrational assumption on my part. When you start feeling fuzzy and lose half of your vision, you sit up and take notice... or at least I did! Thankfully, I had my awesome partner there to drive me to the hospital and sit there and hold my hand while I cried and generally just freaked out!

Now, for those of you who are trans, you understand implicitly what I'm about to say next... I'm TERRIFIED of going into a hospital!!! As a semi male bodied Transwoman, I don't relish the thought of putting my identity and well being into the hands of other people who have direct access to my medical records. I've heard too many horror stories about trans people being harassed and generally mistreated at the hands of those sworn to 'do no harm'.

Add that not-so-irrational fear the thought that I was having a stroke and I was how we say in the south... 'fit to be tied!' Between visions of being forced to endure sir's, he's and mister so-n-so and the potential of having to cease my hormone regimen, I was freaking!

The point here is that this seemingly unfounded fear of mistreatment was very real to me, and I imagine to countless other trans people who put themselves at the mercy of medical practitioners. It's no wonder that there's a real problem with transpeople not seeking or receiving proper regular medical care outside of our hormone regimins (for those of us who are on hormones that is).

The silver lining to the cloud is that this trend is changing. I believe the days when Les Feinberg was turned away from being treated for a sever infection, simply because of his gender presentation, are gradually drifting off into the past. With the advent of new tools like the Heathcare Equality Index, we can all arm ourselves with the knowledge of what hospital systems will treat us with fairness and equinimity.

As for me... my trip was great (if extreemly uncomfortable). My fears turned out to be unfounded in this case. I was treated quite well, and no-one missed a ma'am or miss. My 'stroke' turned out to be a severe migraine (ooooh fun!) ;) ... and I went home with my wonderful partner and a perscription for vicadin ;) LOL

Monday, November 24, 2008

My view of Gender

You know... It's very funny (to me anyway) how my view of Gender has changed over the years. This is especially true of my own expression of it! Here's what I mean...

I grew up a poor country boy in the rural North Carolina. Much of my youth was colored by the strict ways that boys and girls were segregated and taught to behave (ie. the Gender Binary). Boys were to be tough, strong, unflinching, brave and handsome. They weren't allowed to have feelings, feel pretty, care, or generally do anything that could be perceived as to 'uppity' or that showed any form of 'weakness'. Girls were expected to be pretty, caring, nurturing, and quiet. They were not allowed to be tough, competitive, independent, or self motivated. Anyone who broke these rules (like me) was picked on, made fun of, and even beaten up.

Because I grew up in this world, I had a very strict notion of what boys and girls were, and since I knew I wanted to be a girl, I reviled everything about myself that fit the boy category and longed to be able to express those things I saw as falling in the girl category. This of course led to a pretty low sense of self esteem, and a VERY suicidal little boy! :(

When I was 19, I attempted to transition. Although I did go full time, I was still so entrenched in the Gender Binary that I was reaching for an unattainable goal. I was trying to be something other than myself. Because of this, nothing made me feel better! Although I did pass somewhat, I couldn't see it or feel it because all I saw when I looked in the mirror was a boy pretending to be a girl! Needless to say, things fell apart and I wound up going back to being a boy (or something like that) ;)

Fast forward about a decade. I'd managed to develop some self esteem, but at the same time was still pretty enmeshed in the Gender Binary. Because of this (and the fact that I was still a boy and didn't want to be) I was still dealing with a lot of suicidal tendencies. Then I found a wonderful therapist who understood the Gender Binary and saw how it was killing me!

He adeptly questioned the way I was looking at things and set me upon the task of learning more about this gender thing and all of the possible ways it could be expressed that don't have anything to do with a Binary Gender system. I set to it with gusto! I found out that there were MANY types of transpeople! There were transsexuals and transvestites (that I already knew). There were butch and fem, guys and girls. There were genderqueer people who didn't identify as either!

