Help My Friend Tati Out!

This is my friend Tati.

My friend Tati Urzedowski suffers from gender dysphoria. For him, this means he feels a strong disconnect and sometimes an outright rejection of his body. I have empathy for him because I am genderqueer and understand the hardships of feeling that your body does not fit your gender identity.

About four years ago, Tati realized that he did not quite fit in the gender he was assigned. A year later, he came out as transgender or genderqueer. From that, point on he went through a change in his self-perception and self-worth. He began to live openly among friends as transgender. This year, he expanded his openness about his gender identity/expression and the response from his friends and family has been supportive and accepting.

Realizing I was transgender was by and large a liberating experience for me – Tati

Even with the support and acceptance from Tati’s friends and family, he still suffers from gender dysphoria, depression, and disconnect from his body. He identifies as agender and prefers the gender pronouns he, him, and his. He desires to present himself as masculine, and building muscle mass and practicing postures and behaviors that are more masculine. However, this does nothing to reduce his chest.

There is a distinct challenge getting my identity to be respected and being misgendered can, depending on my mood, completely ruin my day. But it’s a challenge I’m willing to tackle in order for myself and people like me to live their lives freely. – Tati

Tati recently lost his job, and insurance will not cover his gender-affirming surgery. It will cost him over $6,000. He currently uses binders to keep his chest flat. This can cause permanent harm to his body. He is already feeling some negative effects such as more sensitivity and he is more prone to strains and cramps. Because his body does not match his gender identity insecurities are taking a toll on his self-esteem and causing depression.

Frankly, when I look down, I feel like my chest is not my own at all. (…) I want to finally be confident in my own skin and take that stress off my mind. – Tati

I am asking all of you to please visit (set up by his friend Ashley) and donate to Tati’s fund so that he can get the medically necessary gender-affirming chest surgery.

Click here: Help Tati Out! 

Click here: Help Tati Out! 


What Next!?

It has been several weeks since I received the new kidney and a couple weeks since I had the Peritoneal Dialysis Catheter removed. I lately have been having a difficult time. It is hard to explain for me. But, my life begins a new, because I am no longer sick from the kidney failure and I am not needing to do dialysis every night with the PD cycler. I still have many great responsibilities with my post-transplant care from doing my vitals every day to going to the hospital twice a week for labs to making sure my immune-suppressants (anti-rejection) are taken at the right times, and finally, to dealing with all of the side effects from these medications.

This does not even come close to covering everything that has been going on. In addition, I am struggling with where I go next. I mean from November 22, 2010 I started this journey to kidney transplantation.  From that moment on I was only figuring out how to survive not really living but just struggling to survive. I had to fight to get medical coverage again because that year I turned 19 years old and Nebraska Medicaid dropped me.  I knew that the Affordable Care Act had passed and that would prevent some of the discrimination I would face of having a pre-exciting condition. But, I had no income to buy insurance and I could not work because of the side effects of End Stage Renal Failure.  Thus, I did a lot of research into what happens now that the Affordable Care Act had passed and how I could get back on Medicaid because I knew that since I was not living at home and my family was not providing any food or shelter for me that I should not be considered a dependent. Thus, I finally figured out that I could file for disability and get on Medicare. I did that and won the case and soon got a Nephrologist just a couple months before I had to start dialysis.

Then once, I finally had insurance, a lot came at me at once. I was getting sick all the time. I was on hemodialysis which made me sick too because the doctors were not experienced in Cystinosis and would not listen to me when I told that they my kidneys were still taking fluid off of my blood so do not take more than 1 kg off my blood. Most days they would not listen to me and they would dehydrate me almost every time I did dialysis which messed up my body. I now have this heart issue that seems to not get better that causes my pulse to run high when I am even at rest.

During this time I did not have much family support. I really only relied on myself to get everything done. Which made things more difficult but I became more and more resilient to all of the obstacles I was facing. Then I did a lot of work to try to get a kidney transplant and went through the UNMC Lied Transplant Center which did not work out.

Finally, I move to Council Bluffs, Iowa to work for President Barack Obama on his re-election campaign and started the search again for a kidney donor and to get on the transplant list at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, where I finally was accepted and placed on their list.  And as you all know this year on May 30th I finally received the kidney and am living again.

So, here I am. Now, where do I go? What is next? What should I do?

