I recently had a horseback-riding accident and was treated very poorly at the hospital due to my lifestyle as a transgendered woman—like the experiences mentioned in your “Trannie Get Your Gun” issue [“Don’t Mess With These Girls,” August 2004]. A couple days later, in an unrelated incident, I was approached by some police officers and searched. Everything was going fine until I identified myself as a transgendered woman. Then, the officers told the one searching me to put on latex gloves. I was very hurt and upset, but I knew not to say anything crafty or I might find myself in a much worse situation.
Now, I am in prison awaiting to see a judge about the charges and the treatment is not at all friendly toward us transwomen, especially if we happen to be HIV positive. I stand up for myself, but today so many of our younger sisters and brothers don’t. We must not only worry about getting our breasts big and looking like real femmes, but we must be heard and respected. Stand up, trannies, and use those guns!
--June “Pebbles” Martinez
I believe the medical system is hard for all HIVers, not just transgenders. We all get shunned in some form. Making organizations for special groups only dilutes progress toward what we all need—good specialized care for HIV. Many doctors are still stuck on stupid when it comes to treating us. Whatever your treatment, you must discover as much information about it as possible and then discuss it with the most capable doctor you can find.
I am a transgendered person and, therefore, a card-carrying member of the language police. Even so, I am rarely offended. However, I was offended at being referred to as a transgendered in your article. I am transgendered, but I am not a transgendered. When an “-ed” is added to a word, it turns that word into a past tense verb (irritated) or a word describing a characteristic of a noun (an annoyed reader). The women in the article referred to themselves as trans, and it would seem appropriate to use that particular word in reference to them. There are those who would disagree with me, and they are entitled to do so, but that does not make them a group of entitleds.
As a board member of the Intersex Society of North America, I was heartened to see your transgender cover story. Intersex persons must deal with sexual anatomies that differ from the traditional male/female binary. There is much shame and secrecy in dealing with our unique issues in a world that does not see shades of gray. When I was diagnosed as having XXY sex chromosomes, my doctor put me on massive doses of testosterone. He never asked me about my gender identity. I became infected with HIV from tremendous sexual frustration and acting out without having any psychological support. I wish that our culture were more supportive of sexual and gender diversity.
--David Iris Cameron
It is always heartening when POZ includes the world beyond our very self-centered USA. Thank you, Cindra Feuer, for connecting with Ugandans and returning there as a sister, not just passing through for a story [“You Go, Uganda,” August 2004]. If we can open our hearts to the realities of Uganda, we should do the easiest thing to help: vote in November for those who will return us to the international community, increase our financial support to the United Nations and its specialized agencies, and make us more responsible global citizens in every way.
--Augustus Nasmith Jr.
The article about the revival of The Normal Heart reminded me that next year marks 20 years since I saw the play in New York [“The Normal Heartache,” August 2004]. I was devastated when I left.
The previous year, I had cofounded a Bag Lady Bus Ride in Indianapolis for Halloween—70 men in drag visited local bars. After my trip to New York, I decided to make the next Bag Lady Bus Ride a fundraiser for New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, whose founding the play dramatizes. We were thrilled to raise more than $4,000 and sent half to the GMHC and kept half here “just in case.” We still didn’t know if we would have to fight the disease in Indiana. After 20 years, we are still riding the waves of HIV with our annual fundraiser.