Monthly Archives: February 2014

An Essay: On Jared Leto’s Dallas Buyer’s Club Performance

An essay from Playboy magazine, which overall is somewhat negative on Leto’s performance and the fact that no transwoman actress was chosen. I must say, at first blush the comments of Leto and Calpernia Addams sound reasonable:

“Do we need a molecular nano-biologist from Zaire to portray a molecular nano-biologist from Zaire?”

When applied on a general basis, this argument holds water, except in certain situations (it would be quite a stretch to have Drew Barrymore portray Memphis Minnie, for example). Unfortunately, due to the incredibly few transgender characters appearing in television, plays, and films, this general rule creates a chilling effect on the prospect of having any actual transgender actor or actress portray a transgender character. The same general arguments were used at one time to block Jews from portraying Jewish roles, and gays and lesbians from portraying those roles. So for now, we pretty much have Laverne Cox as the sole representative of a transperson portraying a trans character in a popular series. How unfortunate.

Should Jared Leto’s Dallas Buyer’s Club Performance Be Lauded or Loathed?.

Turkey Transwoman Murdered by Boyfriend, Family Disrespects Their Own Daughter

Is this a surprise, or is it what we expect? I think it’s important at least once every few weeks to show how poorly transgender people are treated around the world. Not to pick on other countries, or point the finger of blame. No, we need to be aware of these events so we can see just how bad it could be here in the United States if we let down our vigilance.

While this article does not call the murder out as a “trans panic” killing, other reports I’ve seen online give conflicting reports. However, the disrespect shown to her by her own family is sobering and saddening. Washing her body in a male ceremony, refusing to acknowledge her gender, and refusing to let her own friends and community members at her funeral – and lying about her death. It’s shameful.

Turkey trans woman shot by boyfriend, family said ‘son died in car accident’ | Gay Star News.

Lieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor’s Courageous Journey to Contentment

CateMcGregor

I’ve written about Lieutenant Colonel McGregor a couple of times before. This page was highlighted by my friend Devin and I felt it was really worth sharing here as well. It contains a nice interview from the ABC, and several short video clips which are worth watching, about the highest-ranking openly-serving transgender person in the world.

What is the most positive thing about this story, though, is the way her friends and fellow officers, including her superiors, rallied in her cause. It’s beyond touching, it’s inspiring.

Lieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor’s courageous journey to contentment – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

UPDATE: 92-Year-Old Trans Widow Wins Social Security Battle

I reported on January 31 of the case of Robina Asti, who was fighting to receive benefits from her deceased husband’s Social Security, but was denied because Social Security didn’t recognize her marriage. Well it didn’t take too long, mercifully, for action to happen. My friend Debi pointed me to this update where it now appears Mrs. Asti is going to be receiving the benefits she deserves. Good job!

92-Year-Old Trans Widow Wins Social Security Battle | Advocate.com.

BREAKING: Calif. Trans Student Law Survives Repeal Effort

There’s not much I can add to the original article, but I wanted to highlight it since Transas City is read by many who don’t read news sites daily. In short, the repeal effort which was driven by the those opposed to transgender mainstreaming and integration in schools has failed, and transgender kids in California will be safer (for now) than they ever have been.

BREAKING: Calif. Trans Student Law Survives Repeal Effort | Advocate.com.

Exclusive to Transas City – Current Protections for Missouri and Kansas Transgender Students

rainbowbus

Lawrence J. Altman, the Lead Compliance Attorney of the Exceptional Education Department of the Kansas City Missouri Public School District, has written a legal report on the current status of laws which may protect transgender students who wish to use gender-congruent bathrooms and participate in scholastic athletics.  This is a follow-up on his groundbreaking work previously published on Transas City, Status of the Laws that May Protect Transgender Students from Bullying and Harassment.

Mr. Altman has spent considerable time researching and writing up these vital points which every parent of a transgender child in the Kansas City metropolitan area should read. Please share the page linked below so others may benefit from it.

And thank you so much, Larry, for stepping forward and giving us the benefit of your expertise and hard work!

Link to the report: California Leads the Way – Legal Protections for Missouri and Kansas Transgender Students.

NY Times: The Courage of Transgender Soldiers, Plus Una Rants

CateMcGregorLieutenant Colonel Cate McGregor – a real heroine.

There’s really no sugar-coating it – the treatment of our transgender fighting men and women is an utter disgrace…and yet, here we are. In this article there is one section which really should be called out for reading.

This isn’t the case in other countries. At least 12 now officially allow transgender individuals to serve openly in their defense forces. Britain has allowed transgender people to serve openly since 1999, and Australia since 2010.

