2016 in Review

December of 2016 was the first month since we discovered Western Avenue back in 2014 that we did not participate in an open studio in the studio building. The reason (amongst other reasons) for that is because we decided to simplify and combine our studio and loft back in late October. We did one more open studio at the beginning of November, but by that time, we were 90% moved out of studio A520. We are still at Western Avenue, and we are still participating in open studios. We’ve just moved our stuff into our living space at 160 Western Avenue. If anything, it is much easier to find us. One of us is here 99.9% of the time. Appointments can be made to view any of our art on non open house days. And you can still visit us and other Loft artists any time that there is an open studio. On any given open studio day there are around 10 or so Loft artists who are open, which is a much simpler sort of visit than the five floors of artists over at the studios. We welcome you to come every month, since we change our art and add additional pieces on a regular basis.

What We’ve Been Up To

Kristian and I have been very busy since summer. In summer, we were part of the ACLU-NH and RAD-NH show in Manchester, entitled “This is What Trans Feels Like”. Since that time, we’ve also been preparing for the show in Dover, NH, since it is a traveling show. Konnor submitted several pieces and is waiting to hear if any of those were selected. One of our goals this year was to submit to more calls for submission, both literary and visual. And another goal that we had was to participate in more non-juried shows like craft fairs and art fairs. And we’ve accomplished that.
Kristian has been busy with making mixed media art, but most of his artwork this year has been centered around creating gemstone jewelry. You can view some of his more recent pieces on our Instagram.
Konnor submitted pieces to the Alienation show at Loading Dock Gallery, but did not get into that show because the competition was national and pretty steep. It was a great, show though. If you didn’t see the show, you missed a moving experience. Konnor also submitted both visual art and poetry to a multimedia show which was held in Lowell in October at Mill NO. 5, entitled “Survivor Gallery of Hope”. Konnor had five poems in the show which were both on YouTube on Konnor’s YouTube channel, and on paper and one was in mixed media artistic format. Poems were presented in an auditory live stream at the gallery for visitors to listen to as well as read. Konnor also read two of the poems at live Mic nights at Brew’d Awakening during the month of October as part of the effort to promote Domestic Violence Awareness. Konnor was also invited in November to hang one of the pieces entitled “Survivor” at the annual Gala for the Asian Taskforce on Domestic Violence.
Konnor has continued to write poetry, and plans on publishing a free chapbook of poetry some time in early 2017. In December, Konnor participated in “Got Books”, which was a literary event at Western Avenue Studios & Lofts. And in December Konnor attended the Appleton Mills local original art show which was held in the Appleton Mills gallery. In January 2017, he hopes to have additional pieces at Wrong Brain in Dover in addition to the Invisible Violence piece that he did in 2016.
To wrap up the year of 2016, Konnor has been participating in the P_ssy Hat Project which is an offshoot of the non partisan Million Woman March on Washington for women’s rights. Anyone who is attending the Boston event is welcome to come to open studios on January 7th for one of many pink hats that Konnor is creating. See our Instagram for photos of the hats as they are made. Konnor also got certified as a reiki practitioner in 2016. Stay tuned for more information about that.
The New Year of 2017 will bring challenges as well as changes. Our challenge is to stay focussed on the positive and be the change that we want to happen. We wish you the best for the new year. Love from Kristian and Konnor.

Creating Healing Out of Invisible Violence

Can We Fix Society?

Quote: My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year,” she wrote. “I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f—ed up’ and fix it. Fix society. Please. — Leelah Alcorn from her suicide note.1

Leelah set a tall order when she asked that society be fixed. How can we heal as a society? How can transgender people heal in the face of the onslaught of all the stories were hear day in and day out through social media and our friends? How can we heal in the face of a full frontal assault of thoughtless and unknowing comments, body language, transphobia and cissexism, and society’s erasure of our issues as important? The healing has got to come in small measures. There’s not one of us that can fix society all on our own. We have to depend on our friends, family and our allies for help.

