Lifestyle

Mass-shootings and the dehumanizing of America

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It’s difficult to comprehend the horror of Sunday night’s tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas where 59 people were killed and 527 were injured. But what makes this tragedy even more heartbreaking is the way America has reacted to it, because it clearly shows that we as a nation have lost our humanity. We have lost the ability to see things and react from the standpoint of just being human.

It’s sad and discouraging that so much of how people reacted to this tragedy was framed within political views, or racial, or religious. The Democrats blame the lack of stricter gun control, while the Republicans go with their usual response about the Second Amendment right to bear arms. There are people who blamed this on Donald Trump. There has been much speculation as to whether it was an ISIS backed terrorist attack. There are even arguments over how the reaction would have been different if it was a rap concert which was attacked and black lives were lost.

But why does it matter? The fact remains that 59 people are dead; people of different races, religions, political beliefs. 59 families are grieving and will have to deal with loss for the rest of their lives. These people were moms and dads, sons and daughters, sister and brothers, co-workers, and students. They were part of their community. And now they are gone, and those who knew them are left to deal with their loss. There are 527 people who will have to recover from their physical injuries, but it is the emotion wounds which are the deepest and will take the longest to heal. There are many who were at the concert who were not physically injured, but they were still traumatized in ways we can’t imagine.

And once again America is grieving over yet another mass-shooting. Pulse nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Newtown, Columbine; names we know all too well, and now Las Vegas gets added to the list. We’ve seen how this plays out; the initial outrage and grief and then the bickering over gun control, but in the end, nothing ever changes. The deaths in Las Vegas will fade away only to be resurrected later on when the next mass-shooting occurs. And the sad part is that we know it’s just a matter of time until this happens again. Everyone is so quick to offer “thoughts and prayers” whenever a tragedy happens, but they are far more reluctant to actually take any meaningful actions. This column is not about gun control, but clearly something needs to be done; citizens have no business owning assault rifles. The other issue which is rarely addressed is mental illness and the difficulty in getting treatment. America deinstitutionalized mental heal care in the early 1970s, which reduced the population in mental institutions and made mental health care more community based. But during the ensuing years as the economy worsened mental health was always one of the first things which had their budget cut, and now we’re at the point where it can extremely difficult to access mental health services because there are so few resources available. And the result is that there are many people who have mental health issues, and who have the ability to get high powered guns, and that, as we’ve seen, is a deadly combination. Add to that the general state of this nation and all the unrest and divisiveness, and it’s a recipe for disaster. More innocent people will die, only to used as political fodder for each party’s agenda.

We’ve stopped seeing people as people; in today’s America being human is trumped by your political beliefs or the color of your skin, or what religion you follow, and that is a shame. We have lost our humanity.

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Family

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There are various definitions of the word family; most often it refers to a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household related to one another by blood or marriage. There are other definitions as well, such as a group of people united in criminal activity, like the Mafia, or a taxonomic rank in the classification of organisms between genus and order. But there is another definition of family that can be just as meaningful as the other definitions: a group of objects united by a significant shared characteristic.

For many in the transgender community the simple fact that we’re trans brings us together and into a new family because of the shared experiences and the bonds that develop from those experiences. It doesn’t mean we love the family we were born into any less, it just means we have another family of people with whom we share an understanding of what it’s like to be transgender. I was there when my children were born but that doesn’t mean I understand what it’s like to actually give birth, just as cis-gendered people can’t truly understand what it’s like to be transgender. After feeling alone for so long it’s a wonderful thing to find others who understand.

And sometimes we turn to other people for friendship and support when we lose relationships with the family we were born into. There is no replacing the love of a child or sister, but sometimes it helps to have friends to talk with and who listen and understand what’s it’s like to lose a relationship. It doesn’t mean I’m trying to find a substitute family, it just means I’m human and there are times when I need a friend. It’s human nature to want to be part of a community or a family; we are not meant to be alone. When we are alone and feeling the loss of those relationships there are several common ways to react; we can seek out others to not feel so alone, or we can try to numb the pain through things such as alcohol or drugs, or we can just stop feeling anything and stop living life.

Through The Benz FamilyI was blessed to grow up in a loving family where I had a mom and a sister who loved me, and later in my life to have a wife and two sons who also loved me. Those are the relationships which have always meant everything to me and always will. Most relationships experience some amount of ebb and flow, whether they be family, friends or acquaintances. Some relationships grow and flourish, while others fade away. Sometimes rifts develop with people we love and care about which are not easily mended, and if we’re not careful we can lose people we love. Relationships are easy when things are going well, but it’s the difficult times which ultimately show how strong a relationship really is and whether or not it can weather the storm. Relationships require effort and dedication to make them work; they need to be tended to and nurtured, or else they shrivel up and die.

I am also blessed to have many friends who I’ve met online, and occasionally in person, and those friendships mean the world to me. Many of those friendships developed through my work in the porn industry, and over the past couple of years some of those people have become dear friends who have become like family to me. I have friends who I talk baseball with, or cooking, or any number of shared interests we have. We’ve gotten to know each other and shared parts of our lives and developed a bond and a level of trust that is very special. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to appreciate the friendships I’m fortunate to be part of, and I’ve learned that the quality of my life is directly proportional to the friendships I have. Unfortunately I’ve also learned that no amount of friendships can replace the love of the family I was born into.

I’ve learned things can be said out of anger and hurt, and that some things can never be taken back.

I’ve learned that life can change in the blink of an eye.

I’ve learned that time is precious and once we lose it we never get it back.

I’ve learned that forgiveness is hard, especially trying to forgive yourself for fucking things up.

I’ve learned I’m not the person I thought I was.

I’ve learned that therapy only helps so much and that talking about it hurts like hell.

I’ve learned that working out at the gym is one of the few ways to block out the pain, but my body can only take so much exercise before it starts breaking down.

I’ve learned physical pain hurts less than emotional pain.

I’ve learned that I can’t escape the pain through sleep because I dream about people and things which hurt and I’ve woken up crying too many times.

I’ve learned there is no pain which hurts as much as the pain of losing the love of your family

I’ve learned what it feels like when life isn’t worth living and you want to die.

And I’ve learned that when it’s all said and done, that the only thing that really matters is the love of your family. None of the other stuff maters; the material possessions, the awards, the number of Twitter followers, the compliments about my looks, the mementos of my past. None of it means a damn thing.

