Tag: trans

Happy MAN-niversary to me.

Thursday, December 21st, 2017 was a big day for me. I kept wanting to post about it and then the day went by in a flash and next thing you know it was the 22nd. Again I kept trying to get to this post and share my thoughts as well as a few photos, but once again the day was over and I realized I had neglected to share!

So here we are Saturday, December 23rd, 2017 and I am now focused and ready! First of all, I celebrated my second MAN-niversary. Some guys refer to this as their celebration of having been on T and some guys as their anniversary of having top surgery. I think that is mainly because some guys start T and then wait for a year or two to have top surgery. Not because that is what they want, sometimes it’s because it is EXPENSIVE and they need to save. Or they are trying to find employers who actually extend the insurance coverage for trans related surgeries. Many insurance companies offer the coverage but not all companies extend that coverage to their employees. I know mine didn’t. So I paid out of pocket for my surgery to the tune of six thousand five hundred dollars. Also for the record, I started weekly injections of testosterone in August of 2015 so I celebrate two years on T this past August! I will share more about that in another blog.

I also believe it is important to note, some guys choose to NOT have top surgery. And this does not make them any less of a man. As a matter of fact, in my humble opinion, I believe it makes them way more of a man! Owning what they wish to do with their own bodies and what they feel works for them. Novel concept I know!

I chose to have top surgery and I have zero regrets! I had a very large chest, 44DD as a matter of record, and they caused me an incredible amount of grief. What is interesting is that I didn’t realize how much grief until they were gone. As I share my story with people I often share how I struggled with back pain years before coming out as transgender, and everything culminated for me into a series of events that happened all within a week of my coming out as trans.

It is now two years after top surgery and much has changed in my life.  I am no longer sharing my life with the person I was with for 10 years. I haven’t shared much about this publicly because there isn’t much to share. She was a lovely human and still is a lovely human we just no longer share a life. I made the choice to end the relationship because I realized I was no longer in love with her. I hope she is well. And that is all I am going to say about that. I didn’t want the celebration of this milestone to go without mentioning her because she was there and I do have her to thank for helping me through the surgery and recovery as well as helping me be able to afford it at that time. Much has changed in my life since December 21st, 2015.

Who knew having top surgery would be such a relief? I mean seriously? Once I came out as transgender this surgery was one of the most important milestones in my transition but I had no idea how much relief I would feel once the twins were gone. As I have said over and over, it was a HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders, pun intended! And I had to fight a little to make it a reality as soon as I did. The doctor who performed the surgery wanted me to wait until June of 2016 and I said, I am paying out of pocket, and I have already waited many many years for this freedom! So let’s do this! Thankfully he didn’t argue with me after my hormone doctor and my therapist both gave him letters saying I was ready!

The image below is me shortly after surgery in 2015, the image in the middle is from this past February, and the image on the right is me literally on December 23, 2017, the day this was blog post was published.

As you may already be able to tell, I am not one of those muscle head trans guys who are working on his six pack and pecs. As a matter of fact, I have put on a few pounds since this past February. I have always been a softer guy (inside and out) and will more than likely always be more of a Pillsbury dough boy than a bodybuilder. And frankly, I think that is way more than fine. I will admit that I have hesitated to share more about my journey here because I have been afraid people would judge me for not being more “masculine” and “muscular” than celebrate with me the true milestone that it is for me.

This past year has been a real challenge when it comes to the gender binary, and gender norms and I have taken one emotional hit after another, as well as physically packing on some extra pounds! I think I will refer to it as discrimination weight because this new territory has been rough to navigate and food has always been more comforting to me than just about anything!

Emotionally I have taken on some attacks that have been very personal and all have been very discriminatory and what is truly unfortunate is the world is still so engaged in such binary thinking that many people who know the story, have also caused me additional hurt and pain out of their own lack of understanding. I am so incredibly saddened and disappointed by how committed people are to their own binary ways of thinking. To gendering body parts, to clothes, to actions, to even colors! And out of my frustration, I have embarked on a project of my own to challenge the binary which I am hoping will culminate in a big show sometime in 2018 so stay tuned!

