|"Flying Trannys" Bike Across Canada|
|Living - Society|
|TS-Si News Service|
|Friday, 21 April 2006 07:27|
Three Transgendered People Trek To Raise Awareness About Issues & Suicide.
No, it's not the plot of a new movie - although, Keenan Pinder admits it's not a bad idea. The Victoria social activist and transgendered person is one of the "Flying Trannys" making the trek to raise awareness about transgendered issues and suicide.
It's hard not to make comparisons to the recent movie Transamerica, in which Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives fame, portrays a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual. Pinder said the movie went a long way in spreading awareness about transgendered issues.
"Transgendered" is an umbrella term used by the bikers to describe individuals whose identity does not match the gender they were born with.
Pinder, born female, said up until age four he felt and acted like a boy, but started to realize something was different.
Things didn't really get complicated until he hit puberty, developed breasts and started menstruating.
While Pinder eventually opted for surgery, not all transgendered people do. People who have flipped the physical switch are generally called "transsexual."
Pinder, who was born in England, but moved to Calgary at age eight, said not a lot of information or support was available to him growing up.
"I didn't have anyone to talk to," he said. "I was very suicidal."
Depression and suicide is not uncommon. In fact, the journey across Canada was born from discussions on how to celebrate the life of Alexandria Tucker, a transwoman who was born in St. John's, Newfoundland and died in Victoria last year after committing suicide.
"Alex was larger than life," Pinder said. "So we wanted to do something that would get people's attention."
Pinder described Tucker as really outgoing.
"She drew people to her."
He suspected her depression stemmed from her time spent in a Montana men's state prison. Although Tucker (who was in the process of a sex change) had breasts, her request to be placed in a women's institute was denied.
There are counselling services for transgendered people in Vancouver, but Pinder said they're not adequate.
"There's one counsellor that's completely overworked."
Pinder said transwomen and transmen have many of the same issues, such as when do you tell people you're transgendered?
Pinder said most people don't suspect he was born female. But that doesn't make dating easier. He said he's very upfront about his gender identity.
"I definitely mention it," he said. "And I date mostly queer women. They already have a sensitivity to it."
One issue that's unanimous within the community is the need to change Canada's Human Rights Code. Pinder said the code protects people based on sex and sexual orientation, but not gender or gender identity.
For reference, "sex" refers to biological differences and "gender" describes the characteristics a society circumscribes as masculine or feminine.
Discrimination can take many forms. Before the surgery, Pinder said, he was often targeted for violence.
He hopes the bike ride across Canada will act as a catalyst for change.
The Trans Cycling Odyssey will start in Victoria May 1. The riders will stop at cities across the country, giving talks to locals and raising money. Half of the money raised will be used to support their ride and the other half will be put into a scholarship fund created in Tucker's name.
For more information about the ride or to sponsor their efforts visit their website, Flying Trannys.
|Last Updated on Monday, 27 August 2007 18:21|