Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tyra Banks to Produce Transgender Docuseries for VH1

TransAmerica is the name of the series, and it is expected to comprise 8 episodes focusing on a group of Chicago transgender women. According to the network:

“It would be easy to focus on the transgender aspect, but this series is about so much more,” VH1 executive Susan Levison told the Reporter. Banks promised the show “will blow the roof off stereotypes and set the record straight as we experience the lives of these fun, stunning women.”

It’s due to run in late 2014 or early 2015, so keep an eye peeled for it when it arrives. More information can be found at the link below.

Tyra Banks to Produce Transgender Docuseries for VH1 (Exclusive) – Hollywood Reporter.

Chelsea Manning Could Get Transfer to Civilian Prison

In what I feel is somewhat surprising news, it appears that the Pentagon may be negotiating to transfer Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison in order to allow her to receive hormone therapy and other transgender consideration and treatment.

Manning is a very controversial figure even in my community – many transgender people I know will proclaim in public that they support her, but in private they will do a facepalm and exclaim “we really don’t need this kind of publicity.” Personally, I admit to being torn. Obviously she should have treatment, but I also very much wish she would sort of vanish from the news so the word “transgender” would stop being associated with “leaker,” “traitor,” or “criminal.”

Transgender Leaker Chelsea Manning Could Get Transfer to Civilian Prison – ABC News.

An Osceola (Florida) High Transgender Student Runs for Prom King

Sebastian RollinsAnother in what I hope are a long line of successes at the youth level of activism – Sebastian Rollins, a transkid, is running for prom king and receiving quite a lot of support from both fellow students and school administrators (of course, with the recent Title IX ruling from the Department of Education, they have little choice in the matter).

Go Sebastian!

At Osceola High, a transgender student makes a run for prom king | Tampa Bay Times.

Man Jailed Over Blackmail Regarding Transgender Woman’s Background

BehindBars
Sometimes we win against the haters – more often, lately, than ever before. In this case a scumbag who found a mobile phone and tried to blackmail a transsexual woman into paying him £200 was arrested for blackmail, and was sentenced to two years and four months in jail.

The creep was a real piece of work. From the article:

The following day the male friend of the phone owner received a text from Devlin saying he knew he had a girlfriend and that he had been “sh***ing that tranny prossy”.

Miss Kidd said the concerned recipient of the text contacted the phone owner, a former man who previously changed his name by deed poll and underwent transgender surgery to now live as a woman.

When the return of the phone was mentioned, Devlin made a crude suggestion as to sexual favours the owner would have to perform on him and his friends to get it back.

Miss Kidd said further text messages were made in which Devlin said unless he was paid £200, “everyone will find out your secret” and that he would reveal it “all over” via social media.

Too bad for the dating scene that this prize pig is in jail now for 28 months…somewhere I hope Nelson from The Simpsons is pointing towards him and exclaiming “Ha HA!”

Man jailed over blackmail threat to reveal transgender woman’s background (From The Northern Echo).

Defense Secretary Hagel ‘Open’ to Transgender People Serving in Military

Some further encouraging news for those in the transgender community who wish to serve their country in the nation’s armed forces. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he is open to reviewing the ban on transgender service. More explicitly, he says:

“The issue of transgender is a bit more complicated because it has a medical component to it. These issues require medical attention. Austere locations where we put our men and women in many cases don’t always provide that kind of opportunity … I do think it continually should be reviewed. I’m open to that, by the way. I’m open to those assessments because, again, I go back to the bottom line. Every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it. This is an area that we’ve not defined enough.

If he’s going to do something, he had best do it in the next 2 years. There is at least an even chance that the transgender-friendly Obama Administration will be instead replaced with a transgender-hostile Republican Administration, so getting as much passed and as much set in precedent as possible before such a thing may happen is critical.

Hagel ‘Open’ to Transgender People Serving in Military – Washington Wire – WSJ.

Stepping Into the Spotlight to Shine Light on Transkids

Listen-To-Your-Mother-KC-gives-platform-to-transgirls-momLast Saturday I was one of 14 women who took the stage as the cast of the 2014 Listen To Your Mother Show in Kansas City. If you aren’t familiar with LTYM, it’s a nationwide series of live readings by women (and some men) about motherhood.

After our story about our 6-year-old transgender daughter was published in the Kansas City Star and I expanded on it with a post here, someone suggested I submit my story to Listen To Your Mother. I did and was surprised when after also reading at a live audition, my story was selected. Then a bit of apprehension struck.

My husband and I have shared our story on a local talk radio show a couple of times. I have called into the Rush Limbaugh show and was on-air twice trying to educate his audience about transgender issues. We have appeared on another local radio program called TransTalk. And, of course, we participated in the Star’s article. But in all of these cases, only first names were used and we adamantly refused to show our faces. Privacy and safety issues took precedence over everything else.

Agreeing to participate in Listen To Your Mother, though, meant that I would have to stand under a spotlight in front of an audience of strangers and talk about my daughter’s private medical life. The readings are filmed and published on YouTube for anyone to see across the planet. (I’ll add a link here when they are ready to view.) This was pushing me into new uncharted and uncomfortable territory.

Two days before I was scheduled to speak, I posted a comment on a trans advocacy group’s Facebook page. My comment received a direct reply which was the most horrible and evil thing anyone has ever said about my daughter and our family. It amounted to a death threat, and I have to admit that I was suddenly very intimidated about showing my face on stage 48 hours later. My LTYM castmates, local show producers and national leadership all rallied around me. With their love and support, I decided to look fear in the face and tell our story. It became bigger than our story. I needed to step on stage, stand up for all transgender kids and their families, and do my best to dispel myths about the transgender experience.