What Can We Do?

  • Raise Awareness
  • Build Ally Relationships
  • Use Creative Coping Mechanisms
  • Share Your Art on Your Website
  • Submit Your Art to Zines, Galleries, & Show Locally
  • Share Your Website with The Invisible Violence Project

Our Inspiration

Dylan Scholinski at Sent(a)mental Studios did it first with his various art therapy projects, such as the Youth Haven project and more. His public speaking efforts have been raising awareness since the 1990s, and his art therapy projects precede ours. We’d love to be as successful in raising awareness on invisible violence and secondary trauma in transgender people as he has in raising awareness of transgender youth suicide and anti-reparative therapies. We take inspiration from Dylan and his work.

What are Creative Coping Mechanisms?

You do not need to be limited by artistic medium in how to creatively deal with the invisible violence in your life. If you’ve ever been affected by a TDOR event, have been affected by current events to the point where you could not go out of the house, then creative coping mechanisms might help you to process your feelings. You do not have to be limited to the media below, but here are some possible ideas. Think about something that bothered you, and create to get out your feelings:
  • Write a song and perform it on youtube, or for your friends.
  • Draw something
  • Paint something
  • Write a blog
  • Write a short story
  • Dance your own dance, on YouTube or not
  • Write a poem
  • etc.
Let us know you’ve been creative, what you’ve done, and we’ll link to your work. Your creative work should speak to triumph over adversity, acceptance in the face of alienation, healing in spite of hurt, visibility in the face of erasure, and most of all, how you overcame some sort of invisible violence like alienation, ostracizing, second hand trauma, hate speech, or many more.
Thanks for your participation, and I really look forward to seeing how creative you can be!

Behind HB2: The Real Reason Behind the Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bills

What is the Real Reason Behind the Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bills

See this informative video about trans bathroom issues:
THIS IS ME: From the Bathroom (http://wifey.tv/video/this-is-me-from-the-bathroom/) from trans entertainer-activists Rocco Kayiatos and Mariana Mar
What I have to say is not neutral, or uncontroversial. However, I’d like to present a call to action to promote tolerance towards transgender people, and LGBTQI people in general. And I’m going to say some really frank things at the risk of possibly alienating those with more traditional viewpoints on religion. However, when dignity of the human spirit as a transgender person comes up against religious prohibitions against non traditional conceptions of gender, then in my opinion, dignity wins out.
The act of limiting a transgender person to a bathroom which pertains to his/her/their/zir birth certificate has a consequence of causing trauma to those who will refuse to go in public, for fear of violence, legal implications or simply shame induced by a culture that demonizes transgender people for wanting to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender expression. Most of the time people don’t even know they are sharing a restroom with a transgender person.
When you look at this video, what are your reactions? Have you ever been in a position where you felt unsafe to go into the restroom and had to hold it for an extended period of time? What if someone told you that you could get arrested if you went in the restroom? What if someone told you that you might get beat up for being different because you went in the restroom? Would you be angry that your basic rights were being denied to use the restroom?
Now, do you think that the dilemma is that transgender people are being denied access to a function of daily human life which is very basic to human dignity and respect? Do you see that denying bathroom privileges to any human being is degrading? Furthermore, do you see that this inciting of hate over supposed perverts in the bathroom is delusional? If not, let me explain.

What is Behind the Religious Objections?

