Tag Archives: new york city

OBITUARY: Transgender Actress Holly Woodlawn (1946 – 2015)

My friend Eve Golden, an author, actress, and New York socialite who writes celebrity obituaries, has sent me information on the passing of transgender actress Holly Woodlawn, and I’ve added some bits from research I’ve done.

Holly Woodlawn died of cancer today (December 6) in Los Angeles. Born in Puerto Rico, Woodlawn hit New York in the 1960’s and soon fell in with the crowd of admirers and protégés surrounding artist Andy Warhol. She, Candy Darling, and Jackie Curtis were among the first openly transgender actresses in the New York stage and film world (and all of them were named in Lou Reed’s hit, “Walk on the Wild Side.” Woodlawn appeared in the films Trash and Women in Revolt, and in low-budget films such as Night Owl and Heaven Wants Out. She also had roles in the somewhat more well-known Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss and several cameo appearances on the award-winning Amazon series Transparent. In 1982, Holly was hired by the producers of Tootsie to coach Dustin Hoffman in his role. In recent years, Woodlawn worked in West Hollywood as a cabaret artist.

In 1991 she published a memoir titled A Low Life in High Heels, and in an interview in 2014 was quoted as saying “Aging is the best thing that could have happened to me…I have calmed down a gazillion compared to what I was younger. It is nice seeing all the kids around and thinking, ‘Oh God, if only they knew what is ahead of them!’ I hope they’re prepared! At least with me, it was never dull or boring.”



The New Girl in School: Transgender Surgery at 18

It was not an easy transition for Katherine Boone, but the question is no longer whether gender reassignment is an option, but instead how soon it should start.

The New York Times is featuring the story of Katherine Boone, a transgender woman who underwent sex reassignment surgery (SRS) at age 18. The article is not entirely positive, and casts SRS for “teenagers” as something new and scary. For the record, at age 18 Katherine is a full legal adult, able to run her own affairs, enlist and die in military service, and be treated as an adult by default by the legal system of this country. So the “teenager” moniker is somewhat deceptive here. In fact, age 18 is not even the youngest at which SRS is performed. In Europe, for example, SRS has been performed at age 16 (such as the case of an anonymous transgender girl in Spain in 2009) or authorized at age 16 (such as English transgender girl Jackie Green who underwent both facial feminization surgery and SRS on her 16th birthday in Thailand).

Katherine Boone

Despite throwing out somewhat discouraging (and not entirely accurate) statements like this:

Given that there are no proven biological markers for what is known as gender dysphoria, however, there is no consensus in the medical community on the central question: whether teenagers, habitually trying on new identities and not known for foresight, should be granted an irreversible physical fix for what is still considered a psychological condition.

The article clearly presents Katherine as a young lady who was clearly suffering deeply from her gender dysphoria, and who very much needed this surgery.

It was the cutting that convinced them that if she could not live as a girl, Kat would kill herself. She still has two angry scars on her left forearm. “It became clear to me that this wasn’t a passing phase or some choice or reaction,” Mr. Boone said. “This was truly the basis of what she was.”

The article further covers the problems of the expense of puberty blockers, which are not covered under pretty much any insurance on this planet, and which can run thousands of dollars per year (unlike estradiol and spironolactone, which are much cheaper). And it does spend some time speaking on how debilitating the surgery was for Ms. Boone, which many of us have either personally experienced, or witnessed via our friends.

There is a lot of information in this testimonial article; it’s worth a look.

Source: The New Girl in School: Transgender Surgery at 18 – NYTimes.com

HRC Takes Action Against Saks Fifth Avenue for Transgender Discrimination

I have to say, dear readers, if ever I was to give out annual awards for having a pair of proverbial “brass ones,” Saks Fifth Avenue would definitely be a contender.

Saks, which holds a score of 90 in the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Corporate Equality Index (CEI), is accused of firing a transgender woman for being transgender. Not only has Saks claimed in defiance of all precedence and government directives that transgender discrimination is not covered by Title VII, but they have also claimed that violating their own employee handbooks – which prevent transgender discrimination – is not a big deal because they are not “contracts as a matter of law.”

HRC has of course suspended Saks’ CEI rating as a result of this action, but it really seems to be apparent that more than just that would be called for, in terms of boycotts.

HRC Takes Action Against Saks Fifth Avenue for Undermining LGBT Equality | Human Rights Campaign.

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.

FDNY’s First Transgender Firefighter Kicks Butt

I love this article in the Village Voice about Brooke Guinan! Not only is she making it in one of the toughest and butchest professions there is, but she’s textbook “out and proud” as a transsexual woman!

But some of her fellow New Yorkers, the ones she’s saving the lives of, don’t exactly seem to give her 100 percent support.

“Every day is a process of getting on a subway and wondering how many people look at you, wondering if they know that you’re trans or not. Every day is a learning experience in gender roles, how you fit in your society, what gender roles you accept and what ones you see for the fabrications that they are.”