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It’s Time To Abolish The Trans Panic Legal Defense

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Last week Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill banning the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defense in murder cases, making Illinois the second state to do so, after California become the first state to officially ban the defense in 2014. The law prevents people in those states from claiming that the murder victim was gay or bisexual and made a sexual advance that caused them to react violently, or that the victim’s gender identity caused them to react violently. This is a defense tactic which specifically targets members of the LGBT community and is based on stereotypes and ignorance and fear. Defendants in murder cases have sometimes been able to argue their way to a lesser charge of manslaughter if the killings happened during a “sudden quarrel” or in the “heat of passion” when defendants claimed they were so shocked to learn their victim was gay or trans that they had no other recourse than violence. The new law clearly states that a defendant’s discomfort, surprise, or fear of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity may not be used as a legal defense to justify the assault.

Gwen AraujoThe case which brought this issue to light was 2002 murder of transgender woman Gwen Araujo, who was beaten to death by four men after they realized that she was transgender. The defense came up with a “panic” defense, stating that the defendants were unaware that Araujo was transgender. Two of the men were convicted of second-degree murder and were sentenced to life in prison, and the two others pleaded guilty to lesser charges. There were no convictions for hate crimes.

While this is certainly good news that a second state has outlawed this barbaric defense, it begs the question why are there still 48 states which still allow it? Why do we still have 48 states which say it’s acceptable to use sexual orientation or gender identity as a reason for killing someone? It is astounding that in this day and age of supposed equality and freedom for everyone that a legal tactic like this even exists, let alone that it is legally allowed in 48 out of 50 states. This is unacceptable and we as a community need to stand up and work together to change this.

In years past under previous presidential administrations the standard method would be to contact your state and federal representatives to let them know you support introducing legislation to ban the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses. However, given the current political climate I’m not sure that this is an issue which would be much of a priority to most legislators, but it’s still the best avenue to affect change and get this archaic defense banned in every state. One thing to be aware of is that if you aren’t a registered voter your voice literally doesn’t count; you must be a registered voter in order for the politicians in your state or district to listen to you. And this is a big problem for the trans community because we are extremely under-represented due to the fact that we often move out of necessity to find available housing or jobs, and that many trans people may not be registered voters due to name change issues and/or having to move frequently.

If ever there was a time for our voices to be heard, now is that time. It is crucial for members of the LGBT community to be registered voters and to actually vote. We must make our voices heard. Moreover, we need to let our state and federal legislators know that we do not support legislation which is discriminatory or results in our rights being taken away. We must demand equality and end the discrimination, and the only way to do that is if our voices are heard.

To find out who your legislators are and how to contact them click here

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Grooby Goes to Seattle: Vlog 002

To celebrate the rebrand of GroobyGirls.com, our Marketing Director Kristel Penn visited the famous gum wall in Seattle to leave our mark!

Ya Gotta Have Style!

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Being transgender is no easy task; there is a lot to learn and it’s a steep learning curve. When we transition we are literally reinventing ourselves from the ground up; we have to learn things on the go that cis-people have had their entire lives to learn and understand. Not only do we have to learn how to be comfortable with ourselves and figure out our place in life, we also have to deal with practical issues such as how to present as our authentic gender. Our appearance is one of the things we focus on, especially early in our transition, because the reality is that how we look plays a large role in how we are accepted; in other words, whether or not we pass. But passing is more than just about looks, it’s about confidence. There are some things we can change, for instance, through surgery, and there are others which we can’t change and we just have to adapt and manage with what we have. But one of things which we can learn, is fashion. And fashion is more than just the clothes we wear; it’s a statement about who we are. It’s an attitude.

Developing your own unique sense of style takes time, and a lot of it is trial and error; figuring out what doesn’t work is just as important as figuring out what does work. You can learn a lot online and by observing other people, but there is no substitute for actually trying on different outfits and styles and seeing what you like or don’t like, and more importantly, seeing what looks good on your body style. And while it can be a challenge, developing our sense of style should also be something which we have fun with, because most of us had to go through quite a journey to reach the point where we can express who we really are. And it’s not as much about the clothes and makeup and shoes as it is that we now have that option to wear whatever we want and to be our authentic selves. One of the things I enjoy most about being a woman is that I’m able to polish my nails. Something as simple as that is very meaningful for me, along with having long hair. I had to wait over 50 years to be able to transition and reach the point where I could express who I really am, so you can be darn sure I’m going to savor every moment of having polished nails and wearing my hair long!

But as I mentioned earlier, having a sense of style is more than just the clothes and make-up and hair; it’s about who we are on the inside. It’s being confident in who you are and feeling good about yourself. You can wear the most expensive clothes and makeup, but it won’t matter if you don’t have confidence and your own sense of style. I don’t need to be perfectly dressed and made up to feel good about myself. Early in my transition I wouldn’t leave the house without wearing make-up and being perfectly dressed and accessorized because I wasn’t secure enough about myself without all those things; they were my battle armor I needed to venture out. But these days I generally go without make-up and I wear my hair up, and I’m okay with looking frumpy! I still love the opportunity to get all dressed up, but the difference is now it’s my choice; my sense of worth is not determined by what I’m wearing or how I look or worrying about how others perceive me. And that is part of the process as we transition and learn to be comfortable with ourselves; we are all unique and there is no right or wrong way to be trans, just be yourself. The only person you need to please is you! And that brings us back to developing our sense of style. Again, there is no right or wrong way to express who you are and your sense of fashion; the most important thing is to find what works for you! Some people just want to blend in and live their lives, while others want to express their unique style and stand out. So, it’s important to know yourself and what style you’re going for.

When I do clean up and dress nicely I often get comments about the clothes I wear and my sense of style. I doubt I have a better sense of style than anyone else, I’ve just figured out through trial and error what works for me. I understand my body size and shape and know what styles look best on me. Trust me, I’ve spent countless hours inside store dressing rooms looking at myself in the mirror trying to decide if a certain style looked okay on me and figuring out the right size. Like I said, trial and error! There are some styles I’d love to wear but they look terrible on me because of my body type, so I avoid those and instead wear things which accentuate what I do have. Being rather flat chested eliminates a lot of clothing options, but I can get away with small boobs since I’m tall and slim and wear styles which emphasize a slender figure like mine. Basically, I’ve always just worn things that I liked and which I felt looked good on me. I don’t worry about current fashion trends; I tend to stick with the classics which never go out of style. And I’m not overly adventurous when it comes to fashion, I mainly stick with a few certain styles that I know work for me. Also, be aware of your surroundings and dress appropriately for the occasion; you won’t see too many women wearing a little black dress and 5 inch stilettos at the grocery store. Nothing will draw attention to you as quickly as being inappropriately dressed.

