Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Difference between Transgender People & Doing Drag

 Recently I had a number of people ask some questions about the T stripe on the rainbow vs drag... So I thought I'd give some simple definitions and basic information. This is not an exhaustive resource. 

What's the Difference Between Transgender People & Doing Drag?

To quote one of my characters: Areva from Illusions & Dreams

“You dress up to be a girl on stage! But I dress as a woman because that’s who I am!”

The Transgender 101

Transgender Person: An individual’s gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth.

*Transman was assigned female at birth but identities as male.
*Transwoman was assigned male at birth but identities as female.

Why do we say “assigned sex at birth”? The doctor can not assign gender at birth only sex (physical). A doctor looks between a babies legs and makes a judgment call: boy or girl.

According to Intersex Society of North Amercia 
1 in 100 differ from the standard body
1-2 in 1000 have surgery as infants to “normalize” the appearance. 

Distressing: Imagine someone who didn’t know you decided you didn’t look text book enough so they took a knife to your genitals. This still happens TODAY.

Another reminder: an individual who is transgender may or may not feel the need for any kind of affirmation surgery.

Drag Performer: A person who dresses up to perform as the opposite sex.

*Drag Queen male performing as a female
*Drag King female performing as a male

Some performers are just having fun.
Some are getting in touch with the feminine side.
Some do it as a challenging art form.
Some do it as a way to explore their gender fluidity (identifying as both male and female)
Some are exploring who they are (Many of the Drag Kings I know are also transgender and dressing in drag was their way of exploring it.)

Ladyboy: An individual who dresses as a woman but retains a penis. In Asia many ladyboys perform in clubs or work in stereotypical female jobs.

*The word ladyboy in the West is not appropriate but in Thailand it’s a title the performers I met aspire to in the clubs. Many retain the energy of both sexes.

Most of the ladyboys in Thailand I met were transgender but were afraid to get lower affirmation surgery (even if they wanted it) because they would no longer be eligible to work in many of the clubs. Most of them save up and get breast enhancements.  And many live as women outside of the clubs.

Some drag performers are transgender.
Some transgender people have done or do drag.

Everyone is unique. Expression of sexuality and gender is can be very individualized.

Hugs, Z.

((I’d be remiss by not suggesting if you were interested in reading about two very different transgender people who happen to work in a Ladyboy Club you might enjoy Illusions & Dreams. It’s a romance with two different stories and it is based on my experiences in Bangkok)).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dear Author Z.Allora,

((This is a note to myself I wrote as a reader while at Rainbow Con this past weekend.))

1) Readers don’t have to finish a book.

Just because I started reading a book doesn’t mean I’ll finish it. If I don’t: there’s less of a chance I’ll buy a title from that author in the future, I won’t review it and I won’t recommend their work. As a reader authors please make me NEED to finish your book.

2) Give readers pay offs

Don’t expect me to wait around… I (and many readers I’ve spoken to) won’t wait until halfway through for the book to “get interesting”, “understand the main character’s not a dick”, ‘for the action”… for the good stuff in general to happen. I’m not suggesting you feed the reader everything on page one but as a reader I should be compelled to read about the characters or the story… if not see number one.

3) Know your audience and feed them

Who are your readers? That’s your audience. Those are the expectations you should care about meeting (if your agenda is to sell books)  A book is a contract between the author and reader: Give the reader what they love and they’ll love the author for it. If I go to a restaurant and ordered steak and the waiter returned with fish since it’s better for me… chances are you’re not pleased.

Yes it can feel very appealing to blur lines and break troupes… but if your audience has purchased a book for love and sex and you give them a documentary (even if they learn something) the audience walks away hungry.

Now there are authors who have reader trust. They will read what you write because they love you. However for some that love will only go so far. If I’m not being satisfied as a reader (as much as I ADORE some authors) I go elsewhere.

