Gen Con is here!

Well, almost, anyway. Figured I’d do a little something for Whiteboard Wednesday in honor of my favorite convention!

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Happy Birthday, Heather!

Heather is like family to me, and was one of the people who first believed in me as a novelist. A fan of my Road Ghosts Trilogy, she may have been written into the story. She’s the Queen of the Reigniacs, and reminds me of her own hero, Wonder Woman. Her actual birthday is on Friday, but she celebrates all month long, so hopefully this being a Whiteboard Wednesday isn’t too out of place. 

All Heather asks anyone do for her birthday is to pay it forward, do random acts of kindness. I have done so in my own quiet way, but I’m still celebrating her birthday by remembering her, and immortalizing her on the whiteboard.🙂

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Birthday greeting from “R.J.’s Angels”!

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Happy birthday to my author buddy R.J. Sullivan! How convenient for his birthday to fall on a Wednesday this year, giving me an excuse to do a Whiteboard Wednesday featuring his characters. Shown here are Fiona “Blue” Shaefer, the ghost of Maxine Marie, and paranormal investigator Rebecca Burton, celebrating the day together.

If you want to really wish R.J. a happy birthday, go check out his books and blogs at his website:

https://rjsullivanfiction.com/

If you’re familiar with his fiction already, why not go give him a review on Amazon?

http://www.amazon.com/R.-J.-Sullivan/e/B004TGPAB0

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LAUNCHED TODAY! Restless Spirit, another Tipsy Fairy Tale!

It’s here! If you pre-ordered the ebook, you should have it on your Kindle or Nook right now! You may also buy the paperback starting today. I will also be debuting the book in person at InConJunction science fiction convention here in Indianapolis Friday-Sunday July 1-3. I am SO proud of this book. If you didn’t know, it is the sequel to Blue Spirit, and it’s set here in Indianapolis, at Big Con, an (totally fictional) enormous geek/game convention. Plus there’s trolls and zombies and Machiavellian fairy folk in the mix. Plus Gonzo and Frannie from my Road Ghosts. And don’t forget the Wonder Booze.

Here is the official announcement from Seventh Star Press:

http://seventhstarpress.blogspot.com/2016/06/restless-spirit-latest-tipsy-fairy-tale.html

Restless Spirit Cover HQWhen Skye McLeod is asked by her pal Phil Jenson if she wants to cosplay at his game company’s booth during Big Con Weekend—and get paid for it—she jumps at the chance. Besides, Skye’s hit a rocky patch with her girlfriend Annabelle, who wants her to stop drinking and act more responsibly.

Then Skye gets a call from paranormal detective Rebecca Burton for another job; something big is going on at the convention, and she needs Skye to be her eyes and ears there. So now Skye’s getting paid to have fun—twice!

Then The Night Duke, a creep from Skye’s live role playing days, shows up and uses some weird mojo, seemingly turning pretend zombies into real ones. After barely escaping an attack, Skye learns the fairies and trolls within the magical realm are getting restless, and her old friend, the Transit King, is in the middle of it.

Skye decides to once again enlist the aid of her fairy companion “Minnie.” For Skye to enter the magic realm, she needs to get tipsy. Then she’ll just have to control the powers within her and contain the outside forces that threaten to spin into chaos. How can she possibly screw this up?

Book Two of the Tipsy Fairy Tales Trilogy

Restless Spirit Paperback on Amazon

Kindle version of Restless Spirit

Restless Spirit on Smashwords

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InConJunction 2016 here I come!

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As I have done for the past several years, I’ll be selling books and in panel discussions, along with Speculative Fiction Guild friends, John F. Allen, R.J. Sullivan, and Matthew Barron! We are joined this year by Maurice M. McKiernan. It will be an amazing time.

My latest Seventh Star Press book, Restless Spirit, a Tipsy Fairy Tale  will debut at InConjunction. If you liked my Blue Spirit, you will love this second book in the Tipsy Fairy Tales series!

Here’s  my schedule for InConJunction this year (July 1-3, 2016):

Event Day Starting Time Other Panelists
Shared, Mirrored, and Swapped Bodies Friday 8:00 PM Matthew Barron; E. Chris Garrison; Shannon Eichorn; Katina French; Ms Marian Allen
Geek Girls Unite! Reflections on Female Characters Saturday 5:00 PM TammyJo Eckhart; E. Chris Garrison; Katina French; Ms Marian Allen; Sara Deurell
The Economics of Self-Publishing Sunday 12:00 PM E. Chris Garrison; Christopher Kennedy; Zen DiPietro; Kyle Schenetzke

 

Please come see me! No admission needed to just visit the Vendor room at InConJunction, but the whole con is definitely worth checking out!