The flags of these countries had hung above Ryan’s control station in Afghanistan. “I wear an American uniform and I represent a country supposedly defined by liberty and equality,” he told me. But “my allies are welcome to serve in a way that has most certainly just cost me my livelihood. If these countries’ soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines can serve openly and authentically as transgender women and men, why can’t I?”

Understanding the hatred of homophobic and transphobic red-blooded Americans on a general level doesn’t require much of a stretch. The average American is somewhat of a xenophobic ignoramus who fears anything which might disturb them in their gated subdivisions of self-imposed apartheid. Their dreams are simple ones – football games, mowing the lawn, raising the kids, and alcohol. They sulk and fume and titter like Gladys Kravitz because Mr. Green doesn’t mow his lawn on the same day as they do, and Ms. Violet parks her car in clear violation of the HOA-mandated method.

Suburban SprawlUniformity is bliss…

Their lives are simple and dull, and at some point while the commercials are running they grasp for meaning in life, because theirs has none. This has them turn to authoritarian religions and political groups, where the same lockstep narrow-minded conformity is the rule of law. So they gleefully adopt the misreadings of books which were originally largely filled with love and acceptance, to develop a hysterical homophobia and a societal uncanny valley which is both deep and wide.

Ironically, these folks also tend to be the ones pounding the drum for war, safe in their jobs and homes and living a life of luxury not conceptualized by any society before ours. It’s an extension of their xenophobia – “kill those towelheads!” they think, as they put 30 gallons of gasoline from the Middle East into their Ford F-350 Crew Cab “commuter car.” All the while acting like chickenhawks – “get our troops over there so we can get more cheap gas! I’m a big-assed American and I need a big assed car! Jesus wants this!”

fillingupI don’t want no gay gasoline…or gasoline that thinks it’s diesel…

And yet these same people have the unmitigated gall to mock, deride, demean, and even assault our brave transgender sisters and brothers who step forward to volunteer to serve in the military and put their lives on the line? And they have the audacity to pronounce like Solomon, while balancing a bowl of nachos on their gut, “whudahell, we gonna have a bunch of Corporal Klingers in the Army? That ain’t right.”

No, my idiotic imaginary hobgoblin, what “ain’t right” is the disrespect shown towards my sisters and brothers who are serving or who want to serve. Pretty please, with sugar on it – let them do their freaking jobs.

Someone I know often says “the world isn’t fair, it’s round” to which I answered once “no, it’s an oblate spheroid. The difference is we as a people can make the world fair. We cannot make it round.”

The Courage of Transgender Soldiers – NYTimes.com.

Transgender Woman Vladimir Luxuria Arrested in Sochi for Carrying Rainbow Flag

I have to say, this article rubbed me the wrong way from the start, with a title using “transgender” as a noun (I fixed it in the title of this post).

OK, on one hand she had to know what would happen. She’s protesting gay rights in Russia, for crying out loud. Harassment may be wrong, but in Russia it just is.

The good news is, she was released within 24 hours, with no charges. According to the Italian Foreign Ministry, “she was not injured or threatened by the Russian police.” Knowing nothing else conflicting with this, we have to take them at their word

The odd reaction of the International Olympic Committee was a statement that she wasn’t even arrested. So if she wasn’t arrested, then why did Italy’s Foreign Ministry say “Our team worked for her freedom from the very first moment. She was released within 24 hours?”

Someone is covering something up, but in the meantime, Vladimir Luxuria, you keep on fighting!

Transgender Vladimir Luxuria arrested in Sochi for carrying ‘Gay is OK’ rainbow flag | Mail Online.

Wendy Carlos, Electronic Music Pioneer – The Playboy Interview

Wendy Carlos studying the score to Tron at her modular Moog system.
You’ve never heard of Wendy Carlos? Did you see the films The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, or Tron? If so, you’ve heard her work.

Ms. Carlos is an accomplished American composer and electronic musician who was one of the pioneers of artistic synthesizer work, especially with the Moog 900. Her first fame came in 1968 with an album titled Switched-On Bach, an electronic version of several classical works by the composer. Was it any good? I’ve heard it, and you’ve probably heard some of the songs as incidental music in television programs and films and not known it. And she won three Grammy Awards in 1969 for it as well.

She is highlighted on Transas City because I recently came across her 1979 “coming out” interview in Playboy magazine. It’s a good historical example of how the media treated us then, and as we’ve seen from recent antics like those of Katie Couric interviewing Carmen Carrera and Laverne Cox, change is moving slowly.