Another consideration is cost; it can add up very quickly when you’re trying to build a wardrobe. But you don’t have to buy expensive clothes to look good; I buy a lot of my clothes from stores like Target which have pretty reasonable prices. And when I first began transitioning I shopped at places like Goodwill and found a lot of really nice clothes at bargain prices. Another thing to keep in mind is that even though we all love dresses you have a lot more options with separate tops and bottoms which you can mix and match.

And one last thought: SMILE!!! It drives me crazy how often I see trans women who post pictures of themselves and they’re dressed nicely and have beautifully done hair and makeup, but it’s all for naught because they’re not smiling! A smile goes a long way towards how you look, as does how you move and carry yourself. And not just how we walk, but the overall way we move and carry ourselves. The best way I can describe it is flowing; you want flowing graceful movements, whether it’s walking, reaching for something, or turning around. You can see what I mean if you watch people dance, and in particular ballet; the graceful and elegant way they move. It takes time to develop an awareness of how you move and to be able break old habits and develop new ones. Lots of practice and lots of patience!

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Are “you guys” being overly sensitive?

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We in the transgender community have a lot of things to be concerned about in these troubling times. Our state and federal governments continue to attempt passage of legislation which takes away our rights and makes it legal to discriminate against us. Bathroom bills continue to be proposed in state after state. Federal protections for transgender youth have been done away with, leaving them more vulnerable and at even greater risk of bullying. Transgender murders and suicides continue at a horrendous rate. Trans people still have high rates of unemployment and poverty. We have a president who is systematically taking away our rights, such as declaring he will reinstate the ban on trans people serving openly in the military, and who is sorely lacking in moral character by failing to stand up to and condemn the violence and hate carried out by the white supremacists and neo-Nazis. We have a nation which is divided and coming apart at the seams.

And in the midst of all these pressing issues, there are an increasingly large number of people in our community who would rather worry about petty things, which, in the large scheme of things, aren’t really very relevant. And more importantly, they divert our time and attention away from the issues which are important. One of my pet peeves is people who get very offended when they are part of a mix-gender group of people which gets referred to as “you guys.” I completely understand that some people are sensitive to being triggered by certain things, such as being mis-gendered. No one, including me, likes to be mis-gendered, and especially when it’s intentional and meant to be hurtful. But the term “you guys” is generally considered to be gender-neutral. There is a big difference between being called a guy, which is gender specific, and being among a group of people which is addressed as “you guys.” We need to use common sense and have some level of comprehension as to how the comment was said and the intended meaning. Someone can be called a lady, but based on the context of how it was said along with the tone of voice and whether it was said sarcastically, it can be said as an insult and to be demeaning.

Some words, such as dude, guy, lady, gal, girl, boy, etc., refer to specific genders and are pretty much universally accepted. “You guys” is generally accepted as a generic mixed-gender colloquialism. Very few people these days refer to a mixed gender group as “guys and gals.” Just doesn’t happen in today’s society and with how the English language has evolved. Should we be in an uproar because we still continue to use the words “manhole cover,” “freshman,” and “mankind?” Again, where do we draw the line? Should we start a petition to change the name to “womanhole covers?” I personally think that sounds like a bad idea!

My point, is that sometimes we lose perspective, and maybe get a bit overly sensitive. Let’s not jump down someone’s throat over an innocent comment when there was no malice or ill-intent behind it. The English language is always evolving and words take on new meanings, but we still have to use common sense and take into account the context of how something was said, along with body language and tone of voice. Let’s not stress over the little things when we have so many important issues which need our attention.

And with that I’m going to thank you guys for taking the time to read this and go to bed now!

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Trump trans ban: A slap in the face to trans community

I woke this morning to the news that Trump will reinstate the ban against transgender Americans being allowed to serve openly in the military. The ban had been lifted under President Obama but the plan to allow trans people to serve openly was still under review, and it was an ominous sign when Defense Secretary James Mattis announced last month that he was delaying enactment of the plan.

Trump made the following statement in three tweets this morning: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

Trump trans military ban

The “tremendous medical costs” is nothing but an excuse. In 2016 the Defense Department commissioned the Rand Corporation to do study which concluded that letting transgender people serve openly would have a “minimal impact” on readiness and health care costs, largely because there are so few in the military’s 1.3 million-member force. The study put the number of transgender people in the military between 1,320 and 6,630. Gender reassignment surgery is rare in the general population, and the RAND study estimated the possibility of 30 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries among active service members. The cost could range from $2.4 million and $8.4 million, an amount that would represent an “exceedingly small proportion” of total health care expenditures, the study found. Trump’s argument that the medical costs would be a burden is nothing but a thinly veiled excuse to discriminate against transgender Americans and deny us the right to serve openly. So, what’s next, reinstating the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy? Our rights are being systematically taken away, and where does it end?

Trump trans military banI am beyond outraged. I am angry that we as a nation have taken yet another step backwards by allowing the trans community to be so blatantly discriminated against. Up until now I have refrained from criticizing those in the LGBT community who voted for Trump, but I can no longer hold my tongue. I am furious and bewildered that so many in the trans community actually voted for Trump. He was very clear during his campaign that he intended to take away the rights of the LGBT community, so It’s not like the reinstatement of the ban or the other anti-trans legislation should come as a surprise. How any member of the trans community could think it was a good idea to vote for Trump is beyond me. During his campaign Trump stated “Thank you to the LGBT Community! I will fight for you!” Does it look like he’s fighting for us? The only thing he’s fighting for is to take away our rights and legislate us out of existence. It’s frightening how simple it apparently was for so many people to be persuaded to vote for him.

As a trans veteran I have always been unabashedly patriotic and proud to be an American. It was an honor to serve my country. But today I feel like I’ve been spit on by my own country. The very people whose rights and freedoms I protected while serving are now taking away my rights. I have never felt more ashamed of my country. Trump does not represent the principals which made America great; he stands for hate and ignorance and greed. He is not my president.

We as a nation, and especially those of us in the LGBT community, need to think long and hard about what America stands for and whether the current direction this nation is heading under Trump is in line with those beliefs. We have taken a huge step backwards under Trump and it’s only going to get worse. We need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask some hard questions. We need to take a stand before it’s too late; before there is nothing left to fight for.

Attack my integrity? A shill for Grooby? Think again.

