Tag Archives: crossdressing

Manufactured Outrage Over the Alleged Wal-Mart “Peeping Tom”

WalmartPeepingTomVery recently many of us have seen the following news report splashed all over FaceBook etc., sometimes in the context of “see! We done told you them thar’ trannies were dangerous!”

From the original article:

A man — who was dressed as a woman — is accused of spying on women as they used the bathroom at a Wal-Mart store in Woodbridge.

Police in Prince William County said the incident occurred May 15 around 10:30 p.m. at the mega store at 1400 Worth Avenue. Authorities were called to investigate a report of a peeping incident.

A 53-year-old woman from Woodbridge told police that while she was using the restroom inside the Wal-Mart, an unknown man stood in front of her stall. The man tried to use a mirror to see into the stall.

When the victim confronted him, he fled the restroom. Police said no physical contact was made by the alleged peeping man.

Gosh, that sounds really serious and of deep, national import – a person who may or may not have been a genetic male was reported by a single person, with no witnesses or evidence, of allegedly trying to use a mirror to see into the toilet stall of a Wal-Mart patron in a store in Virginia. I certainly hope President Obama, Pope Francis, and the United Nations General Assembly are taking this seriously!

Of course I’m being sarcastic, which is a luxury hopefully allowed to me. And I’m quite certain that trolls, flamers, “concerned citizens,” and the usual suspects will attempt to make some proverbial hay out of this – because after all, that’s what they do, yes? I’ve already read several hundred comments and posts by nervous transgender people and their allies, wondering if this is going to “set the cause back” or “lead to massive anti-transgender discrimination.” Given the current hostile anti-transgender media climate, these are not entirely unreasonable fears.

The first thing we need to keep in mind is that incidents like this (assuming that it’s been factually reported by all actors) have been happening continuously in history – pretty much since the first public restrooms were created in ancient civilization. But how often are transgender women involved? Remember, crimes of transgender women against cisgender women of any sort are so vanishingly rare that the FBI National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the Department of Justice, Interpol, etc. don’t even have a category or classification for crimes at any level committed by transgender women against cisgender women.


In fact, since the year 2000 I’ve only been able to discover 11 incidents in which an actual transgender person was alleged to have or committed a crime of any sort in a women’s public restroom. (note, I’m still researching this and those are not final figures) That’s a rate of 11 alleged or actual cases in 15 years, nationwide in the United States.

So let’s do a little math, what say? If we assume that the average woman visits a public restroom even as little as once a day – unarguably a low value – and we assume a restroom-going population of 100 million women in the United States (again, being conservative here), we end up with a total of greater than half a trillion public restroom visits by American women over 15 years. In short, this means that the annual odds an American woman will have a alleged or actual crime committed upon her in a public restroom by a transgender woman is about 1 in 49.7 billion. Long odds indeed, but how do they compare against everyday risks?

Assuming an 80-year lifetime and using the Injury Facts Chart from the National Safety Council for lifetime death rates:

  • Your annual odds of being killed by a bee or wasp sting are 1 in 4,461,120.
  • Your annual odds of being killed by a dog are 1 in 9,315,840.
  • Your annual odds of being killed by legal execution are 1 in 10,217,360.
  • Your annual odds of being killed by lightning are 1 in 13,197,440.

Put another way, a woman is nearly 5,000 times more likely to be killed by a dog or to be put to death judicially than to experience an alleged or actual crime in a public restroom by an actual transgender woman.


If we want to compare some even more unlikely odds, according to the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, 55 adults were killed between the years of 2000-2011 (inclusive) by having their own televisions fall on top of them. At a rate of 4.6 deaths by television per year for the general population – versus 0.73 incidents per year of transgender crime or attempted crime in a women’s restroom, very roughly speaking a woman is more than 6 times as likely to be squashed like a bug under their own television set than they are to experience alleged or actual crime from a transgender woman in a women’s restroom.