Much to my disappointment, I am still being regularly misgendered and I don’t get it because looking at these images side by side I can see how much I have changed. And well frankly how much less soft my face has become. I have literally transformed from looking more like my mother to looking more like my father! And I really like the middle image compared to the other two because of my killer trapezius muscles! But I digress.

After I first shared about my top surgery back in 2015 I had a few people make off-color comments about this surgery not making me a man and that it would take more than cutting off my breasts to make me a “real” man. And it had me not want to share for fear of being ridiculed or not being affirmed or seen for who I am. I have had people tell me who they think I am and it is one of the number one things I hear from trans kiddos and parents of trans kiddos in regard to bodies and what makes us male and or female. And yet many people still refuse to acknowledge the gender binary is the culprit. They cling to their beliefs and because of this they also do and say things that are incredibly hurtful. Which is why I speak out. And it is why, although sometimes I question myself, I will share more intimate parts of my story.

Believe me, it isn’t glamorous. It’s not like I have been given some prize or a big pot of gold for being who I am. On the contrary, I have spent more money than I have earned in sharing my story. In attempting to create photos and videos and this blog in order to share my story with all of you who will listen and who honestly want to learn. And there have been some wonderful relationships formed and connections made with people that would not have happened if it wasn’t for this space I have created. And for this, I will always be grateful.

Since I have come out, I have literally had someone reach out to me at least once a week about a friend or family member who has come out to them as transgender and they have questions. Or their friends have questions and don’t know where to go or who to reach out to. Or a child who has come out to their parents as transgender or non-binary, and a friend of a friend connects me to them. I am grateful I am here today to share with them my story. My experience, my truth. Because believe it or not, they can relate, they can see it, and they are so very grateful that I get it. That I can affirm them when they say, “this teacher said X and I do not think it is right.” and I say, “You are correct that is not right and here’s why.” And they are able to vent their frustrations with me. We may not be able to make immediate changes to systems and structures but hopefully, the work I am doing will not be in vain. In my heart, I believe it is what is right and true.

So HAPPY MAN-NIVERSARY to me!

Even my bitmoji has transitioned!

 

 

 

#shebelongs

Back in March we did an interview with Eris Koleszar for Speaking Of Happy and little did we know how big she would become in less than a month!  Eris is an outspoken advocate for the trangender community and recently took a powerful stand against anti-trans descrimination online via her selfie campaign!  She has not only thrust herself into the public eye but she has also taken on activating allies in her quest to create safe bathroom spaces for Transgender people in Omaha!  After an online dispute started by a post from a local bar owner Eris has been personally advocating on behalf of the trans comEris1munity online and on television!  We knew from the moment we met her last year that we had to have her on Speaking Of Happy and thank goodness we acted fast before her dance card filled up!

Eris is a amazing human being who is articulate and funny and just all around wonderful to spend time with.  She is a force to be reconned with online as she takes on some of the most vile anti-trans people in Omaha but also is activitating local allies with her selfie campaign!  She has been going to local venues and asking allies to take selfies with her and post them to their social media with the hashtags #shebelongs #shejustwantstopee #transwomenarewomen and educating people about the hateful anti-trans legislation showing up across the nation.  She is defeating stereotypes one selfie at a time and doing it with great class!

 

This is our interview which was conducted last March and originally aired on RadiOmaha.

If you do not see the player then click HERE and listen on PodOmatic.

TDoV Omaha

 

TdovTDoV Omaha is Transgender Day of Visibility and it happens across the nation on March 31st. On the show today I sat down with Miles Cristiano Jordan who is one of the organizers. He shares with us what the event is all about, why it is important, and how you can get involved! I enjoyed chatting with Miles and I hope you enjoy the interview. Also, I will be at TDoV this year so come see me and learn how you can become an active ally!

If you can not see the player click HERE to listen to the podcast on PodOMatic.