As much as bravado as I tried to show, I have to admit that I was the only one in our cast who started crying before uttering a single word. I finished my story in tears as well. It was much more emotional than I ever would have imagined it would be. I thought I would feel relieved as soon as I walked away from the microphone and took my seat, but I didn’t start to feel better until the next day when some of the supportive comments I’d heard after the show started to sink in.

Two days later, the local news started reporting on another family whose child was transitioning and how her school was handling it. Conservative talk shows started up with the usual conversations and callers chimed in with the same misconceptions and myths that I had tried to dispel in my LTYM speech. The weight of the world came down on me, and I realized that my one 5-minute story was merely a drop of water in what needed to be an ocean of information washing over the public. My husband and I wanted to do more.

Then the phone call came. Our wonderful gender identity therapist called to ask if we would go on TV with her in an interview.

It was now or never; time to take another stand.

We agreed and actually ended up showcased in interviews on two stations. That night, we couldn’t bring ourselves to watch and turned off all electronics to avoid any backlash from people who would recognize us.

The backlash hasn’t come (so far, anyway). Before Listen To Your Mother, I would have never considered giving a TV interview. In fact, we turned down a couple of previous opportunities because we had set limits on how far we were willing to go in our advocacy. We wanted to lead, but only if we could lead from behind a veil.

My new family — my amazing LTYM family — helped me see that I can be a leader without needing a veil. They helped me see that it’s no accident that my child is transgender, because it has allowed for personal growth and for me to step into a leadership role I wouldn’t have been prepared to do otherwise. By telling our story openly and freely, I can build a bridge between my daughter’s humanity and my audience’s humanity. I can bring understanding and help close a gap that up to this point seemed like a never-ending abyss. Because of the Listen To Your Mother Show, I am prepared to step out of the shadows and be a visible face in the fight for transgender rights. I thought the show would be five minutes in a literal spotlight. Now I recognize it was a door to bigger and greater things. Look out, world, because this mom is not backing down.

Indian Hijra form The Seatbelt Crew

SeatbeltCrewI couldn’t resist this lighthearted news…essentially, a group of hijra (third-gender Indians, who are similar to but not exactly the same as transgender persons) has been contracted to perform a skit at traffic lights to remind drivers to buckle their seat belts. There is a short video clip which is definitely worth watching.

A Group Of Transgenders At A Traffic Signal Did Something Amazing You Must Never Forget.

UPDATE: Interviews with the Parents of a Transgender Girl

This is a continuation of the post I made yesterday where it made the news that a transgender girl was coming out at a Raytown elementary school. This update from a different network features two video interviews with the parents of another Kansas City transgender girl which are definitely worth viewing. I know the family well and they are even more brave and awesome than their interviews let on.

Boy at Raytown elementary school asks to be called Jasmine – KCTV5.

HHS Expected To Lift Blanket Medicare Ban On Sex-Reassignment Surgery Soon

I reported last December that the Department of Health and Human Services was re-evaluating the ban on transgender sexual reassignment surgery (SRS), and the possibility that it could be covered by Medicare.

This update reports the opinion that an end to the ban is going to be announced “soon,” but no timetable has been announced. The ban, which has been in place since 1981, is long overdue to be scrapped. A small number of insurance companies have already seen the light and started making transgender treatment a standard part of their group plans, although individual companies sometimes negotiate the coverage out to reduce their costs. Should Medicare begin to cover SRS, it will be very politically difficult for companies to continue to ban coverage.

HHS Expected To Lift Blanket Medicare Ban On Sex-Reassignment Surgery Soon.

Raytown School Notifies Parents About Student’s Gender Change

KMBCThis video clip and news article on Channel 9 KMBC’s website is actually fairly sensitively done. The video features a segment talking to Caroline Gibbs, the woman who quite honestly saved my life and set me on the path to be the happy, successful woman I am today.

It’s a short article, well-handled, and I hope for all the best for young Jasmine!

Raytown school notifies parents about student’s gender change | Local News – KMBC Home.

Two Positive Trans Media Portrayals – UK and New Zealand’

Modupe-Adeyeye
Today I have two very recent positive portrayals of transgender persons in the media to share with you. The first one is unfortunately portrayed by a cisgender woman, Modupe Adeyeye, who will be playing the character of Blessing Chamber in the UK Soap Opera “Hollyoaks.”. I quote the actress:

She said: “I’m not transgender so I’ve had to do a lot of research into it. I wasn’t nervous, I was more excited. It’s a big responsibility, but I always think that you should challenge yourself and not run away from things that are hard. When things are easy, that’s when I get scared, because as an actor you need challenges, that’s what makes you stronger and better in your craft.”

Amy Brosnahan
The next portrayal does include an actual transgender person, in this case Amy Brosnahan of New Zealand, who is participating in a “Battle of the Babes” contest. Now there are many pretty transwomen, but What makes her case special is that she was originally banned from the contest, but was allowed in after the Human Rights Commission stepped in.
Her fellow contestants seem pleased with her presence:

At the Juice Bar in Parnell yesterday, the venue for tonight’s New Zealand’s final, Ms Brosnahan’s fellow competitors said they were looking forward to competing against her.

Finalist Shanise Siriana Wongchiu said she met Ms Brosnahan at the Auckland final.

“She was really nervous, she was just getting ready … she has full potential to actually win this.”

Ms Wongchiu said they bonded after realising Ms Brosnahan was also part-Samoan.

“I personally think good on her, it’s awesome,” finalist Shard McNeill said.