Zelma Rawlston, Drag King from the 1800’s

I’ve added two photos of a new addition to Transas City: Zelma Rawlston, who played the role of a “swell young man” in many plays and productions. Her image in male dress caught the imagination of audiences in the 1890’s-1910’s, and she appeared on music sheets, playbills, and in many magazines and newspapers. One of the photos, showing her in 1897, is an original document that I acquired and which has now entered the Transas City collection.

Based upon historical evidence it’s most likely that Zelma was gender non-conforming, rather than being transgender. But as we know, gender non-conformity is a vital part of the overall transgender awareness and experience throughout society, and many gender non-conforming persons are valued and cherished for their bravery via their public presence.

Click this link to visit the new Zelma Rawlston page on Transas City. 

A 247-Year-Old Addition to Transas City: The Chevalier D’Eon

Several weeks ago I posted photos from the incredibly rare book from 1771 that I purchased in England. The book featured a unique story about the Chevalier D’Eon, a famous transgender person who lived from 1728-1810, and and how they underwent an examination by a jury of noblewomen to “prove” whether their physical sex was male or female. I’ll provide a spoiler and say that the result was “epicene,” which means “having characteristics of both sexes, or being of indeterminate sex.”

The Chevalier D’Eon and their incredible story has influenced transgender research and history even into the mid-20th century, with the Chevalier even being mentioned during the recent production of Casa Valentina.

I’ve finally made the high-resolution scans available; it took more time than I thought because scanning a 247-year-old book without breaking the spine is tricky. I have a page set up now with a brief introduction, the frontispiece of the book, the woodcut of the Chevalier, and the two pages of text scanned in high resolution. As usual, there are no watermarks, no alterations, and no copyrights. Please download and take these images to keep them safe!

The Updates are Starting: A Very Special Christine

Hello everyone, the updates are returning. I’ve been very ill for some time, but I’ve also been steadily ferreting out and collecting rare transgender history to share with you all. I have several items scanned and processed to share with you all, but I’m going to kick off this series with a very special photograph of Christine Jorgensen. It’s one of my favorites, despite the poor condition of the photograph in the lower left-hand corner. I like this photograph because it’s autographed, she’s happy, and it’s not a press photograph or reprint – this is an actual private photograph she took with “Frank,” whom I have not been able to identify. The signature reads “To Frank – Thank you for letting me join your Harem. Christine.” Please click on the link below the image to see the high-resolution scan.

High-resolution version.

You can find more Christine Jorgensen photographs and media on our Christine Jorgensen page.

December 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI


We have a very artistic episode of this month’s Trans Talk Edition of the Tenth Voice! We’re going to kick off the program with a special on the opera “As One.” Composed by Laura Kaminsky, with a libretto by Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed, As One is a coming-of-age story about a transgender woman, and inspired by the real-life transition of Ms. Reed herself. Laura, Mark, and Kimberly will be joining us by phone, and in the studio with us is Linda Brand, the Director of Education and Community Engagement for the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, which will be presenting the opera.

After the break we will be joined here live in the studio by the Transfinity KC Transgender Chorus, who are going to sing and play some music and help us share some holiday cheer with us all. We’ll talk to them about their 2017 performance year, and their plans for the upcoming 2018 season.

We will have a new take on the transgender news of the month, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, December 23rd at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phone.

November 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI

On this month’s Trans Talk Edition of the Tenth Voice we’re going to have a special interview with a woman who is part of living transgender history. You’ve heard all about the issue of transgender troops in the military, well our guest, Joanna Clark, is the grandmother of that issue. After a long career in the Navy she was ousted from the service in the 70’s and then enlisted in the Army as an openly transgender woman in 1976. She was discharged again and took on the military, suing and winning in court. She went on to fight for transgender rights in the 70’s and 80’s, being instrumental in the fight to change gender markers on birth certificates and drivers licenses in California. She then started and ran the AEGIS online bulletin board, which became the largest HIV/AIDS information database in the world, for which she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

We will have a new take on the transgender news of the month, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, November 25th at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phone.

October 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI

On the October Trans Talk edition of The Tenth Voice, we will open the show by listening to an interview that Fiona and I conducted with the directors and one of the cast of the local production of Casa Valentina. This is a play exploring the struggle for acceptance by cross-dressing men in the 1960’s, which is based upon a real event in the history of gender non-conformity. Then we are going to talk to a special guest in the studio with us today, a transgender woman of color who has faced many terrible obstacles in her life journey, leading to her entering sex work and being the victim of violence right here in Kansas City. She has a powerful story that I believe will speak to all of us.

We will have Una’s News Rant, a round up of some of the LGBT news this week, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, October 28th at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phone.

Male Call – Casting Call in Kansas City for Transmen!


The Unicorn Theatre is producing a new play called HIR by Taylor Mac (a recent MacArthur Genius award recipient and Pulitzer Prize finalist). One of the characters in HIR is a young transgender man, and Director of Development Ian Crawford is looking to fight the phenomenon of “transface” by casting a transgender man in the role of a transgender man.

Folks who are interested can reach out to his email at icrawford@unicorntheatre.org Mr. Crawford says that he is happy to e-mail back and forth with anyone interested and answer questions, send them the play to read, or grab coffee to talk it over if they like. In the coming weeks they will set up a time to see people and have them audition (read through some scenes with other actors etc.) He would like to know how much, if any, acting experience they might have, but they understand due to discrimination most folks will not have much or any, and they will work with whoever they cast to make them comfortable and prepared for this. It’s reportedly a pretty large role, and they will be working with some great professional actors in town, so it could be a lot of work and a great learning experience too!

Once again, for further information, contact Ian Crawford at icrawford@unicorntheatre.org

September 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI

Renaissance lesbians.

We will have a full studio for this month’s Trans Talk edition of The Tenth Voice. We’re going to begin by talking to two members of the Equal Trans Support Group, about their group and their creative fundraising efforts at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. Next, we’ll talk with the assistant director of the UMKC LGBTQIA Programs and Services Office of Student Involvement about the services that they provide to LGBTQIA persons on campus. Finally, we have representatives of the Kansas City Bear Mafia joining us to discuss the bear community and to introduce us to their organization.

We will have Una’s News Rant, a round up of some of the LGBT news this week, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, September 24th at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phone.

August 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI

Hello everyone! On Trans Talk this month we’re going to be talking with a return guest in our studio – Dr. Hiten Soni, a psychiatrist who strongly supports the transgender community, about the rise in stress in LGBT people after Trump’s election.

We will have Una’s News Rant, a round up of some of the LGBT news this week, and we will finish up the show with the community calendar update. I do hope you will be able to join me this Saturday, August 26th at 1:00 pm on 90.1 KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org, or via various apps on your phone.

July 2017 Trans Talk on KKFI

Transition_Family
Hello everyone! We have two guests with us today. Rhyan is a new guest to Trans Talk, and he is here to discuss his own transgender journey with us and to talk about his life. Also with us is Julie, the mother of a transgender boy, who was on our program before to discuss their family’s transition along with her son, as well as her battles with the Odessa Missouri school district.

As usual, we will share with you the transgender news and the community calendar update. We do hope you will be able to join us this Saturday, July 22 at 1:00 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio! You can also stream the program live on kkfi.org.

New Corporate Video Highlights and Supports Transgender Engineers

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.

If you use Facebook, this link will take you direct to my video on the Black & Veatch page, and I recommend trying it first.

If however you don’t use Facebook, you can also find the video at this link.

June 2017 Trans Talk on 90.1 KKFI

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.

P&G Transgender Advertisement Continues to Lead Debate in India

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.

The film is well worth your time to watch.