These numbers aren’t complete and final, of course. And they also don’t take into account unreported crimes, because it’s pretty doggone difficult to report on crimes which no one reports about. But seriously? Multiply the rate by 100 times, and it’s still minuscule.

Of course, the argument then shifts to being that by “allowing” transgender women the “privilege” to use the restrooms they should be using, we are actually opening the door to cisgender male perverts. Thus, by banning transgender women we can prevent crimes perpetrated by men in women’s public restrooms. This “prophylactic” argument falls on its face, however, when it’s extended outside of this one, specific issue. For example, one could just as easily make the argument that men should be banned from the priesthood of certain religious orders, given the appalling rate of child sexual abuse and rape which has come to light over the last 30 years from pedophiles hiding in the ranks.

But that would be just silly…right?

Link to the Washington Post Article

Meeting with Michael Boles of the “Private Birthday Party” Project


This last Saturday I was privileged to meet with Michael Boles, one of the team working on the Private Birthday Party Project here in Kansas City. To summarize the goal of the project, Michael Boles, Robert Chase Heishman, and others have been working to uncover, catalog, preserve, and eventually share and publicize information about the early drag, cabaret, crossdressing, and LGBT community in Kansas City. Their project began with chance discoveries of priceless old slides and photographs from that era, and they have since expanded their project into interviews with the performers and their contemporaries, collections of memorabilia, and much more.

While their project has been somewhat quiet since their introductory showing earlier this year, it’s been for a good reason. They have traveled to California, Las Vegas, and elsewhere to meet with folks from the early days of the Kansas City scene, and have many more plans brewing to increase their local collection – including traveling to view a cache of old Kansas City media and records in Sydney, Australia of all places!

I spent two enjoyable hours handling some of the original relics from this time of early Kansas City community history, viewing the photographs and programmes, and listening to Michael’s categorical knowledge and back story about each photograph. According to Michael their eventual hopes for their project include a book and a documentary, and I think each would be vital for preserving the history of our local community.

Michael sent some recent scans of photographs, which the team has been collecting as they dig deeper into history, and gave me permission to share them. I will keep you updated as they continue their journey back in time!

Douglas Kirk, age 69, was once a stripper and dancer at the Jewel Box in Kansas City, from 1966-1969, when he was known as Criss Noel. He currently lives in Las Vegas, and met with the Private Birthday Party team in person.

This is Douglas as Criss in the 1960’s.

This is Robert Buvard, who used perform with the Jewel Box Revue in the mid 1950’s to the early 1960’s. The Jewel Box Revue started in the late 30’s and was the first traveling group of female impersonators. Robert also worked with G.G. Allen, who is pictured later.

This is Robert as “Robbie Ross” in 1960.

G.G. Allen, in 1959.

This is David Schneider at a Halloween Ball in 1964. David was a local psychic and hairdresser, and had a public access television show called Psychic Voyages, which ran from 1984-1996. The Private Birthday Party team is in touch with his niece and are in the process of getting copies of the show.

This is Skip Arnold, a well-known female impersonator at the Jewel Box Lounge in Kansas City in the 1950’s and 1960’s, with Esther Newton in 1966. Esther wrote a book in the 1960’s called Mother Camp: Female Impersonation in America, which is considered a groundbreaking opus in that community.

And Esther Newton today, now a Term Professor of American Culture and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.

Mary Jones, a Transgender Woman in 1836


I’ve published a short historical look at transgender or crossdresser Mary Jones, who was worked as a prostitute and was discovered in 1836 when she was put on trial for pick-pocketing her male clients. Called “the Man Monster” at the time, she received a relatively light amount of treatment given the time and the moral panic of the anti-abolitionist riots passing through New York City at the time. You may read more at the link above.

Exclusive – Photographs of Transgender Women from Sydney in the 1970’s


A couple of years ago I stumbled across a very interesting book which I managed to purchase for a steal, not realizing how rare it would become. The book is “As a Woman” by Barry Kay, and it is a photographic essay book of transgender women of Sydney, Australia, who were photographed from 1974-1975. Kay, a stage designer who was a fair hand at photography, had many encounters with the Sydney transgender community in the early 1970’s, and he collected photographs which he took of both crossdressers and transsexuals in their private spaces, at home, with friends, at work, and about the town.