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I had intended to write about Caitlyn Jenner’s possible run for the Senate in California, but after recent events on social media I felt the need to clarify a few things about this column and what I write.

Last week I wrote a column about Trans Identity and the issues we face in our own community because some choose to judge and try to exclude certain people who they feel are not really trans or “not trans enough” which has led to a lot of bickering and divisiveness within our community. After logging onto Facebook yesterday and reading yet another diatribe against cross-dresser, I made the following post:

“Some trans women need to take a long, hard look at themselves because they are nothing but self-righteous hypocrites. We’re fighting to be accepted, and yet so many trans women are extremely judgmental as to whether someone is really trans, or “trans enough.” As if it’s up to them to decide. At this rate the conservatives are going to get exactly what they want because the trans community seems intent on tearing itself apart from within with this idiotic bickering. This is why I’m not on FB much anymore, because you can’t post anything without it erupting into petty bickering and bitching about cross-dressers.”

The post got a decent number of comments, including many thoughtful, intelligent replies, as well as lot of comments which were nothing more than the same old arguments that always come up during the bickering. But one particular trans woman chose to aggressively go after me and take me to task for being too inclusive (of cross-dressers), and she also accused me of being a mouthpiece for Grooby Productions. She said I only wrote what was sanctioned and approved by the people at Grooby, and that they would not publish something they didn’t like or agree with. And she had the audacity to make all these accusations without having ever read my column! If you don’t like my column or agree with my opinions, that’s fine, I have no problem with that. But if you want to criticize my writing you damn well have better at least read it first.

For the record: Steven Grooby, CEO and Founder of Grooby Productions, and Kristel Penn, Marketing and Editorial Director of Grooby Productions, have given me the creative freedom to write about whatever interests me, and have never censored or edited anything I wrote. NEVER. And I’m pretty sure I’ve written some things which they did not agree with.

Yes, I am very loyal to Grooby Productions and the people who work there because they have without fail been supportive of me and treated me fairly and with respect. And that in turn has earned my respect and loyalty. Do I agree with everything Grooby Productions and Steven does? No. But Steven has shown time after time that he cares about the trans community and has helped countless trans people, including me.

Furthermore, I would sooner quit than be forced to write something which I did not believe in or support. I have too much self-respect to compromise my beliefs, and I strongly resent that anyone would challenge my integrity.

In last week’s column, I stated at the very beginning that “These are my own views and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with them, or imply that my views are the only ones which are correct. Everyone has their own opinions and who is to say one person’s opinion is better or more correct than anyone else’s.” I don’t claim to be an expert on anything or to suppose my opinions are better than anyone else’s. My opinions are just that; opinions. We all have them and we all have the freedom to express our opinions. What I do have are life experiences which is what I draw upon when I write, and hopefully I’ve gained a bit of maturity and perspective in my 55 years of living.

And lastly, if you have a grudge against Grooby that’s your problem, not mine, and I do not appreciate being attacked because you choose to be petty and vindictive. Grow up and get over it.

And now, back to Caitlyn.

This column was originally going to be about Caitlyn Jenner, who recently announced that she is considering running for the Senate in California. I was curious what people thought of this, especially those in the trans community where Caitlyn is a very controversial figure. Most agree she has done a lot to help the trans community by getting trans issues into mainstream media so more people are aware of trans people and the issues we face. But, and this is a very big but, she has drawn a lot of criticism for being Republican and for making a lot of comments which almost seem transphobic. That, along with the fact that most feel she is in no way representative of the trans community as a whole given that she is a celebrity and has unlimited financial resources available to her.

Most of the responses, as expected, were not supportive of Jenner running. Most had an issue with her being a Republican, along with the fact that she has no political experience. And frankly, she is just not well liked in the trans community and most people feel she has done little to help her own community. So, it appears she has very little support within the trans community, and she would almost certainly have no support from the conservative population, so that seems to indicate she would have no realistic chance of winning. But, she has a lot of money, so who knows. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and if she does indeed decide to run.

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Q&A Quickies with the beautiful Casey Kisses!

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This week’s edition of Q&A Quickies features the beautiful Casey Kisses! Casey is the 2017 Transgender Erotica Awards winner for Stroker of the Year, sponsored by Shemale Strokers, and she is always a fan favorite! When Casey isn’t busy shooting scenes she can be found on Chaturbate where she is always in demand!

And stay tuned for a full-length interview of Casey coming soon! And based on some of her answers to these questions it’s going to be a fun interview!

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Bacon cheeseburger or tofu burger?

CK:  Bacon cheeseburger, with extra bacon

Favorite sex partner: male, female, or trans?

CK:  Male

What songs are on your playlist right now?

CK:  Deceptacon, Short Skirt Long Jacket, Are You Gunna be my Girl

Favorite scene you’ve shot?

CK:  My first hardcore and it was for Two Tgirls. It was my favorite because it was the first time Korra Del Rio and I kissed. We haven’t been too far apart since.

If you could choose anyone, who would you want to do a scene with?

CK:  Spit roast with mark whalberg and James Franco

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Favorite part of being a pornstar?

CK:  I love making connections and learning things that help me improve my image.

Least favorite part of being a pornstar?

CK:  Buying outfits only to use them once

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?

CK:  Milk

Where would your dream vacation be?

CK:  Greece

Favorite movie or tv show right now?

CK:  Finding Nemo

What are you wearing right now?

CK:  Short shorts and flip flops

How often do you masturbate?

CK:  2-3 x daily, mostly on Chaturbate

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Oral sex or anal sex?

CK:  Both please!

Favorite social media site?

CK:  Twitter and Instagram are my go to

Interacting with fans on social media: fun or not fun?

CK:  Fun fun fun!

Who inspires you?

CK:  Nicole Charming, Korra Del Rio, Morgan Bailey, & Foxxy

Are you left or right-handed?

CK:  Right

How old are you?

CK:  27

What would be your dream job?

CK:  Life guard in Hawaii

What do you like to do in your free time?

CK:  Movies, eating, swim, kayak, hike, explore and adventure. Clubs and casinos are super fun too!

If you could choose not to be transgender, would you?

CK:  Not really. I love myself too much!

Best advice you have ever received?

CK:  Lions don’t lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

Favorite subject in school?

CK:  Drama and art

Favorite city?

CK:  Miami, so far

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Favorite fast food place?

CK:  Starbucks

When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

CK:  Harriet the spy

Last movie you saw in a theater?

CK:  Moana

Beach, city, or mountains?