Fear and misunderstanding is what I see from my vantage point as a former charismatic Christian who has converted to Unitarian Universalism. Conflating or confusing sex and gender minority identities with freaks, sexual predators and criminals has long been a tactic of the religious right to promote fear and taboo. I attended the city hearing in DeKalb, Illinois back in the 90s to hear the debate on both sides regarding allowing equal public accommodations for LGBT folks.
At that time, a local charismatic minister stood at the speaker podium and said that the slippery slope logic that applied was that if you let the LGBT in, then soon the world would be filled with wanton orgies, the sole cause of AIDS (we know is a myth), sodomy, pedophilia, polygamy and all sorts of abominations of sin, etc. He in fact listed individual sex acts as a way of expressing his hate for homosexuals. In fact, I wondered at the time he spent obsessing at all of the different types of sexual acts of gay men, including some in the BDSM world. I wondered at the fact that he made pedophilia and homosexuality synonymous, and also that the idea of transgender was even more horrible to him. His idea was that if you open the door to just one of these so-called most heinous of sins that you open the door to all of them. And he lumped all of them together, finding them the same and equally depraved and evil.
The idea of certain branches of the charismatic church is that there are levels of sin, and homosexuality and gender identity are some of the most heinous. His line of thinking was similar to that of the Reverend Phelps, who I met on a couple of occasions while living in the Midwest. And believe me when I say that these distortions of logic are man-made and not from the Bible. They are beliefs that are twisted projections of an ancient concept of family, that saw women and children as property, and protected land rights and ownership, through inheritance. And by protecting the family homosexuality becomes a threat, as a so-called non procreating pursuit. Some conservative christians are also make homosexuality monstrous, because they are are using Bible verses to distort Christianity as an avenue for committing hate crimes, and justifying it as god’s law. Their concepts of hate and distorted interpretations of the bible have no basis in the reality of today. And in fact, they are very dangerous and harmful. I would make a case that they destroy not only LGBT people, but also the people who perpetuate them, but I don’t think I have the space or time in this answer to do so.
When I heard the minister’s argument that my being was no different from that of someone who commits sodomy or pedophilia, I was emotionally horrified that he would use both in the same sentence. But I was not surprised that he thought that way, because I had just left charismatic christianity when I came out as bisexual. When I came out to my minister as bisexual back in the late 1990s, he accused me of threatening the sanctity of marriage, conducting orgies with parishioners, and all sorts of sexual depravities which were his fantasies alone. The minister even broke confidentiality to discuss my supposed depravity with the couple’s prayer group and pray the devil out of me. (haha) I was aware of the brainwashing that occurred within that church. One of the deacons of the church came to my apartment door later, to “discuss” my depravities. But I can only just guess what his intentions were, and I didn’t let him in. I’m not sure why people automatically think that bisexual equates to orgies or multiple partners at one time, but whatever. I was doing none of those things, so the idea was pretty ridiculous. But ironically, I found more closeted LGBT people within the charismatic church in rural Illinois, than I found in the Unitarian Universalist church which was open and accepting of LGBT. However, they lived conflicted and unhappy lives, in terrible fear and pain of being exposed. I watched them cry, and self-punish, until they finally married into loveless marriages to conform to social expectations of gender and sexuality, all the while still being involved in LGBTQ activities on the weekend, and in denial.
The reason that I am telling you this story is to point out that the fear that exists regarding sex and gender identities and gay marriage has nothing to do with Bible verses. No amount of praying the devil out will ever pray away the gay. To hate transgender and homosexual people is a purely human fear of things that people do not understand. People learn to hate and fear difference (xenophobia) because the people they are around, their parents, and the fabric of society support it.
Hate is not something that comes naturally to children. Children learn it from their parents as they grow up. Conservatives demonize and attach monstrous proportions to things which they find as taboo. And they have no way to work through their fears of the things because their church and society says that they cannot talk about such shameful things in the open. And if they do, they are shameful themselves to even think about it. The teaching within the religious right is that if you even let a thought enter your mind, it is a sin. So with that cultural insight in mind, you can understand why religious right not only are easily manipulated by fear, but also that they become fossilized in their belief systems and are very difficult to get through to with reasoned arguments.
I know in my own case, I thought demons were around every turn, when I first left the church. Every gay person was capable of sprouting horns and selling me to the devil. And as a result of my separation from the church, I was so alienated and ostracized that I attempted to take my own life. Now what kind of Christian love is that which ostracizes a person in pain? I’m not sure, really. I don’t think it is the kind of Christian love that is described in the Bible. In the end, leaving that church with the prejudiced and hateful views was better for me than staying, despite any culture shock I experienced from coming out of conservative christianity.

