I need to preface this post with a disclaimer: the transgender engineer who is the “star” of the film is me. Black & Veatch released a video today as part of a series called #BeYouBV, which tells the stories of many professionals with the firm who have diverse occupations, hobbies, or lives. This Spring I was named one of several B&V Trailblazers, and was filmed for this video which tells a little bit about my life and how I used the support I received from everyone in my life as a platform for my advocacy.
The film features my good friend Ari Copeland, a senior water scientist at Black & Veatch who is also a transgender man. He’s the bearded guy I’m hugging and talking to, and who is helping to present to the crowd. Also featured in the film are my wife Fiona, who is a frequent contributor to this site, and who runs the Kansas City SOFFA group. My good and long-time friend Ceri Anne is shown on Trans Talk, and several other friends and co-workers appear. Some of the short video was shot at 90.1 FM KKFI, where we broadcast Trans Talk from.
Hello, and welcome to the June 2017 Trans Talk Edition of The Tenth Voice! We will have Debi Jackson and her family with us on this month’s show. Debi is the proud mom of a transgender daughter, Avery, and an activist. Avery featured on the cover of a recent National Geographic issue, “The Gender Revolution“. They join us this month to talk about the impact that activism has had on their lives.
We will also have our regular news round up of issues affecting Transgender and Non-Binary people, and finish off with our regular community calendar spot. We do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, June 24 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.
Earlier this year Proctor & Gamble released a short film sponsored by their Vicks line of products, which highlights the real-life story of Gayatri, a young Indian orphan who was adopted by Gauri Sawant, a 37-year-old Mumbai-based transgender woman and social activist. The video has gone viral, with almost 10 million views on YouTube, and is notable that no professional actors are used – both Gayatri and her mother Gauri appear as themselves in the video. Thus avoiding the nearly ubiquitous marginalization of our people via transface (artistic portrayal of transgender persons by cisgender persons).
The video tells the story of Gayatri’s life, starting with how when she was 6 years old her mother, a sex worker, died of AIDS. Gauri, her mother’s friend, decided to raise her as her own (despite the fact that she is forbidden legally from adopting the child herself). The video has spurred debate yet again regarding the rights of both transgender and third-gender, or hijra persons in the country. Statistics vary widely on the number of transgender persons in India, but it is estimated that as many as 2 million citizens are hijra, with potentially another million being transgender persons. Both communities face institutionalized class-based and caste-based discrimination in employment, housing, voting rights, and even access to basic social services.
The film composition is very well done and heartwarming, and highlights the inhumanity of denying transgender persons and their families basic human rights. It emphasizes this when Gayatri says the following:
My Civics book says that everyone is entitled to basic rights. Then why is my mom denied them? That’s why I’m not going to be a doctor, I will be a lawyer. For my mom.
Like San Francisco’s Finnochio’s, or the Jewel Box Lounge of Kansas City, Le Carrousel is one of those landmarks in transgender history which are in some ways at least as important as Compton’s Cafeteria or the Stonewall Inn. The club opened as a cabaret in 1926 and from about 1936 onward the club became known for its female impersonators, which actually included a growing percentage of transgender women and gender non-conforming men and women. The club became most famous for its transgender cabaret in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and was the stage and home to many notable transgender persons from history, such as April Ashley, Coccinelle, Sone Teal, Capuchine, Bambi, Kiki Moustic, and scores of others, including some transgender men.
Featured at the link below is a rare original program from Le Carrousel, which I purchased from a seller in Paris. The program is more of a retrospective covering multiple years, and it appears to contain photographs dating from 1959-1965. I have scanned every one of the 36 pages of this program in very high resolution (half a gigabyte in total!). As far as I can tell these images are not still in copyright, and I have placed no watermarks nor altered them in any way. Please download and save these as you see fit, to help preserve our transgender heritage.
A new addition to Transas City: the following image of famous transgender actress and political activist Coccinelle is from a photograph I bought from France. I have scanned it in high-resolution for the benefit of the transgender community. Please click on the small-sized photograph below to access the full-sized version. It shows Coccinelle posed in front of the Sacre Coeur in Paris, which stands very near Le Carrousel (where she performed for many years).