CK:  Beach, any time of day

What age did you know you were trans?

CK:  Super young

Do you work out regularly?

CK:  I try to stay active

If you could have dinner with any three people from history who would it be?

CK:  My grandmother brother and sister

Favorite animal to see at the zoo?

CK:  I don’t like zoos, I love all animals!

Are you a cat or dog person?

CK:  Both

One thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

CK:  All of my tattoos were given to me by friends and I let them pick out the design

Do you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future of America?

CK:  Optimistic. I love my country and the freedoms I have. I love and respect anyone in service trying to protect these rights as well.

Describe yourself in three words:

CK:  Always hungry. Always.

Casey Kisses Through The Benz

Star Wars, Star Trek, or Dancing with the Stars?

CK:  I’ve never seen any of them lol

How did you choose your model name?

CK:  My cam name was Casey Haze originally but I thought Kisses were cuter

Mac or PC?

CK:  Alienware

Do you have a kinky side?

CK:  Very kinky..

Do you sleep clothed or in the buff?

CK:  Naked, face down

Thanks Casey, this was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to do our interview, which will be coming soon to Through The Benz!

Be sure to follow Casey Kisses on Twitter at @Caseykissesxoxo!

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Trans Identity: Who’s Who, And What Does It Matter

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NOTE: These are my own views and I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with them, or imply that my views are the only ones which are correct. Everyone has their own opinions and who is to say one person’s opinion is better or more correct than anyone else’s. This is a topic which I’ve been thinking about for a while and has come up in several interviews and been a very hot topic on social media, so this is my attempt to make sense of a confusing and troubling issue.

One of the biggest issues we in the trans community face is being labeled: a “guy in a dress,” a “freak,” a “pervert.” We have fought long and hard to be accepted for who we are. Yet there seems to be a large number of trans women who feel the need to judge other trans woman and decide whether or not someone is actually trans, and even if they are being trans the “right way.” It seems to me that’s just a tad bit hypocritical; haven’t we as a community learned anything about being judged and labeled? Haven’t we all agreed that gender is a spectrum and fought against the whole idea of gender being binary? And yet here we are, having people in our own community telling others they aren’t really trans. Excuse me, but what right do any of us have to judge anyone else? And did I not get the memo about the “correct way” to be trans, because I sure thought we were all individuals and there was no right or wrong to be trans, just as there is no right or wrong way to be human.

So, what exactly determines whether someone is trans? Who “qualifies” as being justified in calling themselves trans? It seems like a simple question, but it’s gotten to be very contentious and led to a lot of bickering and divisiveness within our community. Whomever “our community” is, since that is the topic of discussion. One of the challenges in writing about this is that not everyone agrees with the gender identity terminology, so let’s begin with some basic definitions. These definitions are ones which seem to be the most commonly accepted, and I realize not everyone will agree with them, but for the sake of clarity these are what I’m going with:

Drag Queen: A drag queen is a male who dresses in drag to perform and often acts with exaggerated femininity and will embellish certain characteristics such as make-up and eyelashes for comic, dramatic or satirical effect. Performing in drag is performance art and generally has no connection to gender identity or sexuality.

Transvestite: Transvestites are individuals who wear clothing of the opposite gender primarily for erotic arousal or sexual gratification, although some do it for emotional or psychological reasons as well.

Cross-dresser: Cross-dressers are individuals who wear clothing of the opposite gender primarily for emotional or psychological reasons.

Transsexual: Transsexuals are individuals who strongly feel that they are, or ought to be, the opposite sex. The body they were born with does not match their own inner conviction and mental image of who they are or want to be. Nor are they comfortable with the gender role society expects them to play based on that body. This dilemma causes them intense emotional distress (dysphoria) and often interferes with their day-to-day functioning. There are male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals, as well as pre-operative (pre-op), post-operative (post-op) or non-operative (non-op).

Transgender: There are two common definitions for the term “transgender.” One is the general term for all people who have a conflict with or a question about their gender. This includes transsexuals, cross-dressers, etc., and anyone else along the gender spectrum. The other definition of transgender covers individuals who visually present as and live in the role opposite their anatomical sex, but who do not make any actual physical changes.

So, having gone over the definitions, let’s make a few quick observations.

Transvestite is an outdated term which is generally not used by anyone with knowledge of trans people and issues; it only seems to be used by those who are uninformed as a derogatory term to demean a trans person. So for the purposes of this column, transvestite will not be included in the discussion.

I understand and agree with those who say that drag-queens should not be considered trans. Drag-queens are performers and their gender identity has nothing to do with their performance; they are no different than any other performer whether it be movies, theater, etc. So, drag-queens won’t be included in this discussion either.

And now things get a bit murkier.

Cross-dressers often have a mentality that could almost be described as living in a fantasy world where they occasionally indulge their desires to dress up and then return back to their regular life. It seems like their main focus is on the clothing and taking lots of pictures to post online. Trans people, on the other hand, live the life and are invested in the community and the issues that affect trans people and the trans community. It is their real life, not just a part-time fantasy life that gets taken out every so often to play with before being put away. You could almost say there is a different mentality, or even a large cultural difference between cross-dressers and trans people. Having said that, things get a bit complicated by the fact that many of us, myself included, considered ourselves cross-dressers before we made the decision to transition. And to make things even confusing, what about the people who consider themselves trans women or men but don’t choose to live full-time as their preferred gender for whatever reason? Does that makes them any less trans? In my humble opinion, it does not.

So, where does this leave us? Even more confused than ever. It’s the whole labeling thing which is the sticky wicket. There are many in the trans community who want nothing to do with anyone who considers themselves a cross-dresser, even going so far as to unfriend or block them on social media. And to a certain extent, I can understand this, although I’ve never unfriended or blocked anyone because of it, but I don’t really want to see a million pictures of your heels or pantyhose, or hear about how you’re a sissy and want to forcibly feminized. On the other hand, there are many cross-dressers who are simply unable to transition because of life circumstances or because they don’t feel the need to transition because they’re happy with the way things are. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a vastly different mindset, or almost a cultural difference. So how do we differentiate between the fetishistic cross-dresser versus the cross-dresser who will eventually go on to transition? Beats me. We could develop more labels, but that seems kind of counterproductive, and hypocritical, and will continue to cause more divisiveness in our community. Or, we could actually stop worrying about it and stop judging others and focus on our own lives. Otherwise known as acceptance. I know, right, what a novel idea?