Political Machinations

So while Anti-Trans Bathroom Bills are being drafted in droves by the Liberty Counsel, in order to further their anti LGBTQ agenda, in the meantime human beings are being made to suffer to forward the purposes of a political and religious agenda, and that is to stigmatize and criminalize the identity of transgender as well as cause set backs in general LGBTQ rights. Believe me, they take it personally, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.
For those who are pre-transition, or questioning, these legislations stand to do the most harm. I’m talking about young people who are trying to figure out who they are. I’m talking about newly transitioning people trying to figure out their next steps. The potential damage that bathroom bills cause in PTSD trauma from aggression and micro-aggression, and potential violent or hateful reactions from non trans people towards trans people could be disastrous. See the below link on the trans teen who died in NC just as the NC bathroom bill was approved:

Casualties of War

The victims of the religious right’s so called cultural war are those who die from either murder or suicide due to a culture of intolerance, and a traditional view on religion and gender which seems to support their deaths in the name of religion and political power.
Trans Teen Activist, Former Homecoming King, Dies in Charlotte, N.C. around the same time that the vote for HB2 happened 1
And what about Leelah Acorn? We can never forget her tragic story. She died because of a societies pressures and judgements. Her Christian parents were uninformed and very unaware of the impact of gender dysphoria on transgender teens. And although no parents should be blamed for the suicide of a child, the cultural climate which produced the intolerance for transgender children should be held accountable.
Transgender Girl Pleads With Us To ‘Fix Society’ In Tumblr Suicide Note 2
Are we going to take her note seriously to fix society? What do you think needs to be fixed to get people to understand what it is to be treated as less than human? I’m sure there must be some parallel that you’ve experienced where people disrespected you in a way that made you feel like an animal? If so, then you might come close to understanding how trans people feel when people degrade or disrespect us. Leelah’s note was a call for help.
And the Liberty Counsel shown on CBS is **making pawns of those most vulnerable **including newly transitioning trans, young people, and also the victims of sexual assault whose stories are being manipulated for political gain. See: Rights v. Safety: Exploiting Survivors of Child Molestation 3
See Liberty Counsel: Group behind states’ religious freedom laws speaks out 4
I’m talking about people who are vulnerable because of not passing as either man or woman yet because they are just in the initial stages of transition and not having ANY safe place to pee in peace without fear of harassment, bullying or even attack and murder, depending on the level of safety and the area. And the transgender people are the ones who are at a disadvantage here. What one of you would want to hold your pee all day at your job? What negative mental and physical health effects would that have, if you felt like you might be murdered for using the wrong bathroom? And what if you have a beard and your birth certificate says female, and you are forced to use the female bathroom by law? Isn’t that awkward and uncomfortable? I know I don’t want to cause women discomfort at seeing me in their bathroom. There’s too many women that have been victims of (usually straight white men sexual predators), who will see me, and freak out that I’m in their bathroom. And conservatives are justifying bathroom bills all because somebody has an irrational fear of trans women??? I believe that these laws were specifically targeting of trans women with transphobic hate, and specifically ignorant of how the laws might play out in relationship to trans men. I just don’t get how they can presume to justify their positions. Trans women don’t transition so that they can go to jail for entering a restroom to relieve a very natural human function of passing water. Why would anyone transition if their main aim was to commit a crime and end up in jail? Trans people just want to lead normal and dignified lives as fellow human beings. And the only violence that is happening is that being perpetrated upon us.

What Lead Up to This Explosion of Bathroom Bills and Media Visibility?