What is worse is seeing the comments some trolls leave behind on her poster, or the FDNY Facebook page and other articles. People saying things like “I’m a man wearing makeup” or “it’s gross.”

“You have people who not only want to take away your gender identity but there are people who want to take away my humanity and turn me into an it,” Guinan says. “It took a really long time for me to get to the point of [saying], This is me. This is my truth. This is my identity.”

Her Department does give her support, although increasing gender diversity in the Fire Department of New York will be an uphill battle at best, especially since a mere 41 of its 10,200 firefighters are women. Wow.

FDNY’s First Transgender Firefighter Really Is New York City’s Bravest | Village Voice.

Could a New Trans Pop Group, “The Secret Girls,” Be a Hit?

Singer’s Quest To Form World’s First Transgender Pop Group

I hardly need mention that in general transgender pop singers and musicians are incredibly rare – at least, the ones who have any sort of success. The punk group Against Me has garnered some recent attention, but nonetheless they have struggled to break out of their niche. Becoming “normal” within popular entertainment – music, film, sports, etc. – will be one of the final frontiers for true transgender mainstreaming in society. This is why I feel that it’s important to get the word out and support efforts such as this one.

There is a short video at the link below which is worth watching, that tells the story of Nikki Exotica and her attempt to get her transgender pop group off the ground.

They’ve got crossover appeal! Trans pop group looks to make it big | New York Post.

Police Blotter – 1 September, 2014

Police Woman 01

Quite a lot of sad news here I’m afraid, so stop reading right now if you don’t want to read.

I have four articles to highlight here, and I think by far the most important one is the fact that there may be a serial killer of transgender women in Detroit. The first murder occurred sometime in November, 2013, when the body of a transgender woman was found burned beyond recognition and stuffed into a trash container. The second murder occurred on 15 August, 2014, when a second transgender woman was shot in the head just a block from the first murder scene. And since that time two other transgender women have been shot, with both surviving but seriously wounded – both of them shot within blocks of the two murders. I don’t have anything I can add, save that again, we need to exercise extreme vigilance when we are on the streets. Even in a generally transgender-friendly city like Kansas City, safety first, last, and always.

Gay Pride Parade Winds Through New York City

I wish I could give a more positive update on the investigation into the murder of transgender woman Islan Nettles. Unfortunately, New York City Assistant District Attorney Nicholas Viorst has only said they are still “pursuing leads” more than a year after Nettles was murdered by a group of men in a blatant hate crime. In the photograph above, we see Laverne Cox using her celebrity status to attempt to draw attention to the crime, but to no apparent avail.

Misissippi Murderer

This next story involves a woman who preyed upon the transgender community, but in a different way: by running a silicone “pumping” business. Which unfortunately led to the death of two transgender women, Marilyn Hale and Karima Gordon. Tracy Lynn Garner, herself a transgender woman, was convicted on 29 August, 2014 of the murder of Karima Gordon, and will be facing sentencing on 2 September, 2014. I’ve warned repeatedly of the dangers of pumping silicone, some of which isn’t even medical silicone but rather nothing more than window sealant, and this story is merely sad proof that you can indeed die from this.


The former story is a little unusual because in that case the transgender woman was the murderer. But my final story also features a transgender murderer, in this case Melissa Young, who stabbed a male acquaintance to death in his apartment when he rejected a gift of trainers (shoes) and a calendar. Young is appealing her conviction, claiming that the Archangel Michael had possessed her body, forcing her to kill an “unclean demon.” Young, who is on the right in the photograph above, apparently had a history of threatening people with knives, and is currently serving a 20-year sentence.

Brothers, Sisters, Sons, Daughters – A Fashion Film Featuring 17 Transgender Models

Barneys of New York has been in the news a little lately after they decided to feature transgender models in their latest catalog, photographed by Bruce Weber and posing in the typical high-end designer clothing one expects from Barneys. A total of 17 transgender models were featured, including Katie Hill and Arin Andrews, the famous Oklahoma transwoman-transman couple. The catalog has been receiving generally positive reviews and positive press, which is really nice, although Barneys is a fairly exclusive offering which tends to only be read by wealthy somewhat liberal shoppers.

What’s really interesting, though, is the fact that Barney’s didn’t just use them for their photos, they also sponsored a video of the photo shoot and features of the transgender models, which can be seen below. It’s very artistic, meaning there is a lengthy introduction and musical score, but it’s not bad to watch. There is a lot of dancing, and twirling in fog, and at one point there’ an owl…I don’t know why…and an iguana…yeah, well, it is Barneys.

Then and Now: The Murder Of Transgender Women. Same as it Ever Was.

Nizza_and_NettlesI decided to bring a little historical perspective to this update on the murder of Islan Nettles by mentioning another case, more than a decade prior, where a transwoman was murdered and the police are apparently unable or unwilling to do the right thing.

