Since November, the transgender community has been in a state of panic and turmoil. Uncertainty and fear about the future is becoming the new norm for us as we await the day when the Federal government turns its back on us and leaves us to the mercy of the states which historically have not been prone to leading the way on civil rights issues. Even worse is the fear that our identities will become illegal identities, and we will be forced to back into the rigid binary from which we have escaped. These fears are very real, despite the continual gaslighting which has been going non-stop since the last president election began. In the first two months of the new administration we have already begun to see some of our worst fears realized with the Secretary of Justice announcing a reversal of the Obama Administration’s policy on transgender students and Title IX. While a new wave of anti-transgender bathroom bills have not been at the forefront of our national discourse, several states have taken steps to penalize LGBTQ+ identity by legalizing discrimination by adoption agencies.
Even the Supreme Court has taken stabs at the transgender community. Last month, the nation’s highest court remanded the case of Gavin Grimm back to the lower Federal court. Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his school district for discriminatory policies related to bathroom and locker room use by transgender students. This bright young man with a great future ahead of him is currently stalled, awaiting justice instead of enjoying his final years of school and preparing for college like the average teenage boy should. This experience will most certainly have adverse, long-term effects on him both socially, psychologically, and academically as he awaits the court’s decision to honor his personhood or denounce it.
In response to the court’s decision, Grimm stated that this fight is “bigger than himself.” This courageous young man recognizes what many do not: our fight for equality under the law and inclusion in our communities is bigger than the individuals who work diligently at the forefront and who sacrifice much for their community. So often do we underestimate the far-reaching importance of the very little things we do. Recently, one of my colleagues was telling me about a friend of hers who had passed away. This friend, The Hon. Myron Bright, was a federal judge who passed down a ruling which established the right of workers to file race-based discrimination lawsuits. This ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court.
The courage of the plaintiffs and the wisdom of one man changed the course of American justice. While many of us may not have the opportunities in our life to effect so great a change, we do have the power to set of a chain reaction of events which lead to a major change. Judge Bright alone was not responsible for the change he made to the precedent of law. His decision was influenced by his mentors before him, by his professors, by his colleagues, by other legal precedent, by a member of his synagogue teaching him about fairness as a young boy, and by numerous other experiences he had in his life. Every thing we do, be it large or small, has the power to change the world in either good ways or bad ways.
It remains to be seen how the events of November will alter our society either for the better or for worst. Regardless, it is up to us as the marginalized to keep our heads high and our will strong. It is up to our allies to stand with us, to help us magnify our voices, and to help our organizations help us improve our quality of life. Fear is normal. Grief is reasonable. Yet in our fear and our grief, hope continues to speak to us like a golden sky stretching before us. Listen to its sweet silver song, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid. Remember those who are fighting with you and who are here for you, and as the song says, when you do all of these things, you’ll never walk alone. Because this is bigger than you and me. We are in this together, and we will never give up, never give in, and never surrender to hatred and division.
Darcy J. Corbitt-Hall
President and CEO
For transgender individuals, changing names and pronouns is often the first major step in their transition. Unfortunately, the cost of securing a name change is often prohibitive to transgender Americans because many live below the poverty line. In North Dakota, this is especially the case, and many transgender folk postpone changing their name until better financial times come. However, having the incorrect name on legal documents, job applications, and name tags can create even worse barriers to transgender folk who are trying to live an open and affirming life.
The Cost: In North Dakota, the court fees associated with a legal name change are around $90. In addition, getting a North Dakota Driver’s License updated is around $10. Additional costs include transportation to and from the courthouse, which in rural communities may be a significant journey.
Our Solution: In March 2017, our Board of Trustees approved the creation of a second program called the Dignity Justice and Courage Fund (DJC Fund) which exists to provide financial assistance to transgender North Dakotans. DJC Fund will provide $150 transition assistance grants which will be disbursed twice a year. The number of grants will be dependent upon the funds we raise. This amount should cover the court cost and driver’s license update in North Dakota, as well as assist in transportation costs or loss of work income for the date of court. In addition, DJC Fund will work to connect transgender North Dakotans to existing funding sources to help with other costs including passport and birth certificate updates, hormone costs, and surgery financing.
Fundraising Goals: Our first disbursement will be in July 2017, and we hope to raise enough money for 5 grants ($750). Our second disbursement will be in December 2017, and we hope to raise enough money for an additional 5 grants ($750). The board has approved $300 from the general fund to provide for the administrative costs of DJC Fund, and the program is expected to raise an additional $300 to provide for these costs in FY2018. The total amount we hope to raise in FY2017 is $1,650.
