Okay, maybe the title of the article is assuming too much about the most recent mayoral figure publicly involved in some form of crossdressing (for all I know, the figure could very well have gender dysphoria and actually identify as female of one extent or another) but this topic is honestly nothing new. There's former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani who summoned his inner Marilyn Monroe for this public appearance. Gaining some steam, but not really enough to gain a large disdain from his contemporaries. Next, there is the story of Stu Rasmussen who is actually the first openly out transgender mayor in Silverton Oregon. Stu has gained much applause from the both the LGBT community as well as the general Silverton population, even with more or less failed attempts at mudslinging primarily by conservatives and the media based off an instance of one of Stu's outfits on a hot summer day. Finally this brings us to the story of East Cleveland mayor, Eric Brewer. Controversy publicly began on Thursday 24 September 2009 when Brewer held a press conference from his office addressing recently surfaced pictures of Mayor Brewer en femme that have allegedly surfaced from Brewer's personal hard drive. Brewer, in light of the allegations, is chalking the matter to a mudslinging attempt on him by his campaign opponent, the East Cleveland Police Department (who support his opponent), and WKYC, and WOIO television stations for running and as he put "instigating" the story.
Okay, so there's most of the background, the full article ran by WOIO Action 19 News Cleveland can be found here. Now, there are several things wrong with this most recent story of Mayor Brewer (and I am not just referring to the heinous comments left by some citizens of this "fair" and "progressive" city in response). For starters, there is the way the media has covered the entire episode, using sharp, direct, negative connotations of a man in women's clothing. Instead of viewing it objectively, the chosen route was to seemingly address the entire issue of being transgender as something abominating and disrespectful. Second, there is the issue of Mayor Brewer's campaign members, addressing the entire matter as a "circus" and unbecoming. Now notice I stressed the usage of the term "entire", this is because that some of the near 40 snapshots released were of a graphic adult nature, and for photographs of that nature for any individual, rather they be trans/cis-gender, hetero,homo,bi,pan-sexual, or anything especially for a member of public office to surface would be unacceptable. That's unacceptable not on the part of actually taking the pictures (because that is up to a persons own prerogative and private life) but for; 1. not securing such documents safely, confidentially, and securely 2. the long-standing desire for exposure of persons private lives and 3. the handling of the issue by all parties if/when such information is revealed. Finally, there are the wonderfully open minded citizens of Cleveland, Ohio and it's neighboring cities. I become enraged when on any page dealing with LGBTPQQI issues and there is non objective commentary. Yes, people are entitled to their opinions, yes there is a free speech amendment (with limitations), but as in the matter of a crossdressing or transexual mayor that doesn't want such information publicly exposed, keep it to yourself. It seems as in a city so poor, but trying to move so forward into the future with proactive thinking and societal living, it is so terribly behind. Before I become further engulfed in frustration, I will leave any further commentary to the city of Cleveland to myself until further notice :)
Finally, I am anxious to see the community reaction to the recent events in East Cleveland. East Cleveland, Ohio is a predominately African American populated city in the northeast suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. With that said, being African American and a transgender person I am really curious to see just how many bibles may or may not be thrown at this matter. I am not going to assume anything because yes, people can and will surprise you, however, once faith systems start getting into the mix, it's a whole different story. I agree with Chris Rock and his role in the film Dogma, in that it's better for people to have idea systems than belief systems, you can change your mind on an idea, but a belief, people will go to war for that. I hope that this latest issue in my backyard will turn around into an enlightening (and hopefully positive) experience for Mayor Brewer, the citizens of East Cleveland, and the city of Cleveland and it's surrounding areas. This issue may be so much more than what it seems to be about when you look at it on a larger scale, depending on how you look at it, this is not only about gender and sexuality, this is about race, politics, the media, the people, the city, the wealth, the poverty, so much more. Please share your views, praises, or criticisms-just keep it objective.
In the meantime, my Canadian flag is still waving in the background, Cleveland is not for me :)
This is an article based off a comment I posted on Lori's blog about gaining self acceptance with your reflected image, realizing your true beauty through your internal image, and the limits of external validation. My response to the article was as follows: It's true, external validation can only get someone so far in terms of being genuinely comfortable in their own skin, however, I believe that virtually every woman goes through a struggle one way or another with being accepting of the reflection in the mirror. I have known well established professional models that endure a battle in self acceptance. There are too many external pressures from our supposedly 'objective' outlets in society, there is not enough celebration in the diversity of the beauty that makes us all individually unique and whole. When I am doing makeup for clients, I firmly believe in emphasizing the natural beauty the person has, and if they dare to object, then I dare to prove them wrong. I think as transgender people we suffer a greater burden of accepting our true selves in our reflective and in our internal images. A question that is brought up to me from time to time is if I wasn't passable, would I still transition. My answer, most definitely, being a woman is not necc accounted on by how well you blend into society but how much you shine as a woman. So much more relies on mannerisms than makeup. Look at what society has done (or attempted to do based off of whom you ask) to Caster Semenya, Venus and Serena Williams, Lady Gaga, etc based off of these poorly perceived notions of what it really means to be a woman. I am fully aware that it is difficult, damn near impossible for me to be perceived as a genetic woman in most areas, simply because of my height (~6'6") But I am not ashamed of being a transwoman, I am not ashamed of my struggle, my dicothomy/dysphoria, my identity, my being, even my height, and with that being said-I would rather be perceived as a transwoman than being perceived as a person who I am truly not. I am growing a greater comfort in my own skin as I continue in the journey of transition, and further realising the truth that a persons inner beauty will project who they really are. Now don't get me wrong, I love makeup, a lot. I'm an artist, I love playing with colour and technique, however, I don't believe that makeup is going to be an end-all-cure-all. Makeup, in my opinion, is to help a person (feel better about their self by highlighting their natural beauty in subtle or dramatic ways) not to make a person.
A lot of people that I have known before transition upon meeting me in my true self for the first time, react in a matter of clarity as opposed to shock. I want to close this article and thought with a statement a good friend of mine told me when she first met me as Zoe; "it makes sense, you have always been Zoe, now you are just finally shining through". I have a bit of a ways to go, physically, emotionally, etc but I think with the support of family and friends and logic, I am stepping in with my best foot forward.
This is the story of another wonderful individual who just happens to lay under the transgender umbrella. Caster Semenya is the South African runner who has come into recent fame not only for an astonishing performance in the 800m (1'55.45") but who has also been revealed as intersexed, beginning with nonsensical speculation over the athletes' facial hair and supposed masculine appearance (possible paranoia & poor profiling mixed with sore loser-ness??). An Australian newspaper; the Sydney Daily Telegraph recently stated that the International Association of Athletes Federation (IAFF) reports the 18 year old athlete having three times the standard level of testosterone for a woman and internal testes as opposed to a uterus and ovaries. Unfortunately, I feel that this situation was a giant media disaster, using derogatory terms (ie. hermaphrodite) as well as the nature of this initial context; making very private medical information public, without consultation of the party involved. It is not only highly intrusive, but also dangerous. Semenya has rightfully chosen not to discuss the matter and maintain a rather low profile throughout the ordeal stating to South Africa's You Magazine; "God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I'm proud of myself." A very tremendous, apt, and yet understated comment; we are all proud of you Semenya.
I am just your run of the mill, globe trotting, record playing transwoman trying to make the best out of quaint Cleveland, Ohio. I'll be sharing thoughts and reflections as well as personal stories of my life and times coming into transition, looking forward to seeing old friennds and making new ones here :)