I had previously answered a question on Quora about the history of the bathroom bills and how HB2 came to be a focal point of the transender rights movement: Konnor T. Crewe’s answer to Why did the transgender community choose to make bathroom usage their priority over more pressing needs? 5

Invisible Violence and the Transgender Community

1

In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre,no one in the Gender and Sexual Diversity (GSD) community could possibly miss the reverberations of fear, disbelief, horror and anger. All of us are mourning in our own way, whether GSD community or ally. It does not matter whether we were personally connected to the victims, or not. Most of us feel the moral outrage of such a horrendously violent act. And even though there is a difference between public mourning and personal grief, the power that internet media has to change us through felt solidarity is a subject worthy of philosophical discussion.2
However, everyone in the GSD community wants to know what the victim’s lives were like, how they identified as gay, Latino, Latina, transgender, etc.3 We want to relate to and identify the victims as our own people. Every time that there is a tragedy which demoralizes and dehumanizes a community, we want to understand the lives of those who died and understand their humanity in the context of our own. And it is not only just that we try to understand everything within the framework of our own identities and contexts.
Someone not from the LGBTQI community asked why knowing someone was gay or transgender was important and why that is emotionally significant. And part of the answer has to do with our complex and obstacle filled histories. So, why do we gender and sexual minority people feel the impact of the Orlando shooting so deeply? And I’m not being flippant when I ask, because I think the answer 4 is important.
The answer is so obvious to those of us who still face discrimination on a day to day basis. All places are not created equal when it comes to GSD rights. If you don’t live in place where GSD identities are normalized, you’ll understand why knowing the victims identities is important. Or if your adulthood started prior to 1980, you’ll understand. If you don’t live in a metropolitan area, you will completely relate to why it is important to know who the victims were. If you live in a country where GSD identities are criminalized, you’ll most definitely get it. We have not arrived at equality just because equal marriage laws passed. We haven’t even reached an a time in which all racial minorities are treated equally. We still have a long way to go before we can rest. And what about those who don’t yet have national recognition of their rights in their own countries?
And it is just as important to understand that it is okay to identify our own people as our own and feel deeply about it as it is to understand why we might feel so deeply connected. And it is important to realize that our truths are valid and legitimate to say out loud.
And in the case of HB2 which affected transgender people first, then lesbian, gay and bisexual people (LGB), how did the greater GSD community feel? There was a similar sense of horror, anger and outrage for our brothers and sisters and those in between in North Carolina. Although the events cannot compare, there was still a similar secondary trauma. We didn’t have to live in North Carolina to feel the pain. The bathroom bills seem to have been retribution for the supreme court decision on equal marriage.5 The result is a feeling of being under siege.
But again, the mainstream public questioned why HB2 was so button pushing to transgender and gay people. Why do GSD people have such strong feelings? Why did we “choose” to pursue the bathroom bill issue so passionately? You can see that in the following question: 6 However the reason has to do with basic human dignity. The assault upon our dignity and peace of mind presented a challenge.
Obvious sources of violence to transgender people are things like murder and assault as a result of hate or fear of difference. These concrete examples of violence are so obvious as sources of harm that no person could possibly deny they are a violation of human rights. However, what is invisible violence in the transgender community?
As U R is artistically conceptualizing or grouping together psychological harm like secondary trauma7, degradation, humiliation, ostracizing, micro-aggression, hate speech, and other sorts of non physical assault, as invisible violence in order to create the healing theme of our project. We’d like to promote public education and understanding in order to combat invisible violence.

There’s been much research on misgendering, microaggression, ostracizing, bullying and stigmatization as violence through the research of critical race theory. And some, like Mrs. D’Orsay, have talked about how that might impact other kinds of minorities like transgender people. 8 On Violence Against Trans People; Mrs. Antonia Elle D’Orsay, Ph.D., M.S., M.A.]

What is Secondary Trauma or Vicarious Trauma?

