By TMPlanetThere’s another name in our community to familiar yourself with, Jiovani Carcione, but just call him Jio. He’s the all around guy, that’s down for his family, friends, and community. A man meant to be in a uniform, be it his work uniform as an exterminator or as paramedic student, or just modeling some. His Instagram/modeling page has become one of the guys in the transborhood to watch and follow. A face and humble charm that’s catching the eyes of modeling scouts. Yet, that’s just the awesomeness on the surface.
Jio, another Chicago native on our list, is a proud single parent, who made the conscious decision to enjoy the gift of life just before beginning his transition, two years ago. On if being a single parent of a three-year old and transitioning is more difficult? Jio says,
I feel it’s the same as any single parent. Because honestly. She doesn’t know any better and my family knows not to say anything unless I tell her myself. Outsiders don’t know the difference of what’s in my pants and so I keep it that ways. I’m just the adorable dad that does his job and makes sure his daughter is loved and cared for, how she’s suppose to be. She Is my life. I waited to transition for her. I wanted a mini me in this world and frankly I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.
Jio is open on his views of revealing trans status. On living undetected he says,
All my past gfs knew… even this recent one she knew after the first date because I told her. If I didn’t think the date was gonna go anywhere, I wouldn’t have told her.. so when I first meet or talk to people they don’t know anything unless I tell them. And majority of people don’t know unless they knew me before.
He aspires to be more involved with in the community and continue speaking on a transgender person’s right to disclosure, and continue the education as an EMT, that he began in Savannah GA.
He is a TMP Role Model, for being an example to youth everywhere that you can have a fulfilling life as a trans person, who embraces the joys of being a parent, and despite the obstacles of single parent hood he is beating the odds. Get to know him, and you will see the joy and love between him and his beautiful daughter. He keeps a positive and hopeful outlook for the future and his passion of being a chef with his own restaurant.
Benjamin Melzer and Loiza Lamers has become the first transgender models to land their own PETA campaign, and raise awareness in the opposition to wearing fur.
Loiza Lamersmade of Holland’s 2015 Next Top Model², and Benjamin Melzer who made his fame by landing the cover of Men’s Health Germany. These two leading European trans models are now standing up for another without a voice, animals, through a new PETA campaign.¹
“I’d rather go naked than wear fur”
“Ben and I have always been firm believers that cruelty towards animals and the use of fur, especially in the fashion industry, is terrible, outdated and unnecessary,” Lamers said in an email interview to .MIC. “The campaign came about after we had a conversation about the subject and decided to reach out to PETA. They got it right away and we started putting [together] the concept for the ad.”
In posing for this campaign, the two, who have modeled together for Diesel, join people like Pamela Anderson, Eva Mendes, Pink and Taraji P. Henson, all of whom have posed nude for PETA campaigns as well.
It means everything,” Melzer said in an interview. “How can we as members of the LGBTQ community want the world to acknowledge and respect us but stand by and let such a hurtful, inhumane practice in our industry continue without speaking out? That would make us hypocrites. When you really think about it, the trans community and PETA have a lot of the same goals. Love and respect should be for all. It’s that simple.”
In addition to the campaign image, there’s a making-the-campaign video that shows how this ad went down. -Via .MIC
The Making of an Historical Ad campaign for PETA
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer David Carson would be the one to take the photo that stunned a community. Yesterday we posted the story of Kiwi Herring, who after months of being tormented, harassed and threatened by bigoted neighbors, seemed to have been pushed to a breaking point, sadly resulting in officers taking her life. All she was trying to do was live her life peacefully, and raise her kids. That case is still under investigation.
TMPlanet, has been in contact with a few sources online, and after the Tuesday night vigil a frantic call came in screaming, that “they trying to kill all of us!” Since then more information has come to light of what happened.
In the aftermath of the death of kiwi, members of Trans Lives Matter held a peaceful vigil to honor a sister’s life, when suddenly a car plunged through the mourning crowd, injuring three people.
Shocking images of the car hitting pedestrians near the Transgender Memorial Garden– where a vigil was being held for Kiwi Herring– circulated on social media, thanks to David Carson, a photo-journalist for the St. Louis-Dispatch.