On December 22, 2002, transgender woman Nizah Morris was found naked in the street from the waist up, bleeding from a head wound. The last time any witnesses had seen her, she was climbing into a police car to receive a courtesy ride from Philadelphia police officer Elizabeth Skala. A summary of what happened afterwards can be found here.

Officer Skala testified that Morris asked to be dropped off at Chancellor St and S. Juniper St, two minutes distant driving from the bar and 45-minute walking distance from her home. One minute after being dropped off at 3:30am a motorist testified he called 911 reporting a woman she was laying on the street naked from the waist up, bleeding from her head.

The DA has refused to release the 911 records.

The entire thing is better explained at the link above, and screams “coverup” so loudly that you have to wonder WTF.

So flash forward 11 years, and we have the case of Islan Nettles, who was beaten to death on or about August 17, 2013 after she and a group of friends were attacked by a gang of eight men. After following them and taunting them with homophobic slurs, at least one man knocked Nettles to the ground and began a bit of the old ultra-violence – because that’s what we “subhumans” deserve, right? Ye-ah.

Nettles’ case quickly turned into a three-ring circus, with a friend of the defendant making a fake confession in the case, allegedly spurred on by the defendant’s mother. Even after these folks using the justice system like a plastic sex doll, the District Attorney’s office insists that they are “aggressively investigating” the case. The group Trans Women of Color of New York made this recent press release concerning the case:

It was revealed that no DNA evidence was collected from Paris Wilson at the scene of the crime, nor were witnesses rigorously questioned. Nor has it been explained why Simone Wilson, the suspect’s mother, was never held accountable for falsifying evidence when she persuaded a friend of her son to make a false confession which was later recanted. And perhaps most inexplicably, the D.A.’s office is claiming that all 10 surveillance cameras in the vicinity of the beating that lead to Islan Nettles’ death were broken.

Nope, nothing suspicious at all here!

Attorney: Transgender Murder Victim’s Life not as Valuable as Higher-Class Victims

My friend Julie pointed me to this – it’s simply abominable that an attorney can make a statement like this and suffer no real consequences. But that’s the price of free speech.

One Rasheen Everett was facing 25 years to life for his sentencing after he was convicted of murdering Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar, a transsexual woman. So his attorney tried a tactic which Lionel Hutz would have been too embarrassed to attempt:

“A sentence of 25 years to life is an incredibly long period of time judge. Shouldn’t that be reserved for people who are guilty of killing certain classes of individuals?”

The judge, while sentencing Everett to 29 years in prison, scolded Defense, and stated:

“This court believes every human life in sacred,” he said. “It’s not easy living as a transgender, and I commend the family for supporting her.”

That’s a start…shame you can’t be disbarred for being a creep.

Attorney: Transgender murder victim’s life not as valuable as higher class victims – LGBTQ Nation.

Rachel: Lou Reed’s Transsexual Muse

My friend Cheryl pointed me to this very interesting blog post about the recently departed Lou Reed and his transgender girlfriend/muse/other named “Rachel.” It has many interesting photos and is a nice bit of 1970’s history, which too often seems to be lacking when we look back to record the history and happenings of our people.

Dangerous Minds | Rachel: Lou Reed’s transsexual muse.

New York Firefighter Who Beat His Trans Girlfriend Appears in Court with His Next Trans Girlfriend


The story is reminiscent of Shakespeare: beefcake firefighter meets transgirl, then beats her, harasses her, and is convicted of misdemeanor criminal mischief and assault and felony criminal contempt. Then he tries to get his job back, appearing in court with another transgirl who hasn’t figured out that hooking up with someone who has a history of convictions beating his girlfriends might just possibly not be boyfriend material.

In any event, it’s been getting a lot of attention in the tabloid press, so I figured I should document it.

Taylor Murphy, eying return to FDNY, loses retrial bid after assault conviction involving transgender model – NY Daily News.

Transgender Woman Islan Nettles Dies; Now Judged a Hate Crime Victim’ friend’ | Mail Online

Nettles_IslanThis Daily Mail piece has a couple of grammar errors but at least keeps pronouns on-track. This poor woman was beaten by someone she met on Facebook when she ran into him in public, and his friends teased him for flirting with “a guy.” The result was “trans panic” (yeesh) and she was beaten, and died. CNN reports today that the murder is being investigated as a hate crime, to which news most of us will say “duh.”

Islan Nettles dies: Transgender woman dies after being savagely beaten by ‘ friend’ | Mail Online.

Audio Segment: Transgender Training / Sex Work Survival Tips

An audio segment speaking about the threats transgender women face in day-to-day life, especially those who are involved in sex work, and an interview with one transgender woman who had all she could stand, and laid down the law.

This brings to mind plans I’ve mulled over for a while to pay for an instructor to give a transgender women’s self-defense class, which is on hold pending enough interest yet from the community to pull a formal class together.

MICROPOLIS: Transgender Training / Sex Work Survival Tips – WNYC.