4) Buying book is investing in an author

As a reader I vote with my dollars. If I see an author espousing views truly contrary to my own I might not (who am I kidding I won’t)… I won’t buy an author’s book if they’re prone to transphobia, homophobia, sexist or racism remarks… I simply can’t.

On the same note I’ve purchased books of authors whom I’d never read before simply because they stood up for what was right.

5) Don’t bury important stuff

I have a life. It’s crazy and nightmarish at times. Books are a refuge. Unless I’m reading a mystery I don’t want to hunt for clues as to what’s happening. (Mind you some readers do but not me) When a tiny but pivotal fact is hidden in a long paragraph it might be lost to me as a reader. If I needed that information to successfully understanding the book I’m out of luck… even though the detail was there… I as a reader will never know it and possibly walk away unsatisfied.

>>>> Now I’ve pissed myself off… so a little more reality<<<<<

6) What is your agenda?

Why am I writing? Do I want to be sell books or do I want to tell a specific story? Sometimes I can do both Hooray for me! Sometimes I can’t.

When I can’t:  I need to make conscious decision about the book. I MUST tell the story in my soul even if it doesn’t make me (or my publisher) money… If I chose this path I MUST be ready to accept the consequences and use different criteria to judge success: I told my story my way, I’ve touched people, I worked out a personal demon, whatever the reason I did. I can’t look at Amazon and bemoan the fact I didn’t break the Top 100/10, I didn’t make huge sums of $ or maybe the publisher isn’t ready to jump on my boat. Consequences…

If your goal is to sell books… there are ways to do that. Find those steps, write that book and go down that path… but if you deviant do so consciously.

7) Listen to your betas, critique partners & editors

The issues they point out are the same your readers will have. Give information to the reader so everyone is on the same page with the character. It doesn’t matter if you’ve researched the subject or did the activity yourself.  If the readers confused or skeptical you’re not helping yourself by not addressing it.

A character loves to sky dive naked. Most readers have never done this activity so they need information. Educate with details (safety, procedures, checklists) so they can enjoy the experience with the characters.  Even if the author is a skilled naked skydiver, the reader still needs the training.

8) Maintain love your writing



Z. Allora

Friday, July 17, 2015

Marital Advice

There are lots of ways to have a happy marriage but the best piece of advice I give is ONLY marry your best friend.

1) Argue:
Arguments don’t have to be long drawn out dramas of screaming and slamming doors. They are disagreements that need to be worked out.

A) Don’t nitpick but don’t let things go.
If something bothers tell your spouse… they married you but the license doesn’t bestow magical mind reading powers onto them. Deal with it don’t bury it. Don’t like to confront… that’s why you address each issue. It’s easier to talk about something bite size before a mountain of resentment and anger builds up.

B) Do so with love.
During the discussion say I love you… not to distract your partner but to remind you BOTH you share love with one another. Talk to them with the same respect you’d speak to your ‘best’ friend.

C) Working through disagreements on small things you learn ways to deal with them so when something larger comes along you have the experience and expertise to know it’s not the end of the world. The two of you will work through it. (Yes WORK… marriage requires both parties to work)

D) Be honest but not purposefully hurtful. If you’re too angry, upset or hurt call for RADIO SILENCE. It’s a great way to get a time out. I utilize it when I'm too upset to hear or when I know my love is too upset and neither of us should be talking. Silence is better than saying hurtful things out of anger. Radio Silence = HUSH up NOW. (Then once you have space back to working out the issue)

2) Don’t be a Martyr
Allowing your spouse everything and taking nothing for yourself is not healthy. Employ the airline philosophy of life: Put your air mask on before helping others with theirs… Take care of your own needs so you’re able to contribute to the partnership. If you’ve given everything and become an empty husk with nothing to give>>> how is that helping the team?

