The last twelve or so months have been a roller-coaster of emotions. On every front we seem to be assaulted by attacks on many of the values that we hold dear as Americans. Truth has been replaced by opinion, logic by shock value, and the voices of diverse communities continually silenced under the guise of patriotism and faith.
As a member of a minority group, I have felt the tension very strongly. Every morning as I wake up, there is a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that signals to me an uneasiness about what the day will hold. All around me I see ordinary people empowered to behave in discriminatory and hurtful ways. I have watched my government strategically dismantle the protections people like me gained over the last decade.
There are days when I feel hopeless, when I wonder if the life I treasure will be taken from me. Will I be able to finish my doctorate? Will I be able to marry and have children? What kind of future will they have? I worry about the people whom I love who are also affected by these trying times, and I wonder if they will be safe.
I recently had a conversation with a friend in which I bemoaned these concerns. I told her, “I worry about having my dignity taken away.” “Darcy,” she said, “that is the only thing you have that can never be taken from you.” Her words struck me like a brick, and they led me to think for many days about the pathways our community have taken to get to where they are today.
When we think about the events at the Stonewall Inn and the foundation they laid for the Pride celebrations we have each year, it is common to forget that the first bricks thrown at that fateful riot in 1969 were thrown by transgender women of color. Women such as Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera and Miss Major put themselves in the front lines of our fight for equality. They were marginalized people who had had enough.
They were tired of being told they weren’t good enough, that they weren’t worthy of sitting at the table of American life. They were tired of having their safety threatened and their dignity trampled. They were tired of worrying about their loved ones like them.
My dearest ones: We are in a hard time right now. We will be threatened and mocked. We will have all sorts of injustices thrown at us. But we cannot give up. We must continue to boldly live our truths and reclaim our narratives. We cannot forget that they, our foresiblings, experienced hard times as well, and they resisted and fought back. And the bricks they threw laid a foundation for the lives you are living today.
In the same way, the bricks we throw in resistance will lay the foundation for the next generation.
Darcy J. Corbitt-Hall
President and CEO
Applications Open for North Dakota Dignity Grants
Our Dignity Grants help transgender, queer, and nonbinary individuals reclaim their dignity by reclaiming their legal profile through a legal name change. In some cases, this court appearance can be combined with a legal gender marker update. All applicants to this grant will receive free counsel from a transgender person who has undergone this process in the same jurisdiction.
$150 is paid to the grantee two weeks prior to their court date. The grantee must complete their name change within 6 months of the award date. Proof of completion required.
•Applications open on October 27.
•Applications close on December 15.
•Decisions will be made by December 27.
•Legal resident of the State of North Dakota for 30 consecutive days.
•Demonstrated financial need (making less than a living wage in their state of residence).
•Must complete a phone, video, or in-person interview with the program officer.
•Grant applicants must provide the last four digits of their social security number for identification purposes.
A Special Thanks to Our Grant Sponsors
The Mowat Family
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for transgender individuals is a very long and involved process. The myriad of physical and psychological changes can be almost overwhelming. As a woman assigned male at birth, I will give my personal experience of the first 6 months of HRT.
When I took my first dose of estradiol, I was incredibly excited for the days to come, and within a week of my first dose, I already began to experience changes. The very first thing I noticed was a sensitivity forming in my breasts. They were still the same size and shape, but they began to receive sensation. As the first month continued, I noticed a lot of changes to my breasts including growth. Almost immediately after beginning HRT, I noticed my libido rapidly decline and stay almost completely diminished for the next 6 months. Near the end of the first month , I noticed a change in my body odor— it lost the masculine smell and got sweeter and lighter.