Learn more About applying for a grant, joining DJC Fund as a fundraiser or grant coordinator, or starting a fund in your state: DarcyCorbitt.org/djcfund
A common question those new to the transition process ask is “where do I start?” Because transgender identity is looked down upon in our society, many transgender people don’t even know who they are, what they are, and even if what they feel is normal. We are seeking to end the confusion through our flagship program: MyTransitionPartner. This program is billed as the “welcome center of the transition journey.” Our goal with this program is to help transgender folk find the answers they seek about their identity and the support they need in their local community. Because so many transgender folk are isolated, especially in rural areas, MyTransitionPartner is designed as a virtual welcome center based entirely online and managed by transgender folk, and their allies, around the United States.
How We Help Trans Individuals: MyTransitionPartner contains over 180 pages of articles discussing everything from the basic terminology of gender identity to purchasing clothing. Additionally, we’ve compiled a directory of local support organizations in each state OR linked to the best online directory we can find. We don’t intend for this resource to be a long-term helper, just to be a friendly place where people can find a transition partner for the long-term in their local community. Get started at MyTransitionPartner.com/transgender
How We Help Family and Friends: MyTransitionPartner is unique in that we are also designed for loved ones. Transitioning is something that everyone connected with a transgender person has to do along with their loved one. Our guide is co-designed by trans individuals and their loved ones to better assist parents, spouses, siblings, friends, and family members understand what their loved one is going through and how they can help. Moreover, we provide links to local support organizations for loved ones so they can get help to better support their loved one. Get started at MyTransitionPartner.com/lovedone
How We Help Our Communities: MyTransitionPartner also contains resources for allies who wish to make their communities more open and affirming for their transgender friends, family, and neighbors. With over four hours of free and low-cost training videos, we are one step closer to making the world a safer, more affirming place for our transgender loved ones. Get started at MyTransitionPartner.com/ally
How You Can Help: While our flagship program, MyTransitionPartner does not cost a lot to maintain from year-to-year. All funds set aside for MyTransitionPartner help to keep the website online, make improvements to the content, and provide resources for volunteers and staff to travel to do presentations and in-person trainings. The annual cost of MyTransitionPartner is approximately $300 per 6 months. Your monthly donation ensures that this resource remains available for years to come. Donate Now
It’s a popular comedy bit: a person starts a new job and their boss keeps calling them by the wrong name. Rachel becomes Raquel or Jessie becomes Jennifer and the character is too afraid of their employer to directly correct them, even as they grow more and more irritated. The audience laughs and nods, knowing how obnoxious it is when people repeatedly get their names wrong. It’s irritating because our names are our identifiers, a way for others to refer to us as who we are. We link our entire sense of being and sense of self with our name. A different name is a different person. This is the big deal with pronouns.
Pronouns, while not names, are direct stand-ins for them. They are, for all intents and purposes, nouns. They function like a noun and they walk, talk, and behave exactly like their noun counterparts. While they are not a name, they are an abbreviated reference to the same identity that a name references. A different pronoun is a different person. It is the sense of self that pronouns indicate, just as a name indicates it.
The importance of pronouns goes much further than a sense of identity, though. When someone denotes that they identify with pronouns that differ from their assigned sex, they are not just expressing their identity but are also saying that through their thoughts, feelings, analysis, and judgment they have determined their gender. Society isn’t built for that determination to be straightforward and simple. Discovering a person’s gender, especially when that gender differs to their assigned sex, is a confusing and daunting task, which often requires intense data collection and self-introspection. Beyond that, the courage and bravery that come with openly expressing these conclusions is immense because of the stigma that goes along with them. This process illustrates that pronouns do not only indicate a person’s sense of self but also represents their judgment and their ability to think, feel, and make decisions. As a whole, using someone’s preferred pronouns is recognition that they are a person, and as such, their thoughts, feelings, and sense of self are legitimate and real.
Contrariwise, purposefully not using the right pronouns is hugely disrespectful. Ignoring the preference indicates that they believe the person they are referencing is not, in fact, a person and that their feelings and judgments aren’t real or do not count. It denotes that the speaker believes they know the person better than they know themselves or even that they wish the person were someone else. Different pronoun, different person.
What about instances of accidentally using pronouns incorrectly? I mean, it was an accident, it wasn’t done on purpose, so what’s the big deal? To answer this question, let’s consider this example. According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving is statistically six times more likely to cause an accident than driving while intoxicated. It’s estimated that 1 in every 4 car accidents is caused by texting and driving in the U.S., resulting in the staggering fact that 11 people die everyday due to this pervasive habit. Someone shooting a quick text to their partner while on their way to the store is not malicious. They did not intend for anything bad to happen. They didn’t have it out for the small child in the backseat of the minivan they T-boned in the intersection or the father of three in the driver’s seat. A lack of malicious intent doesn’t change the effects of a careless action. The issue with texting and driving is not the presence of malicious intent, but the utter lack of consideration for those around them.
Sometimes misgendering is done maliciously, but even when it’s not, the harmful effects are still ever present. Refusal to use the correct pronoun feels like a micro-aggression. It’s disrespecting someone’s identity and personhood, invalidating them. Beyond anything, misgendering someone communicates I wish you were someone else, so I’m going to pretend that you are.