But is is moving, and that’s the important thing.

Our Wendy Carlos page may be found at this link.

Three Tales of Transgender Death

ThreeTombstonesI’m taking some time with this post to talk on the deaths of three transgender women. Each was very different, each was tragic, and each was another dark page in the book of our shared experience.

DeoniJonesFirst I want to highlight the murder of Deoni Jones, who 2 years ago was stabbed in her face while she was waiting at a bus stop in Washington, DC. For the crime of “existing while trans.”

Her murderer, Gary Niles Montgomery, has had two previous trials with no outcome for either side. Deoni’s family, friends, and community activists have apparently been trying to get the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to treat them like human beings, especially the victim, and they claim that to date they have been unsuccessful. The Attorney’s Office claims the opposite. Whatever the case, the family has had to suffer for more than two years just to even get the murderer to trial, and wondering when if ever they will receive justice.

Kayla Xavier MooreNext I want to tell you of a Berkeley, California father who is suing the police over the wrongful death of his transgender daughter. Kayla Xavier Moore died while being arrested by police officers on a warrant mistake. From the article:

On the night of Feb. 12, 2013, Moore was off her prescription medication and acting irrationally. Her roommate called 911 expecting Moore would be placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

Police responded and, finding a San Francisco warrant for a Xavier Moore, decided to arrest her. (The lawsuit states that the warrant was for a 60-year-old Xavier Moore; Kayla Xavier Moore was 41.)

When police tried to handcuff the 347-pound Moore, she resisted, ending up face down on a futon with a number of police officers straddling her in order to place her in wrist and ankle restraints.

During the restraint she stopped breathing and died. The coroner concluded that Moore died from “acute combined drug intoxication,” obesity and an enlarged heart.

And there’s no way that being roughly arrested and sat on by large men on a futon would possibly restrict her breathing or injure her. Nope, not in a billion years!

Amelia Lopez ZaguilanFinally, we have an update on an older case, involving a transgender woman who desperately tried to deal with her body dysphoria by resorting to “pumping.” This was sadly very similar to the recent report on the death of Brenisha Hall, now ruled a homicide. Amelia Lopez Zaguilan desperately wanted female curves, and she underwent repeated injections of black market silicone. On April 30, 2013, she went for her last visit – Alejandra Mendoza, another transgender woman, pumped silicone into her buttocks, and within a day Ms. Zaguilan was having trouble breathing, almost certainly from a pulmonary embolism (my speculation, it’s a result from pumping when the silicone gets into your bloodstream). She fell into a coma a day later, and died on May 7.

Three transgender deaths – one by a criminal, one by those who are charged to “protect and serve” us, and one by desperate and tragic misfortune.

What may shock us most, as we read of these stories, is not how surprised we are, but how unsurprised we are.

Brothers, Sisters, Sons, Daughters – A Fashion Film Featuring 17 Transgender Models

Barneys
Barneys of New York has been in the news a little lately after they decided to feature transgender models in their latest catalog, photographed by Bruce Weber and posing in the typical high-end designer clothing one expects from Barneys. A total of 17 transgender models were featured, including Katie Hill and Arin Andrews, the famous Oklahoma transwoman-transman couple. The catalog has been receiving generally positive reviews and positive press, which is really nice, although Barneys is a fairly exclusive offering which tends to only be read by wealthy somewhat liberal shoppers.

What’s really interesting, though, is the fact that Barney’s didn’t just use them for their photos, they also sponsored a video of the photo shoot and features of the transgender models, which can be seen below. It’s very artistic, meaning there is a lengthy introduction and musical score, but it’s not bad to watch. There is a lot of dancing, and twirling in fog, and at one point there’ an owl…I don’t know why…and an iguana…yeah, well, it is Barneys.

Texas Appeals Court – Texas Must Recognize Transgender Identities In Marriage!

A huge victory for transgender people in the state of Texas!

The case is a very tragic one, and dealt at its heart with bigotry and raw greed. Nikki Araguz, a transgender woman, legally married a firefighter who later was killed while fighting a fire. Mrs. Araguz tried to collect death benefits on behalf of her husband, and in steps both the ex-wife and mother of her husband, who decided to sue to get their hands on the money and away from that “man.” A lower court agreed with them, “despite the fact that a 2009 law allowed individuals like (Mrs.) Araguz to use their sex change certification as a document to obtain a marriage certificate.”

