I am writing to voice my disappointment with Bob Geary's treatment of me in the Independent ("Ordinary people," cover story, June 27). It was a disservice to myself not to have written sooner, but I found strength in Rachel Roberts' response (Back Talk, July 4). I thank her. Considering that so much misinformation and prejudice surrounds our community, regarding an issue so deeply personal, her letter was necessary.
There are a number of factual errors in my account: I did not start taking testosterone in November of last year, and I have been a UNC student since the fall of 2005, not 2006. The "church-sponsored work camp" was instead a volunteer mission, funded by Vanderbilt University, serving GLBTQ youth in Minneapolis. My father did not "finally" come around to acceptance; rather, although we have had a strained relationship in the past, he immediately reacted with kindness and love. Considering how arduous and dangerous a process coming out to family can be, and how revealing this is of his humility and humanity, I must defend him. I was not bisexual in adolescence. I didn't admit any sort of sexuality at all, to myself or to anyone else, until after I came to college.
I am somewhat stunned that so much of the treatment of me revolves around sexuality, and not gender, but sex will always sell, I suppose. Also, I would like to impress upon anyone reading this how deeply, deeply personal the subject of gender performance is, especially for a trans person. It is difficult for me to talk about, and takes my breath away, but to have mine impugned, and in such a public manner, is insulting in the highest degree.
Geary's tone in his treatment of me is one of clear condescension and, if not mockery, amusement at my expense: I am not "very funny" when I attempt to educate others on the subject of my transition, and I suspect that it would not profit a Ph.D. student to forget, at any time, that success requires hard work.
The implication that I buy into—no, relish—the disparities between the sexes, and take advantage of them now, is not only a misrepresentation of me, but is also violently wounding to an outsider's perspective of the relationship between most transmen and feminism. It is certainly not in my interests for me to degrade anyone on account of gender.
I am not as flippant concerning my transition as Geary portrays me to be; believe me, I am profoundly aware of the gravity of the situation. It is not something I "decided on nine months ago."
The end of the article is a series of misquotations and misinterpretations of the things I said; let it suffice to say here that I would not have given the interview, knowing what I know now to be the end result. I certainly was not asked for feedback.
I do hope that the article encouraged those in the Triangle to venture out and educate themselves on this issue—and if they did so, it was a success, provided that the information they came across was more substantial than what was written here. I do not mean to sound angry—only frustrated, disappointed and violated.
(Editor's note: The length limit was waived.)
Credit housing authority
I'm writing in response to your Q&A with the Rev. Melvin Whitley ("Fighting for A New East Durham," by Mike Alberti, July 4). The Rev. Whitley's leadership is most valuable in the rebirth of the North East Central Durham neighborhood and we certainly hope that he wears with pride the label he's given himself—"squeaky wheel."
I'm writing to correct your reporter, whose piece begins, "In spite of the City of Durham's ambitious HOPE VI project...." Alberti, like many in the area and especially in the media, has confused the Durham Housing Authority with the housing department for the City of Durham, which deals with planning, code enforcement and development (hence the confusion). It is DHA, in fact, that was the recipient of the HOPE VI (Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere) grant and is about to "go vertical" on the former Few Gardens site. The sweet smell of freshly turned dirt permeates the neighborhood, and we are all very excited to watch the new homes finally go in near Eastway Elementary School.
As proud as we are to have the city's blessing, it is the Housing Authority that is leading, funding and managing this important revitalization project. We welcome the Independent's reporting on this great thing that's happening on Durham's east side and will be proud indeed if the HOPE VI development serves as a hub for a more widespread improvement.
The Rev. Whitley is exactly right on that point: The area surrounding the 96 blocks of HOPE VI urgently needs the city's attention. Economic opportunity and sustainable commercial development is absolutely vital to the success of the new housing plan and the stability of the entire neighborhood.
Jean Bolduc, Director of Corporate Communications
Durham Housing Authority