Marilynn Barner Anselmi

 

Marilynn with the girls

On today’s episode of Speaking Of Happy we chat with Marilynn Barner Anselmi, a playwrite, who’s play Mama’s Girls, was just beautifully produced by SNAP! Productions here in Omaha.  Marilynn came to see the play on the last day of the run and we sat down to chat with her about what the inspiration for the play was along with how she became a playwrite.  Anselmi is a gifted writer and shares some very personal stories about her life.  The episode originally aired on RadiOmaha earlier this year.  We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did!

 

 

Anselmi and the cast of Mama’s Girls!2015-12-06 16.13.48

 

 

 

 

2015-12-06 16.53.26 2015-12-06 16.53.11Anselmi gets interviewed by Chloe the young actress who played Sammy in Mama’s Girls

 

 

 

 

 

If you do not see the player click HERE and listen to the podcast on podomatic.

365

This is the last day of the year. The last time in 2015 that I can say, I accomplished X or I did Y in 2015. What does that mean really? Well for me this year brought with it a great deal of firsts and a whole lot of transition. Transition in how I view myself along with who I choose to share with the world! Today I choose to share the real me authentically, but it took many years to get to this point. Many ups and downs. Much heartache and pain as well as triumphs. When I look back on the last 50 some odd years of my life I can honestly say I have accomplished more than I ever believed imaginable.

The greatest accomplishment is surrounding myself with people who are willing to love me unconditionally for me. To accept the me that I am sharing with them and to help me learn to love myself unconditionally too. Believe me, this has not come easy. I have had friends say some of the meanest things to me, needless to say, they are no longer my friends. And I have had complete strangers want to tear me down for sharing myself authentically with the world. But I am here to say that did not and will NEVER stop me from sharing me. From telling my story or from sharing the stories of other local LGBTQIA heroes I know.

Today marks a day I can sit back and reflect on with great pride. In the past year, I have accomplished more than I could have ever imagined to include this website. Creating a space where I get to share so many wonderful things about our world, things that make me happy but I am finding they make other people happy too! This website would not have been possible without the love and support of so many wonderful people to include the incredible love of my life Kira! The woman who has stood quietly by my side and supported my journey without hesitation. She has not only helped teach me to love and accept me for me, but to also shine a bright light into the darkest parts of myself in order to find true peace and appreciation for who I am and what I have to offer this world.

She was a stand that I stop saying mean things to myself. And she would call me on it at every turn. Eventually I began to see that how I treated myself and the things I said when I thought no one else could hear were hurtful. You see no one could ever hurt me more than I had been hurting myself. As I slowly began to peel away the rough exterior layers of the person I had become I started to realize and acknowledge the truly wonderful things about myself. I could no longer allow the things I disliked about me to stop me from telling my story or from sharing my journey! And as those things began to fall away I started to realize the me, that is truly me. And acknowledging it out loud and proud to the people in my life has made all the difference in the world for me. Her love is the fuel for my fire and knowing she is by my side and loves and accepts me for exactly who I am helps give me the courage to continue on this journey.

The other person I need to thank as I reflect on this year is my dear friend Alyssa. Once I began to share my transition with the world and introduced myself as Eli, she reached out to me and asked how she could help me realize my dreams. She asked me what I wanted to accomplish in sharing my transition with people and I told her. And then she did the most amazing thing. She said, I would like to coach you! No one has ever offered me such a gift and together we put a plan in place that helped me over the roadblocks in my way in creating Speaking Of Happy the website, the blog, and the radio show! With her guidance I put a plan in place that inspired me to accomplish tasks one at a time and before I knew it the website was created and I was publishing content I am proud of consistently and having a GREAT time doing it!