The book is made up of 80 photographs of more than 60 different women, all of them in black and white save for a sepia print which makes up the cover photograph. The photographs are often shot with a soft filter or soft focus, which either helps soften the images of the women, or else serves to create an air of gentle unreality to the photographs.

I selected 16 photographs from the book to highlight here on Transas City. Each photograph is scaled for easy display online, but if you right-click and save the file you will see the high-resolution scan.

Barry Kay – Transgender Women of 1970’s Sydney in “As a Woman”

Drag Queens in Facebook Name Row

A new petition has surfaced among part of the crossdressing/drag community to pressure Facebook into allowing drag performers to hold accounts under their professional (stage) name. At first this doesn’t seem like any big deal – more than half of the transgender women on my friends list are posting under a name which is not legally theirs. I did so myself until I finished transition.

However, Facebook also allows people to create pages under their specific persona, or any persona, so it seems like this might be a better answer. The downside is there is less “personal touch” working through a page via a standard Facebook account.

I don’t know what the right move is. It seems that Facebook wouldn’t have any real way to verify a person’s name, nor that much interest in cracking down on someone using an alias. Then again, making an exception here for drag performers shouldn’t be as big a deal as Facebook appears to be making it.

BBC News – Drag queens in Facebook name row.

More Malaysian Mistreatment…16 Transwomen Jailed and Fined for “Crossdressing”

Many of us have noticed as transgender human rights have been increasing worldwide that there has been conservative Christian backlash – but it’s nothing compared to the Muslim backlash.

Malaysia for some time has seen a growing Muslim presence and application of Sharia law in place of secular law, and appears to be following the lead of its neighbor, Indonesia. While many groups have suffered under Sharia law, no group has suffered more than the LGBT communities of those countries.

From the article:

On June 9, 2014, a Sharia court in Malaysia’s Negeri Sembilan state sentenced the 16 women in a hearing in which they had no access to a lawyer. State religious department officials arrested the women, along with one transgender child, at a wedding party in a private home on the night of June 8 and 9 under the state’s Sharia law, which criminalizes “a male person posing as a woman.” All pleaded guilty, except the child, who was released.

The religious department officials had infiltrated the wedding party and arrested the transwomen, several of whom were wedding planners, known locally as mak andam, while others were invited guests at the wedding. The officials beat one of the women – choking her and kicking her – and tore another woman’s clothing in the course of the arrest, according to Justice for Sisters, a Malaysian transgender rights group. After they were sentenced on June 9, because they are legally considered “men,” they were transferred to the male ward of Sungai Udong prison. There, prison authorities forcibly shaved their heads in what the women said was an effort to negate their gender identity.

On June 11, a defense lawyer filed a request to have the women’s sentences re-evaluated and to secure their release on bail. According to Justice for Sisters activists at the hearing, the judge’s actions appeared to reflect considerable personal bias in the case. The judge asked the accused, “Wouldn’t it be better if [you] are in prison?” He told them that their shaved heads made them “handsome.” He set bail conditions that were impossible for many of the women to meet, including that their parents – some of whom lived in distant states or were ill – physically come to court within 30 minutes to bail them out. The women served five days of their sentence before prison officials released them early on June 13 since their release date fell on a weekend.

Sounds like a simply lovely vacation spot.

M’sia ticked off for arresting & jailing transgender women.

Highly Interesting Photos of the Kansas City CD/T Scene, and an Upcoming Local Event

PrivateBirthdayParty0Unknown, 1958

I was pointed to an article in New York Magazine by an acquaintance, which highlights something which I think is very cool. The subject is the discovery and a project to exhibit an incredibly rare collection of photos of the crossdressing, drag, and transgender scene in Kansas City in the 1950’s and 1960’s. From the original article:

In 2006, artist Robert Heishman was poking around a Kansas City salvage yard, looking for material for an undergraduate documentary class, when he stumbled upon a slide carousel labeled “Jack’s Slides: Chicago and Kansas City.”

