Monthly Archives: June 2014

Fiona Speaks at KKFI 90.1 on Her Transgender Support Group

Both myself and Transas City Vice-Chairwoman Fiona received a warm welcome by Sandra Meade and her new co-host J.D. Fiona spoke for about 20 minutes about her SOFFA group, which is here to help the significant others, family, friends, and allies of transgender persons.

We do not have a link to a podcast of the program yet, but when asked previously why she chose to join and then lead the SOFFA group in Kansas City, Fiona replied:

“I felt like I needed to add my strength to those who were struggling with the transition of someone they care about. I know from personal experience how overwhelming it can be, and I want everyone to know that you don’t have to face it alone. No transgender persons are allowed at SOFFA, so you are free to express your concerns without worrying about offending anyone. We have a non-judgmental group which works together to support each other with experience, suggestions, and listening. Transition doesn’t have to be the end, it can be the beginning.”

SOFFA meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month (with exceptions for holidays) at the Unity Temple on the Plaza, in the Sunrise Room, from 6:30-8:30.

Please see this link if you or someone you know may be interested in SOFFA.

Transas City Vice-Chairwoman Fiona to Speak on the Radio June 28

On the June 28 edition of The Tenth Voice on KKFI FM 90.1, hostess Sandra Meade, the State Chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition, will interview Transas City Vice-Chairwoman Fiona about the SOFFA support group she runs here in Kansas City.

SOFFA, which stands for Significant Others, Family, Friends, and Allies, is part of a national effort to foster healing, acceptance, and positive experiences for those whose lives are touched by transgender persons. If you are at all interested in hearing this news, please tune in to KKFI FM 90.1 on Saturday, June 28, at 1:00pm.

More information on the Kansas City SOFFA Group may be found at this link.

Sitcom “The Switch” May Make Trans TV History

I for one am really excited about this program, and I’m really hoping they run at least the first season of it. Some details from the link below:

According to Vancouver-based television producer Amy Fox, her new sitcom The Switch could push trans representation forward 15 years. In a recent Bustle interview, she discussed how the show’s forecasted reach is beyond anything advocates could have imagined happening before 2030.

Why? Because unlike any trans-centered show before it, The Switch has already procured a broadcast agreement from a TV network in Canada. If it reaches its fundraising goal and successfully airs, Julie Vu, who portrays main character Sü, will become the first trans actor to play a lead on television.

The link below has a short video starring the, well, stars of the sitcom. The pilot episode can be seen here.

WATCH: Sitcom The Switch May Make Trans TV History |

Stephenie, At Last – A Powerful Story of a Transgender Life Delayed

I’ve read hundreds, perhaps thousands of transgender stories, and this is one which is powerfully told within just a couple of pages, and which moved me to tears.

Stephenie Vieweigh had a secret she kept for 63 years, a secret which tore her apart and led her to a near-suicide 6 years ago. Stephenie – then known as Stephen – was a transgender woman. Very sadly for Stephenie, her time as her true self was limited by cancer. Even worse, she had to suffer an additional indignity of being forced to present as male in order to find a place to live. Finally, at the end, she met compassionate people who helped her pass from this world as the woman she was meant to be.

Rest in peace, Stephenie. I promise to fight harder for the rights of elderly transgender persons.

Stephenie, At Last | Dixie’s Land: Robin Rayne Nelson’s Photojournal.

Jay Kelly Knows Who He Is

Jay Kelly (photo from Instagram)

Jay Kelly (photo from Instagram)

Jay Kelly, formerly known as Jaya Kelly, is the transgender son of singer R. Kelly and TV personality Drea Kelly. Last month he publicly revealed that he is transgender on his social media accounts.

He has said that was 6 or 7 years old when he realized he identified as a boy rather than as a girl. “I believe I am a boy and want surgery and the medication to help me be who I was supposed to be,” he explained.

Jay shared that his family is supportive and switched to using his new name and correct pronouns. However, many people speculated if he meant his entire family, including his father, since they seem to not see each other very often. We finally learned the answer to that question this week.