I don’t remember what it is to just live without there being a struggle. But, I guess I am still struggling to live openly and fulling. I guess that would be because I am still unable to work and make a living because if I do get a job or a good one that is, I will lose some if not all of my medical insurance and right now there really isn’t many insurances that will cover everything I need. Because for instance my medications alone in a month cost over $3,000.  I would love to go back to school t0 finish getting a degree in Political Science and Psychology but there again is another struggle because Iowa Western Community College did not want to give me a medical incomplete when I started the hemodialysis and instead gave me an F so I lost my pell grant and cannot afford to pay that off. Not to mention the problems I had with trying to live on campus. They did not wish to let me because of my gender status of being in between genders.

Again, here I am, where do I go? What is next? What should I do?

I really don’t know how to answer those questions. I have many conflicting feelings and thoughts about what to do now. I know my physical life is much better and now I am not just surviving I am living again. I will soon be able to do many of the things I could not do and had to give up for the past 3 years. Such as, taking a bath, swimming, lifting more than 20 lbs, I can travel without tubes or dialysis.

I realize that this is a new beginning. But again, where do I start, what do I do?

Thank you for listening to my troubles. I know that there are many others in other parts of the world that don’t have these troubles. But you know,  I feel that after all the struggles I have been through, from growing up being taught that you are one gender when you really aren’t to being  so liberal minded, from not having a home, not having family support. I believe I deserve to be able to just live and not have to worry about these things that I have had to face before I was even out of high school.

Well, here I go. With the help of the support I do have now, I will move Forward!

(Sorry no pictures this time)

Ignorant and Discriminatory Occupy Omaha

I would like to take a moment to go further into the whole Occupy Omaha issue.

I first started attending Occupy Omaha meetings and protests back in Sept of 2011. I went to two General Assemblies and one protest. I then left Occupy Omaha for about a month because of something that happened at a Occupy Omaha protest.

This protest took place at Turner Park in Omaha where I was standing there with my We are a Part of the 99% in rainbow showing that Queers are part of this. Well, at this same protest was this Ron Paul freak with megaphone yelling Ron Paul shit. I did not agree with this asshole so I stood away from him and then he asked me why I kept moving away from him. I told him well you do not represent my political opinions. I do not support Ron Paul. Then this asshole started verbally attacking me and telling me that LGBTQ issues have no place in Occupy Omaha. I got so mad at this asshole that I went to leave and while I stood there yelling at this asshole others around me weren’t really standing up for me even though several of them were part of the LGBTQ community themselves. So like I said I left. I refused to be part of Occupy for a month.

In addition, to that I was part of an online community of Occupy Omaha and I would post things about all sorts of things involving Occupy and Occupy Queer Affinity groups. I also happened to be a founding member of this online Occupy Omaha group and suddenly my posts were being removed by another admin and then I was removed from being an admin and soon even removed from the page. This only reinforced my anger toward Occupy Omaha.

But, my friend Ken was involved in Occupy Omaha so I started to attend again and this was about a month or so later though. I started to talk to people about these issues and many within the group were pissed and they wanted to be sure I felt comfortable there and that I know they support Queers and that many of them are Queer themselves  So things started to turn around. Then Forward Equality wanted to support them and Forward Equality is the organization I started and work for. We would have to be sure they took steps to ensure that there would be no discrimination  harassment, or bullying of LGBTQ people or anyone at their meetings and that they would have to have a safe space for everyone. Therefore, I wrote up a nondiscrimination and worked within the group to form coalitions with individuals to support this nondiscrimination clause. There was some people that were against the idea of having a clause telling people how to act but they said they would not vote against it or block it from passing.

Nevertheless, Ken made the actual proposal and there was some discussion and then the clause passed at a General Assembly meeting in January of 2012. This was big news because it was just before the Omaha City Council voted on and passed an nondiscrimination ordinance.  Forward Equality then supported Occupy Omaha. Occupy Omaha published that passage of this nondiscrimination clause and published it on their newsletters, website, and facebook page.

Then in February or March it was time to pass a anti-bullying and anti-harassment statement to further explain Occupy Omaha’s stance and opposition to bullying and harassment. There were many instances of individuals bullying and harassing members of Occupy Omaha. This was happening on their facebook page and sometimes at events. This policy also passed by the General Assembly.

Nevertheless, Steve and Dshawn would not follow the policies set forth by the General Assembly and they would harass and bully members of Occupy Omaha if they did not agree with their personal beliefs. Steve would sexually harass me using facebook and he even at one time decided to ask me out. Steve is in his upper 40’s and I am 21. I told him no. I told him he is creepy and should leave me alone. I also explained to him my gender thinking that would help get him to leave me alone. Ever since that conversation he would harass me and bully.