For the next two months, the changes from HRT slowed down, and I began to suffer from low testosterone. I didn’t have enough estradiol in my body to be dominant, so I experienced a complete loss of motivation as well as spikes in my depression. After about three months, my estradiol prescription was raised to 4mg a day, and the symptoms of low testosterone gradually improved. My breasts began to grow rapidly at this point. Within the next 3 months, I gained a cup size and the sensitivity of my breasts increased. Somewhere around this time I noticed a heightened emotional reaction to things such as shows on TV. Also around this time, I finally reached the point when I could look in the mirror and no longer see a man. The other biggest change that appeared was in my sexuality when I finally regained my sex drive. It was different, though. I no longer felt that it was a chore or something that my body forced me to do. It became something that I wanted to do because of how it feels. Now I want to talk about my dysphoria. Dysphoria infects every facet of my life, from the way I socialize, to my own self image. Throughout my life this pain has manifested itself in many forms. At the beginning of my first puberty, my dysphoria first emerged in the form of confusion. I didn’t understand what gender meant, but I wanted to be a girl. However, whenever I deviated from my assigned gender, society rejected it. I couldn’t understand why it had to be that way. The next year dysphoria took a different form. I had false ideas that I was a powerful psychic, which I’m sure
middle schoolers experienced, but the key difference is that I used it to rationalize my feelings of being female. This wasn’t the last time I used a weird belief to rationalize things. In high school, I held a belief that if I suffered through life as a man, in my next life I could be born female in an attempt to avoid facing reality. Also in high school, I experienced a period of time where I behaved in a hyper masculine way doing anything and everything to try to appear male. However, I couldn’t do it forever and became a loner.
I tried so hard to make it without transitioning, to be normal, and for a little bit I won, but nobody wins for long. After I finally found the truth within myself, the dysphoria that previously only had visible effects finally showed itself and became direct. The feeling that you are somehow inferior to the entire female population due to the circumstances of your birth cuts deep but eventually fades. Hormones seriously changed how my dysphoria functions yet again.
Most of these days I can go without experiencing dysphoria and am able to leave it at the back of my mind. Occasionally I’ll experience things that trigger it, such as having to use the gender neutral changing room because of my body. It’s triggered by things that remind me that I was once a man or tell me that I still am in some way. Dysphoria is at its worst when it comes to my genitals. This part of my body is so foreign to me that contact with it leaves me quite dazed. It's something that I would give anything to get rid of because it has serious effects on my mental health.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Explained
Hormone Replacement Therapy, commonly known as HRT, a clinical treatment supported by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, helps transgender individuals achieve the secondary sexual characteristics of their gender. While not all transgender people choose to undergo this therapy, many do to alleviate gender dysphoria. It does this by changing their secondary physical characteristics and also by making their biological functions similar to those of the sex commonly linked with their gender identity. Transgender women, transgender men, and other transgender identities take different types of hormones and blockers customized for their particular goals.
For transgender women and other gender identities seeking to be more feminine, taking a combination of androgen blockers, estrogen, and progesterone is common. These will often result in breast growth, thinner and softer skin, hot flashes, headaches, fat redistribution to the hips, thighs, buttocks, and face, body hair thinning and slower growth, decrease in muscle size, and moodiness and emotional fluctuation. Some describe it as a second puberty. It is also important to note that this type of HRT will render those with male gonads infertile, which is often a difficult and painful consideration for those before beginning HRT to make themselves more feminine.
For transgender men and other gender identities seeking to be more masculine, testosterone is used to achieve the secondary sex characteristics that are desired. The changes that commonly occur include voice deepening, body fat that typically starts growing closer to the abdomen and internal organs, increase in muscle mass, increase in body hair, baldness, thicker and more oily skin, mood fluctuations, increased bone density, end to menstruation, but individuals engaging in coitus can still get pregnant, and the clitoris will become more sensitive and possibly grow. This type of HRT is also often described as a second puberty.
It is important to note that hormones affect each individual differently and that the changes listed above are only the most common that not every individual will experience. Also, hormones take time to work. Many transgender individuals become frustrated with the time it takes for their bodies to change and with the extent that they do. They often desire more dramatic results than what HRT can provide. These beliefs are reinforced when transgender people get inaccurate information from the internet because many in the medical community have not been properly trained on HRT or because they are not affirming of transgender identities.
Learn more: MyTransitionPartner.com/health
To help fund hormone therapy, visit DarcyCorbitt.org/fundgrants
Wren Erickson and William G. Fleck
Wren Erickson (she/her) is a student studying computer science at NDSU. William Fleck (he/him) is a student studying computer science with an emphasis in cybersecurity at NDSU. He is an unapologetic liberal feminist who cares deeply about transgender people.
PRIDE is a complicated word, meaning a lot of different things. For a number of members of the transgender and non-binary community, last year PRIDE led to fear and regret. Some of us were treated like side show attractions, made the butt of jokes. Others were touched inappropriately and without consent, and some were denied the simple respect of fellow human beings. This year, I'd like to challenge the whole of our community to do better.