By definition, those affected by secondary or vicarious trauma include friends, and in the words of the vicarious trauma website as far as who is affected “and the list goes on”. The definition of vicarious or secondhand trauma is broad and does not just include those in the helping professions. So by definition, the inclusiveness of the term is open-ended. Those who feel a connection to victims of a terrible event can feel PTSD symptoms just like those people who experience the event first hand. So, for example, those of us who attend Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR)9 feel strongly for so many transgender women and men, many of whom are people of color, whose lives have been lost to murder. As a trans man, I can still feel the pain. I do not have to be a person of color, or a trans woman. The majority of the victims of murder are trans women. And for those who are newly transitioning, the reality of transgender violence may be frightening to the point of second hand trauma. And the event in Orlando has had an effect on quite a few transgender people I know. If you look at just the transgender people’s answers on this question, 10 you can see that all the transgender people do not actually feel safe. And this is just one example of transgender people’s reactions to Orlando. We have to have more effective ways of processing the hurts of our brothers and sisters to keep our community healthy.
Those who experience secondary trauma can have physical symptoms as a result due to stress. And stress can bring on illness. Sufferers of secondary trauma can have psychological symptoms such as fear of dying, fear of going out of the house, fight or flight responses, dissociation, etc. And whether it is a connection of friendship, or a connection of a feeling of solidarity with the victims, that close tie of empathy is what makes invisible violence so insidious. Not everyone processes their feelings in the same way, but some are impacted quite severely by things like current events, TDOR, violence to a friend, seeing things that happen to people they are connected to on social media, etc. Does that mean we shut ourselves off from other people and the news in order to not suffer vicarious trauma? No. We are human first and foremost. We desire to be in connection with other people.

Knowledge is Power

Awareness of how invisible violence can affect groups of people is one step towards healing. What we’d like to do at As U R Studio is artistically explore the subject of invisible violence in order to transform people’s experiences into understanding and well-being. We’d like to give the term invisible violence a physical shape and texture to create understanding in the public eye. And while that is quite an undertaking, we can only do so individually and one person at a time. So Kristian and I would like to officially start a project known and The Invisible Violence Project
About the Author
Konnor T. Crewe is a genderqueer trans man who lives in an art community in the Northwest Boston area. Konnor writes poetry, autobiographical and non autobiographical nonfiction in relationship to the transgender identity, and would also like to delve into the realm of sci-fi fantasy fiction.

Paper Bead Making Demonstration

Paper Bead Making Demonstration

As U R Studios will be hosting a free paper bead making demonstration during ARToberfest on Saturday, October 3rd at 1:30pm and Sunday, October 4th at 2:30pm at Western Avenue.
Come and discover how to make your own beads very inexpensively by Upcycling all different types of paper.  The process of paper bead making is both green and good for the environment, as well as fun!

To the Partners of Trans People With Love….