Witnesses said at least one person ended up on the hood of the car and suffered minor injuries. The driver then sped away from the area as police gave chase. A police spokeswoman said the driver was arrested shortly afterwards.
She added: “Tonight, a group of protesters marched from the Transgender Memorial to the intersection of Manchester and Sarah where they blocked traffic in all directions.“A vehicle approached, stopped, honked its horn and attempted to drive around the protesters.“The protesters surrounded the vehicle and began striking it with their hands and a flag pole. Several protesters also kicked and jumped on top of the vehicle.”What our on the ground sources are saying is contradictory to what the police is putting out.Sources via social media told TMPlanet, that emotions were high and many feared something similar to Charlottesville was happening, along with the entire community mourning for the lost in the community. They are relieved their were no deaths, that the person driving was captured, and can now continue grieving their loss.
America has always been known as the great melting pot, but how those ingredients mix, is a question that in 240 years, has yet to be answered. Never before have we been so blatantly reminded of this, as we have under the #notmypresident’s administration. Bigotry persists, and there’s probably no one on Earth that knows that better than the average trans person. Yet, even in these times while we watch the leader of the supposedly, most free country in the world, support an enemy our grand parents died to protect us from, we too must take a second to look bigotry in the face and see if there’s any resemblance in our mirrored reflection.
As a community, we know the value of representation and visibility. If you are under 25, that urgency may not be as strong as a trans person over 40, who remembers searching for anyone in this world that gives them the light of hope, that they are not alone. When we know a name, and see a face, that share some of the struggles that we do; we feel less alone, not so abnormal, and we’re given hope that we too can find happiness. Yet, in our culture, I challenge anyone at this moment, to do a simple search of media content of this week that gives a voice to the men of color in our community. There is less media representation for reasons that often could be reflecting our attention span.
Whether bigotry is given in a cag, or as a table-spoon, it is bigotry. The voices of trans people matter, our stories give hope and understanding, but if they are not heard or ignored, we miss an opportunity to be that great promise of a true melting pot. The trans men of color in our community are the unsung heroes of the Trans revolution. Their true silent masculinity does not demand validation, but out of respect it should be given. Among many are those that have created the greatest, positive changes for trans culture world-wide, as in Kylar Broadus, who is the only transgender person to speak on behalf of an entire minority group, before The Senate of the United States. They’re career advocates like, Kris Hayashi, who heads the largest transgender organization in the country, if not the world, and strives to uplift all of trans society. They face the demons of some of the most oppressed countries in the world like, Victor Mukasa, in Uganda, yet still paves a way for the next genderation to walk just a little easier in the sun.
These are the silent masculine voices of our community, that refuse to be silenced, and because they have, all our lives matter even more.
1. Kylar Broadus
Broadus, who transitioned more than 20 years ago, is an attorney who focuses on LGBT law and transgender rights. He is the founder and director of the Trans People of Color Coalition, the only national organization dedicated to the civil rights of transgender people of color. The former Lincoln University of Missouri professor is also co-founder of the think tank the Transgender Law and Policy Institute. The Missouri native is the first transgender American to testify before the U.S. Senate in favor of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act. During his 2012 speech he said,
“For me, the physical transition was about letting the outer world know my internal sense of self, of who really was inside this body. … My transition was a matter of living the truth and sharing that truth for the first time in my life.”
2. Kris Hayashi
Kris is the Executive Director at Transgender Law Center, one of the largest organizations in the country advancing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people. Prior to that, he had served over a year in the role of Deputy Director at the organization. As a public transgender person of color, Hayashi has been a leader in movements for justice and rights for transgender and gender nonconforming communities for over 13 years. His first Executive Director position was at the age of 23, with Youth United for Community Action in California (YUCA). YUCA is a grassroots community organization created, led, and run by young people of color. YUCA provides a safe space for young people, to empower themselves and work on social justice issues to establish positive systemic change through grassroots community organizing. Kris took on his second Executive Director position five years later at the age of 28 at the Audre Lorde Project (ALP) in New York City.
