Jonathon Thunderword describes his journey to mental, spiritual and religious freedom in his beautiful and revealing book. Jonathon’s book is short and to the point and reflects the man himself.
I first saw Jonathon on a Friday night at a synagogue. Unknown to both of us, this was to be a night unlike any other. It was the first time I attended a Jewish service. I had no interest in religion but I couldn’t deny the grounded sensation I felt during the service. I returned to the synagogue the next day and Jonathon was there, too.
In hindsight, I can see that on that night I experienced a freedom that I, as a black trans person, had never felt anywhere in a shared public space: Community. Although I had no interest or trust in organized religions, I had to find out more about Judaism. Judaism taught me how to question everything. Our questions are more precious than the answers. In my opinion, questions propel humanity to expand our experience in unexpected and positive ways.
I didn’t expect to find myself on a journey towards freedom. Hadn’t my American slave ancestors done that for me? No. Freedom of body, mind and spirit is a pursuit for each individual. In my experience, the pursuit of freedom is the greatest pursuit and love of all.
With Jonathon’s book you will start asking yourself questions that can lead you to your freedom from the expectations of others, and into the expectation of yourself in harmony and love with all life.
In case my dear readers do not know, I will state here that I am a man of trans experience, of recent African descent and I was born in the USA.
There are not many events or organizations in the US that are made for and by people like me (or even acknowledge that people like me exist). I take me everywhere I go, but I understand that ALL of me is not invited or expected in most places in the world.
I now have a couple of holiday events that I did not have as a young person. I have the pleasure and honor of being on the planning committee for an inspiring, rejuvenating event called Generations: Black LGBTIQQ History Experiences. Generations was born in San Francisco, Ca. It is a child of the Black LGBTIQQ community.
For five years, I have been assisting with Generations because history has been my guiding light. Knowing Black history strengthens how I see myself and other people. Knowing the multitude of Black LGBTIQQ shoulders I stand on is a Stone Cold Gas, man.
So, World, prepare yourself for Generations 2016, February 26, 6-9pm at the SOMArts Cultural Center, San Francisco.
In the meantime, enjoy this video from Generations 2014!
I first heard of Brace from my roommate, Ahav. “It’s great”, he said, “y’gotta see it!” Sometimes our film tastes overlap and I tried to remember the title so I could check it out.
Time passed and I forgot the title and I asked Ahav again. “Okay, Brace, got it.” Again the title did not stick in my mind. Fortunately, the creator of Brace, Jake Graf, tweeted; asking me to re-tweet the link to his film.
I enjoyed Brace, you gotta see it! Brace is an emotional, LGBT ride with surprises for the lucky viewer. As a writer, Jake Graf understands that our lives often refuse to take a clean, predictable path to our goals: we get bumped to the side, spun around and dirty. That’s where storytellers find drama. We must remember where we are going and get back on track (creating even more drama in the process).
Graf knows very well that gender transition all by itself creates drama. Graf did not make a simple transition/coming-out story. His characters take more risks, trying to figure out where they fit in life.
Thanks, Jake, for making Brace available to watch online.
If you are thinking of starting a family, please consider doing some legal homework to try to protect your new family from extended family members who feel that it is their duty to take your children just because you are trans*. The legal rules for trans* parents are still uncertain and evolving. Because of ignorance and bias, courts are free to treat trans* parents unfairly. This is the horror story Daniel and Cindy are living.
Daniel is a transman and Cindy’s parents sued to gain custody of the children because they do not approve of Daniel. Apparently, Daniel’s in-laws approved of him before they knew of Daniel’s trans* experience.
This and similar scenarios have occurred many times in the lives of trans* people. Extended family members behave in unexpected ways and can make trans* family life more difficult because laws and courts openly favor cis-gender people.
Fortunately, there is an increasing number of legal advocates who can help us navigate the legal system and decrease the bias and ignorance in the court system.
In September, Kayden, a gay transman, discovered that he is pregnant. Although still equipped with his original female parts, Kayden was not one of those transmen who was trying to become pregnant. Naturally, this happy incident is changing his life. Through videos, Kayden and his husband are sharing their experience with the public.
Kylar Broadus testifies before US Senate on the necessity of ENDA legislation to secure civil rights for trans* citizens.
Kylar Broadus, the founder of the first national civil rights organization for trans* people of color, Trans People of Color Coalition, was named chief of the Transgender Civil Rights Project of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. The Transgender Civil Rights Project will provide strategic assistance to US groups involved in creating pro-trans policy and laws.