Monday, November 21, 2011

Fast Tracks in 2011

Lenses of Gender
Spencer forges the horizons of Transgenderism

In recognition of Transgender Remembrance Day, November 20, COP 24/7 wanted to spotlight an advocate who is blazing trails in the arena of gender studies and has a take no prisoners approach that is not only engaging, but spot on. During some discussion about programming for the next national convention of The National Association of Black and White Men Together, Inc to be held in San Diego, July 2012, I was forwarded a link to a seminar facilitated by Ms.Valerie Spencer, whom NABWMT is considering as a presenter. Currently she is both a consultant in social services, building a budding organization The Transcend Empowerment Institute and a full time student at Antioch University in Los Angeles where she majors in Psychology. “My goal is to complete a Masters in Social Work, then on to pursue doctorial studies in psychology with a holistic emphasis. Education is very key in training me to be the agent of change that is my destiny”. Noted author of Los Angeles County’s first curriculum addressing Transgenderism from a people of color perspective, she develops other TG specific training and seminar materials. Valerie has co-developed and co-facilitated the Transgender Leadership Academy: A collaborative effort of the Los Angeles Transgender Youth Consortium and The FTM Alliance. “This was a ground breaking effort to build our leaders. “In the past, Transgender leadership came into being by way of osmosis. This was a chance to take all of the information that we as leaders have gained, share it in a constructive manner and shape our mavericks of the future.” I thought I may would watch for a only few minutes and move on, but the subject matter became thought provoking as well as enlightening. Ms. Spencer "deconstructed" the paradox's of "being transgendered" from the standpoint of defining a persons existence. She states that often people can't deal with transpersons without attempting to put them in "checked boxes" of a gender description with verbiage resulting in statements of "you appear "as" a women" or "man." I was struck by the fact that Spencer cause me to re-evaluate the term "transgender" as she believes its an open ended term that leads to some ambiguity. She prefers FTM ( female to male) or MTF (male to female) terminology which she feel more comfortable embracing. Furthermore, I was intrigued by her statement that SRS ( sexual reassignment surgery) is not the whole total sum of those living a trans life. Spencer acknowledged that her genitalia choice doesn't make her less of a woman and this mindset is also prevalent among many transgendered persons. She has not had the surgery but doesn't discourage the experience for those seeking it. In the session, she also speaks of her past strained relationships with men who are fascinated at the uniqueness of her being often not seeing her from a deeper perspective as a person seeking a full filling relationship. As a activist and advocate, she talked about criminalization, stigma, health barriers and societal adjustments that each individual must navigate no matter where they are in their life process. Before I knew it, I was engrossed in the presentation and the lessons Ms. Spencer was sharing. After watching, I gained further insights into the world of those in transition and how my work as an advocate and activist could intersect with these lives. There's more about Ms. Spencer on the website( ) including a video of the session. I encourage you to check it out and become enlightened. Here are direct links:
 Also the site has many links to numerous other resources and portals addressing the transgender issues.  

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