I think the bigger issue is what does it matter who is trans? Don’t we all agree that gender is a spectrum, and there is no right or wrong way to be trans? Isn’t it counter-productive, and extremely hypocritical, to be labeling and excluding people from our own community? Why are so many in the trans community wasting so much time and effort pursuing this when there are many more pressing issues to deal with in this country, such as all the hate and discrimination coming from the Trump Administration. Now more than ever we need to stand together and fight for our rights, not tear our community apart from within. And as if it weren’t obvious, nothing would please all the conservatives and haters more than watching our community come unraveled from all this petty bickering, because we’d be giving them exactly what they wanted; a weaker trans community with less of a voice and less power.

And really, how can we expect cis-gender people to understand and accept us when we apparently don’t even understand ourselves well enough to agree upon who is actually trans?

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Dave Naz’s Book, “Identity” to be Released on July 11

Los Angeles, CA – A stunning and provocative book of photos, IDENTITY is the latest exploration of gender identity expression from celebrated photographer and filmmaker Dave Naz.

In Identity, Naz explores the gender spectrum by turning his camera on subjects who are genderqueer, transgender, intersex, pangender, and every shade in between. Helping to add to the current global discussion on the structured nature of gender identity, Identity is an eye-opening look at people who don’t fit neatly into a convenient box. And it contains powerful essays written by some of the book’s subjects.

Essays by: Riley Kilo, Chelsea Poe, Jane Starr, Andre Shakti, Matty Boi, Kelli Lox, Kristel Penn, Kwesi, Michelle Austin

Buy a signed copy / Amazon

The Power of Pride: Portland Pride 2017

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Portland is one of the most welcoming and accepting cities in the Pacific Northwest, if not the country. Portlanders are known for their friendliness and not being judgmental. And we’re not afraid to speak up and make our voices heard when we don’t agree with something, as shown by the many anti-Trump rallies in the past months. Unfortunately, Portland is not immune from hate and violence, as shown by the recent murders of two men who came to the defense of two girls who were the target of racial slurs aboard a MAX train. But as a trans woman Portland is one of the places I feel most safe, and where I don’t have to fear being trans or to hide who I am.

Portland Pride Through The BenzThis past weekend was Portland Pride, which is a time to celebrate diversity and who we are. But Pride is so much more than just a celebration; it’s an opportunity to bring attention to the LGBTQ community and educate people about who we are and the challenges we face. And this year’s Pride was even more important and meaningful because of the discrimination and hate which has been on the rise since Trump came to office. Pride gives us the opportunity to show that we will not be bullied and we are not going away. As the saying goes, we are out and proud. I did have concerns about going to Pride this year because of the increased violence against the LGBTQ community and all the pro-Trump supporters who have been out in force in Portland. But as I mentioned earlier, this year’s Pride is special and I was damned if I was going to let anyone scare me away from attending.

The Trans Pride parade was on Saturday and it was such a wonderful experience. After a week of chilly, rainy weather the sun finally reappeared and it was a gorgeous day. Mother Nature was showing her Pride spirit too! The march isn’t just about showing who we are, it’s about the comradery and support of being among such a huge gathering of our community. The past year has been trying for all of us, facing a daily onslaught of hate and legislation designed to take away our rights, so Pride is a time when we can get a break from all that and feel good about ourselves. And being there amongst people who understand and are so supportive is very powerful and affirming. To have people showing their support for us, whether it was a sign or a smile or just cheering, means a lot. It gives me hope at a time when feeling hopeful can be difficult, and it reinforces that we’re not alone. There are people who care and who are fighting for us as allies.

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One of the moments which touched me the most was when a saw a couple about my age holding a sign that said “We Love Our Trans Child” because so often we hear of parents disowning their child when the child comes out as trans. I went over and talked with them for a while and it made my day to hear about how they accepted and support their daughter and how she has grown and how happy that makes them. There is hope. And that is the power of Pride, to connect with people and share stories and give hope and support.

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There were demonstrators there, but not as many as I had anticipated, or maybe I just didn’t see them thanks to the efforts of the Portland Police Department. And a big thank to a group of amazing people who are here to take care of us year after year, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who acted as a barrio between us and the demonstrators and blocked them out with big LGBT flags, along with the Raging Grannies, who’s beautiful voices drowned out the hateful chants of the demonstrators. The Grannies touched my heart is many ways, and I would honored to join their ranks some day.

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It was heartening to see all the people who turned out for the parade to participate or to cheer us on, and to see all the LGBTQ flags flying from buildings downtown. It was a wonderful and positive experience that I won’t soon forget. Pride is a wonderful reason to feel good about ourselves, which is something that is all too easy to forget to do, especially these turbulent times we live in.

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OC Pride Scheduled Events Every Day this Week!

OC Pride invite’s you to the Orange County ‘As One’ LGBT Pride Parade & Festival on Saturday, June 24th 2017!

Come and CELEBRATE the ACCOMPLISHMENTS, DREAMS, LOVE, and HOPE of the LGBT community as we take over the streets and expand with tons of great surprises in-store!!! This year we will be shutting down both 3rd and 4th street between French and Main; successfully doubling the size of the festival! Join us as we kick-off the week long celebration with the Official OC “As One” Pride Week starting on Monday, June 19th with nightly PRIDE events all across Orange County!

The Official OC “As One” Pride Week

MONDAY……….(June 19): Bowling Night at Bowlmor Lanes – OC Pride Week
TUESDAY………(June 20): Ms. OC Pride’s Pajammy Jam Bingo – OC Pride Week
WEDNESDAY…(June 21): To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar – OC PRIDE WEEK
THURSDAY……(June 22): The PROM: Standing Proud! – OC Pride Week
FRIDAY………….(June 23): Weekend Kick-Off Party at Tin Lizzie Saloon
SATURDAY…….(June 24): The 2017 Orange County ‘As One’ LGBT Pride Parade & Festival and The Official OC Pride ‘As One’ Closing Party
SUNDAY………..(June 25): Laguna Beach and the Boom Boom Room Beach Party – OC Pride Week Finale for ONE NIGHT ONLY!

