How much of this actually makes the papers is unknown at this point but here is the uncut interview with Rebekah Curtis:Yesterday I was asked to do an interview for the charity arm of Reuters in London. It turns out that our Transgender Day of Remembrance observance here has importance on a global scale - and so we make history in Riverside...Here's the obligatory plug for the event: Come out on Nov 20th at 2 PM to First Congregational Church, Riverside 3504 Mission Inn (at Lemon) in historic Downtown Riverside, 92501 and be a part of this!Dear Eva-Genevieve!I am a journalist at the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London (the charity arm of Reuters, where gender rights are among our key focuses), and am currently writing some articles about transgender rights ahead of the upcoming Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.I am interested in speaking to people in various countries about their experiences of transgender rights and given your involvement in remembrance day – as seen on www.transgenderdor.org – I thought it would be of really great value to interview you about this topic.In case you would be happy to do this, I have included the questions below so that you can email the answers back.It’d be great if this is indeed possible, and I very much look forward to hearing from you,Many thanks and kind regards,Rebekah
Could you tell me a little of what spurred you to get involved in the day of remembrance, and if possible your full name/occupation/age?
I'm Eva-Genevieve! Scarborough, I legally changed my name in March 2010 from Evan Kent Scarborough and there is a bit of a story just in the name I chose and if you don’t mind I would like to share that too. I loved the name my parents gave me and wanted to choose a name that would, at least in my own opinion, still sound a bit distinguished and that would honor the name originally given to me. Eva was simple, just drop the “n” and keep the pronunciation the same, though this made it sound more French than before. So I wanted to find a name that flowed well from Eva. There was nothing to be done for Kent – I toyed with Kendra but that just did not fit me at all. After a lot of thought I came across the name Genevieve in a book I was reading. The “Gene” part comes from Genesis – God’s creative work and the ”vieve” part refers to God breathing life into His creation, like the “vive” in revive. Since I am a Christian – more solidly since transition than before even – this was perfect for me and it fits real well if said with French sounding pronunciation. I add the exclamation point because it is my way of thanking God for this amazing second chance at life every time I write my name.
I’m 56, presently I am disabled. I came out as trans and started living full time as a woman in July of 2006. Previously I was a Printed Circuit Board Design Engineer (30+ years in the industry), and I even had my own business for a while but that ended in a hard crash as a result of the 9-11-2001 event here in the States. For independent contract designers like me the resulting changes in the Aerospace, Military and prototype design industry were so severe that all the work in the area I lived in dried up completely over the next year or so and as the nation became paranoid and ultra-security-conscious I was unable to break back into the workplace. Transitioning a few years later seems to have put the kibosh on my ever getting back into it even part-time. So now I am an activist of sorts, as I am able, regarding Transgender, LGB and Human Rights in general and I am a Lay Preacher – occasionally preaching at a small independent Christian Church in Riverside CA called Safe Haven. I believe strongly that the Gospel of Christ does have a deep and abiding application to all people who have been rejected by families, churches and even society as a whole simply because they have dared to stand up and be counted as their true selves.
I deeply resent the vile and hurtful rhetoric that American Fundamentals and Evangelicals and a few others in the world have used for way to long here to crush the spirits of all who are seen as “different” somehow – to paraphrase Jesus, by their traditions they make the laws of God out to have no effect. Having been saved in a Fundamentalist Church back in May of 1980 and still believing that I am saved because of my faith in Christ I absolutely know that it is wrong, discriminatory doctrine to reject LGBT folks and I do all I can to heal such wounds in others and share the love and compassion of God for those He has lovingly created. God doesn’t make mistakes and He/She doesn’t reject people created with certain needs, desires or mixes of attributes.
I host a blog called “Living Transgender in American Society Today” http://livingtransgender.blogspot.com in which I address some of these issues and you are welcome to take a look at it and even use parts of it if it suits your article.
Finally to the question of why I am involved in TDOR. There are several reasons and the biggest is awareness. Society needs to be made aware that atrocities such as the murder of trans folks are still happening all around the world and they need to be so offended by this that they get involved and help stop it. I think it is important for trans-folks who have been murdered to be remembered as people too and not just as statistics. Why should these wonderful, colorful and unique folks along with their unnaturally shortened lives be swept away and forgotten when they only thing they did was to tell the world “look – this is who I am” or because they made some other people uncomfortable.
Every human on the planet deserves this much dignity! To be known and remembered as God’s children is a right of all humans in my book, even if we appear to be an inconvenience to those people who refuse to accept the diversity of creation as a good thing. To be known and accepted just as one has been created by God (or the Universe if one prefers not to invoke God) is foundational to a sense of well-being and good self-esteem, not to mention foundational to the well-being of society. Too long have people had to mold themselves into something and someone they are not just to fit some arbitrary or traditional behavior or appearance, and it isn’t just trans-folks. I think that if people learn of the plight of trans-folks they can begin to accept the broader spectrum of humanity and make the world a better place for all humans.