3) Play For The Same Team

What are your goals as a couple? What are your goals as an individual?
Saving up for house
Saving up for retirement
Having fun
Get your degrees
Growing your own vegetables

As a primary member of your team you should drive in the direction of your team goals and you should help further your spouse’s goal as well (& of course should be assisting you in accomplishing your dreams as well).

Goals change and evolve over time. Talk once in a while to ensure you're both still focused on the dreams. If not make the needed adjustments.

This doesn’t mean you give up on your individual goals but you make compromises to meet the priorities you have as a couple while you continue working on your personal goals. It shouldn’t be one or the other… though there are times one or the other of you might have to give more to make something happen for the good of the team (as will your other team mate).

Marry Your Best Friend

Marry someone who loves and accepts you for you. Someone who can make you laugh. Couple with someone who will work with you on your couple as well as your personal goals. Find someone you can trust to take care of you if the need arises and be willing to take care of them.

Marry someone who you are able to put their happiness in front of your own and they happily do the same for you.

Marriage is not heteronormative… though until recently it’s only been between a male and a female (In the past people just assumed married people were heterosexual… not always the case so let’s drop the label and the expectation.). Each couple needs to set the boundaries of their relationship is and goals they want to focus on.

There’s many ways and suggestions to make a happy marriage.  It’s up to each of us on, off, over and under the rainbow makes of marriage what you want it to be. It’s up to you to define what your marriage is and what equates to success. May you find a best friend to enrich the quality of your life.

Wishing you love, happiness and romance always.

Hugs, Z.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Clothes Make A Girl...

It's funny we're getting ready for a Weird Al concert. We have tickets for a pre-concert party which includes dressing up tacky.

And I'm having issues...

I was 11 when my Aunt Peggy gifted me with a fancy aqua butterfly winged shirt. It was the first time I looked in the mirror and figured out what I needed to do to play the part of a female.

My manner, actions and movements had always set me apart from little girls but if I were silent, still and wore that frilly silk people treated me like a girl.

I've always hid behind my clothing. If they were interesting or different people would focus on the style, fabric or color and not me. My 'costume' could take center stage and I could fade into the background.

I used to go to a park near my house from sun up to dark playing basketball. (Short as I was I could hit the hoop from the top of the key and all the hot dog shots). My long blond hair hidden under my baseball cap. It was heaven. For two years I got away with being just another guy... then puberty hit and well my body wasn't allowing me to fly under the radar.

I retreated to the shadows my clothing could create. It was a "look at the bunny" move but if girls were fascinated by my socks matching my outfits they weren't saying I was too much like a boy.

Soooo the idea of purposefully abusing my wardrobe by mixing: Zebra print pants, leopard print jacket, tie dye heart tank top, with glitter socks and sparkle shoes... is daunting. But for Weird Al... I did my best! Here's my train wreck of an outfit.

I leave you with one my favorite Weird Al videos.

Hugs, Z.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Intolerant of Intolerance

As we celebrate marriage equality I want to remind us the job's not done. There's still transphobia, sexism, racism and homophobia didn't disappear with the ruling.

 Please watch this video...

Scary Statistics:

Number of women murdered by their partner each day: 3
Percent of women who have experienced domestic violence: 25%
Number of women who died each day due to abuse: 4
(((  Verified by the US Dept. of Justice & Bureau of Justice)))

Yet many of us tolerate attacks on gender.

Silence is tolerating.

When at a PFLAG meeting I encourage each and every person attending: To CONSISTENTLY address negative statements & slurs made by others against the LGBTQIA community.

It is only through education we can change the status quo. 

I'm not asking for you to bully or to form street teams to attack others... I am asking for individuals to stand up against not only homophobia and racism but transphobia and sexism.

When you judge someone's ability based on gender or allow someone to do it unchecked:

You forward stereotypes.
You allow an environment that those horrific statistics remain a reality.
You are saying it's okay and in some cases its seen as agreement.

Be intolerant against intolerance.

Together we can change the world one attitude at a time.

Many hugs and much love,
Z. Allora