Main Stage Entertainment 

** ENTERTAINMENT LINE-UP **
12:00pm – OC Pride Rainbow Dancers
1:00pm – MenAlive – The Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus
2:30pm – AMET Ricky
3:30pm – Mr, Ms, Miss Gay Pride Orange County Crowning
5:30pm – CALI X AURAS
5:45pm: Lucky Madison’s Flirt Show
6:30pm – Adam Barta
7:00pm – Adore Delano
7:30pm – Katya
8:00pm – Dev
9:50pm – Christina Voss
9:00pm – Lee Dagger of Bimbo Jones
11:00pm – DJ SRO
12:30am – Nytrix

We’re ecstatic to be once again back on the Historical Yost stage for this year’s 2017 Orange County “As One” LGBT Pride Festival’s Main Stage where we’ll be having HEADLINER after HEADLINER after HEADLINER strut their stuff and entertain you like you’ve never been entertained before. Kicking-off this year’s “As One” Main Stage will be our Official OC Pride Rainbow Dancers and Host; the one-and-only Dita Vodka! The celebration doesn’t stop there, this year’s Main Stage will be Hosted by not one, not two, but THREE amazing hosts! Keeping the love alive well into the night will be our Celebrity Grand Marshals of the PRIDE Parade and Host of the “As One” Main Stage – Billboard Top 20 Dance Artist, Adam Barta, and Logo’s very own Prince Charming – Robert Sepulveda Jr!

There’s bars filled with liquor, TWO dance stages, and the sexy Official OC Pride Go-Go Dancers! VIP Wristbands are available – with limited quantity available. VIP Wristbands come with Meet and Greets with the Main Stage Entertainment, VIP Sponsored Goodie Bag, Free Drinks, and access into the VIP SkyBox Lounge located directly above the Main Stage giving all the VIP Wristband holders THE prime spot to view all of the actions with their private 2-teird balcony. Reserved tables with bottle service is also available if you’re looking to PRIDE with style! Please email our OC Pride VIP Concierge at VIP@prideoc.com to reserve your table today!

OC PRIDE STAGES 

Orange County Pride is thrilled to announce we have partnered up with iHeartRadio and excited to have them be a part of our celebration! Join us and all of your favorite on-air personalities from 102.7 KIIS FM, Alt 98.7 Fm, 104.3 MYfm, KOST 103.5, and PRIDE Radio at this year’s Orange County ‘AS ONE’ LGBT Parade & Festival!

** MAIN STAGE **
Located inside The Historical Yost; celebrate and dance the day away as OC Pride’s Featured DJ’s spin their flare between the talents sets, our Official OC Pride Rainbow Dancers and the one and only – DITA VODKA get the party started and Sexy Go-Go’s keep the party popping with hosts Billboard Chart Topper – ADAM BARTA, and Logo’s Prince Charming – ROBERT SEPULVEDA JR! Talent Includes: DEV, Adore Delano, Katya, Adam Barta, Robert Sepulveda Jr., Lee Dagger of Bimbo Jones, Nytrix, DJ SRO, Dita Vodka, MenAlive, AMET Ricky, Cali XAura, Lucky Madison’s Flirt Show, Christina Voss, Hector Lopez, PrettiBoiRoq, DJ Startlett, DJ Adam eXcess, and DJ Geoffrey Fox.

** VIP SKYBOX STAGE **
VIP Wristband Exclusive Dance Stage with their own private bar. Hosted by the tantalizing entertaining Queen of OC – KUNDA COUTURE and the deliciously sexy – BRAY LOVE! We’ve got the hottest DJ’s from all across Southern California spinning all day and all night long…so long, they’ll be closing out the VIP SkyBox with the Official OC “As One” Pride Closing Party! VIP Wristband holders are invited to continue the celebration well into the night as your Wristband also gets you access to the Official OC “As One” Pride Closing Party! Talent Includes: Kunda Couture, Bray Love, Merle G, DJ Geoffrey Fox, DJ Vanilla Chilla, DJ SRO, DJ Joshie Love, DJ Adam eXcess, Do Not Feed The DJ and DJ Mvrk.

** GARDEN STAGE **
Returning by popular demand, outside in the midst of our fabulous Vendor Arena and surrounded by the cool whisp sounds of a cold refreshing drink being poured into a cup of perfection stands the Garden Stage; hosted by the Diva herself – ALESSANDRA DIVINE, and the intoxicatingly gorgeous – APRIL SHOWERS! Talent Includes: Kenny Nelson, Best Supporting Actress, Tantive, Leonardo Martinez, April Showers, Alessandra Divine, DJ Rubin, DJ Joshie Love, DJ Vanilla Chilla, DJ Siesta Soul, and DJ Geoffrey Fox.

** LADIES STAGE **
We’ve brought you down from the heavens ladies and right smack down into the center of the action! Rocking all day and into the night, we’ve got special guest performances and some of the hottest Southern California female DJ’s for this year’s celebration and hosted by our reigning Ms Orange County Gay Pride – JAMIE WEISER, and the stunningly funny – ISABELLA XOCHITL! Talent Includes: Kate Brown, Dian Katz, WASI, DJ Mizz Jo, DJ Starlett, DJ Lickerish, DJ Joyful, Isabella Xochitl, and our reigning Ms Orange County Gay Pride – Jamie Weiser *More talent announcements to come!*

** LATIN STAGE **
The community asked for it, and we like to listen. OC Pride is thrilled to be introducing a new “crowd demanded” Latin Stage, Sponsored by BLEU Night Club; and hosted by the #1 imitator of Grammy Winner Thalia – JESSY CRUZ and our very own Miss Gay Pride Orange County – Bellonce!! Join our sexy GoGo Dancers for the crazy extravaganza with special prize giveaways all day long! Talent Includes: Jessy Cruz, AMY y su Sonora, Beatriz Solis, Monse Nolasco and her Divas, DJ Mario Bross, and our reigning Miss Orange County Gay Pride – Bellonce! *More talent announcements to come!*

LIBATIONS GARDENS 

Libation Gardens that will allow you to walk around through the Vendor Arena with a drink in hand? Are we serious? Are they happening? They sure are! This year enjoy a cold refreshing drink, whether it’s alcoholic or not, as you visit the vendors throughout the festival. Libation Gardens are not restricted by age and the entire community is invited to visit the vendors throughout the gardens. Visit the Ticket Booths located on either end of the Festival to get your 21+ Wristband prior to making your way to the Libations Gardens as ID’s must be checked here. Festival attendees must be 21+ to purchase and/or enjoy alcoholic beverages anywhere within OC Pride and will be STRICTLY enforced.