I also think that TDOR observances are a time for us who are trans-identified, who remain alive and have the chance to be out in our communities and who have found happiness as their true selves to reflect on and be grateful for those who have gone before us. Some people tell me that they don’t observe TDOR because it is too morbid, but I see it as an opportunity to move forward, to build on the foundations left by others who tried to live free and were killed in the process. We do have to be careful but we must not be driven back into hiding because of the risks. I look forward to the day that no one has to hide or be killed, or bullied or teased or rejected simply for being the person they believe themselves to be!
Personally I never like to be just a spectator at events so I have volunteered at TDOR events in the past – in Los Angeles in 2009 and in San Luis Obispo, CA last year (there are photos on my blog). There has not been a public TDOR Event in Riverside before and so I thought it was about time someone organized one here outside of the small, private events at the Local University here in Town (U of California, Riverside). My Church is very supportive of LGBT folks and I have a lot of community connections from being very involved in stuff, so it seems that I am the one to try and pull this together. I’m working with people from the local University and lots of other groups on this event and I am hoping it gets a lot of attention.
What more needs to be done in the field of transgender rights in your country/the world?
One word: lots.
It is sad that the United States used to be a world leader in human rights and civil rights but we have lost that edge to many others – places like Argentina are very progressive when it comes to transgender rights and I think places like Brazil and Thailand are too – they all still have other problems but transgender folks seem to be much more accepted, and even Cuba now has health care that covers transgender SRS surgery – from what I have read the surgery is free. Canada has a good health care system that provides for transgender people too. Here we seem to be having a resurgence of very closed-minded views of humanity and the ultra-religious fanatics seem to have the biggest voice these days in the fight against acceptance of all humans as equals and our Health care system is still really closed to and ignorant of trans issues unless one has lots of money. Our Medicare system certainly is not supportive.
I can’t really speak about the world situation beyond the impressions I get from the news media but here in the States I think it comes down to a need for people to be taught that all humans need to be accepted and allowed to mature without being pressed into someone else’s mold.
Beyond that I think it is kind of up to the transgender folks themselves to make a difference. So many stay hidden and I would like to find a way to encourage them to take a stand and take the chance and just come out anyway.
I have had much success by being bold and just acting like I belong where ever I happen to be at any given time. Once I realized and accepted who I am, and that took me until I was 50, I came out and stayed out and have found great acceptance. Though I do experience some harassment from time to time I spent far too long hiding my feelings and stuffing the best parts of myself down and I now simply refuse to do that anymore for anyone. Life is just too short to stay hidden and miserable! I know that there are many who just can’t do what I have done but I keep hoping there will be more because only when trans-folks are regularly seen being involved in every-day life just like everyone else will there be wide spread acceptance.
What message do you hope for people to take from the day of remembrance?
Hope and a sense of belonging to a community that is learning to accept people as they are, a community that needs all of our participation in order to be whole and mature. I hope to show the local trans-folks that there is a lot of support and acceptance already at hand. I am lining up lots of local Clergy, Care-Givers, other community leaders and business people who will come out to our event just to be seen as supporters of the transgender community – so far I am getting a lot of positive responses.
I also hope to get the message across that we all need to stand together and work for changes while we support each other in all of our diversity. The time for dividing down lines of difference is past and it is time to group together by our similarities. This isn’t, at least as I envision it, just about murdered trans-folks but it is about all people who have been killed, bullied, hurt, harassed, etc. for simply living their own lives.
What positive changes have you already seen in your country’s/the world’s stance on transgender rights?
This Nations youth are amazing – all across the country in High Schools and Colleges there are groups usually called Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) or Pride associations and there is a national network of these groups that are working for acceptance of all LGBT people and there is a lot of success. I gain a lot of hope from the young trans-folks I meet. I hope I am alive when these young people are taking the lead in our society.
Also there are a lot of on-line and face-to-face support groups and discussion groups where people find the courage to accept themselves. Thank God for the Internet and the ability to communicate with others.
We have a couple of “mainstream” Church denominations in this Country that are very progressive and work towards acceptance of all people too, and others seem to be coming around slowly. I believe it is the responsibility of the faith community to reach out to all people and make them feel wanted and welcome.
Several States, Cities, Universities and large companies have recently adopted anti-discrimination laws that include gender identity and here in California our Governor just signed 3 bills that have a positive impact on trans-folks. There is progress on a lot of fronts but there is also a lot of resistance so we have a long way to go until we are simply accepted as just plain folks.
Please feel free to add any further comments.
I just want to thank you for the opportunity to be heard. May you and your readers be very blessed.