“The first image I looked at was this picture of a man in a kimono that was incredibly colorful — it was just a stunning image to behold,” Heishman told the Cut. “There were family photos, and then I hit this line of images that were all people dressed in drag, predominantly standing in front of this beautiful mosaic outside a bar.” Intrigued, Heishman purchased the slides — for $2. “I didn’t really know what I was purchasing, but I wanted to have time to sit with them a little longer,” he explains.

Two years later, Heishman’s longtime friend Michael Boles was helping a friend move into a new house in Kansas City — which, as he describes it, was right around the corner from the drag clubs that were vibrant in the ’50s and ’60s. He came across a shoebox of slides that turned out to be quite similar to the ones Heishman had found at the scrapyard. “When we got them together and paired them up, it was kind of amazing,” Boles reflects. “Some of them are even from the same parties.” The resulting collection — titled “Private Birthday Party,” after the signs that used to appear on club doors when drag balls were taking place — includes over 200 images and provides a vivid glimpse of Kansas City’s early drag-ball culture. Heishman and Boles have since brought on Emily Henson to help with background research; together, the three believe they’re close to identifying the photographer.

PrivateBirthdayParty1Unknown, December 1964
PrivateBirthdayParty3Unknown, December 1964

A first peek at these rare photos can be found on the project site, Private Birthday Party. I confess that when I saw the wonderful old photos complete with their classy kitsch I let out a squeal of joy which raised my wife’s eyebrows.
PrivateBirthdayParty2The Colony, 1959

What’s more, there is a debut party and fundraiser for the project which will be held on April 17, 2014, at the Guild in downtown Kansas City. Yours truly is intending to attend, and I hope to be able to ask some questions directly of the folks involved in this project. If anyone reading this wants to say hi, show up and look for the funny little lady with her camera.

PrivateBirthdayParty4The Colony, November 1968
Click here for a direct link to the photo gallery in its current form. I very much hope that they will be posting all of the photographs soon, and in higher resolution as well.

RuPaulGate Continues, as ’Drag Race’ Comes Under Fire for Transphobia

I’m sorry, but I’m liking RuPaul less and less the more that I investigate his history and see clips of him throwing around the “trannie” word, and claiming such things as that the only difference between a transgender woman and a drag queen was “$25,000 and a good surgeon.”

In this latest churning of the saga, RuPaul is coming under more fire for alleged transphobia in his Drag Race program. Commenting on RuPaul’s apparent inability to cease equivocating drag performers and transwomen, blogger Rafi D’Angelo, who was carried on Slate, posted the following, which I think all of you should read.

“Part of the problem with this little game is that a drag queen is not, in fact, a ’psychological woman.’ A drag queen is a drag queen. A drag queen goes home at night, takes off the wigs and makeup, and is still a man. You can be the most feminine queen in drag, but, at the end of day, you still enjoy the privileges of being a cisgender man. Trans women don’t have that option. They are women every day, and that comes with the threat of ridicule, exposure, and violence. True, there are male-to-female transgender folks who gravitated toward drag as part of their journey through gender identity, but that’s a limited case. Generally speaking, to put drag queens, who pretend to be something like women as a profession or hobby, in the same category with trans women-which is to say, real women-is offensive.”

RuPaul has not personally responded to the growing criticisms, but rather has relied upon joint statements from the show’s team of officials to respond thus:

“We delight in celebrating every color in the LGBT rainbow,” RuPaul Charles, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe and Mandy Salangsang said in a joint statement via NewNowNext. “When it comes to the movement of our trans sisters and trans brothers, we are newly sensitized and more committed than ever to help spread love, acceptance and understanding.”