Membership would drop and recently about two to three months ago Dshawn and Steve decided to remove the nondiscrimination clause and the anti-bullying and anti-harassment statement. This is when I decided I could no longer support Occupy Omaha at all. After they did that they decided that Occupy Omaha’s direction will go wherever they want it to go and so they are no protesting President Obama. Therefore, I am recommending tonight that Forward Equality Board of Directors rescind their support of Occupy Omaha and I encourage all organizations, business, and individuals to rescind their support of Occupy Omaha.

This is all in addition, to what I recently blogged about. You know, how I was banned from posting or commenting on their page because I said something calling out Steve for once again attacking me on their facebook page.

Queer Goes to the NIH!!

Me in the hospital because of getting really sick with my good friend Nancy!!

Today I will be leaving for Bethesda, Maryland to go to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I am going to the NIH because I am in a clinical research trial for my Cystinosis. We are working on a cure and better treatment for Cystinosis. I will be at the NIH through Wednesday October 17. While there, I will have almost a full work up. I will have some bloodwork, Echocardiogram, Pulmonary Function Test, Ultrasound of my kidneys, Dental exam, EKG, and Eye checkup. On the last day of the visit, I will meet with Dr. William A. Gahl and his research team.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

I have been seeing Dr. Gahl from since I can remember. I have basically grown up at the NIH. Some of their nurses have taken care of me from when I was a binky baby to now being a 21-year-old person. So many memories there. Some of them are some really awesome memories and some of them are not so much. See the last time I was there I got the news that I would need to get a kidney transplant and this year I am worried what I will hear. Nevertheless, I know that there must be something negative because I am in the final stage of Cystinosis but yes, it is the longest stage depending on how well your medical team and support teams are and how compliant you are as a patient.

University of Iowa Medical Center

Well, I have been a compliant patient but there was a period that I did not have insurance to cover my medications and so I did not get the medications that I need for almost a year that would help prevent the illness getting worse. Now, I could have had my kidney transplant a year ago but I face discrimination based on my gender identity at the UNMC Transplant Center in Nebraska. Therefore, I am now working to try to get the transplant done this winter at the University of Iowa Medical Center.

So anyways, I happen to be very nervous for this trip that I am actually having an anxiety attack worrying about that will happen while I am there and if they will tell me some really bad news. So please everyone please keep me in your prayers, thoughts, and send me some positive energy. Thank you so much!

Voting while Genderqueer in Iowa

My last blog was about trying to vote in Iowa and this is the second part to that story.

Ok so this week Diane and I went to the County Auditor’s office to find out what is going on with the letter I got telling me that I need to bring in an Iowa state issued photo ID or passport and if I don’t have those that I would need to bring in two letters proving my address. Well we get there and show them the letter and the women who looked at said that she didn’t think this would have come from that office because she doesn’t recognize it. Then they pull up me on the computer to see what the problem was and they immediately go straight to the gender thing and say well no wonder my daughter has that problem too and her name is Mickyla. Therefore, Diane and I clear that up and say that I am still a male legally that is. Then she does some typing the computer and tells us, “no wonder your social security number is wrong.” And that we must of wrote it wrong when we filled out the forms. Then they ask for my social security card and ID to take photocopies of them and the letters so that they can get it all fixed and they told me that I could now mail in my ballot when I feel like it and my vote will be counted. Nevertheless, we will have no proof that everything is fixed and that they will actually count my ballot.

It is some of our beliefs that the Republicans are trying to contest people’s voter status to maybe win the state since it looks like it will go for Obama this year.  There are many reasons for this and the first is that when I first talked to the County Auditor’s office they again immediately went to the whole gender thing being wrong not that the actual social security number being wrong. Then I get the letter that looks like it could be a fake and then when I go to the office they again go straight to the gender thing and then finally state the actual social security number is wrong instead. Overall it kind of felt like they were covering up for someone.

This really makes me wonder how many genderqueer, transgender, Latino, poor, and elderly people are going throw this same thing in the state of Iowa and in other states that the Republicans are scared of losing.

Here’s the letter from the County Auditor’s office:

Now if you look at this letter they do not give a reason why they need this information. Please note that it also says, “If you have any questions, please call the auditor’s office at…..” THERE IS NO NUMBER!!

In addition, please explain to me why the are fucking sending out ballots to people with social security numbers that do not mater the name of the person!!