3. Victor J. Mukasa
Mukasa is a human rights defender from Uganda who now lives in the U.S. He is a Co-founder of Sexual Minorities Uganda and Executive Director of Kuchu Diaspora Alliance-USA. He was forced to seek asylum in the U.S. after fighting for LGBT rights in the highly trans/homophobic environment of Uganda. He was the first activist to address the United Nations about transgender issues in Africa. As part of the “Proudly African & Transgender: Self-Portraits in Writing” exhibition, he wrote,
“For most Ugandans, any person that expresses ‘him/herself’ as the opposite sex is a homosexual and so this exposes transgender people to all the mistreatment that they would love to give a homosexual. All transgender people are seen as the obvious homosexuals. Therefore, on top of all the transphobia, there is homophobia even if you are not gay.”
4. Leo Sheng
Sheng came into the limelight after he documented his transition phase from female to male on Instagram and You Tube. He has also been advocating for transgender people, and created his identity as a filmmaker. He has been a source of inspiration for those who are in transitioning phase, and his documented story has helped encouraged them to identify themselves as a transgender. “I really just want to bring awareness to a particular identity and what it may mean for some people — again, not all. I don’t represent transmen, nor do I represent transmen of color. I represent myself. My personal goal, or hope, was and is to try to remove some of the stigma and break the stereotypes of what people think transmen are like. I hoped to show people, as other people have shown me, that it’s ok to be true to who you are and to own your past,” Leo said in a 2016 Interview with Huff Post. Leo is studying at Temple University in Philadelphia as an international student.
5. Laith Ashley
The 26-year-old Ashely, started his transition less than 3 years ago, and immediately appeared in a Barney’s ad, along with several well-known trans personalities. The New York native quickly became a favorite to follow on social media, (and in my best RuPaul ‘You Better Work’ voice), his modeling career took off. He has been featured in shows for New York Fashion Week for Adrian Alicea, and Gypsy Sport. He also has posed for Calvin Klein. Laith, along with his new romance became a huge hit for Whoopi Goldberg’s first season of the show Strut. The show comes amid a call to the modeling industry for more representation of the large number of trans models working, who are denied those coveted go sees gigs with national brands due to their identity. Though many in our community see this as one field that has a great deal of trans representation, those trans models are often limited to the work they receive. While our community knows of them, few have broken the barrier into the mainstream, even fewer of those are men, which makes Laith’s role in this, pivotal for trans masculine representation.
6. Neo Sandja
Neo L. Sandja is a Life Coach, Speaker, Author and Entrepreneur. As the president and founder of FTM Fitness World (The First International Body Building Competition of trans men), he is dedicated to empower people of Trans experience in reaching their full potential. Originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Neo came in the U.S., at the age of 19 to pursue his college career. Neo is a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Life Coach and a member of the Association for Integrative Psychology. Having struggled with major depression himself, he is very passionate about Emotional Intelligence and helping people find within themselves the drive to lead a richer life. Sandja is the Author of the book, “Right Mind Wrong Body – The Ultimate Trans Guide to be Complete and Live a Fulfilled Life”. Neo is also the chair of the FTM foundation, a private foundation focused on helping people of Trans experience with their overall transition.
7. Andrés Rivera
Chilean transgender activist and founder of Organización de Transexuales por la Dignidad de la Diversidad, a major transgender rights organization in Chile. Through his work, he helped change the laws in Chile to allow transgender people to legally change their name and sex. He has worked with government and the local health system to facilitate the evaluation, treatment and surgery of trans people, and organized the first Rancagua debate on the Civil Union Pact. He has also fought against employment non-discrimination in Chile and for LGBTQ rights in Latin America in general.
8. Lucas Charlie Rose
Lucas Charlie Rose, was born in 1991 in Paris France, and is a well-known musician, hip-hop artist and You Tube personality; chronicling his transition, and love of hip hop. A trans-masculine hip hop artist that is not only reshaping the next genderation of hip hop, but forging together those voices in music often overlooked. He earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree in Film production from Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. He’s been featured over the past year in several lgbtq media outlets. Over the past year, he raised eyebrows with the ingenious, first ever collaboration CD, of several trans-only hip-hop artist such as; Sidney Chase, Nicki Andro, Neeko Freeman, Jiji Parker, King Giselle, and many more. The first ever such project, that spoke volumes to the unity of the trans hip-hop music scene.