R. Kelly appears to be in a state of denial right now, and is possibly even looking for an explanation about how his child could be trans. During a radio interview earlier this week, he responded to a question from the host about all of the blog reports on Jay by saying, “…don’t even give the blogs that kind of credit. But as far as that’s concerned, always believe what you see — with your own eyes that is.” He seems to be implying that the blogs are reporting who Jay is rather than Jay himself. Hmmm…

When pressed further, he said that there is a “backstory” and why people can’t judge another person. Backstory? One self-described black feminist blogger (whom I won’t name or link to because I don’t want to promote her false statements towards Jay) speculated that Jay was acting out because of his father’s alleged sex crimes and was neglected at home.

One writer did call out the media by listing 5 ways their reporting was poor, from calling Jaya the wrong name and pronoun, discussing surgery, and promulgating false transgender stereotypes.

As for R. Kelly himself, I hope he stops listening to bloggers and listens to his son. Jay knows who he is. If he needs to “believe what he sees,” he needs to spend some time with his son so he can see what the rest of us can — a happy, confident teenage boy.

Transgender Priest Gives Sermon at Washington National Cathedral

This is the first time a transgender person has led service at the National Cathedral, and it again marks another milestone in our path towards mainstreaming our community.

The Reverend Cameron Partridge, the Episcopal chaplain at Boston University and a lecturer and counselor for Episcopal and Anglican students at the Harvard Divinity School, is a transman who completed transition in 2001. Reverend Partridge spoke on the ideals of revelation and strength.

“When Jesus tells his disciples to speak in the light, to uncover the hidden, to proclaim from the heights, he is asking them to join that stream, to become active participants in that blindingly good news,” Mr. Partridge said. “Of course, Jesus also explicitly warns that not everyone would experience such revelation as good, and that some might actively persecute the disciples for it. Doing this work would be utterly demanding.”

A good biblical example of someone with resilience and strength, Mr. Partridge said, is Hagar, the handmaiden who was forced to bear Abraham’s child only to be exiled with their son, Ishmael.

“Like Hagar, so many people in the LGBTQ community, and particularly in the trans community, have at one point or another or for a lifetime found ourselves in situations of intense oppression, isolation and despair,” he said. “We have been utterly unable to see beyond the horizon of our often multiple, intersectional margins.”

Transgender priest gives sermon at Washington National Cathedral – Washington Times.

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.

Transgender Panel at Trinity United Methodist Church in Kansas City is Warmly Welcomed

Trinity LutheranPhoto credit: Debi Jackson

This morning myself, Fiona, Madeline, and Debi talked to some of the congregation of Trinity United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, to talk about the transgender experience. We were warmly greeted by the church leaders and organizers of the event, and it was explained to us that Trinity was a reconciling church, in that they wanted to welcome the entire LGBTQIA community with acceptance and respect. And honestly, all that we felt from every person we spoke to was great acceptance and respect. The event was organized by Lindsey Collins, who very earnestly expressed the church’s desire to be a safe home for the transgender community.

Madeline_Trinity_2Madeline speaks of her career and her hopes for the future.

We lectured in the church sanctuary, and I was very happy to see three of our transgender friends in the audience (names not listed for privacy). Madeline spoke first about her life growing up and her later transition, and touched on legal aspects and transitioning as an attorney. I also spoke of my life, and brought some of the science of being transgender into the discussion. Debi spoke of the challenges of being a parent of a transgender child, and while all of our speeches were well-received, Debi’s was the most striking. Fiona assisted with the presentations and spoke to many of the congregation to answer questions one-to-one. Afterwards we broke into several tables to enjoy pizza and salad while continuing to answer questions and chat with the congregation.

DebiTrinityDebi engages the audience with her hopes for her transgender child.

Trinity United Methodist Church is located at 620 E. Armour Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64109. There is parking in the lot (that looks like an apartment building lot) just east of the church. Their Sunday worship service begins at 9:45 am and ends around 11am. They invite anyone and their families to come worship with them to see if the church has the right spirit for them, and they strive to be LGBTQIA-welcoming and enthusiastic.

Anti-Transgender Bias in a NY Times Article On Successful Women? Maybe.

Martine Rothblatt
I was pointed to this article earlier today, where a blogger complains about the coverage the New York Times gave to one of the highest-paid CEOs in its review of the the Equilar Top 200 Highest Paid CEO Rankings. The coverage for transgender woman Martine Rothblatt, was as follows.