Justice Taylor (she/her/hers) is working on her BA in Psychology and has a passion for activism and writing. She identifies as gender queer.
The first board of trustees was appointed at the first annual meeting of the Darcy Jeda Corbitt Foundation. The sitting board is comprised of founders Darcy Corbitt and Allison Bozovsky, and three community members: Mary Belk of Aiken, SC, AnnMarie Kajencki of Bismarck, ND, and Alyssa Patterson of Saraland, AL. Each board member brings a unique personal perspective as both transgender and gender queer folk and allies, as well as professional experience as scientists, therapists, and teachers.
President Corbitt presented the annual report from 2016. The organization raised $2,500 in 2016 and had a year-end surplus of $5. The majority of our expenses in 2016 were made up of providing free training and programming, community outreach, and assistance to transgender individuals.
Our meeting focused on the formal establishment of the foundation. Bylaws were proposed and approved by the board, and policies essential to the smooth operation of the were similarly approved. The board set three core goals for 2017: obtaining charitable status from the IRS, establishing a sustainable donor base, and expanding MyTransitionPartner to include online education.
In the CFO’s report to the board, the foundation’s current financial health is good. We are currently on target for our first quarter goal of half of 2016’s operation budget. The board approved a budget for 2017 which included four funds: sustainability fund ($850) to provide for the 501(c)(3) application process, administrative budget (15%) to provide for office materials and other expenses related to operations, assistance fund (60%) to fund assistance programs, programs budget (20%) to fund other programs including MyTransitionPartner, and the foundation fund (5%) which will go toward the creation of an endowment.
The board is committed to the viability of the foundation’s future. Further, they invite any interested party to join us in our mission to improve the global health and wellness of transgender individuals by initiating positive, open, and mutually affirming dialogues in our communities, encourage equity and diversity at the institutional, local, state, and federal level, to improve our communities through in-house support and education initiatives, and to sustain our community partners by sponsoring programs and organizations which work to improve the lives of transgender and queer people.
Download the full report here.
An important question we should all ask ourselves is how did we learn our gender? Gender is different from our sex. Sex is biological. We are born male or female through our chromosomes, hormones, and sex organs. Do not be fooled: our biological sex does not define our gender or how we identify in the world. Gender is social constructed through roles, behaviors, and activities that society considers appropriate for males and females. These roles define what is masculine and what is feminine. Through these roles and expectations we begin to gender-type individuals to fit into these gender roles according to their sex. Surprisingly, gender identity can span beyond the binary of being male or female. Gender identity stands up and resists against the binary when we identify as gender variant, genderqueer, or gender non-conforming. Gender non-conforming individuals declare that society’s views of masculinity and femininity do not fit them and how they want to express themselves. Gender nonconformity punctuates ambiguity and fluidity in gender identity. Self-expression according to biological sex does not fit. Identifying pronouns are important for gender nonconforming persons because some identify with the pronouns of their biological sex or they continue to resist the gender binary by using neutral pronouns. Gender identity and self-expression can be the core of who we are as a person, making it essential that we allow anyone and everyone to be who they are even if it goes against the norms we have set in society.
Allison Bozovsky (she/her/hers) has an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy and is interested in queer feminist theory. She identifies as gender queer and serves as our Chief Financial Officer.
501(c)(3) Application Submitted
Following our first quarter board meeting, our application for charitable status from the IRS was submitted. Once approved, all donations made to our organization from our date of incorporation forward will be tax deductible.
MyTransitionPartner Under Review
The board has appointed a subcommittee of the executive committee to review the foundation’s programs. Currently, the program review subcommittee is conducting a page-by-page review of MyTransitionPartner.com checking for accuracy, readability, and functioning links. Once the review process is complete, we will begin the process of appointing a program coordinator to oversee MyTransitionPartner and begin the process of advertising the program on social media.
DJC Fund Approved by Board of Trustees
The board has approved a plan submitted by the CEO forming a new program, Dignity, Justice, and Courage Fund (DJC Fund), to provide transition assistance grants to transgender individuals in the state of North Dakota. The board indicated a desire to start similar funds in other rural US states once sustainable donor bases are established.
Fundraising Coordinators : Fundraising coordinators are responsible for establishing connections in the community and raising funds for foundation programs. Answers to CFO. Looking for coordinators in: North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Social Media Coordinators: Social media coordinator are responsible for creating and posting content to various social media platforms and responding to electron communication. Answers to CVO. Location: United States.
Director of Publications: Director of publications will be responsible for overseeing the production and distribution of online and in-print publications. Answers to CEO. Location: United States.
Who We Are
Darcy Jeda Corbitt Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity promoting the health and global wellbeing of transgender, queer, and gender nonconforming individuals. All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by US Federal Tax Code.
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