9. Shawn Stinson
Thirty-five year old Stinson is a Veteran Marine, originally from Peoria, a personal trainer and health fitness coach. In 2014, he won the 1st annual FTM Bodybuilding Competition founded by Neo Sandja. That would spark his popularity as not only a trans role model, but fitness role model. He would go on to compete the second year of Fit Con, and remained undefeated.
“This is once in a lifetime. We’re changing lives so that people get fit and helping transgender men transition,” says Stinson. The time is now.”
Recently, Stinson was featured in a meme that went viral, in the wake of North Carolina’s anti-LGBT legislation, HB2. Among other things, the law prevents transgender individuals from using public restrooms assigned to the gender with which they identify.”
10. Jiovani Carcione
Everyone loves a man in a uniform, and there’s nothing not to like about this handsome EMT from Chicago. A hard-working man, that has every reason too, as he is also a proud father. Raising a child through the ups and downs of transition, life and remains optimistic and full of hope. Jiovani is the new cover model, and trans man of the future; hard-working parents living their authentic truth, and being a role model to millions yet to come. Reminding a new genderation, that all is possible regardless where you are, and that all trans men of color matter!
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Before the internet and social media, support groups plaid a huge role in the lives of transgender people. Now many can connect online with others going through similar stories world-wide. There’s video chat, messengers, text and if you are close, a life long friendship can be formed. Yet, trans support groups are still very critical to the emotional and mental health of transgender people, no matter what stage of transition. Unlike a support group headed by a therapist, you are amongst peers without much fear of being analyzed. In fact you may not have to say a word at all and feel the benefits of socializing. Across the globe, no matter what country, nationality, religion; where there’s a large group of transgender people, there’s possibly a support group near you. The double-edged sword is that while we are fortunate with greater trans awareness to be able to reach others of shared interest, the traditional medium of support groups across the country are struggling to continue. That would be unfortunate for our community.
Looking back at how I became aware of being transgender, the support I received, the community spirit that was instilled in me at an early start: I feel very fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had, unlike my partner who did it completely alone. That isn’t a unique story. There are many transgender people who become aware and make the necessary steps to live their authentic lives without any assistance, emotional support, no family or friends to relate too, and even some without much therapy at all. Though I haven’t seen an actual case study on the matter, and not a psychologist or sociologist myself, I have witness the long-term emotional distress, more intense dysphoria and shame associated with being trans with some that received no support through their entire transition.¹ Luckily for many today there is more acceptance than ten years ago, and more awareness. There are growing numbers of supportive parents of transgender youth, along with the beginnings of media representation that can make us feel just a little less alone. Yet, we hear of those happy stories of supportive families, communities, jobs etc., because they are still rare and unique stories to millions of trans people in medium, and small rural towns across the globe.
I have been humbled and moved by my transgender community.
When I look back over the years of my transition, and living my truth; the moments that were the lowest for me were when there was no connection to anyone who understood. In a millennium long, long ago, in a small rural football loving, truck driving, tobacco chewing town in South Carolina, I began to live my truth. The initial thought of such a place to come out may cause immediate anxiety. While it was not a walk in the garden by no means, it wasn’t as bad as first thought. As I said I’ve always been fortunate, most of the time, to have a community. There were those that came before me even in that small town, a few transvestites, that were by my side from the first time I began presenting myself. I had that connection, along with being apart of my local lgbt community. It was in that community that my then best gay friend showed up and introduced me to my first trans sister. I remember that day, and remember not knowing it was even possible that I could ever transition to look like the woman I knew I was. I had no clue what transgender was. All I knew at the time was RuPaul. Yet, suddenly this woman who looked like Vanessa Williams, wearing Kenneth Cole thigh high boots, daisy dukes, a midriff shirt and showing ample cleavage, came prancing in my bedroom. I immediately jumped to attention. This was the first person I had ever seen that was transforming, and developing as themselves. It felt like someone was bringing me the answers to my dreams. Thankfully, she was very supportive and wanted to help, not all girls are and that’s unfortunate. I continue to be lucky, and over time we became close friends. She took me to my first doctors appointment and as I developed pass the boundaries of acceptance for the small town of Hartsville, South Carolina, I took off to trans city USA, Atlanta GA.
