Room Situation – Pride Month Testimonial

During the 2017 build season I came out to my team as transgender. The team was fine with it, extremely supportive even. The mentors, not so much. They didn’t say much about it, or acknowledge it even. I suppose worse could have happened. All was well until time came for an away regional. They were intending to put me in a boys room, and I of course was very very uncomfortable and unhappy about this. Luckily, I have fantastic friends that stood up for me and got them to change their minds about it. They ended up putting me in my own room alone and away from everyone else. This was preferable to a guys room, though I was still pretty unhappy with my situation because I was away from my friends. At this point, however, I was willing to take anything that wasn’t a boys room.

When the time came for competition, they again asked me if I wanted a boys room, it seemed as if they were pushing me towards going in to one. I refused of course, and the mentor who asked me seemed grumpy about it. At that moment I asked if there was absolutely no way I could stay in the girls room(my gender is female), and to this question, his response was :”No, of course not. Out of the question”. I was again upset by this, but I was grateful they didn’t force me into a boys room. What got me really pissed off was that the ‘girls’ room was comprised of one girl, one nonbinary person, and a trans guy. They put a boy in the girls room over me.  The guy in question didn’t want to fight them, and was more uncomfortable being in a guys room for understandable reasons, so he just decided to stay in the girls room.

The whole point of this story wasn’t just to share a negative experience, but I would not have gotten any accommodation had it not been for my friends who stood up for me and did what I was too timid to do for myself. Eventually, I was able to stand up for myself, but this was after my friends had supported me. I guess what I am saying is, if your mentors are refusing to yield, don’t back down from them. The only way you can get what you want is by fighting for your rights.

– Julia

Inclusion in FIRST

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On May 20, 2017, STORM Robotics hosted its first annual FIRST Compass, an event where teams can give or watch presentations about different subjects in robotics. Representing LGBTQ+ of FIRST, Jaye and Sean presented this slide show to help teams in the MAR region and MAR itself learn how to be more inclusive to LGBTQ+ FIRST participants.

Since numerous teams seemed interested, LGBTQ+ of FIRST is sharing this presentation for all FIRSTers, especially those outside the MAR region and those who missed the event.

Every LGBTQ+ students deserves a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Anon – Texas Bathroom Bill

anonymous asked:

I was wondering if LGBTQ+ FIRST has given any thought to Texas passing a bathroom bill, and how that would impact trans FIRST students, especially with South Champs being hosted in Houston, Texas. Is this something that should be protested?

Hey sorry for letting this ask sit for so long, but we had to think and work on this since it’s such a complicated issue. We are contacting FIRST about the issue and asking for support. Although these types of laws affect a lot of people, businesses and organizations can choose whether or not it applies to them. FIRST, in its nondiscrimination policy, directly references gender identity and sexual orientation so we anticipate support.

-Sean 5113

20TH OF MARCH 2017

Being Trans in a Christian School

I attend a private Christian school in a fairly conservative part of the Midwest, but I decided at the beginning of the school year that I was tired of being closeted. I came out at school as transgender, and teachers and classmates began using preferred name and pronouns. I didn’t come in with a list of demands, but instead respected the boundaries and reservations of those around me in hopes that they would respect me in return. Early in the year, I got to choose the name for my diploma, graduation, and the yearbook. Or so I thought. In late January, my principal informed me that there are had been parent complaints and the school board was reevaluating my situation and the potential harm to my school. Understandably upset, I wrote a letter to the school board explaining my situation. I talked about how I had no desire to be a pioneer, but merely wanted to live authentically in my final year of high school. I stated my goals for transition, which are “to remain calm in the face of opposition and ignorance, educate people on transgender issues to hopefully prevent discrimination based on lack of knowledge, and when people come after me for who I am, to stand up with pride.” I discussed how the response I’d received had been positive as my teachers, peers and mentors have accepted me and respect my journey to self acceptance. I also expressed my hurt at their concerns about the potential harms to my school and asked them to reconsider their decision, as I wished to finish off the last few months of my senior year as smoothly as possible.

The school board met with my parents who shared my letter, but the results were less than I’d hoped for. The yearbook will read how I want it to, but all graduation related information will be under my birth name. It is completely legal for my school to do this because it’s a private institution, but it’s still disheartening and frustrating. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been questioning whether I really have a place in the school that I’ve attended for the last fifteen years. I’ve been reflecting, and the most influential lesson I’ve taken away from the last six weeks is that the negative reactions do not take away from the positive ones.

I had low expectations when coming out, fully believing that my teachers or peers would push back against me. Much to my surprise, however, it went smoothly. The people in my life who really matter have embraced me. I have been struggling  to accept that I have any place in my school, but I was too distracted by the conservative drama to realize that the positivity of my peers was proof that I belonged. This isn’t exclusive to me; I’ve known many people to become completely bogged down in the negative and forget all the good. This does nothing but hurt everyone involved. My friends, family and teachers have stood beside me and offered their support, so while this may be a low point in the early stages of my transition, it does not define my relationship with my school.

It’s hard to be different. There will always be people who fight back against your existence or life choices, and it will hurt. However, their uneducated opinion shouldn’t be what defines interaction with an entire community of people.

Being Trans at Comps

For a trans person, a robotics competition can be extremely nerve-wracking. FIRST doesn’t know much about being trans, you don’t know about room arrangements, it’s hot and stuffy, and you don’t have the opportunity to take off your binder, gaff, compression shorts, or any other items you wear. Not to mention the usual issues of passing and others’ tolerance. Combined with all of the non-trans anxiety involved in comps, it’s a lot to handle. This being my third season in FIRST, I have a few tips from experience.