The highest-paid woman on the Equilar list was born a man.

Martine Rothblatt, born Martin Rothblatt, was the married father of four children and started Sirius Satellite Radio, now SiriusXM, before undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 1994. After one of her children was diagnosed with a disease, she founded United Therapeutics in 1996 and helped develop a drug to treat the illness. Last year, she was paid $38 million in compensation, most of it in stock options, putting her at No. 10 on the list. She declined to be interviewed.

“Her equity grant is awarded based on company performance, the best way to be aligned with the interests of shareholders,” said Andrew Fisher, deputy general counsel at the company. Its stock price more than doubled last year, largely because it received Food and Drug Administration approval for a new drug, Orenitram.

I noticed the same thing the DailyDot focused on – she was the ONLY person discussed where it is mentioned “she declined to be interviewed.” That phrase is usually a “trigger phrase” used by breathless news reporters who are chasing a scandal. However, I still am on the fence about whether or not it’s anti-transgender bias, or just a hamhanded way for a reporter to include a “personal note” connected to a CEO (even though that really shouldn’t be a personal note, in a perfect world.)

Report from St. Joseph’s Pride Festival 2014

St_Joseph_Pride_2014Myself and Madeline Johnson were invited to speak on a panel discussion of transgender issues at the St. Joseph, Missouri Pride Festival today. This is only the second year they’ve run a Pride Festival, and although it was small, there was a lot of heart and soul put into it by the organizers. Everyone there was open, friendly, and seemed very happy and enthused to be there.

Our panel discussion was held in an ancient downtown building which has been converted into a Bohemian-type art gallery and art seller. About 20 people showed up to listen to the four of us on the panel – besides me and Madeline, there were two transmen to balance things out (I’m not using their names because I don’t know if I have permission).

The audience was friendly and asked good questions, and it was quite enjoyable overall. Most of the questions were legal, and directed towards Madeline, who found herself surrounded by a large group of fans after the discussion (while I wandered and looked at art on the walls). The panel discussion lasted for just over an hour, and then we headed on back home.

Medical News: Arthritis Drug MIGHT Lead to a Cure for Baldness

I want to stress MIGHT, because in this case we are talking about a sample size of one. However, when a sample size of one has such profound benefit, it’s at least worth reporting about.

Baldness and hair loss is a major source of mental anguish for many of my transgender sisters who, like me, did not begin their transition until middle age. Finasteride and Minoxidil can help (in some cases I’ve witnessed some major regrowth on folks), but usually they fall far short of expectations. And those who have too much hair loss are thus required to use wigs for the rest of their life.

Even though I was blessed with an intersex hormone disorder and thus have a full “female” head of hair, it is very fine and doesn’t fully have female hair “body.”

This drug looks intriguing, but as the article notes it can have some severe side effects. I’ve put it in my “watch this for news” pile so I can tell you as soon as a study is published.

Could arthritis drug lead to a cure for baldness? –

University of Missouri Approves Gender Identity, Expression Policy Changes

University of MissouriThe University of Missouri Board of Curators have approved a sweeping policy which protects students, staff, and faculty from discrimination based upon their gender identity or gender expression. This policy will positively impact all 75 institutions within the University of Missouri system, and was passed on a 7-1 vote after broad student support convinced the Curators to take up the issue.

UM Board of Curators approves gender identity, expression policy changes – Columbia Missourian.

A Roundup of Four Negative News Items

Hey, you can’t say I didn’t warn you…as I’ve gone through the news feeds from mid-week relating to transgender news, yours truly has picked out four post-worthy items which you may not have seen. None of them are especially positive, but neither are they catastrophic. And a couple of them are so over-the-top as to be somewhat silly.

We begin with the case of a gender-variant South Carolina teenager who was forced to remove their makeup prior to having their photograph taken by the DMV. This isn’t especially surprising – first off, it’s South Carolina. I mean, it’s only been legal to whistle on the Sabbath for 3 years now, so you have to expect some lack of tolerance. Second off, it’s the DMV – for crying out loud, if there ever was a domain of senseless, arbitrary, and random application of rules it’s there. Going to the DMV is sort of like entering a Salvador Dali painting, where up is down, right is purple, and number 12 is carrot. So yeah, this wasn’t too difficult to predict…

Next up we have some sad news, as some timbertool (or timbertools) decided to ruin the Trans Pride LA Festival film screening by calling in a bomb threat. It was the second bomb threat of the Pride event, and one which had to be taken seriously given the appalling level of violence shown towards our people.