It was time to blossom
Atlanta allowed me to blossom in the arms of a very united and supportive local trans community. For the first time I met hundreds like me, and learned about what it means to be trans. What I mean is being trans does not always mean you’re an expert on everything trans. I had a lot of education ahead of me and I still find myself remaining open to learning about my community, and myself to this day. At this point, I was in therapy and had the support of a community of trans sisters. Yet, I was still not part of a formal trans support group, exposing me to a wider diversity of our community. I’m ashamed to admit today, that when I met the first trans guy that wanted to get to know me better, I remember being so afraid and nearly homophobic. I would hide from him in public and complain to my friends, asking why does she think I’m a lesbian. This was ignorant I now know, but I make this point because that ignorance still persists in our community amongst ourselves when we are not exposed to the diversity that could easily be overcome through a local transgender support group.
After three years in Atlanta I unfortunately found myself back in that small rural town, where TS still meant a tropical storm. For the first time I didn’t have support, the transvestite girlfriends I did know there had sadly passed away. I performed as a gender illusionist along with gay men who dressed for performance only, and who would ask me why would I do such a horrible thing to my body. I had changed, developed, but the town was the same. My family would try to persuade me to hide my attributes, wear men clothing again in order to keep the towns folks appeased. At first I had a hard time getting a job, and when I did, they also would ask me to “tone it down”. I had no local support. My friends back in Atlanta could not relate and were little help. I resisted, stood my ground for my truth as long as I could, but several months later pressured by jobs, family, no friends that understood or support group, I gave in. I’m a male to female transgender woman, yet I found myself binding to hide my boobs so know one else would be offended and to please my family. Gone was the hair weave, and I began to grow my own hair which at first was a tiny pony tail. My insurance didn’t cover therapy or any transitional care. I was no longer in therapy. I paid out-of-pocket to get my hormones and could only find one pharmacist willing to fill my prescriptions within a thirty mile radius of me. In the gay community, I was the token trans who was only called upon when money was needed to be raised for local AIDS organizations. The spiral of depression was gradual but devastating. In 2002 it would nearly end my life after my first and last, near succesful suicide attempt that left me unconscious for hours. I had to receive blood to live due to a near fatal loss of blood, along with one month under psychiatric observation. At25, had I had any wisdom to form a support group, been able to attend one, or have others that understood; things may not have happened as they had.
The meaning of community
When you’ve survived a near fatal suicide attempt, it’s then you decide to live. I had to find a way back to myself and love me for me. With the help of therapy I decided to move for my own sanity. I ended up not far, just three hours south in Charleston SC, but what a difference three hours had made.
In 1999, Olivia (read our story with Olivia)², had created C.A.T.S, Charleston Area Transgender Support Group. Though small at the time I first attended, it would be another learning curve as a transgender woman for me. The trans community of Atlanta I had come from placed the highest value on passability, and trans hierarchy. Many I had encountered did not validate the lives of those that transitioned later in life, or who only dressed on occasions due to non-supportive marriages or family. My time back in my hometown that lead to my depression had changed my views on those that could not always express who they are. I now knew from experience how that felt myself and could relate. Those first meetings, I was often the only trans person of color, but eventually that would change when William, a trans man of color who was married to a trans woman befriended me. Through William, I was educated on trans masculinity and had my first exposure to trans/trans relationships. I met two girls with one that remains a close friend to this day, Jenna, who was the first transgender lesbian I had ever met as well. Again, the circles I had known prior did not include transgender women that didn’t like men, and at first this was a delicate topic for us. I had to come to terms with my own internal homophobia, and be educated that my transness was my gender and not my sexuality. Jenna was the first to help me understand that sexuality varies among trans people, and adds to the beauty of our diversity.
