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Notes on Panel about Transgender People

March 13, 6:30 pm


SJCC Tech Center

Ran a video while people took seats showing facts and images about hate crimes:
- Brandon Teena, Matthew Shepard, J.R. Warren: all young people murdered as part of
a hate crime
- 41% of the victims in hate crimes are gay/lesbian/bi/trans
- GLBT youths are 2-3 times more likely to have substance abuse problems
- GLBT youths 3 times more likely to commit suicide and 850 times more likely to be
harassed because of their sexual orientation
- 7 states still have no laws about hate crimes
- Tolerance= respecting someone is different, even if you don’t agree
- It used to be true that African Americans were most likely to be the victim of a hate
crime, now its GLBT people

First speaker: President Burk; president of a community college in Idaho that was near the
compound/headquarters of the Aryan Nation (a white supremacy group)
- worked with the Southern Poverty Law Group and the parents of an Aryan Nation
hate crime victim to sue the AN and won 6.2 million dollars in damages
- a major victory for victims of hate crimes against a hate group like the AN
- the AN didn’t have the money, so the compound and the property it was on went to
the victim's parents
- They didn’t want it, so the community college bought it and tore down the compound,
turning the land into a peace park
- That part will one day have classrooms and buildings that are part of the community
college

Before the panel began, members of the Metropolitan Community Church of San Jose performed
songs: a spiritual song from Botswana and a song written by a member in memory of Gwen/
Eddie (victim of a hate crime)

Then, a clip from the movie directed by Shelley Provost (who couldn’t be there that night) called
"Trained in the Ways of Men" about the life and death of Trans youth Gwen/Eddie
- had interviews with her mother, who supported her transformation and said she
always knew Gwen was different, even as a young child
- showed many photos of Eddie becoming Gwen
- mother talked about the day Gwen came to her as Eddie and told her that he was
really a girl; they decided together that he would become Gwen with mom's help
- Details of Gwen's murder told by her mother: Gwen was at a party with "friends" who
were drinking and playing dominoes when the question of whether or not Gwen was
actually a boy came up
- A female witness named Nicole took Gwen to the bathroom and reached into her
pants, feeling the covered male genitalia, then ran out yelling "She's a boy!"
- The other males at the party, held Gwen down and one (Jose) pulled down her
pants/underwear and exposed the genitalia, then began to beat her
- Three young men: Jose Mercel, Jaron Nabors, and Michael (unsure if spelled
correctly) Magesen, beat Gwen repeatedly in the living room. Jose was particularly
vicious, going into the kitchen to grab a can of food and a frying pan to use to beat
her on the head. It was later surmised that he may have had a sexual relationship with
Gwen
- They then brought her into the garage and hung her with a rope, cause of death was
blunt force trauma to the head and strangulation
- Two of the boys (Jose and Michael) were found guilty of 1st degree murder, the third
bargained with the DA and testified against the other two, claiming he tried to pull
them off and stop them
- The female was not charged with anything, though the lawyer said she incited a panic
that started the beating
- "transphobia" like homophobia, not discussed in schools nearly enough

Panel Members introduced and told about their lives/ transformation process *panel mostly
female to male Trans, which is more rare*

1st is the Reverend Sky Anderson: female to male transgender


-originally from the east coast
- Minister of the Metropolitan Community Church of San Jose; primary church for GLBT
people
- First transgender person to lead a church and lead a group of churches
- knew at age 5 that he was "different"
-no one talked about being transgender in the 50s and 60s, had no words to describe how
he felt. Thought he was gay, just very butch
-became a licensed lesbian minister, but still not happy
-learned of transgender people from a newspaper article about a famous tennis player
who was, then decided to go through with it himself
-did what Trans people call "going stealth", where they essentially go into hiding while
they transform in order to emerge as the other sex
-lost his job as a minister at the church he was at, though he was open about his plans and
they told him they were fine with it. Also disowned by his family, cousins and such are told that
he is dead
-has to have corrective spinal surgery from several incidents of police and other beatings;
raped multiple times, still spit on and shouted at
-feels like he is finally his true self; always had God's love to get him through
-said: "Being in the closet is a spiritual tomb. A part of you dies every day"
-Is now married with 5 children and counsels others going through this process