In three months I fully launched the website, produced, recorded, and edited 11 episodes of the radio show, produced shot and edited 3 videos (one that shared some personal stories of my life which has yet to be published to the page), wrote 3 blogs as well as had one guest blogger, and produced a One of A KindOneOfAKindShowPosterV3 comedy show and fundraiser that premiered my video 1976, my stand up comedyFirstSheet, plus I had more than 50 pieces of my photo art on display and for sale!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My good friends Brody Ray

and Jocelyn

donated their time and talents and sang their hearts out at the show too so please go and support them and their music!  And certainly last but not least I took some of the biggest steps on my journey to having my outsides express the man that I believe I have always been. I began my hormone treatments which has opened me up to a world that has been truly amazing and at times a little scary as I navigate these waters. On December 21, 2015 and with the amazing support of Kira, I ventured on the next step in my journey and had top surgery. As I type this I have an amazing freedom today. I look in the mirror and I see the me that had been there all along. A friend asked me, “what is it like, do you miss them?” I said, “My breasts?” He nods yes. I respond, “I don’t miss them at all, you see this is what I have always felt was me. I feel free and alive in a way that I have never experienced in the Fifty years of my life and I am awake and ready for the next 50!”

Also, if accomplishing the above wasn’t enough, with the love and support of many wonderful friends, I am also writing a book. I have finally found my voice and believe me, I will continue to shout with pride from the roof tops today and every day! I may not be the most prolific writer, comedian, blogger, or videographer in the world but I tell you this much, I am on the court of life, playing with everything I have to give and when I go to bed at night I sleep more soundly than I have all my life and awake and greet every new day with inspiration and determination to continue to do what I can to make a difference in our world!

I am truly blown away at what I have accomplished and fully believe 2016 will be one of my greatest years yet! My dear friends. If you take anything from what I have written here please know that allowing yourself and those around you be who they are and share their gifts with you, we all get to be GREAT together. So go, sing, dance, write, produce, support, and applaud yourself/others and all our successes! Let’s all have an amazing 2016!

Biggy AlienLillyProof

I will be making my photo art available very soon so stay tuned!

Brody Ray

Detour EP

Detour EP

Today on the show we sit down with Brody Ray, Kearney, NE native, who is working hard to make his dreams become a reality! He recently released his first EP Detour worldwide! He has an upbeat alternative rock sound that is full of life and energy! On this episode we talk about how Brody became a musician along with some wonderful stories about his growing up knowing he was different.

Brody’s life started out different from most. Brody, born female, new that his body didn’t match what he felt on the inside, as young as a toddler. Brody’s mother remembers him kicking the back of her seat in the McDonald’s Drive Thru until he got the boy toy in his happy meal, and jumping around in diapers and cowboy boots with a guitar singing at the top of his lungs.

I happen to think Brody is an incredible talent as well as being an amazing human being! He has a heart of gold and a deep desire to make a difference in the world with his music and I believe he is well on his way! He has performed at numerous Pride’s around the US along with performing right here in Omaha for Heartland Pride! Be sure to check out his website at www.brodyray.com and BUY HIS MUSIC which is also available on iTunes.

Brody also sang live in the studio for us and we shot a little video footage for your viewing pleasure!

If you can’t see the player above click HERE and listen to the show on PodOMatic.

RCGA – River City Gender Alliance

RCGAButterfly_83462254_scaled_174x174Today on the radio show we sat down with Kate Parrish. She is the president of the River City Gender Alliance, also known as RCGA. Since 1986 RCGA has been a support organization that provides peer support, friendship and understanding for crossdressers, transgenderists and transsexuals.

The mission of the RCGA is to provide support for all persons who experience any form of gender identity issues. We welcome all persons with gender identity issues and also their spouses, partners and family members.

To fulfill the mission of the RCGA the objectives will be:
Monthly support meetings
Provide educational assistance and resource referrals.
Develop self-confidence/self-esteem in all members.
Network with other support groups.
Provide outreach activities that positively reflect our lifestyle.
Provide outreach to helping professionals who are interested in our lifestyle.
Hold social gatherings.

Recently RCGA provided Talk Back Panels for the play “Mama’s Girls” produced/directed by SNAP! Productions. The panels ranged from youth members of the trans community sharing their experience to longtime members of RCGA sharing their knowledge and personal stories about being Transgender in the Midwest. Powerful conversations where conducted and we are sure many people left the theater with a greater understanding and compassion for the Transgender community. GREAT work by Kate Parrish and RCGA in provided this support.