This case is very similar to the local Kansas case of In re Estate of Gardiner, 42 P.3d 120 (Kan. 2002). In that instance a man married a transsexual woman who not only had had SRS, she had gone to extreme lengths to erase her old identity, even changing school records. When the husband died, suddenly the estranged son sued for sole control of the $2.5 million estate, claiming that the wife, J,Noll, was a man and therefore the marriage was invalid. The Kansas Supreme Court agreed, and thus was set two precedents in Kansas:

  1. Transsexuals in Kansas cannot legally enter a heterosexual marriage.
  2. Transsexuals in Kansas can legally enter a lesbian or gay marriage.

As you may expect, the bigots have a serious problem with #2, but that’s just too damn bad. The US Supreme Court has ruled that everyone has a right to marry *someone*, so they have to choose – create legal same-sex marriages in a state which has banned it by Constitutional Amendment, or recognize that heterosexual transgender marriages are legal. Two choices, pick one, bigots.

Texas Appeals Court: State Must Recognize Transgender Identities In Marriage | ThinkProgress.

California School Officials Debunk Right-Wing Lies About Transgender Student Law

This article isn’t flashy but it’s an important one for those of us who actively fight and engage with the segments of America who generally dislike us. And by “dislike,” I group together everything from simple dismissal to raw, homicidal hatred.

Unfortunately, transkids, the most vulnerable of all our community, are in the cross-hairs of the haters. There are many reasons of course, but the primary one is the passage last year of a law giving protections for transgender California kids who simply want to use the proper bathroom and play on the proper sports teams. Of course, by writing “proper” I can be accused of using just a little bit of propaganda myself…at least I’m forthright by it.

So bookmark this article at the link below, if you often engage with the haters, as it contains some hard facts which are the truth, and help our cause.

California School Officials Debunk Right-Wing Lies About Transgender Student Law | Blog | Media Matters for America.

A Mom’s Thoughts on “I am a girl” Article

transgenderJAN2014

I’d like to introduce myself to you. I am the mom of the little girl called A.J. who was profiled in an article about transgender kids in the Kansas City Star. I never thought my family would be interesting enough to be featured on the front page of a newspaper. As surprised as I am to find us there, I am also incredibly proud.

I don’t want to ruin the article for you (it’s really, really good…go read it!) by quoting much of it here. We aren’t the only family featured, either, so I don’t want to take anything away from the other kids by making it sound like it’s all about us. What I would like to do is highlight a couple of myths and arguments we hear when the subject of transkids comes up and dispel them one by one. A few are mentioned in the article — spoiler alert — but because of space limitations, some that I had mentioned to the reporter were left out.

1. We are liberals pushing a gay agenda.

Nope, sorry. I am a conservative Republican from the Deep South, raised with Southern Baptist beliefs.

2. We (or at least I, because they always blame the mom) wanted a girl, so we turned our child into one.

Again, no. I desperately wanted boys. The idea of raising a girl in today’s world scares me to death. I’d much rather be responsible for raising a good boy who knows how to treat girls well than to be responsible for raising a girl who might only be interested in bad boys.

3. There was too much female influence on our child, so “he” just grew up thinking girly things were normal and convinced himself that he was a girl. 

Hmmm, no, I can’t agree with that one either. She has an older brother, so all of their toys and clothes were “boy” things. She was in a preschool class with only 2 girls and a veritable posse of 10 boys. Crew cuts, wrestling, G.I. Joes, dinosaurs, trucks, and everything blue was what she was exposed to daily. I’m not particularly feminine. I have very short hair, rarely wear make-up, don’t polish my nails, and didn’t have a single item of pink clothing when she was younger.

4. “Kids have no idea what they want or who they are. My kid wants to be a dog. Should I let him?”

Well, that’s up to you. I wouldn’t. But there is a profound difference between wanting to be something in imaginary play and in declaring who you are insistently, consistently and persistently. Those are three markers that set transgender children apart, and my daughter displayed all of them.

5. Kids shouldn’t have to learn about sex at such a young age.

I agree, so it’s a good thing that being transgender has nothing to do with sex! Sexual attractions don’t happen until kids are older. You know…that whole puberty thing. Gender is strictly how a person views him or herself on the inside, and it is completely separate from who we are attracted to. The confusion between gender and sexual attraction is something that adults have a problem with and need to deal with on their own.

6. Transgender people are perverts and shouldn’t be in the bathroom with “normal” people. 

I don’t know what you go into a bathroom to do, but I know what my daughter goes in there for…and it isn’t to look around. It’s to go into a stall, lock the door, and pee where no one else can see her.