To the Partners of Trans People: I just received my copy of Love Always, Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge & Resilience, from Editor Jordon Johnson. I was so excited to see my name in print on page 132. I hope that Love Always will be a resource for SOFFAs, and mental and physical healthcare providers who wish to educate themselves as allies.
I know when you look at the title of the story, you are going to get the reference.  Transition Envy. Do transgender guys get middle-aged man complexes?  Well, if I could afford it, I’d probably have hair replacement and a BMW.  Is there a special crowd funding for mid-life crisis?
Part of my story of transition is also a story of my struggle to accept the fact that there are all sorts of masculinities, and just because I did not figure out when I was 5 that I was transgender, that does not minimize my particular journey.  There are lots of faggy, queerdo guys like me out there, just as much as those on the other end of the spectrum who give Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for their money.  And when you are in a relationship with another queerdo transgender guy, it does not really make life less complicated.
One very interesting fact that is worth noting is that Love Always has transgender/transgender relationship essays, as well as essays from all other different permutations of gender and sexual orientation which you might possibly come up with.   Early on in my search for support, I found that many support groups were for the partners of MTF people, and they simply did not want a genderqueer or a questioning pre-trans person (as I was at the time) in their group.  Exchanges with group leaders lead me to believe that I was invading their safe space by being a transgender person. However, some SOFFAs needed support specific to those who are either gay or lesbian, or who are in a trans/trans relationship. The support spaces, at that time, were filled largely with heterosexual women in relationships with transgender women, and the issues that people were dealing with were quite different.  It makes sense that not all of our issues are the same, however, we are not a monolithic community.   The change in our community is so quick that it is difficult, even for transgender people, to keep up with all the various changes in politics and terminology.
Relationships within a mercurial political landscape is difficult.  To give you an idea of the mercurial nature of label politics within the transgender community, we might take a look at the usage of umbrella terms.  The most recent is the label trans* with an asterisk.   The term derives as an alternative for the term transgender as an umbrella term which had fallen out of favor.  In the course of a few years (about 2009-2015), the term trans* had become really widely used, then criticized by young people in the transgender community.  In my opinion, the usage or non usage of umbrella terms make the landscape of transgender politics an utterly baffling field of land mines to walk through.  That does not mean that allies should not attempt to understand, but plan on devoting a fair amount of time.  Because if you are like me, you’ll be perpetually embarrassed at sticking your foot in your mouth.
The recent change of the gender options on Facebook to 58 genders is another illustration of how very complicated gender can be. Combine that with multiple sexual orientations such as gay, lesbian, straight, bisexual, pansexual or polyamorous to name a few, and you get the picture that relationships within the transgender realm could have infinite possibilities.  Live Loud Graphic’s interpretation of popular identities may not necessarily be mine, but it is interesting to think about (see graphic):
Another factor which could make the counseling of transgender people in relationships more complicated is WPATH.  WPATH standards of care have changed dramatically. WPATH now has a more positive view of middle path identities. People are transitioning faster and faster. Transgender health clinics seem to support a more quick transition, as do the WPATH standards. However, counselors do not seem to keep up with the changing of standards.  Now, there seems to be more of an emphasis on difference and experiences which can vary dramatically depending on culture, class, age, gender, etc.  My hope would be for counselors and therapists to keep up with issues of intersectionality.
My Testosterone Based Opinions
A transgender woman recently told me that she was not interested in hearing my testosterone based opinions.  That comment pretty much is a guarantee to stop me dead in my tracks.  She probably accomplished what she intended which was to get me to STFU.  As a feminist and a person with the history of living in a female body, I had to stop and ponder.  I did not seriously consider that my opinions were invalidated due to the fact that I inject testosterone into my system.  Maybe for her, they were due to the fact that she so utterly rejected testosterone and what it did to her own body?  But I had encountered enough misandry and reverse sexism in my youth to recognize the statement as a balancing of the power system, even though it was blatantly misandry.  And who am I to say that my answers are applicable to those in the transgender female realm?  I can honestly say that I do not know exactly what it is like to be in the shoes of a transgender woman.  And I think that many times it is much more difficult.
When I think about the issues trans men in relationships have versus trans women in relationships, I have to say that because of the nature of testosterone and estrogen and the sometimes very opposite effects on the emotions, psyche and libido, I would say that partner issues among partners of transgender women and transgender men are extremely different.
Transgender women and Transgender men do not transition in the same way. Genderqueer people and middle path people do not transition in the same way that those who are on the edges of the transgender spectrum do. We do not have the same types of orientation and relationship issues or even the same types of personality issues and ways of going about transitioning or being in a relationship.
So to treat everyone in relationship with someone who is transgender or gender non conforming in a blanket sort of fashion is totally wrong. To apply the same standards of relationship counseling is wrong. And I am speaking specifically from the perspective of a transgender partner of a transgender person when I say this. I have no counseling experience. I can only speak to my experience of attempting to find support and feeling frustrated, as well as the total lack of support specific to my own identity. I will not cave to the internet bullies who told me when I first started seeking support that relationship support for SOFFAs is for “normal spouses” and not for transgender people.
Problems with people’s attitudes which I have met in the past have varied along very dramatically different polls. I have heard the attitudes of some relationship counselors who have based their therapy solely on the basis of transgender women transitioning back in the 80s and 90s and even early 2000s.  I do not want to go to an experienced therapist who has counseled for 30 years who says to me that yes they do know about transgender people, only to find their philosophies and ideas not subject to change.   I also would not want to encounter someone in counseling who assumes just one type of transsexual and that the WPATH standards of 30 years ago are the same as those of today.  I would hope those in counseling would be open to the changing landscape of transgender identities and middle path folks, as well as to each journey and life path.  Someone who has 30 years experience has surely picked up a wealth of wisdom along the way and has much to impart, if they are open to the new landscape of changing identities.
The opposite could be true, and I could possibly find someone who knows absolutely nothing about transgender therapy, but is a good therapist in general, who I have to educate about my identity. However, I hope that when I go to a therapist, and ask their credentials that I don’t hear something like, “Yes, I have knowledge of transgender people. I read all about *insert transgender celebrity* in the news. Just because you know of one transgender person, or you’ve watched shows on television, does not mean you are qualified in the area of transgender issues. Now that visibility is increasing, there should be more and more accessible information. And those sources produced by mass media are not always the ones which are the most authentic. Mainstream media usually only shows the middle to upper middle class, or affluent, leaving out a whole realm of perspectives.  A book written from the perspective of transgender people or partners of transgender people holds more weight, in my opinion.
Another example of a problem that transgender people as well as SOFFAs of transgender people experience when seeking out support is just that the community is so small and people know each other so well, that there is the possibility that by going to a particular therapist or support group that there is a conflict of interest.   Someone you know has counseled with them.  Maybe even one of your exes, or a previous spouse has had them for a counselor.  If I want to the privacy of my partner, or respect his right to have his own neutral support, then I have to make sure that I am going to a different place than he is. But there are so few counselors and support group that it becomes impossible.  With more transgender therapists and support groups, it would become much less difficult to find support.
I am so very grateful to those people who choose to go into the field of counseling transgender individuals, or transgender spouses and partners.   My hope is that those who choose to go into the field in the future, also realize that to keep up with the changing needs of the community will require an extra amount of research and contact with the community.  And like Baskin Robbins, we are not all vanilla (or mainstream).
Love Always,
Konnor