Hello, my name is Kat, and I am a 31-year-old woman. More specifically, I am a 31-year-old transwoman. Even more specifically, I am an often unemployed, 31-year-old, white, designated male at birth, sapio/pan/bisexual, femme/androgynous, non-binary individual with chronic mental illness who has the good fortune of living with her extremely supportive parents.
These identifiers say a great deal about me. They speak both to the oppression I face and the privilege I enjoy. They also speak to the fact that I am different in one way or another to almost everyone who reads this. As such, I cannot and will not presume to speak for an entire community. I will, however, speak up with those transgender and nonbinary people who are like-minded and wanting to be heard.
PRIDE means a lot of things to a lot of people. For some, PRIDE is a party, a celebration of what we have achieved. For others, like me, PRIDE is a wake, a funeral march for those who've fought and died to bring us where we are, and it is also a bolstering of support for those still fighting and dying, not just here, but everywhere around the world. It is a solemn responsibility to project and respect our own identities for the sake of people who cannot. While others may hoop and holler, we stand with stoic reflection. Neither perspective is wrong, nor is it mutually exclusive, and both should be respected.
Some people come to PRIDE to let their hair down, get cuddly, enjoy the performances, perhaps even do a bit of people watching, and that's wonderful. While doing so, please bear in mind that not all transgender and nonbinary people are performers and that we don't exist for you. Being outside the gender norm is not a performance; it is an identity, one that we struggle and fight for on a daily basis. Do not heckle us like we're on a stage. (The actual performers on stage may invite heckling, in which case, do so in that space.) Don't be offended if you ask for our story or a history lesson and we're not inclined to give it to you. That's what Google is for, not PRIDE. We are everywhere and among you in every identity. Don't try to break our stealth or search for us. Simply let us exist with you. Finally, please, please, please don't assume that consent ceases to apply just because you're curious. We're different from you, and it's PRIDE. Don't touch, grab, kiss, or take pictures without express permission. No means no and, more importantly, ONLY yes means yes. Respect our space and solemnity as we respect your joy and exuberance.
PRIDE is a complicated word. For some it means joy; for others it means sorrow; for others it means strength; for more it means struggle. For a great many people PRIDE is a complicated amalgamation of all the above and more. The LGBTQIA community is internally diverse, full of intersections, and shares a proud history. We must come together for all members of our broad and beautiful acronym. No matter what PRIDE means to you, remember that PRIDE also means respect, the respect that we've fought and still fight together hand in hand to earn.
Learn more about being an ally: MyTransitionPartner.com/ally
Katrina Jo Koesterman (she/her) is a nerd and activist in training living in Moorhead, MN. She does NOT like long walks of any kind, especially not on beaches.
The Board reviewed and approved updated financials and minutes from the previous meeting.
The Board approved temporary personnel appointments made by the Executive Board.
Bylaws and Policy Updates
The Board unanimously approved updates to the Bylaws which clarified and updated unclear language. All policies approved by the Board will be codified into a single corporate policy document. The Board approved six policies related to volunteer and personnel management, safety and security, the 2016 budget, and creation of the programs and community division.
New Personnel Sought
The Board is seeking the following personnel:
•Chief Financial and Operating Officer to manage the business and finances of the Foundation.
•Executive Director to recruit volunteers, redesign, and lead MyTransitionPartner.com.
•Native Spanish speaker who identifies as transgender, gender queer, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming to translate our resources into Spanish.
To Whom It May Concern:
Today [6/5/2017], I was advised by the Internal Revenue Service that we have been recognized as a tax-exempt public charity as defined by section 501(c)(3) of Federal tax code. All donations received on and since December 29, 2016, our date of incorporation, are tax exempt and may be deducted from personal income tax.
I have instructed our secretary-treasurer to review our donation records so that we can send donation receipts to donors who made a donation during the last few days of fiscal year 2016. All donors making financial gifts between January 1, 2017, and December 31, 2017, will receive a donation receipt in January 2018.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all our donors, volunteers, team members, and trustees who have given their time, talents, and financial gifts to make this milestone possible. Because of your generosity and faith, we have been able to take a three-year personal project and turn it into something with international reach that has the capability to help hundreds of thousands of people every year. I am looking forward to the next six months of our first year and the amazing things that I know that our amazing team can accomplish.
Darcy J. Corbitt-Hall
Chairwoman, Board of Trustees
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.
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.
All Rights Reserved
“MyTransitionPartner,” “Here for a better version of you,”, and the trans flag heart logos are trademarks of Darcy Jeda Corbitt Foundation, Inc.