And next we have two transgender contestants of RuPaul’s Drag Race, who have come out to criticize the program. The first one is model Carmen Carrera, who states:

“I am certain ’RuPaul’s Drag Race’ didn’t mean to be offensive, let this be a learning experience. I think the show has opened up and educated the minds of many people who were ignorant to the world of drag and has made equality and respect a possibility for those involved, not only as equal beings, but as phenomenal artists. There has always been a huge presence of trans artists in the drag scene. ’Shemale’ is an incredibly offensive term, and this whole business about if you can tell whether a woman is biological or not is getting kind of old. We live in a new world where understanding and acceptance are on the rise. ’Drag Race’ should be a little smarter about the terms they use and comprehend the fight for respect trans people are facing every minute of today. They should use their platform to educate their viewers truthfully on all facets of drag performance art.”

CarmenCarreraCarmen Carrera

Strong words. Also strong are the words of Monica Beverly Hillz, who stated:

“After my experience of being on the show, I would say that, to me, the use of the words ’she-male,’ ’ladyboy’ and ’tranny’ are not cute at all,” she said. “I have fought, and still am fighting, for respect from society — to be accepted as a woman and not referred to as a ’tranny’ or “’she-male.’”

“People don’t understand the daily struggle it is to be a transgender woman. Some days are great and some days I can’t be around anyone because I have so much anxiety, so much on my mind and just feel alone in this world.

After being on TV and coming out, it is very difficult to live a normal life. So when you see a show that you look up to and have been a part of, it kind of sucks hearing them use those words.

I will say that RuPaul and the entire cast and production team were amazing. To this day they still check up on me, so for that I am forever grateful.

However, maybe some things need to be changed about the show, because it’s not just a drag show anymore. We have beautiful transgender cast mates paving the way for all transgender showgirls.”

Many of my friends will disagree with me, but I’m stunned in just the relatively short time that I’ve been an activist in the growing gulf between trangender persons and crossdressers and drag performers. I may have to do some research on this.

’Drag Race’ Comes Under Fire for Transphobia, RuPaul Responds :: EDGE Chicago.

Guyana Judge (Sorta) Clarifies Law Against Cross-dressing. Kinda.

JusticeIt may not be all sunshine and lollipops here in the United States, but it can really suck to be transgender in most other countries. Of course several states and municipalities here have laws against crossdressing on their books, they just aren’t enforced.

Time for a little cognitive dissonance, Guyana style:

The litigants were apparently waiting for taxis when they were arrested for wearing female attire. When they appeared before the court the first time, a magistrate told them they were confused about their sexuality and should attend church and give their lives to Jesus Christ.

“The trans community is very worried and still fearful of arrests in light of this decision,” said McEwan, one of the challenge’s litigants.

Guyana judge clarifies rule against cross-dressing – Sonora News World – myMotherLode.com.

Drag Queen Lady Bunny Shares Her Opinions on LGBT and Especially T History


A choice quote from the article:

“I say, guess what, the gay rights movement was not started by people who wore a pink T-shirt one day on gay Pride day and went back to a closeted office job. It was started by drag queens, transsexuals, and street people who were totally flamboyant and lived their lives flamboyantly and didn’t have a conservative place to retreat to and got shit on all the time,” said Lady Bunny. “Don’t ever try to subtract drag queens from gay rights history; you will fail.”

I mostly agree with her. Any thoughts?

Lady Bunny Bounces into San Francisco :: EDGE New England.

Dustin Hoffman Breaks Down Crying Explaining Something That Every Woman Sadly Already Experienced

Hoffman_Dustin_Tootsie_Interview(Note – the above is not an embedded video. Click all you want, you shall be sorely disappointed until you click the link at the end of this post).

I watched this video after I’d seen it being shared on much of Facebook, and wasn’t expecting much. It turns out to be a very powerful, short interview. Without intending to, it directly touches on a major portion of the transsexual experience, and so I’m posting a link to it here.

Dustin Hoffman Breaks Down Crying Explaining Something That Every Woman Sadly Already Experienced.