During the day

  1. If you’re going to bind, do it with caution. Comps are longer than 8 hour days, and while I’d love it if we were all comfortable only binding part of the day, that’s not reasonable. Instead, take time to sneak away to a bathroom to loosen your binder for a moment. Make it a habit to sit up and cough, letting fluid out of your lungs. Make sure to take a lot of deep breaths. If it hurts- yes, you have to take it off. Maybe a large sweatshirt could be big enough to hide your chest, at least for a little while so you can take a break.
  2. Drink a lot of fluid. Binding is hot, tucking is hot, competitions are hot, sweatshirts are hot. You’re going to get dehydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and keep refilling it.
  3. For tucking, it’s gonna get really uncomfortable. Try taking as many possible bathroom breaks as possible, carry painkiller meds, and putting a body powder (like Gold Bond) between your thighs! And do not use duct tape! You’ll regret it. At the end of the day, be prepared to be uncomfortable and possibly (TMI) have a bit of a rash.
  4. If you have a problem with being misgendered, try to not be in a group of people that are all your birth sex. So trans guys, avoid being in all female groups, and trans girls, avoid being in all male groups. It’s unfortunate, but you can avoid a lot of being grouped as one of them if you make sure to usually be around at least one teammate of the same gender as you.

 

Hotel rooms

This topic is… difficult. Most teams are affiliated with a school, and, as such, it’s often difficult to be placed in the correct room for a lot of political reasons. As such, I’m going to be talking about ways to deal with having to be in the wrong gendered room.

  1. See if you can room with other LGBT+ teammates. Even if they aren’t trans, just having the support of rooming with someone in the community can make you feel better. Plus, it can be uncomfortable to some to room with someone whose gender they’re attracted to.
  2. Spread as much time as possible outside of the room. The room is only for sleeping, after all. Spend the rest of your time with other team members in an open area in the lobby until you absolutely have to be in the room.
  3. Arrange to sleep by yourself. At least for my team, we have to share beds. If I’m in a room of three, I arrange to sleep alone, or if I’m in a room of four, I’ll take the couch.
  4. Remember that you’re going to be in there for as little time as possible, and no one will think about it. This weekend is for robots, after all!

Good luck to all the trans kids out there. If anyone needs anything to talk to or needs more advice, I’m always available to DM on the Discord!
– Maddox 2197

LGBTQ+ Poetry

Hey y’all,

I’m a bit of a nerd *gasp* so this is a poem I wrote about dysphoria and gender queries. 

-Tristan 🌵

 

“Going Up in Flames”

A Photograph–

a snapshot

a moment frozen in time

a piece of my soul.

 

There’s a box in my closet,

filled with pictures of the person I used to be.

The life and times of a ghost.

Jigsaw puzzle pieces,

forced together in ways that don’t fit–

A mismatch of stories,

spliced to form a never-ending reel:

a documentary of my life.

 

I keep my shadow locked away,

in hopes you’ll never see what was.

I ripped apart the stitches

that held us together,

because there is nothing but pain for me there.

Photographs–

keeping me shackled to the past

when I should be looking towards the future.

A constant game of

before and after,

and I can’t help but feel like I never measure up.

 

Photographs–

From the time that I was born,

my mother started making scrapbooks.

Page after page

of baby photos and memorabilia.

First days of school

and piano recitals,

little pink dresses

and frilly easter bonnets.

I should feel touched

that my mother spent so much of her time

trying to make me a time capsule,

but I wish it would stay buried.

I don’t want something to remember my childhood by.

The person I was then,

doesn’t even share a body

with the person I am now.

 

Photographs–

They’re something that should be cherished,

but I don’t even want to look at them.

They’re nothing but kindling

for a forest fire of questions

that I’m not ready for.

So I’m taking the initiative.

Bonfire at my place-

nostalgia not welcome.

LGBTQ+ of FTC and FLL

This is a stressful time of year for all of us. Seniors are applying and hearing back from schools, juniors are planning visits, midterms are around the corner, and it’s also build season. It’s really easy to get carried away with the stress and forget about the outside world. Even in the midst of the FRC build season, we still have to remember the FLL and FTC teams that are building and competing for their competitions. Being a safe space and resource for LGBTQ+ youth in FIRST, we want to include everyone, not just FRC members. Life is really stressful as an LGBTQ+ kid, especially with an extracurricular activity as stressful and time consuming as any FIRST organization.

To all my fellow LGBTQ+ FIRSTers out there, I love you, we love you, and your identity is valid, no matter how young you are. Whatever you feel is what is true of your experience. You may change your labels as you come upon ones that fit you better, and that’s okay. Finding your place in the LGBTQ+ community is confusing, but I promise you, it is worth it. As your classmates mature, the taunting will stop and you’ll feel safer, Even if high school is rough, the world is so much bigger than your small community. The world is big and amazing and full of so many opportunities and support for you. Don’t give up.

To the mentors and teachers, support your LGBTQ+ students, even if they are young. Puberty is a rough time for everyone, but especially for LGBTQ+ kids who are growing into an experience they weren’t prepared for. If a student comes out to you, support them. Lend them a shoulder if they need to cry, and build them up. Without support, almost 60% of LGBTQ+ people will attempt suicide, but if you give your students support, that high rate exponentially decreases.  

“Results suggested that a hostile school climate has serious ramifications for LGBT students but institutional supports can play a significant role in making schools safer for these students,” [x].

To everyone in FIRST, you can make a safer environment for LGBTQ+ youth. You can start a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) or Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) at your lower schools. You can practice using gender inclusive languages such as “hey, students” instead of “hello, boys and girls.” You can introduce yourself with you pronouns (ex: “Hi, I’m Sean and I use he/him pronouns”). Most importantly, you can be there your your students, because being there makes a huge difference.