Friday, May 9, 2014

Vote for Sophia

I'm running in a mock election and I need your votes. You might be asking why I need your vote, and how in the heck did I wind up in politics? Well, my friends, the answer to the first question is simple, but the second is a rather interesting story. Before I answer the first question, let me answer the second.

It all started with my marriage to Danilynn on December 30 of last year. We had our legal wedding ceremony at the Salt Lake County Government Center a few blocks from our home. By that day, same-sex marriage had been legal in Utah for 10 days. It would only be legal for 7 days more. We had an outside ceremony to honking cars passing by. It was a beautiful experience for me.

Meanwhile, the attorney general of Utah had been ousted from his position for corruption in office, and there were tales of transphobic slurs that had occurred between his staff members. When we were applying for our license, a young hispanic gentleman came into the office and was sworn in just 10 feet away from us as Deputy Attorney General. He smiled at us as he passed us after his ceremony, and I said, "Hi." I wondered if he was the replacement for John Swallow, the previous attorney general, and if he would clean up the office.

more to come. stay tuned...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Her Name is Donielle

Her name isn't Thing, or Tranny, or Crossdresser. Her name is Donielle. Donielle Hould. That is her preferred name. We never knew what her full legal name was, nor did it matter.

When I saw that transphobic emails were sent about a transgender Republican delegate, the first person that came to mind was Donielle--the similarities seemed to coincide too much to be another person. I mean, how many transgender women who are passionate about Republican politics get to serve as a delegate to one of the party's conventions?

Donielle's body was discovered July 2, 2011.

She moved to Utah from New York following a job opportunity here. Many people in the transgender community remember her sense of humor and her long silky, curly black hair. Her 4th of July Barbeques and Halloween parties, that she hosted in the trailer park where she lived so that transgender people had a safe place to socialize, were the talk of the community. I don't know how many times I heard, "She threw the best Halloween parties." My wife tells me that she was very driven, and had a strength about her that seemed like nobody could bring her down.

I wish I could say that I knew her, but I only really met her once, in a support group before my surgery. The month was March, 2011. She was incredibly excited about her opportunity to be a Delegate at the Utah Republican Convention in April. She was excited to be taking an active part in politics, something she loved and felt strongly about. At the time, we questioned why she was aligning with the Republican Party, but that was her choice. She had high hopes that she could get elected to office.

Something must have happened at the convention, because she started talking about staying in male mode and at the next three events where we would normally have seen her female persona, she came as male (She frequently felt that her desire to be female was an addiction that she could conquer--few rarely do).

She put her effort over the next month and a half into planning the fourth of July picnic, Sending out a reminder on May 28. We didn't hear from her again until a great sadness rocked the community.

Someone contacted me to get ahold of Deborah Dean, the founder of Engendered Species, a transgender positive group of which she was a member. They told me that someone had taken their own life and their roommate needed Deborah's help. By the time I got in touch with Deborah, she had already been to see the roommate and the body. Donielle had taken her own life with no forewarning or explanation. According to her roommate, Donielle had lost both her job and her girlfriend in the three weeks leading up to her suicide. It must have been a triple whammy coming off of such high expectations only a couple of months before. Sometimes it feels like the universe is out to get us.

As a founder of a social support group for people in transition, I felt survivor's guilt. I felt that I did not do enough to recruit her into the group, where she would have had the chance to vent whatever was on her mind. We, as a community, were at a loss as to why she went from a peak of happiness to suicide. I asked around, trying to find out what may have triggered this reaction and to see if there were any indicators that we could be more observant of in the future. I got the same response from everyone. They didn't see it coming.

Now, I hear that a transgender woman was not welcomed by certain individuals at a convention in 2012, particularly staff members of the Attorney General who was up for reelection. They didn't bother to ask her name, and sent transphobic messages to one another. One of the staff members standing next to her got a photograph of her and sent it to the other staff member, calling her a notorious crossdresser, a tranny, and a thing. That attitude most probably was picked up by that woman that day, whether they said something nasty, outing, or just had a disgusted look on their face.

As far as Donielle was concerned, she was never the same again. Less than two months later, two days before she was supposed to host the 4th of July barbeque, she was gone, dead at her own hands.

Her name is Donielle.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Two Transgender Women Marry in Utah

Yup, that's us in the article holding our marriage certificate, the third article that I've written and certainly the one closest to my heart. I have a strong feeling that Danilynn and I are the first same-sex transgender couple to be legally married in Utah since Utah banned same-sex marriages in 2004. We had a wedding ceremony in late October, and when Judge Robert Shelby struck down Amendment 3 to the Utah State Constitution, a flurry of 900 couples and quite a few of my friends became legally wed that day, including a couple in Moab.

Danilynn was in town, but exhausted and sleeping in her cab after her night shift as an over-the-road truck driver. She was on a fast turn-around, and it wasn't until she was back on the road that evening that we discussed tying the knot legally for the final time. We held our bated breaths while we watched the attorney general try to get a stay on the weddings, waiting for her to be re-routed to Salt Lake City. She arrived early Saturday morning on the 28th at just after midnight, and we were married at the Salt Lake County Government Center on December 30th by 10:30 am. Outside, in our wedding dresses, passers-by honked and cheered while we exchanged our vows. Everywhere on the application I saw the word groom, I struck it out and replaced it with bride. We're still awaiting the certified copies of our license in the mail.

Before my wife left for the road on Wednesday, we consummated our marriage trucker style in the back of her cab. Eight hours of sure bliss, as her co-driver picked up the empty trailer, cleaned it out, and drove it to the dock where it was loaded up with yogurt. My wife walked me back to my car parked at the yards where we could give our goodbyes and I drove home. We call each other twice a day, and she doesn't know when she'll be back home; it's up to the dispatchers. Last I heard, they had dropped their load in Ohio and were headed back to California. Her birthday's coming up tomorrow, and we will have to delay the celebration for when she finally returns, whenever that is.

The article was published on Thursday evening and so far has 268 likes, 6 tweets, and 6 shares. The Lone Star Q, an online publication that is less than two months old, is not registered as a major news outlet, which means the national media probably hasn't seen this story. That's why I am asking everyone to help this go viral. I am hoping that by putting our story out there, it will help shift attitudes. We could have done this is stealth, but we deliberately chose not to.

The following is an excerpt from the article. If you like it, please share it in as many places as you can.

Hugs and Blessings,
Sofia Featherwind

Two Transgender Women Marry in Utah
by Sophia Jean Hawes Lutrova, aka Sofia Featherwind

We’re legally married in Utah. In Utah!

We’re two transgender women who never saw the day coming when we would be able to do this. We’re going to file our income taxes jointly this year and change our names. I will become Mrs. Sophia Jean Hawes Lutrova, and she will become Mrs. Danilynn Louise (Tingey) Lutrova.

Danilynn feels strongly about the need for marriage equality in Utah because it affects transgender people as well.

A military child, I moved to North Texas when I was 12. With the exception of four years in the Navy in San Diego, I spent the next 33 years in the Fort Worth area, trying to stay true to my Baptist upbringing. I married, had two children, and then began my transition while I was there. Eventually, painfully, I had to leave Texas for employment in first Kentucky and then Utah, leaving my wife and children behind. Our marriage of 13 years was not strong enough to survive all the change and stress.