After a year of attending the support group, I had made the close friends I was going to make, and kept in touch with Mrs. Olivia over the years. I would drop in and out over time. As the next few years passed, the directors and members of the group would change. Mrs. Olivia had left due to illness, some good changes some bad. The most productive were during the time of Amy Garboti and the current director Lee Anne LeLand. During this time the support group would grow from just a dozen older transitioning, white trans women to be more welcoming to trans people color, trans men, non-binary and parents of transgender youth. That dozen grew over time to hundreds in the community, even creating new groups for trans men, non-binary persons and for those younger than 18. This community group that educated me on diversity, has itself become a beacon of diversity for Charleston’s trans community.
The effects on the trans community of South Carolina by this group and it’s network of groups, would be an understatement if I even attempted to try to explain. In the years I’ve been witness to their work, the group has gone from etiquette, make-up and hair classes to real issues that we face. It’s here you will get a list of health care providers, list of friendly businesses, help with name changes and legal documentation and join a network of trans people throughout the area and state. Even among those who no longer attend regularly, there remains a supportive network. They have helped many find work, therapist or simply a friend that understands. Saving countless from the tragic depths of loneliness and depression. I’ve witness people who for the first time presenting themselves, full of fear and anxiety, become confident and beautiful. It has inspired some to get politically involved and now work in local politics, business and it was at the table of one of those C.A.T.S meetings, that the proposal of me blogging about trans issues was born. That inspiration is now leading to my dream of my own magazine for my community. They have grown, adapted and served the trans community along with other members of the Palmetto Transgender Alliance³, to serve the trans community of South Carolina. Now they need our help.
We should always pay it forward
If you follow TMPlanet, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not one to have many ‘about me’ type of blog post. I don’t speak that often of my story, or get too personal. I’m actually shy, and withdrawn despite what many think. This is not about just helping friends. I haven’t been to a meeting probably in a year. After a lot of tribulations personally over the past couple of years, and the development of my dream of this magazine; many have suggested a kickstarter or gofundme. I have shared fund me campaigns on our social media pages for anyone in our community who asked, and I was seriously considering one for TMP until I heard that this local support group that has done so much, needed some love back from the community. Now, this is bigger than TMP, or C.A.T.S or any individual trans person or entity. This is about the countless trans people who still feel alone. This is for those that heart drops to the pits of their stomach, as they walk out that front door as themselves for the very first time. Those wanting a place where they are welcomed as their true self. This is about keeping a safe place for many in the years to come. This is about being able to meet people who knows what if feels like to be discriminated against, harassed, and also the joys of that first T or E shot. It’s about the next Sabrina, who as a trans woman of color can come to a place of diversity and be welcomed, and where she herself can learn more about the diversity of her trans community.
This is about love. Love for my sisters and brothers of C.A.T.S and all the trans support groups on the ground that are making a difference in so many trans people’s lives. Will you please consider helping with their expenses, or share this blog post so someone who can will. Also, support your local trans support groups, or start one. Let’s make sure the next generation continues to have a place of love to come and feel safe.
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Trans Mental Health: There can be isolation, hiding and secrets, which can lead to depression and anxiety. Transgender adults are much more likely to have suicidal thoughts, with 50% of adults reporting some suicidal ideation. There seem to be two paths that people take early on: either one tries to hide their inner feeling of being the wrong sex and “passes” for what looks like a boy or girl, or one is incapable of hiding and presents as either a tom-boyish girl or a feminine boy. Either path is fraught with problems for one’s emotional development. The second scenario – of presenting as gender non-conforming is known to elicit harsh responses from society. This is true for non-transgender people as well and many gay men and women experience this early on.
Dear Trans Family…Will You Still Love Me When I’m No Longer Young and Beautiful? Is the story and support of Olivia covered by TransMusePlanet, one of the founders of the first transgender support groups that is still in existence. Charleston Area Transgender Support Group, known as C.A.T.S. still operates today with several splinter groups for transgender men, non-binary and trans youth and most still attend the main meetings which can have an average of 50 attendees.
Under Palmetto Transgender Alliance, the support groups are connected for greater awareness and reach for the states transgender community through their network of support.