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Size and Transition

I may not look it, now, but
once I was a very large person who weighed 460 pounds, plus. Here is a before and after photo to give you a frame of reference:
My transition and my weight loss occurred simultaneously in 2010, because once I had decided to transition, I lost the wish to hide behind my weight.  However, I am not telling you this to make you think that you must or should choose the same path that I did. My attitude is one of radical fat and body acceptance. Through the course of several essays, I would like to share my very personal journey with you.
Maybe you are reading this and you are not transgender. You may also never have struggled with weight or body image. However, I think that body image is a topic which is fairly universal. Most struggle with issues surrounding accepting our shape, our size, or even disliking certain aspects of our own appearance. I hope that I can offer my own insights about body acceptance and acceptance of difference gained through experience from my transition as a transgender person.

Wearable Art Extravaganza II – The Elements – Water Element

Wearable Art Extravaganza II

SoFia Blake modeling the Goddess of the Ocean Dress designed by Konnor T Crewe, Jewelry by Kristian P Crewe, and head ware by Sukey Tuckerman Blake.  Video by Kristian P Crewe.

Several candid photographs by Art Ferrier of http://www.artferrierphotography.com.  Thank you to Art for the wonderful photos.
The night featured designers for four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. There were more than 70 different designers and fabulous outfits from all different levels of designers. My outfit would be considered beginner. I’m rekindling an interest which I had as a teenager and young adult. My hope is to solve problems for hard to fit people.