PRIDE SPEAKS 

Returning this year is OC PRIDE Speaks, located inside The Frida Cinema, where the community has the chance to hear about key detail issues surrounding the LGBT community and what they can do about keeping that smile on their face. Speaks regarding the Transgender community, Immigration Laws & Rights, and Marriage Rights will also be presented. Line-Up Includes: Jaleesa Johnson, Jackie Monahan, Josh Sabarra, Bill Murdoch with the F.B.I, Alexander J. Rodriguez, and more to be announced!

VENDOR ARENA & PROMENADES

OC Pride is taking over the streets and expanding!!! This year we will be shutting down both 3rd and 4th street; successfully doubling the size of the festival! Come and enjoy all of the great surprises instore. Full list of the 2017 Participating Vendors will be here so you can check them out in advance to make your game plan on how to hit all of your favorite booths strategically all the while keeping the beer full in one hand and some pad thai chicken in the other. Just make sure to time it all correctly with your favorite artists set time on The Main Stage – you wouldn’t want to miss that!

FOOD TRUCK ALLEY 
This year we’re ramping up OC Pride’s Food Truck Alley and bringing you streets lined with delicious treats! Full list of the 2017 Participating Food Trucks will be here so you can check them out in advance for all your tasty snacks and meal options. Most trucks accept cash only so come prepared! Food Trucks Include: Okamoto Kitchen, BrewWings, and 3-in-1. A new truck will be announced each Friday leading up to the Festival.

FAMILY ZONE
Join us for a day full of family friendly and family FUN activities that embarks the spirit of PRIDE for all ages. Located safely up beyond the rainbow on the Center on 4th’s patio. Bring your whole family to embrace the love, pride, and acceptance that Orange County LGBT Pride is all about and celebrate.

Information taken from Pride OC Website.

Trans* Party TONIGHT as part of LA Pride

Special Awards Recipients are as follows:

Media Award- Gender Non-Conforming BMI Pop Award sensation, song-writer, & activist Justin Tranter whose worked with names such as Britney Spears, Selena Gomez, Justin Beiber, Gwen Stefani, Mary J Blige and more. Justin is a board member with GLAAD, and is intentional about using their platform to bring attention to LGBTQ issues, especially those that impact trans people, women, and people of color! Justin’s message challenges the music industry to be more inclusive and embrace LGBTQ+ people.

Visibility Award- GLAAD’s Senior Strategist for Transgender Media, Alex Schmider has worked on campaigns that promote trans inclusion and visibility with Tinder, Instagram, Snapchat, MTV, Hallmark, Teen Vogue and more! Alex is an ambassador for Miley Cyrus’s “Happy Hippie Foundation” which focuses on LGBTQ youth and was featured on Forbes 30 under 30 list for 2017!

Spirit Award- Actress & Singer, Alexandra Grey has made appearances on shows like Amazon’s “Transparent”, NBC’s “Chicago Med”, Comedy Central’s “Drunk History”, ABC’s mini-series “When We Rise”, and CBS’s “Doubt” with Laverne Cox. Alexandra’s musical talents have taken her on a 10 city tour and she’s opened up for names like Zara Larsson & Todrick Hall! Despite her difficult journey, Alexandra courageously continued on and currently uses her platform to remind others that it’s not where you’ve come from, it’s about where you’re heading!

Community Empowerment Award- Maria Roman has been a leader in social services for the transgender community in Los Angeles for over 19 years. She is the Current Regent Empress 47 for the Los Angeles Imperial Court System. Maria has won several local and regent beauty pageant titles including Miss Universo 2001,Miss Gay International 2002, Miss LA Pride 2004- Miss LA Pride 2012 ,Miss Queen USA 2004, Miss QUEST 2009, Miss Queen Of the Universe 2013, Miss California Panache 2014. She currently serves as a Los Angeles County HIV Commissioner and works as a Housing Specialist at APAIT, providing housing assistance for individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

Come join us as we celebrate community!

 

# # #  EVENT DETAILS # # #

West Hollywood Park
647 N San Vicente Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90048

Event starts at 7pm
FREE ADMISSION!

Information from LA Pride website.

Pride 2017: Celebrating Diversity And Who We Are

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With today being the start of Pride Month I thought I’d share my thoughts about what LGBTQ Pride means to me.

I am proud to be trans and proud of my community. To me being trans, or anyone in the LGBTQ spectrum, means we are strong. We have to be strong out of necessity if we are going to survive, especially in the current political climate. Our community has come together like never before to stand strong and fight for our rights and make our voices heard. As horrible as the current political situation is, it has mobilized our community and shown us and everyone else who we are and our strength and that we will not sit idly by as our rights are taken away and our very existence is under attack. So, Pride 2017 is going to be especially meaningful to many of us, and I will proudly wave my flag and voice my support for who we are.

I am proud that I have overcome the challenges and obstacles I’ve faced in order to become the real me and live the life I’m supposed to be living. And that goes for everyone in the LGBTQ community, and especially the trans community. We are survivors. And we are strong, whether we realize it or not. It’s often difficult to feel pride in being trans because for many of us we grew up feeling ashamed of who we are, and even today we still face a great deal of hate from those who are close-minded and unaccepting. It can be tough to feel good about yourself when we face so much negativity day after day. And that is one of the reasons why Pride Month is important, because it’s a powerful experience to be surrounded by people who are supportive and understanding and where we can feel good and celebrate who we are.

I always get uncomfortable when people talk about how brave we as trans people are, but I’ve learned to accept that compliment because when you think about that there is a lot of truth to it. It takes courage to face a world that so often condemns our very existence. It takes courage to get out of bed on days when the depression is bad and all you want to do is stay in bed and hide. It takes courage to keep going when it feels like all hope is lost. And most of all, it takes courage to be yourself; your true authentic self. So yes, I am proud to be trans and I wear my colors as a badge of honor.

But having said that, I hope that someday this battle for acceptance ends and I can just be me. I look forward to the day when I can just be Rebecca, and not Rebecca the trans woman. Yes, I am trans and proud of it, but that shouldn’t define me. There is so much more to me than just being trans, and sometimes I feel like that gets lost. I am first and foremost a person; a woman, a parent and child, a grandma, a friend, a baseball fan, a foodie, a writer, a lover of books, a hopeless romantic, a dork, a veteran, a lover of art, a history buff, an artist, and the list goes on and on. I am me. Such a simple sentence, but it took the better part of 50 years to figure out who I was and to find my way to being that person. And the journey continues, but I can finally say I am happy with who I am.

So I will be out and about for Pride 2017 and waving my flag and showing my support and letting the world know I’m a proud member of the LGBTQ community. Let’s celebrate diversity and show the world just how amazing we all are!

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