Posted in conventions, Events, friends, Fun Stuff, Guest, Hydra Publications, Publishing, Seventh Star Press, Silly Hat Books, Speculative Fiction Guild | Tagged

Giving Blood While Trans

EDIT: The experience I describe below was at an Indiana Blood Center blood mobile. See my update at the end of this article on the Red Cross rules for blood donation, which are MUCH more favorable for trans people. Of note, gender is self-identified, among other things.

The horrible thing about disasters is that we all feel so helpless as we watch from afar. I watched the news from Orlando unfold on Sunday, and my heart ached. I cried for those who were murdered, the wounded, and their friends and families. I recognized them as my own community, though I’d never been to Pulse, and I live 1000 miles away in Indianapolis. I cried for the LGBT community. I didn’t know what to do. I wrote an article, but still felt a hollow ache.

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My friend Elizabeth and me

So, when a friend of mine suggested we could go together to the Indy Pride Blood Drive for Orlando this evening, I said yes, even though I had no idea whether I’d be turned away.

SPOILER: I was able to donate. But I had to swallow my dignity to do it.

NOTE: The staff was friendly, sympathetic, and professional at all times. My complaints are to do with the process, not them. They did the best they could within the FDA rules*. Also, I should mention that I can only speak from the experience of a transgender woman, I can’t tell you what a transgender man would face.

The first snag was, having donated before transition many times, my driver’s license number was in their system, so my deadname (the one given to me at birth) glowered at me from the terminal’s screen. I insisted they change that, and they did. I am not sure how they could refuse, since that’s what my ID says, and I could produce a court order and my social security documentation to back me up. However, despite the lovely “F” on my driver’s license, they said they needed “birth sex” on the forms. It was suggested that someone could die if they put anything else.

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Figure 1. I am not actually male, but I was assigned male at birth.

I need to verify this fact, but I didn’t want anyone to die, so I grit my teeth and seethed as I filled out forms where I was forced to fill in “I am male” more than once.

The screening form also asks you to review a list of “red flag” meds that if taken anytime in your life are to be reported. Proscar / finasteride is on that list. I reported that I had taken it, but since it had been more than a month, they allowed me to donate anyway.

Trans women who are having hair removed by electrolysis take note: it is treated like getting a tattoo, since needles are involved, if you’ve been zapped you’ll have to wait a year before you can donate blood.

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Figure 2: Whether it’s ink or zapping hairs, no needles for a year.

Non-celibate straight trans women are theoretically not eligible to donate either, since they have to mark “I am male” and also answer whether they’ve had sex with “another” male, even once, since 1977.

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Straight trans women: the FDA thinks you’re basically a gay man

I understand there probably are medical reasons behind these rules. I couldn’t say what they might be. I also get that there are millions of frustrated gay and bisexual men out there who are very upset that they couldn’t donate at all, so I understand I have that much privilege.

But what about transgender people who don’t want to be outed? What about those who would be so upset that they’d lie on the forms rather than suffer the indignity and humiliation of having to write their birth sex on a form and risk staff misgendering them. I was braced in case someone said “he” or addressed me as “Mr. Garrison”, but to their credit, the staff just called me Christine and referred to me “she” and “her”. Very professional, and I appreciate it very much. In the end, I was able to donate blood successfully, waited 15 minutes, got my cookie, and went on my way home.

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All done!

 

I think there must be a better way to work this system. Better wording on the forms at the very least. Perhaps “assigned male at birth” or “born male” would soften this a bit? Or make the questions gender independent and make the screening process identify the important, evidently potentially lethal, characteristics. And if it turns out that blood isn’t actually gendered, then that makes this even simpler.

Are you a doctor or a blood expert? Please comment below or click “home” above to find my email address to give me the facts. I’ve got a contact in a local trans health organization who is researching this for me as well, but tapping the hive mind seems like a good way to get more information.

I hope this has been useful to someone, and I hope that the process will change to be more comfortable for trans folks in the future. I’m glad I donated, but I’m honestly not sure how I feel about going back and having to do that again. And it’s not the needle stick that’s the issue for me.

* UPDATE:

After posting this, I got a potentially useful response. On the Red Cross website, it says:

On December 21, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued final guidance for deferral criteria for men who have had sex with men (MSM). AABB, America’s Blood Centers and the Red Cross support the FDA’s decision to change the MSM blood donation policy from a lifetime deferral to a one-year deferral and additionally for the purposes of blood donation gender is self-identified and self-reported, which is relevant to the transgender community.

So, this suggests that you should be able to self-identify your gender (but they would not change my marker that was in their system by my driver’s license number, despite that having changed on my license already) and if you haven’t had sex with a man for at least a year, they should not refuse you. I suspect they still would have, however, and I don’t know how to argue the point with them in person, if they are programmed to follow an antiquated policy.