Next we have the case of ABC News Assignment Editor Ben Sherwood, who came out as transgender in the summer of 2013, and changed their name to Dawn Ennis. Then, after taking steps to transition, declared that they had a bout of transient amnesia, and that they never really were transgender. Then suddenly, they’ve gone back and discovered that no, really, they really were transgender. Now they have been fired from their job, and they are blaming anti-transgender discrimination. Well…folks, you will look until your eyes fall out to find a more pro-transgender person than I, but I’m also wondering why anyone is surprised that an employer might have some concerns over a person who is cisgender-no they aren’t-yes-they-are no-they-aren’t… Honestly, I think this would be difficult for most employers to handle, aside from the fact that there’s no proof or convincing evidence presented to say that it even is a discrimination case.

Finally, we get to comedy time, where the arch-conservative and anti-transgender Linda Harvey, of Mission America, claims that Satan, yes Satan, is behind the growing acceptance of transgender persons in America. It would be easy to dismiss her as another harmless flake…except that she has a lot of followers who believe everything she says. Never underestimate the evil that some will perpetrate all in the name of “fighting evil” (cough…thousands tortured and murdered by witch hunters…cough).

Transas City Activists Help Speak in Favor of Roeland Park Ordinance

FionaatRoelandParkTransas City Vice Chairwoman Fiona speaks to the Roeland Park City Council

I’ve previously posted about our activities helping the larger LGBT community to push for the passage of an LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance in the city of Roeland Park. Last night four members of the Transas City cadre joined many others fighting for civil rights, and spoke to the Roeland Park City Council and Mayor in an open forum.

Myself, Fiona, Madeline, and Debi joined the ever-hardworking Sandra Meade, the State Chair of the Kansas Equality Coalition (and the radio host of Trans Talk on KKFI) and other good people (who I’m not naming simply because I do not know if I have permission) for a long and chilly sit in the Roeland Park Community Center. A total of 27 people spoke, most of them in favor of the ordinance, and to be honest the opposition was looking pretty meager.

The supremely ironic moment of the night was when one of the opposition attempted to castigate those in favor of the ordinance for quoting from the Bible, saying that it had no place being used in politics. One wonders if perhaps the speaker was unaware of the fact that the opposition have been using the Bible in their oppositional effort since the start of this process. The frustration of a couple of Council Members who have been opposing this ordinance from the start was apparent, and one can hardly blame any member of the Council – who have been really working on this – of having “issue fatigue.” Sandra tells me that she still has high hopes that this first landmark ordinance will pass when the vote comes up (tentatively scheduled for July 21.)

Previous update on the Roeland Park anti-discrimination efforts.

Obama Drafting Executive Order On LGBT Job Discrimination

I realize I’m a day late in posting this, but I do know many folks still haven’t heard the news, and it’s important to make certain this is disseminated.

As I reported in February, President Obama has the ability to use an Executive Order to mandate that all government contractors must have non-discrimination policies in place to protect transgender, lesbian, gay, and bisexual employees. There are many estimates of how many Americans this would actually protect – the Huffington Post is reporting about 16 million (link below), but my analysis indicates that depending upon how broadly one considers a company to be a “Federal contractor,” such a move could cover more than 40 million workers. What’s more, supplier agreements could have trickle-down effects which would result in even more workers being covered.

Well it appears that President Obama is indeed about ready to sign such an order into law, with the smart money giving next Monday as “the” date. Congress can override such an Executive Order, but given the composition of the Senate it is almost impossible to do so. Some are wondering if this is a sign that the Democratic Party expects to lose their margin in the Senate after the mid-year elections, or even lose their majority status, and thus President Obama is trying to get this in place to build precedent before a Republican Senate would be sworn in next January. Honestly, no one knows.

Obama Drafting Executive Order On LGBT Job Discrimination.