That last one really piqued my interest! You see... I never thought it was really possible for me to pass as a 'girl', but I felt that I could possibly be happy with a queer identity! I would give me the freedom to express myself in any way that fit me! This sounded COOL, so I set about getting rid of everything that I didn't like about myself, all while keeping the things that I'd learn to enjoy.

I slowly changed the clothes I wore and I started growing my hair out. I also kept doing TaeKwonDo, and all of the fun physical things that I like. Most importantly though, I gave myself permission to stop pretending to be a boy! I quit butching it up. I showed my feelings. I hugged people when I saw them. I cried when I needed to. I also tried really hard not to start pretending the other way. I didn't over 'fem' it. I only wore what I was comfortable in. I allowed myself to stand tall and proud, to be strong, and also independent. I felt I was living a queer life. I was proud of my queer identity. I didn't really feel like a boy or a girl. (or at least what I'd grown up to think boys and girls were.

Then a funny thing happened. I started to pass: not as a queer person, or butch (which I still thought were my only two real options), but actually pass as your average, straight, young, even *pretty* girl! Who knew?!?! This was actually the hardest thing of all for me to accept! Although I'd wanted to be this way my whole life, I'd never really expected it to happen!

So what did I do? For a time, I went off into 'girl' world. I focused a lot on being pretty and even more on passing... (I became addicted to it!) I briefly forgot my queer identity (or at least relegated it to the back of my head), and enjoyed just being and feeling and acting feminine! But I quickly noticed that, although it felt good, there was a certain shallowness to what I was feeling. I felt like I was giving up too much of who I was as a person in order to be pampered and adored by those around me.

Once again, I found myself really trying to integrate the many sides of my identity into one whole person. At first I struggled between the desire to pass and the desire to express all sides of myself. Then I remembered something I'd noticed before... this idea of 'passing' was bull! By this time, I knew plenty of women who were WAY more masculine than I was, and men who were WAY more feminine than I was! I had the ability to 'just be' and still be accepted by the world around me as a woman.

So now I live what I feel is a queer life. Yeah, I pass. Most people even go so far as to assume that I'm your average straight, middle class, soccer mom or college girl (ugh!) ...but... I also have my tough moments. I still teach TaeKwonDo and kick butt with the best of them. I also date whoever strikes my fancy, regardless of gender or sexuality. I walk between worlds. I work in the corporate world, I play in the male dominated TaeKwonDo world. I'm a queer activist. I'm a single mother. I have friends and partners of every shape, size, color, gender and sexual orientation. They are all pieces of me and I of them. That's what I call queer... but in reality ... that's just normal. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


On Thursday, November 20th from 6PM to 8PM, there will be a memorial service for the National Transgender Day or Remembrance. The memorial will be held on the Halifax Mall closest to the corner of Salisbury St. and Lane St. in Raleigh, NC. This is the green space that connects the NC State Legislative Building with other government buildings.

Please join us in observance of National Transgender Day of Remembrance. Throughout the world, people gather this day every year to pay respect to those needlessly killed by hate crimes against the transgender community, and to call attention to the threat of violence faced by gender-variant people.

The program will include a message from Janice Covington Allison from TransCarolina, experts from the lives and deaths of those who have passed, and reflections from the community. It will end with a candlelight vigil to honor those who have been victims of violence.

The program is being sponsored by a coalition of the leaders of many state and national GLBT organizations, local Gay-Straight Alliances, and community members accross the state! Everyone is welcome!

Please contact Madeline Goss at madeline dot goss at gmail dot com for more information. You can also read more about the TGDoR at

*Please no filming or photography without direct permission from the individuals being filmed or photographed*

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Little Piece of Heaven

About 45 minutes north of Raleigh is a little town called Hillsborough. This quaint little town in the country is also a hotbed of liberal arts and cool people! I had the extreme pleasure of spending the day there last weekend (actually 2, but who's counting) with my good friend Terri and her wife, Patty! :)

We had SO much fun together! After a little while spent cooing over their many dogs and cats, we went to 'town' and had lunch at the new whole foods type grocery store. Lunch was hasty because we didn't want to miss the hand made puppet parade. :)