2nd is Lance Moore: female to male transgender


-Silicon Valley born and raised
-a volunteer at the Billy DeFrank GLBT Community Center
-works in the high tech field at the same job he was at before the transition
-was 13 when he learned about transgender people, though knew he was different at 5 or
6
-was married at one time, is now divorced and bisexual
-at 30 met a female to male trans person for the first time and knew that was what he had
to do
-at one time took illegal hormones that made him very ill due to the difficulty in getting
doctors to prescribe them
-family not supportive, hasn’t seen them in years, mother on her death bed asked for his
forgiveness: said she knew all along that he was right, that he wasn’t supposed to be a girl but
she just couldn’t accept it
-now runs the support group he developed at the DeFrank Center that helps transgender
people through the process

3rd is Aejaie Sellers: male to female transgender and CEO/ Executive Director at the DeFrank
Center
-Came out at age five in a letter to Santa, asking if for Christmas he could make her into a
girl
-Had a difficult childhood, very feminine and picked on in school
-Principal convinced parents she was depressed and needed therapy, though she knew
that wasn’t what was wrong
-in high school did research on other cases and came to the conclusion that she was
transgender and wanted the surgeries
-came out to her parents, who supported her and after she graduated took her to a Gender
Clinic: a place where transgender people go for the psychiatric evaluations and treatments
needed to go through the process, as well as the surgery
-spent four months going back and forth to the clinic, then in 1982 completed the process
and went away to college
-she is now engaged and works full time running the DeFrank center

4th is Asher Moody: female to male transgender


-age 27, college sophomore studying engineering
-late teens came out to family as a lesbian, knew he was different at age 5 or 6
-was very butch but still not satisfied
-met a female to male transgender person at age 20, but only started his transition June of
2007
-Family supports him "I already came out as a lesbian…they were like, 'Okay..this is just
another adjustment.'"
-friends/classmates at school supportive, though he noticed a difference in being a male
studying engineering and the sexism that females in math/science majors go through

5th is Sean McDaniels: female to male transgender


-17 years old and a senior in high school
-at 13 came out as a lesbian to his mom, who is also a lesbian and was very supportive
-at a summer camp between sophomore and junior year met a male to female transgender
person and knew that was what he was going through
-came out as Trans in the beginning of his junior year and began the hormone treatments
- has been saving his money for almost 2 years and will be having his "top" surgery (a
mastectomy or the removal of his breast tissue) in one month
-has had very supportive friends and girlfriends, currently single
After the stories, which took quite a while, the panel opened the floor up to questions and gave
more information:

-All of the male to female panel members (except Sean who is having his in a month) had
the top surgery done, but not the bottom: that surgery is a personal choice and is very expensive
and dangerous. The female has had bottom surgery though.
-All the members have experienced some sort of verbal or physical violence against them
because of who they are
-the three older panel members said it was a totally different time for them while they
were transforming than it was for the younger two. There is a lot more information on it, and the
internet, plus more informed doctors and more support groups and others who have gone through
it, etc.
-they talked about their choice as far as when to reveal they are transgender to a lover or
date. They all had different preferences but still agreed that it is a personal choice and that it
depends on the situation and how they feel.
-One audience member accused the panel of dishonesty and misleading their dates/lovers
about their sex. The panel responded with the fact that none of them try to hide that they are
Trans, but they are the gender they are now, so how can that be a lie?
-they also discussed the way it felt to have the hormone treatments, then men talking
about how good it felt to see facial hair and muscles and have a deeper voice so quickly, (though
the Reverend said that going bald was a little less fun) and Aejaie talked about the softening of
her body, and that she has been on them so long that she physically cant put on muscle the way
she used to. They all agreed, though, that it felt great to see their outsides match their insides and
to feel like they finally looked the way they were meant to.
-they also mentioned the California law CA-AB547, designed to protect gay students in
CA and how gender and gender identity were added to it in 2000, but it is still not applied
equally and many schools, high school in particular, offer nothing as far as info or support for
GLBT students

The panel ended by thanking the audience, and the Community Church sang one last song about
tolerance. The members then stayed for quite a while to speak to people and take photos.