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G. L. Balend

The complicated story behind my deceptively simple name change

Photo of the writer, G. L. Balend

In early 2020, I began the process to have my name changed legally. Again.

This is a common rite of passage for most transgender people, as we come to terms with our identities and seek to find a name that better suits us as we begin our transition journey. However, I have changed my name legally twice before, and neither of those changes were for gender related reasons.

Childhood confusion

To begin with, my deadname was Gigi. However, this was never my legal name. It was a nickname my mother and grandmother called me. It was the name of their favorite movie

The transphobic backlash

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Recently, the Olympic Committee banned athletes from Namibia because their testosterone levels were too high. You may think this was because either they were doping or they were transgender, but they weren’t. Their naturally occurring testosterone levels were merely higher than the required guidelines. Guidelines that were put into place to allow transgender women to compete in Olympic women’s events. Those same limits are now preventing natal born women from competing.

Instead of protecting cisgender people, especially women and children, the rules and legislation that are put into place to limit the rights and freedoms of transgender people are now…

Avoid stereotypes and dehumanizing your characters

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I mostly write about LGBTQ issues here on Medium, but beyond this platform I write works of transformative fiction and have published gay erotic stories under my pen name Grayson Bell. As a gay, transgender man, I also read a fair amount of gay erotic romance. There are many amazing works out there, but some make me cringe when I read them. So I wanted to give some tips to those interested in writing this genre.

LGBTQ People are Human

If you’re writing about any marginalized group, including LGBTQ folks, remember they’re human. Their sexuality and gender identity are not an all-consuming focus of…

Living my truth and changing my perspectives

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I frequently write about the negative experiences transgender people face, but I want to step back and take a moment to appreciate the good things I have found in being trans.


Anyone close to me knows I have transitioned. They have watched as my appearance changed over the past few years. However, anyone I lost touch with before my transition is less likely to recognize me, and that’s wonderful.

I’ve had a falling out with a few people who I’d much rather not interact with again, including some ex-boyfriends. If I run into them in public, not being recognized gives…

Ignorance of the fundamentals of science hurts all of us

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It has become increasingly clear that our science education is lacking. From ridiculous conspiracy theories like the insistence the Earth is flat or that vaccines cause autism, to dangerous and discriminatory policies based on outdated or misunderstood science.

What is science?

Let us begin with the basics and define what science, and by extension the scientific method, is.

Science, any system of knowledge that is concerned with the physical world and its phenomena and that entails unbiased observations and systematic experimentation.” — Encyclopedia Britannica

Science has three branches: physical, biological, and social. Physical sciences include chemistry, geology, physics, and astronomy. Biological sciences include…

Having groovy gender-affirming grandparents and becoming a socially awkward adult

Image by MasterTux from Pixabay

Generation Z gets a lot of attention for being the queerest generation, according to recent studies. However, earlier generations, including Generation X, probably have as many queer people within our populations. These studies do not consider the persecution and lack of representation that kept many of us in the closet.

1970s: Groovy Grandparents

Growing up in the era when women’s liberation was in full swing, and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was on everyone’s lips, made it an interesting time to be alive. Still, despite all the positive messaging around women and equal rights, I felt no connection to being female. …

Are they cheating the system?

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Do transgender women have an unfair advantage?

The most common argument against allowing transgender women to compete against cisgender women is that because they were born in male bodies, and in some cases have gone through male puberty, that this gives them an unfair advantage. The fear is that they would dominate women’s sports and not give cisgender women a competitive chance.

While some studies show that transgender female athletes retain some of their strength and speed post-transition compared to their cisgender counterparts, the actual athletic advantage is still debatable.

Because of the 2003 Stockholm Consensus on Sex Reassignment in Sports, and beginning with the 2004 Olympics…

The truth behind the transgender agenda for children

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

We’ve all heard the horror stories. Transgender people want to brainwash the children, poison them with hormones, and chop off their genitals. But what is really going on?


The transgender ideology is leading our children to mutilate their genitals. At least, that’s what’s happening if you listen to people like Rand Paul, who seemed overly concerned about the mutilation of children when questioning Rachel Levine during her confirmation hearings.

Yet, most transgender people do not undergo any surgery before the age of 18, with the average age being around the age of twenty-nine. The youngest transgender people who have undergone…

Understanding meaning and proper usage

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Most people have heard of the term cisgender, and some criticize the term without fully understanding its meaning and usage.

Definition and meaning

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the term cisgender is an adjective meaning “of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth.”

Meaning that anyone that is described as cisgender is a person whose gender identity matches their biological sex. They do not experience the same mismatch between their gender and sex that occurs with transgender and non-binary people.

To break this down farther, let’s look at…

Why they need to stop casting cisgender actors as transgender characters

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Scarlett Johannsen, a cisgender woman, faced criticism when she was cast to play the lead role of Dante “Tex” Gill, a transgender man, in the movie Rub and Tug. She later pulled out of the movie and apologized. By casting a woman to portray a transgender man shows how out-of-touch Hollywood is with the transgender community.

Some people have argued, since Scarlett is an actor, she should be able to portray any part given to her. The concern regarding her casting wasn’t whether she could provide a believable performance. The problem was the message it was sending.

Casting cisgender actors of the wrong gender

One fact that…

G. L. Balend

Transgender writer and author. I primarily write on LGBTQ issues, with a focus on the transgender community.

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