This parade was simply the cutest thing I've seen in a long time!!! There were people on stilts with bird costumes, little kids with fish on sticks (a school of fish), Chinese dragon type snake costumes, green man of the woods, and many more creatures of the Eno river present. There was also lots of drum, whistle, rattle, and other musical instruments to be heard along the way. All together it made a cacophony that was truly something to behold! I'd highly recommend checking it out if you hear of it coming to your area, or get a chance to head over to Hillsborough this time next year! :)

After the parade we Patty and Terri took me back to their place and let me turn a few pieces of wood! :) Patty is a wonderful artist and makes absolutely beautiful bowls, platters, ornaments, and such out of knotty, otherwise useless hunks of old trees!

Terri, in turn has a thing for chainsaws and is quite adept at carving up and rough turning the wood for her wife! Together, they make quite a team and it was SUCH an honor to be allowed to take part in making such beautiful artwork with them!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Southern Comfort = Queer Power

WOW! I mean really... WOW! I'm so totally and completely basking in the afterglow of SCC! I had SO much fun! I also met some seriously awesome people while there!

I love doing anything centered around queer people! It just makes me happy to walk into a room absolutely filled with people who cross gender, personal, political, and sexual lines on a regular basis! Being trans identified, this is as much an affirmation of who I am as anything! :)

More than that though, I truly see myself as queer! I mean, no matter how you look at it I cross "normal" boundaries on a regular basis. Gender-wise .. well, that's just obvious isn't it? At least as long as you don't start looking at the fact that I pass a little TOO well, and I am too often mistaken for your average straight middle class woman.

As for sexuality, I just don't think I could take it any farther than I already have (at least and not cross some boundary on good taste... ;)) I've dated and slept with men, women, and everything in-between... and enjoyed it! I actually prefer people who aren't all that 'straight', since it takes a lot of pressure off of me to be 'normal' as well. :)

Speaking of which... wasn't I talking about SCC? Oh yeah.. ;) So I met some awesome people there, went to a lot of seminars and learned a great deal (especially about the guys...). I also met this really sweet t-girl down there who totally swept me off of my feet and had me floating on air for like 3 days! :) LOL

What really surprised me was the number of people who wondered why I was there (back to the passing too well thing). That's a VERY weird experience for me, even if it is a little rewarding. Funky huh? I worked to hard on passing over the years that sometimes I accidentally go so far into 'normal' gender land that I get mistaken for one the natives. All along I just want to be appreciated for the exotic beauty that I have as a strong, queer, trans-woman. :)

OH well, the thing I learned at SCC was the being queer rocks because it gives you the freedom to be who and what you really are, regardless of the strictures of society around you. :)

Miss everyone already! :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

When 'Shyness' is Really Self Defeatist...

I've really been struggling with something lately! It's the most obvious thing, but to me it's been a crutch that I didn't even realize I had until very recently. I'm a "chick with a dick". Who knew? ;) LOL

Now this is where you smack me on the forehead and say something like, well, DUH! Give me just a second to point out what I mean by that though. First of all... I'm WAY more than just a chick with a dick! I'm outgoing, smart, goofy, creative, silly, and sensuous, just for starters. The only problem is, I could not get past the C.W.D. syndrome in order to appreciate those finer qualities about myself!

I've never thought of myself as self-limiting, but for the last two years of my transition, I've totally cut myself off at the knees every time I thought I liked someone, or they liked me (big 'L' here). ;( It's like, I'm so afraid that they'll get close and be freaked out by the fact that what's between my legs doesn't match what's above the waist, that I never even gave whomever the opportunity to show me how really cool they can be!!! I mean... is that neurotic or what?!?! grrrrrrr!

From this day forward I promise to forget that I'm "different"... at least long enough to give someone a chance at getting to know me better! Otherwise, no surgery in the world is going to "fix" my insecurity! :)

Happy Friday!
PS: Great topical post in the Zen habits blog => Attack Your Limitations: Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths