Category Archives: Entertainment

Trans-related entertainment, including book and film reviews.

New Zoolander Film Called “Transphobic”

A somewhat odd controversy has erupted over the trailer for the film Zoolander 2. In the trailer, actor Benedict Cumberbatch plays a androgynous model named “All,” and in one brief scene from the trailer, the two stars question whether All is a “male or female model” and if All has “a hot dog or a bun.”

Several petitions have been started calling for a boycott of the film for mocking transgender, androgyne, and gender fluid individuals. While other petitions demand to know why a transgender, androgyne, or gender fluid individual was not cast in the campy role, as opposed to a cisgender actor. Just proving that some days, you simply cannot win.

Having viewed the trailer my strongest urge was neither to start nor sign a petition, but rather to consider watching Mad Max: Fury Road for the 9th time instead.

You can see the trailer at the link below

October 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

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Hello everyone! On Trans Talk this month I am going to cover three topics. First I’ll speak with Lanie Gray Macaulay and Hannah Miller, teachers at Olathe North High School who sponsor their Gay-Straight Alliance. Next I will speak with SOFFA leader Fiona Nowling and Marsha, a transgender woman who has been separated from many in her family as a result of her transition, and we will discuss the problems faced by transgender persons during the holidays. Finally, I will interview Oliver Bohanon and Natalie Hicks, who are working on a transgender documentary film project right here in Kansas City.

I will also give a breakdown of some of the LGBT news this week, and I will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, October 24 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

September 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

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Hello everyone! On Trans Talk this month, my co-host Luke Harness and I are going to cover three topics. First we’ll speak with Jacob and Drew, transgender men who will discuss how their local gym became a trans+ friendly Kansas City business. We will next have wardrobe stylist Jennifer Niehouse to talk about creating a personal transgender style. Finally, Luke will be interviewing me about my experiences with the transgender communities of 4 countries I’ve recently worked in.

As usual Luke will give us a breakdown of some of the LGBT news this week, and I will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, September 26 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

Olathe School District’s Transgender Restroom Policy Stirs Controversy – Not

The bathrooms inside a Johnson County high school are sparking some controversy, and it all has to do with which restrooms transgender students can use.

Please note that this is an old event, which has been bumped on social media and sent to me by two separate people, so I thought I would at least address the issue.

The original article from KCTV5, which is linked below, has a headline which implies that there is a major protest action, or some sort of mass resistance to the fact that two transgender students in the Olathe School District are being allowed to use the restroom congruent with their true gender. In reading the article, however, we find that the “controversy” consists of:

“KCTV5 News received an email from someone who said they are a concerned Olathe East High School parent outraged the school never told them anything, and now their student will be in a restroom with the opposite sex.”

A single e-mail. From one person, not identified. Wow, does Obama know about this? The article makes a further error, when it prints:

“The school district is in uncharted territory. They are the first metro school to address what the school paper calls the transgender ‘bathroom issue.’ “

Except of course for the entire KCMO School District, as proven by my interview with Lawrence Altman on last month’s Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio.

Honestly, I’m really uncertain at the level of reporting here, especially given that KCTV5 has a rather good record on transgender reporting, as seen in their reporting on the recent murder of Tamara Dominguez.

Source: District’s change over restrooms for transgender students stirs controversy

August 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

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We are going to cover three topics on Trans Talk, Saturday, August 22nd, at 1:00. First, we are going to be going “back to school” by talking with Jack, who will be sharing his experiences transitioning while at UMKC, and speaking with Luke Harness about the support groups offered on campus. We also have Lawrence Altman, the Lead Compliance Attorney for the Kansas City Missouri public school district, to discuss the comprehensive protections for transgender students in his district. For the next half of our program we will be interviewing Fiona Nowling, who is the leader of the Kansas City SOFFA support group, for the significant others, friends, family, and allies of transgender people. With Fiona is Louise, a long-time SOFFA member who has had success adjusting to the transition of her child as a result of support she and her husband found through the group. Finally, I will report on the murder of local transgender woman Tamara Dominguez, and report on the local media coverage and missteps which infuriated many in the Kansas City transgender community.

As always, we will have a breakdown of the LGBT news for the week and the community calendar update. Be sure to tune in at 1:00pm central, 90.1 FM, or kkfi.org, Kansas City Community Radio!

 

Poet Creates First Class for Transgender Poetry

Trace Peterson, a poet at the forefront of the push for transgender representation in poetry, will soon pioneer what she says is the country’s first course in transgender poetry.

Transgender lives and the experience of being transgender is something which not only is difficult for cisgender persons to understand, it can sometimes be difficult for we ourselves to understand. But this is part of the human experience, really – understanding ourselves and our place in the world has been a challenge since the earliest eras of civilization, and poetry has assisted with that communication for millennia.

Enter Trace Peterson, editor and publisher of the journal EOAGH and co-editor of the anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. And in an effort to create visibility for transgender people, as well as to create a literary context for their work, Ms. Peterson will teach what she says is the first course in transgender poetry at Hunter College (of the City University of New York) this fall.

At the link below you can read a poem by Ms. Peterson, as well as listen to her reading her own work.

(Thank you to Julie C. for the news scoop).

Source: Poet creates first class for transgender poetry

Trans Talk : Local Musicians and a Successful Transgender Marriage

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On today’s show on the Tenth Voice’s Trans Talk program, Una Nowling (me), and Luke Harness (my bro) will discuss two very different topics. In our first segment the topic will be transgender musicians, and three local transgender musicians will join us in the KKFI studio to discuss their art and their lives – Melody Burns from the External Combustion Orchestra, solo performer Mercury Mad, and Ceri Anne, who is working to form a band called “The Transistors.”

In our second segment we will have Blake and Ali in our studio to discuss the challenges of their transgender relationship. Together for seven years this October and married as a same sex couple in 2010, they became husband and wife in October 2014, after Blake got his gender marker legally changed. They’ll be with us in the studio sharing their experiences of being in a relationship prior to, and throughout, Blake’s transition.

Listen to us at 1:00pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City’s Community Radio. If you are outside of the area or do not have a wireless receiving device, you can stream the program by going to our station’s website.

Zoey Tur is Unfortunately in Hot Water, Again

Journalist Zoey Tur, who has undergone a highly public gender transition and who has also been responsible for even more highly public controversies among the transgender community, has had a police report filed against her by Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro. The complaint was prompted by the following escapades which occurred during a televised discussion regarding Caitlyn Jenner. From the Washington Times:

The report follows a tense exchange between Mr. Shapiro and Ms. Tur on HLN’s “Dr. Drew On Call” over Caitlyn Jenner’s receipt of ESPN’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Ms. Tur grabbed the back of Mr. Shapiro’s neck and said, “You cut that out now, or you’ll go home in an ambulance,” after Mr. Shapiro called her “sir.”

Mr. Shapiro later alleged that Ms. Tur had threatened him after the appearance, saying, “I’ll see you in the parking lot.” CNN security escorted Mr. Shapiro to his car after ensuring Ms. Tur had left the premises, according to Breitbart News.

Ms. Tur also tweeted “me too” on Friday in response to a Twitter user who said he’d liked to see Ms. Tur “curb stomp” the Breitbart editor.

Seems a bit over-the-top, yes? Tur is a polarizing person in the transgender community, for such other controversies as her “investigation” via Facebook of transgender woman Carlotta Sklodowska, who was harassed for using the female facilities at a Michigan gym. Tur “speculate(d) that Sklodowska was actually a male-identified crossdresser expressing a “sexual fetish.” and further “directly accused Sklodowska of entering the locker room as a sexual predator aiming to “perv out on women.”

Tur also angered transgender people when she:

“…implied that some trans men are not actually trans because they just have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance found in some females. “With hormone replacement therapy,” she proclaimed, “it can be treated and it can adjust people back to where they would be.” Interviewer James St. James confirmed, “So you’re saying that they might think that they’re transgender when actually it’s just a medical situation?” “Correct,” Tur responded. Diego Sanchez, Director of Policy for PFLAG National and a transgender man himself, told ThinkProgress that Tur’s assertion is “false.” He should know; his own endocrinologist, Dr. Vin Tangpricha, has conducted much of the available research on the topic.”

She also twice outed Caitlyn Jenner on television prior to her transition, and she has made inaccurate legal claims, which she did own up to, regarding Title II versus Title VII and its relevance for protecting transgender persons.

Tur, who holds no journalism degrees nor any research credentials nor scientific training which would provide her backing for making the statements which she has made, has been brash and largely unapologetic about her stances and statements. With this latest television embarrassment, she is again casting transgender persons in a bad light. I don’t have a circuit of pet television spots to appear upon, but I have enough professional training and doggone common sense to understand that you do not physically assault your opponent during a debate, nor make vague threats of violence in person! Honestly, I really don’t get it.

From ThinkProgress:

Tur insisted to ThinkProgress that she doesn’t think of herself as a spokesperson of the trans community, adding that she was “fully thinking of the [good of the] community” when she made her comments. But Sanchez warns that despite her intent, the way she speaks about transgender issues — and the way the media allows her to speak about transgender issues — could still be problematic. “It is crucial for the health and well-being of all people who are trans that one person does not declare themselves or be declared a spokesperson for an entire community,” he told ThinkProgress. “It is also crucial that the media not approach anyone in that way. One person’s experience is exactly that: one person’s experience.”

Juro, like Stabler and Sanchez, worries that the political stakes for transgender equality are too high to allow for such problematic messaging and representation. Her advice to Tur is simple: “Please stop saying stupid shit on television.”

Indeed.

Source: Ben Shapiro files police report against Zoey Tur, Inside Edition reporter – Washington Times

“Tangerine”: A Stunning and Unusual Film About Transgender Prostitutes

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Shot on tricked out iPhone 5s’s along the streets of L.A., Sean Baker’s no-budget revenge odyssey ‘Tangerine’ is not only a staggering achievement, but a brilliant film.

The plight of transgender prostitutes is one I know very well, having served for a time on the board of directors of a charity which provided needed assistance to prostitutes on the streets of Kansas City, a very large number of which were transgender women of color. And there really isn’t anything positive at all about the conditions in which transgender prostitutes must work and live, the violence and degradation they endure, drug and alcohol addiction, the lack of basic services – let alone health care. In short, there really isn’t anything humorous at all about the world of sexual exploitation.

But art finds humor even where it seems impossibly irreverent. And so long as the characters are treated with respect and allowed their own dignity, even a portrayal of transgender prostitution could have artistic merit without being offensive.

Enter the indie film Tangerine, scripted by Sean Baker and Chris Bergoch and turning heads after a splash debut at the Sundance film festival. Set in the strip of Santa Monica Boulevard, a common venue for transgender prostitutes bordered by the trendy gay mecca of WeHo and the working-class ethnic enclaves of East Hollywood, the story of Tangerine revolves around Sin-Dee (Kitana “Kiki” Rodriguez) and her quest to punish her man (James Ransone) who was unfaithful with one of his cisgender prostitutes while she was serving a month in jail. This naturally sets Sin-Dee’s into a furious rampage across Hollywood one Christmas Eve, with her best friend, fellow prostitute Alexandra (Mya Taylor) accompanying her.

There is a preview of the film below; it is most definitely not work-safe, with a lot of profanity. What has many talking about Tangerine is not the subject matter, but the fact that the entire film was shot on a shoestring budget using three iPhone 5s smartphones. Yes, that’s right, filmed by smartphones.

There is more detail about the film at the two links below the YouTube video. It’s difficult to get a clear impression of the film from a 2-minute preview, I’m going to give the film a chance and see it or buy the DVD as soon as it is released. I confess that even though I tried not to, given the gravity of the overarching topic, I actually laughed out loud at the back-and-forth witty dialogue between Sin-Dee and Alexandra.

‘Tangerine’: How One of the Most Stunning Movies of the Year Was Shot on an iPhone – The Daily Beast

The Plight of the Transgender Prostitute – The Daily Beast

June 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

KKFI

Following a historic day where the United States Supreme Court affirmed a right to same-sex marriage, the Tenth Voice will focus on the decision on our monthly Trans Talk program. Today at 1:00 pm Central time, we will interview Micah Kubic, the executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, as well as Jeffrey Mittman, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri. We’re going to discuss the history that brought us to yesterday’s decision, what’s next for existing marriage cases and hold-out administrations that may continue looking for ways to circumvent the court’s ruling. And most importantly, where the LGBT rights movement goes from here.

This will also be Sandra Meade’s last show as a regular hostess of Trans Talk. Sandra has been a foundation of Trans Talk here at KKFI, and she has spent a lot of time training me and giving encouragement to me over the last 5 months to step in for her as a regular hostess of the program. I am very much indebted to her for giving me the opportunity to serve the Kansas City community in this way. After the main event Sandra, Luke Harness, and myself will reminisce a bit about some of her favorite past shows, and talk a bit about the future.

As always, we will have a breakdown of the LGBT news for the week and the community calendar update. Be sure to tune in at 1:00pm central, 90.1 FM, or kkfi.org, Kansas City Community Radio!

 

May 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

KKFIPlease join us this coming Saturday, May 23 on “Trans Talk,” 90.1 FM, KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio at 1:00 pm central. You can also tune into kkfi.org to listen in via live streaming audio from anywhere with an internet connection.

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On this program Luke Harness, Sandra Meade, and myself will be discussing two sides of the publicity coin – lives in “stealth,” and lives in “public.” Our special guests include “Q,” a local transgender man who will discuss the pressures and benefits of living in stealth, and four ladies from the recent Discovery Life reality program “New Girls on the Block.” Luke will kick off the program with some LGBT news for the week, and I will finish up the program with the Community Calendar update.

Please tune in if you can, as we hope this shall be a great show!

Movie Review: Limited Partnership (2014)

LimitedPartnershipImageLimited Partnership is a documentary film about the relationship between Richard Adams, a Filipino American, and Tony Sullivan, an Australian.

Richard and Tony met in Los Angeles in 1971 when Tony was in the US on a tourist visa, during a stop while travelling around the world. They fell in love, and Tony decided to stay with Richard. Every three months he had to leave the United States and then re-enter, fearing that each time the Immigration Service would tell him he had visited too often. Then in 1975 a county clerk in Boulder, Colorado granted a marriage license to a same sex couple, after advice from the local county attorney that nothing in the state constitution forbade it. Tony and Richard flew to Boulder with their minister and friends, applied for a license, and were married there straight away.

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Then they did what any married couple would do – they applied for a visa for the immigrant partner for permanent residency in the US. I’ve been through this process myself, and it’s not pleasant: it’s lengthy, fraught with bureaucratic delays, and deliberate unpleasantness to try to shake you or trip you up, or to try to make you reveal that you aren’t in a real relationship, and you’re just trying to get your grubby little mitts on that vaunted green card. Thanks to an accident of birth, I didn’t have to deal with what Richard and Tony did – they received a letter of rejection stating they “failed to establish that a bona fide marital relationship can exist between two faggots”.

Naturally, faced with Tony’s deportation, they sued the United States government, in a case known as Adams v Howerton. The general findings of the court was that even if the marriage were legal, Colorado does not control immigration, Congress does, and the court found that Congress had no intention to expand the definition of spouse to allow same sex spouses to immigrate. They went through appeal after appeal, until their case reached the United States Supreme Court – who refused to hear their case, leaving them with almost no options. They tried one last attempt – Tony Sullivan filed claiming that it would cause undue hardship to be deported, as unlike most deportees, he wouldn’t be able to take his nearest and dearest with him, as Adams could not immigrate to Australia to be with him (Sullivan v INS). This was decided against them in 1985 with Judge Kennedy (now on the Supreme Court) penning the majority decision.

Sullivan-Adams-BrownThe couple left the United States together, but had nowhere to go, as at that time no country recognised same sex marriage as a basis for immigration. They travelled together in Europe as tourists for a while on EuroRail passes, desperately poor, then returned to the United States. They met an American friend of theirs in Mexico, who helped Richard sneak Tony in at the border by playing on the border guards’ bigotry – he looked at the scruffy white guy in a baseball cap and just assumed he was American and waved them all through.

This time they went into hiding, with Tony living as an undocumented alien and getting poorly paid work under the table. Richard found work for a law firm, and the couple refrained from activism and kept their heads down, hoping not to be noticed. Around them, the AIDS epidemic struck down many of their dearest friends, including their immigration lawyer. Much later, as same sex marriage came into the political eye again (being approved in California, then struck down with Proposition 8), they started to speak out, always feeling that a target was on them, and that Tony might be taken away at any time.

Richard_and_Tony

As the marriage rights debate took increasingly positive turns, Richard’s health suffered a crippling blow – he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. His health deteriorated rapidly as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case was heard in the Supreme Court, and their current immigration attorney advised them to go to Washington, which had recently approved same sex marriage, and re-marry there, in case a modern court didn’t consider that old marriage to be legally valid. They agreed, although it was painful for both of them to do so, but Richard died the next day.

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Shortly thereafter, Justice Kennedy penned the majority decision striking down Section 3 of DOMA and allowing same sex marriages recognised by a state to be recognised for federal purposes – survivor benefits for social security, tax returns, and of course, immigration. Tony says that he doesn’t hold any bitterness towards Justice Kennedy, accepting that he has obviously changed, and we should also accept that others can change as well. Given the lengthy historical backdrop portrayed in this film, same-sex marriage is evidently something that Justice Kennedy has had a long time to think over, longer than most people are aware.

Their story is shockingly undertold – Wikipedia features a tiny page on Richard, another on the main court case, and has no information on Tony (FYI, he’s not the Australian Rules football player that rates a paragraph on there).