On our show Kate shares her experience in discovering her own gender identity and becoming the woman she is today. We hope you enjoy the episode! Do you want to be on the show? Do you have a local organization that supports the LGBTQIA Community or a personal story that you feel is important for others to hear? Please send us an email elirigatuso@catchcreative.com to schedule a time to talk!

If you can’t see the player click HERE and listen to the podcast on PodOMatic.

TDOR – Transgender Day of Remembrance

TDOR Flyer

Transgender Day of Remembrance

On a special episode of the podcast we sit down with Kate Parrish, President of the RCGA (River City Gender Alliance), and she shares about TDOR Omaha and what is happening along with how RCGA is supporting the play Mama’s Girls produced by SNAP! Productions and showing now at the Shelterbelt Theater.  Click HERE to buy tickets to the show before they sell out!

Transgender Day of Remembrance is this Friday, November 20th.

TDoR Omaha presents the 4th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance at the beautiful First Unitarian Church of Omaha, 31st and Harney.  TDoR is a day that we gather in community to remember those who have died in the name of transphobia, share the living history of the transgender community, and to celebrate the transgender community.

What’s in a Name?

What is in a name? From before we even take our first breathe, outside of our mothers womb, we are given a name. Something people can know us by, and can start to formulate opinions of before they can even see us. People will begin to shop for you based on that name and they feel some sort of comfort in knowing if they are shopping for a boy or a girl.

When I was born it was 1965 and back then ultrasound technology was not being used in the United States. As a matter of fact it would be another 5-10 years before it would even emerge in the states and I would already be firmly known as Beth. There is a part of me that wishes the world could come to a place where we just allow our little creations to emerge as HUMAN and then allow them to share with us who they are as they grow and develop. So that young transgender/nonbinary humans would have the say in what they will be called long before a name that might not suit them takes hold. And they could be respected in their choice to wear non-traditional clothing for their assigned gender.

It is not typical in the transgender community for folks to comfortably share their former names, also referred to as a dead name, but I have never hated the name Beth. I do know, as a progress in my transition, I have moved further and further away from it as something that was a part of me.  Most transgender folks refer to their former name as a dead name because it is a part of their identity that is dead to them.

According to the Advocate, “dead-naming” is a term that involves “the practice of uttering or publishing the name that a transperson used prior to transition.” Most of the time, an individual will pick a new name as soon as they begin to identify as the gender they know they are on the inside. This new name, in a way, marks the “death” of their old identity and the person they once were. With a new name, they signify a new, more truthful, and more fully realized phase of their life.

Another thing that is true for me is I don’t honestly feel I was born in the wrong body, just not the one that is 100% me.  I still don’t hate my name but I do know that it doesn’t fit who I see myself as being completely and authentically.

The process for coming up with my name was a funny one. After being born and raised in Omaha and 50 years of being Beth and creating my own personal brand, so to speak, it was hard to think of how it might feel to let that all go. Or perhaps to re-create myself on the outside to match who I feel I am on the inside.

Would people still love me?

Would they understand and support me and respect my choice to be called Eli?

Well one thing is for sure, after 50 years of living a life being something I do not feel is 100% authentically me, it was time to start living for ME and allowing myself to have the freedom to be Eli! Regardless of what anyone else thinks about it.

So, here is a short video which further explains my choice to be known as Eli and to allow Beth to take a rest, after all she has really done some extraordinary things over the past 50 years! I will share more with you as I continue along my transition and I promise to answer all of your questions! Thank you for the incredible love and support you have showered on me. Thank you for giving me the freedom to be Eli!

EliNameChangePaperworkEli Rigatuso shares why he chose the name, Eli.  After 50 years of being known as Beth to his community, it took some time to settle on a name.  And as of Thursday, October 22, 2015, his name change was submitted and by December the name will be official.  We of course will keep you updated (it is a 6 week process)!
A GREAT BIG THANK YOU goes out to Joni Watke Stacy of Sena, Polk, and Stacy LLP

If you need legal assistance we highly recommend Joni Watke Stacy!

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