As my 65th birthday approached my transgender personality had become desperate and demanded attention. Decades of self-deception did not bury my feminine self. She had in fact grown, despite isolation, neglect, and denial. I discovered a private dressing room, a place to give her a chance to breathe. I sought the aid of a therapist. Though I believed that I already had the answer, I asked whether I was, in her professional opinion, truly a transgender person. A dozen sessions later she affirmed my suspicion. Indeed I was transgender.
For decades my family had attended an orthodox synagogue. It was an exercise in cognitive dissonance for my hidden identity. Leviticus was at best conflicted about gender. I saw no possibility for reconciliation for Transgender vs. Judaism. Shortly after my therapist confirmed my identity, I heard breakingtransgender news that stole my attention.
Hey fellas, years from now with your legacy in mind, how do you think you’d respond to your granddaughter or niece who asks, “Grandpa, what did you do personally to make the world and workplace better for me and women in general?” Jot down your answer to this question along with a few New Year’s resolutions, ones that you can do, and put them aside for now.
Go ahead, we’ll wait.
Let’s look at the challenges that lie ahead when it comes to fostering a more gender inclusive world. But in somewhat a departure from the norm, I’ve decided to talk to those on the seldom mentioned other side of the word gender…men!
So guys, here’s a list of questions for a deeper analysis and reflection. If you are a white male, man of color (Asian, Latino, African American) or gay male, answer these from your worldview or personal experiences:
At the tender age of 70, I have come out to the world as a transgender woman. Plagued by intractable anxiety and preoccupied with all things feminine I was surprised by the inescapableintersectionality conferred upon me involuntarily – that not only am I transgender, but I am a transgender Jew.
Judaism always seemed the right fit for me. Its implicit refutation of our dominant theology appealed to me. Personified by modern folk heroes like Einstein, Dylan (Zimmerman), and Koufax, it seduced me with inspiration. With teleological certitude Jewish Messianism offers the promise of a just revolution in our time and a profound endorsement of the counter-cultural impulse. It encouraged our rage against Nazis. It made us as one with all of America’s rejected minorities from the original Native Americans to the most recently-arrived Syrian refugees.
I embrace this rare classification with enthusiasm. I’ve discovered that transgender Jewry features an elite element that could not possibly include me. Or could it?
I periodically become a target of all-around questioning just because originally—25 years ago—I came to the US from Ukraine as a Fulbright Scholar. Of course, this gives me the leverage to deeper understand what’s going on there, and why. But I do not hold a magic ball that predicts what the future holds in a largely unpredictable country – and even more unpredictable America under the current government. So, let me just answer some of these questions and clarify my positioning.Continue reading Ukraine Makes the Headlines, Again – by Dr. Fiona Citkin→
Reprinted honor of Madeleine Albright turning 82-years old
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is a petite woman who can fill large university auditorium with her presence. These days, Dr. Albright teaches, lectures and writes. She frequently speaks to university audiences land enjoys telling young people that they can be anything they want to be with hard work. Her audiences listen enthusiastically and a recent crowd at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was no exception. A packed house and 2 overflow rooms with video feeds were arranged for the presentation by our 64th Secretary of State. She was the highest ranking woman in government from 1997-2001 and the first female Secretary of State.
In April, I joined the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association (CRMA) Alliance in Manufacturing Excellence (AIME) as Editor-in-Chief of the American Diversity Report. I was invited to be the official communications person by Lulu Copeland, the facilitator and committee chair of CRMA AIME. Copeland is also the founding member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for whom I facilitated an inaugural panel years ago. My assignment at this event marking National Welding Month was to interview women in the welding profession.
Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, continues to marginalize women on its English language pages and among its staff. This conclusion is not theoretical but unequivocal. It’s based on academic studies, public statistics and anecdotal evidence.
Wikipedia’s data is daunting, according to the Wikidata Human Gender Indicator.
• Less than 18% of 1.6 million English Wikipedia bios are about women, up from 15% in 2014.
• Put another way: of about 1,615,000 bio pages, fewer than 300,000 are about women.
• Meanwhile, men account for about 90% of all English Wikipedia’s volunteer editors.
Wikipedia’s brand image is more reflective of 1920s paternalism than 21st century modernism. The San Francisco-based nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia, has a noble mission: Democratize the free flow of information and knowledge to diverse populations worldwide.
But is English Wikipedia practicing what it preaches?
Sadie Hawkins Day! I didn’t know anything about it. The vibrations though with which the name permeates our culture and whatever the holiday celebrates have always seemed a wee bit strange and but also lighthearted. It is celebrated on November 13th and since today is November 13th I feel oddly compelled to inform myself of the wisdom or lack of wisdom passed on by this “Holiday.” It would appear to be a very American holiday, but the Scots and my Irish ancestors might argue with that since they celebrate something comparable on February 29th called of course “Leap Year.” But that is another story!
The Sadie Hawkins Story
The American story is that Al Capp, a famous and brilliant cartoon artist of the last century,3 depicted in his daily cartoon, Lil Abner, the trials and tribulations of a hillbilly town called Dogpatch. The most powerful and the richest man in Dogpatch was named Hezekiah Hawkins who had a daughter named Sadie and at the advanced age of 35 she had not married. Sadie was also “the homeliest gal in all them hills” and her father was scared that she would spend her life at home as a spinster, a terrible and humiliating fate for any woman in Dogpatch.
Originally a professional educator from Ukraine, Fiona Citkin is among the successful women immigrants to the US. She came to America as a Fulbright Scholar studying languages and cultures. She holds 2 doctorates, speaks 3 languages, and has published several books, including the award-winning Transformational Diversity. Fiona is Managing Director of Expert MS Inc. For her latest book, How They Made It in America , she interviewed 100 immigrant women and profiled 18 of them in this book.
Editor’s note: I’m honored to be included among the 18 profiles in the book.
By default, gritty women famous for their accomplishments are highlighted throughout Women’s History Month. Society looks to prominent women as role models exemplifying idealistic aspirations of achievement. Often, their humble beginnings are overlooked as emphasis is placed on successes and outcomes. With few exceptions, famous women did not begin their lives as famous people. Their experiences, family upbringing, life-learnings, challenges, and accomplishments cultivated into opportunities at the right time. Famous women made history by taking action. One should never assume history is past tense. History continues evolving and growing organically, providing new opportunities to add accomplishments.
Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, explains extremely successful individuals demonstrate unusually high levels of resiliency and hard work. These individuals have an intrinsic understanding of their desired goals and are determined to achieve them. Gritty people combine hard work, resiliency, and drive with a sense of direction.