Despite what was on my forms, I was also told that electrolysis is not a one year deferral if it was done with sterile/single-use equipment. Again, that’s not what I was presented with in person.

I should also note that I gave blood in Indiana, and some of these policies vary from state to state.

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June 2016: Being the T in the LGBT Family Comes With A Price

A lot has happened in the past week. I’ve had incredible highs; I’ve felt like a part of something much bigger than myself. And with that feeling of belonging comes a terrible price.

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Myself and the guest speakers of Being Transgender in Indiana; Andrea James, Kimberly Acoff, Hawthorn Mineart, Treymeere Bigbee, Ariel Laukins, and Basil.

Last Wednesday, I had the great honor to be one of the hosts of Being Transgender in Indiana: Making History Past and Present. This was the second year we trans folks in Indiana got together to look back at where we’ve been, take stock of where we are, and look forward to what we hope to achieve in the future. The event was much bigger this year, having been more popular than Indy Reads Books could contain last year, we were given space in the Indiana Historical Society to hold a Transgender Health and Wellness Fair, followed by the main event, with many speakers representing many facets of the transgender experience.

I stood onstage, and lurked backstage as each of the speakers took the spotlight; I glowed with pride and validation. These are my people. They told their stories (and performed poetry) to an enthusiastic audience of supporters and interested folks. There was no animosity here, only a kind of shared energy and love. I cried happy tears a few times, I laughed at my own goofs (which I was assured were fine), and I felt lifted up by the friends surrounding me.

In my everyday life, I joke that I feel like a sparkly unicorn as the only transgender person in my building, and only one of two I know of on staff on my campus. Not so that night. I was surrounded by other trans folks, smiling and thriving and shining in the spotlight.

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The first ever transgender contingent in the Indy Pride Parade.

And then, on Saturday, I helped make another kind of history. The very first transgender contingent walked together in the Indy Pride Parade. I don’t know how we made it this far without trans folks walking together in this annual event, but we were the first, waving a dozen flags of pink, blue, and white: the transgender pride flag. The flags seemed to fill the air before me as I helped bring up the rear, waving a flag as well. Once more, I felt my cup run over with pride and love and empowerment as the tens of thousands in the crowd lining the mile route of the parade cheered us on. Despite the heat, and despite the hateful protesters at one point, we walked among the others at Pride, as part of the greater LGBTQI community. Instead of a minority inside a minority, we were a family within a family, feeling safe and powerful and valued.

And then I woke up Sunday morning to terrible news from Orlando. Some maniac had gunned down 20 people, with at least as many casualties in the wake. Within hours, the number exploded to 50 dead and 53 hospitalized. These people were celebrating in a predominantly LGBTQI club when they were killed in cold blood by a homophobe with a military grade assault weapon. His religion soon took first seat in the news outlets, which often didn’t mention that the victims were gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. Queer folk.

Like me. Like my friends. Like the family I had marched among, the beautiful, wonderful sparkly unicorns who dare to tell the world they’re different.

I felt the sadness and anger as the news rolled in. I felt the ice form in the pit of my stomach. Not only could this have happened to me, it could have happened to my friends. What’s more, it had happened to that family I find myself a part of. I may not know any of the victims who were shot inside Pulse, but the injury was as personal as an attack on my home. We had been violated. Our safety has always been threatened by bullies, but never on this scale. This isn’t just a case of gay bashing, it was a massacre.

And so, this shared pain, this collective mourning in our community… This is the terrible price to pay. Not death. Not ridicule. No, the price is what you pay for being part of any family; you care. Once you feel that kinship, it matters more what happens to others in your extended, chosen family. And me, being the highly sensitive person that I’ve always been, I feel that pain intensely. I hurt, and I grieve, and I boil with rage.

A lot of anger and accusations have been thrown around over the past couple of days. I have to say I understand that. It’s not something that should be swept under the rug or explained away as just “our new normal”.  We can’t just turn the other cheek on this.

We need to pull the family together as one, gather in our allies, those who love us, and those willing to stand up for us; we need to heal, and we need to be there for each other, and we need to be vigilant against further attacks. Lest anyone think this was an isolated nutjob or dismiss the attack as generic anti-American violence in the name of ISIS, another attack, by a white man from right here in Indiana was arrested on his way to L.A. Pride, with explosives and assault rifles in his possession.

And those of you reading this who aren’t part of our family, you need to ask yourself, will you stand for us if someone means us harm? Will you help put a stop to the hate, bigotry, and discriminatory laws being aimed at us? If so, welcome to the family. Love is welcome here.

 

 

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