After the film, which I doubt left a dry eye in the house, there was a discussion panel, with Angie Williams, a local immigration lawyer, Doug Bonney, the legal director of the ACLU of Kansas, Dick Nelson, a local retired journalist with a story very similar to Richard and Tony’s, Lindsey Foat, a reporter for KCPT and The Hale Center for Journalism, and myself, Fiona Nowling, co-founder of Transas City , and an immigrant from the UK. Lindsey moderated a discussion of the film and a question and answer session from the audience, with many good points and interesting information. We all (panel and audience alike) stressed that as progress is made, backlashes tend to get made at smaller and smaller minorities, and that it is important to keep fighting for everyone’s sake under the LGBT umbrella. There was much discussion of intersections of discrimination, partly provoked by the episode of Tony sneaking into the US – if Richard had had to sneak in, things might have been harder. One person there announced some upcoming discussions on that which are sponsored by the Kansas City Anti-Violence Project, so look for a separate post with more details.

Coincidentally, while I was on that panel, a friend who married her wife recently in Kansas, on a legally valid Kansas wedding license, was posting on Facebook about her experience being turned down by the Kansas DMV when she attempted to change her name on her driver’s license to her wife’s name. “It’s not legal,” she was told.

At the end of the film, it was announced that Tony has filed a widower’s petition to be allowed to remain legally in the US, which is still under consideration. Since the film was made, he has written to the President, demanding an apology for how he and Richard were treated, and he has received a letter of apology from the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the successor to the INS. He has also received a work permit, despite the fact that the outcome of his petition for residency is still pending. So there definitely is hope.

I strongly recommend anyone interested in LGBT rights or immigration reform see this film, and it will air on KCPT on June 15th at 9 P.M. Central time. I also recommend having tissues handy.

April 2015 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

KKFIPlease join us today, April 25 on “Trans Talk,” 90.1 FM, KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio at 1:00 pm central. You can also tune into kkfi.org to listen in via live streaming audio from anywhere with an internet connection.

On this program Luke Harness, Sandra Meade, and myself will be discussing surgery within the transgender community, and all of its ramifications. Our special guests include three local transgender persons: MJ, a transgender woman who has completed surgery; James, a transgender man who is just starting his journey; and Amanda, a transgender woman who is at a critical point in her transition. Luke will kick off the program with some LGBT news for the week, and I will finish up the program with the Community Calendar update.

Please tune in if you can, as we hope this shall be a great show!

Movie Review: Kumu Hina (2014)

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Kumu Hina is a documentary film about the life of Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Hina), a teacher of the traditional dance of Hawaii and a transgender woman. The film focuses overtly upon four aspects of Hina’s life: her attempt to teach a group of male students at Hālau Lokahi Public Charter School how to perform traditional Hawaiian dance, her mentoring of a transgender boy (Hoonani Kamai) who is attempting to join the male group, her work as the chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council, and Hina’s relationship and marriage to her Fijian husband, Hema.

But there is a continual subtext of a fifth aspect to Hina, which is the story of the traditional transgender people of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, who are called māhū*. The māhū have been a respected part of Hawaiian culture since antiquity, and were noted as existing by the first Europeans who visited the islands. However, with the influx of European Christianity and its missionaries, several attempts were made over time to demonize and criminalize the māhū out of existence. For Hina, teaching the language, the dance, and working with the young transgender boy is part of her work to preserve the māhū culture.

A complete movie review of this very well-done documentary can be found at this link.

Join Us for a Free Film Screening and Panel Discussion

Kuma Hina
On Saturday, April 11 at 11am, Community Cinema presents Kumu Hina.

Imagine a world where a little boy can grow up to be the woman of her dreams, and a trans boy can rise to become a leader among men. Welcome to Kumu Hina’s Hawai’i.

During a momentous year in her life in modern Honolulu, Hina Wong-Kalu, a native Hawaiian māhū, or transgender, teacher uses traditional culture to inspire a student to claim her place as leader of the school’s all-male hula troupe. But despite her success as a teacher, Hina longs for love and a committed relationship. Will her marriage to a headstrong Tongan man fulfill her dreams? An incredible docudrama that unfolds like a narrative film, “Kumu Hina” reveals a side of Hawai’i rarely seen on screen.

After the film, a panel will discuss recent events impacting KC’s transgender community as well as its history. Una Nowling from Transas City, and community partners from The Transgender Institute will be on the panel.

Please note: The program and film start at 11 a.m., so please plan to arrive at least a few minutes early.

Kumu Hina
Saturday, April 11 at 11am
Tivoli Cinemas – 4050 Pennsylvania Ave Kansas City, MO 64111

You may RSVP by this link.