Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hit the Ground Running

I've had to hit the ground running here and so far I'm feeling good that I'm keeping a pretty good pace.

What does an Executive Director do on a typical day?  That's hard to say because in my case no one day has been like another.  Every day is full of new "stuff" which is what makes it all so interesting.

Take yesterday as an example. I met with the director of the local Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for lunch.  A local newspaper reporter came to the office for an interview.  I visited with the sales manager at one of the large local hotels to gather pricing and facilities information for planning our big Autumn banquet next year.  Someone from NCTE who specializes in Health Care policy came to town so a group of us met for dinner (thanks to the local AIDS alliance!) before she talked.  Then, out for a glass of wine with some friends.  I finally got back to my hotel room at 10.

Today?  Vacation day.  I'm going to the gym.  I'm catching up on bills.  I've got several places to look at to live and hope that tonight is my last night in a hotel.  It's supposed to be 60 degrees and sunny here today which is absolutely amazing for this time of year.  I keep joking that it's going to stay like this all winter but we all know that it's not.  Still, I'm enjoying it while I can.

For some reason I've been doing a lot of media stuff lately.  It's not like I go out and seek it - it just happens.  For example, earlier this week I got a call from a reporter at ABC who wanted to talk about a story out of the UK about someone who transitioned from M2F and ultimately transitioned back.  That's certainly their right.  What made news was this person's assertion that they had been coerced to transition by doctors and therapists.  Furthermore, she asserted that transsexuals were "delusional" and needed to be stopped, surgeries needed to be banned.

The reporter and I had a good conversation but one of the things about media is that, despite the best of intentions, the ultimate goal is to attract readers.  How?  Sensational titles.  Editing the interview in a way that focuses on extremes.  As frustrating as that can be sometimes that's just the way it is.  So, when you do what you think is a good interview and the end result is very disappointing you can't get too bummed.

All that said - the interview appeared on yesterday morning (read it here).  From the title to the photos to the general slant of the story - fairly typically sensational.  But it is what it is and I'm hopeful that the ultimate message is a positive one, not a freakish one.

Late last week I got a call from the editor of MetroWeekly, a very nice magazine in Washington DC, about doing an interview and a photo shoot.  I went to DC on Friday and we did it - they're a really good group of people and I had a very pleasant afternoon.  They asked some good questions and we took a bunch of photos.  Anyway, the end result came out today. (read it here)

I don't think I've never been on a cover before.  Anyway - it's a nice contrast to the sensational stuff.  I'm glad they let me do my own hair and makeup because when other people do it I never look like myself.  For better or for worse - this is pretty much how I look on any given day.  It's the best I could do after driving the couple of hours from Harrisburg to DC, walking a few blocks to their building, changing in a small bathroom, and trying to smile.....

There are a number of things coming up as well.  I suppose doing press is simply part of the job now and I'm no stranger to it but it's nice when things come out well.

Back to living here in the hotel for a minute.  It reminds me a little of living in a dorm room.  Doing my laundry costs $3.00 in quarters.  They provide breakfast.  The room itself is fine.  I've become something of a minimalist in recent years so I don't need too much.

Last night at the talk about Health Care one woman there said something to the effect that I'm technically "Disabled" because I'm trans.  I told her that I'm not.  She told me that I am.  I adamantly refuse to accept that label for myself and in no way perceive my life situation to be disabling in any way.  Challenging?  Yes.  But disabled?  No friggin' way.  I have no problem with others who believe differently or who play the system because they can but that's not a path I'm going down...

Time to get on with the day!


Caroline said...

The world certainly tries to disable us in many ways but as you say, challenging.

Caroline xxx

JennyC said...

I was talking with a "friend" of mine who is disabled (or at least is collecting disability pay). I was upset about the fact I had been unable to find a job after being unemployed for over 2-1/2 years. She said I shoudl file for disability. I was shocked! Why, I said, I am not disabled! I can work! She replied, Your 'gender thing' ought to be enough grounds to file. I said I may be a lot of things but disabled is NOT one of them! Unbelievable!

FYI: Today, I am employed, working 2 part-time jobs; 1 at min. wage up to 30 hrs/wk, the other w/better pay but only 5-7 hrs/week. I am also going to college full-time to get my B.A. degree. Oh, and my one job is on campus in the Tech Center at the Disability Services Office! The students that come in there for our services really ARE disabled.

Barbara said...

I've had people tell me that I have a birth defect because I'm trans, I tell them I'm not defective, I'm just different. Many interviews try to help people understand about who we are but in order to "sell" newspapes, the headlines become sensational. That's not always good. We just have to keep on trying.

Anonymous said...

Donna, you look amazing in the cover!

What Charles think about transition and therapists may apply to him ONLY. If he failed to realize that the big decisions were his alone he should not blame anyone for it. Generalizing from one anecdotal case is what the media (and people that have no clue about what statistics and studies are about) do

I like the "disability" thing that some stick to transgender persons; ... So if I am "disabled" then it is their time to explain to me Why should I be punished by being born with a "disability"? (Do we punish and exclude other disabled people from society?)
Would they explain to me how my "disability" affect my ability to do whatever I would like to do? (and there may be other questions I'm not aware of)
Now THEY have to do the explaining

Anonymous said...

I love the interview. As for disability, not a chance. I'm working with children and no problems there. I even work with some children who are special needs and they don't strike me with anything special as they feel they are just like everyone else. It is society who brands people that way. Yes, some do need a little more attencion but who doesn't? I have been working for 7 years as a school bus driver and it has been about 10 years of transitioning. I'm still learning. Like you, I'm proud of who I am and I will not deny my life.
I posted your interview on facebook as I find it very interesting and you put what I think in very good terms. I only wish that I could do the same.

Sheila Coats