7. God hates transgender people. They are sinners and going to Hell.

My God taught us to love one another. Jesus sought out those that others rejected. Some people may choose to embrace Biblical verses that seem to say being transgender is wrong, although I believe they are ignoring the historical aspects of Biblical societies and what the verses are really talking about. I choose to focus on verses like I Samuel 16:7 which says, But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.'” My daughter is a girl in her heart. She knows it. God knows it. That’s enough for me.

The newspaper was kind enough to turn off commenting on the article so that my daughter won’t have to go back later and read really ugly and hateful things about her or our family. But because of that, you might think it’s hard to know how people in our area felt about the article. Thankfully, kind and wonderful and open-minded people took the time to let the reporter know. I also shared the article with an online group for parents like us with gender non-conforming kids to see how they felt about it. Many have been burned by other news outlets who promised anonymity but then outed their children, or who turned the story into a sensational piece by including quotes by people who clearly hate the idea of any transgender person’s existence. I’d like to share a few snippets of the comments I received from both groups.

“This is hands down one of the best articles I’ve ever seen on transgender kids. I’m sending it to everyone in our family who has been less than supportive.”

“Thank you for the courage you and your family showed by opening your home and life to the journalist.”

“I am so appreciative of the thoughtful, well-researched and compassionate story you wrote about A.J. I wish every child was blessed with parents like them.”

“Please share my support, admiration and best wishes with A.J.’s family. Raising our children requires more of us than we ever expect and the profile your story shared tells me about people with extraordinary compassion, courage and resolve to do their best. A.J. is the blessing and the blessed.” (This one made me cry.)

“This article will serve to enlighten a world still mostly unaware of transgender challenges and will provide solace and community to other transgender children and their families for many years to come.”

“I am 63 years old and have been fighting this battle since I was 5. It took me 50 years to come out to myself, God and my family. Articles like this are a major way the general public will begin to understand what we go through.” 

“I have two little girls and don’t care what A.J.’s biology is. Please have her mom contact me if she’d like to arrange a play date or just meet another family what will welcome her family just as they are.” (Awww. I never expected this kind of offer!)

“Transgender children is not something I have ever thought about before. I will now tell my children that there aren’t just boys and girls in the world, and that someone like A.J. is wonderful because they get to know both.” (Well, not really since she knows she is a girl, but there are many gender-nonconforming kids who don’t feel they fit on either side of the binary, and this is a beautiful sentiment for them. Thank you.)

One of my favorites was a voicemail from a mother in Connecticut. (“Isn’t it wonderful how the internet lets people all over the world read a local news story?”) She has a 10-year-old transgender son who transitioned in 2rd grade. I could hear her voice shaking as she thanked the writer for telling a story like hers and including so many details of our journeys as parents of transkids that are never shared. She ended the call quickly, with obvious tears in her voice as she said, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’re the best.”

 

#transkids  #transchildren  #transgender  #parenting  #unconditionallove

Personal Reactions to the KC Star Article on a Local Transgender Family

Local_Transkid

I didn’t post this on Sunday when it ran, because I wanted to get some “reactions” from my co-workers and others who I know are frequent readers of the Kansas City Star.

I started receiving e-mails and IM’s yesterday, and then today fielded a variety of questions from interested co-workers. The reaction from those who read it and contacted me was highly positive. Many asked if I had seen the article because it was “great,” but most folks assumed I knew the family (of course I do, I consider them dear friends). Comments I received fell into the following lines:

“I didn’t know there were transgender kids that young.”

“I know you had it hard, Una, but I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the girl in the article.”

“Her parents are very brave.”

“I wish I’d had parents like hers.”

“I hope these kids will get protection from bullies.”

“I’d have to hire a bodyguard or send my son[sic] to Tae Kwon Do every day if they did this, but I’d be there for him.[sic]”

“I know you’ve told me a lot about…people like you, but it never hit me that kids could have this.”

“It really helped open my eyes.”

I also received a few questions, mostly along the lines of “are there lots of kids like this?,” “do they give the kids surgery that early?” and “how do you even deal with something like this? It’s hard enough being a parent!” (which is more of a rhetorical question, true)

I have to hope that the large number of positive reactions which I witnessed is at least somewhat indicative of how the public in general views the subject of transgender kids in particular, and transgender persons in general. I have to hope.

There are some other links which you should see, in addition to the primary link at the end of this post. This link takes you to an extensive gallery of photographs of local transgender children going about their everyday lives. And this link takes you to a local video on this subject.

‘I am a girl’: Transgender children face a society slow to accept them – KansasCity.com.