Trans Mission

In the fight for equal rights, transgender issues have been left in the dust

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, August 25, 2011

Sometimes it takes a while for people to figure out who they are. For Adrien Lawyer, that’s an understatement.

“I didn’t know there was such a thing as myself until I was 26,” he says, smiling and scruffy at the end of a long day. It wasn’t until he sat down with a copy of 1993’s Stone Butch Blues, a landmark novel, that he was introduced to the word “transgender.”

Born in a woman’s body and growing up in 1970s Mississippi, he believed he’d be stuck inside it for the rest of his life. “I had lived in the world long enough to know that I was going to have to accept my female body,” he says. Friends would tell him, You are a woman, so be one. Lawyer settled for being a lesbian.

It was through Stone Butch Blues that Lawyer discovered options were available, such as hormone replacement therapy. His fuse was lit. The path he planned for himself, however, was a difficult one—expensive and exhilarating and scary and absent of markers to guide him. Without a single friend who’d gone through something similar, he had to guess and stumble his way through his transition.

Read More

Where Babies Come From

Midwife-run nonprofit births alternative for expectant mothers

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, August 4, 2011

Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center sits on a lush plot of land in the North Valley, set back from the road and abutted by agricultural plots. The sprawling center seems about as un-hospital-like as Abigail Lanin Eaves could make it. Dotted with skylights and large windows, it looks like a place people go to stay well, not get better.

Even the front door is preceded by a bridge and pond. The theme of sanctuary is reflected throughout the center, with art by locals, a lending library, a kitchen and a classroom. There are two futon-stocked exam rooms, which Eaves likes to call “visiting rooms,” and two dedicated birthing suites that resemble rooms at a bed and breakfast.

Eaves says she knew at age 12 that she was meant to deliver babies. She assumed it would be as an OB-GYN. When her sister had a home birth years later, Eaves was introduced to the world of midwifery, and there was no turning back.

Read More

Sexual Assault in Albuquerque

Reports are on the rise but resources are spread thin

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, April 29, 2010

You probably know someone who’s been raped. In fact, you probably know several people who’ve been sexually assaulted at some point in their lives; and if you’re a woman, there’s a one in four chance one of those people is you.

Rape isn’t a popular topic of discussion. It’s painful and terrifying and uncomfortable—none of which are characteristics of great conversation. But according to KC Quirk, executive director of the Rape Crisis Center of Central New Mexico, silence helps perpetuate what she calls “some of the worst parts of humanity.”

New Mexico has the second-highest rate of forcible rape in the nation, according to 2008 statistics issued by the FBI. (The report defines “forcible rape” as “the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly against her will.”) Though crime rates in Albuquerque are falling, rape cases are increasing. And for every reported rape, there’s a far greater number that go unreported. Quirk says nationally, only one in 20 women and one in 100 men will report they’ve been raped, while one in four women and one in 20 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

Read More

Self Serve Created a Community That Celebrates Sexuality

by Christie Chisholm, New Mexico Business Weekly, February 15, 2010

Molly Adler and Matie Fricker didn’t expect to become entrepreneurs.

They didn’t expect to pluck themselves out of Boston and settle in Albuquerque, or to raise nearly $100,000 over the course of a year to start a business that no bank would fund. They hoped to find a community once they arrived in the Southwest, but they certainly didn’t expect to build one.

But if there’s one thing the two women have discovered, it’s that they tend to exceed their expectations.

Adler and Fricker are co-owners of Self Serve, a sex shop that is far more than a sex shop. The store is as much about education and self-love as it is about toys and fetishes.

Read More

Give It Up

by Christie Chisholm, Weekly Alibi, July 10, 2008

Government-funded abstinence-only education may finally be on its way out. Twelve years after the national program started, only slightly more than half the states are still on board, according to a June 24 Associated Press article. The rest decided in recent years to wash their hands clean of the poorly performing initiative, with New Mexico jumping on the common-sense bandwagon at the end of 2007.

Dr. Alfredo Vigil, our Department of Health secretary, said he wouldn’t again apply for federal abstinence-only funding in December. He explained his position in an Albuquerque Journal op-ed, writing that he values the tenets of abstinence education, but the federal program doesn't allow schools to give kids other necessary information as well: "We need to give scientific and complete information about how to protect against unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases."

Amen. The problem with abstinence-only funding is buried right in its name: abstinence-only education. States who accept the funding aren’t allowed to teach what many consider rudimentary sex ed. It means our kids are told if they have sex before marriage, they’re likely to suffer psychological and physical trauma (that’s actually part of the curriculum). It’s a recipe for an all-American cocktail of fear and confusion, and research shows it's far from effective.

Read More