Friday, May 29, 2015

Shut Up Fool Awards-Happy Birthday Laverne Edition!

Today is the birthday of my fab sister Laverne Cox, and hope she's not only having a fabulous, blessings filled day, but she gets to celebrate many more of them far into the future.

But as you TransGriot readers know, it's also Friday, and y'all know what I get to do on this day without fail for your reading pleasure.

I get the fun of calling out the fool, fools or group of fools who exhibit over the top hypocrisy, mind blowing ignorance and stupidity, and just do and say stuff that make you say WTF?

It's time for the latest edition of the TransGriot Shut Up Fool Awards.

Honorable mention number one is Wisconsin governor Scott Walker (R), who thinks mandatory ultrasounds 'are a cool thing' for women hoping to get abortions.

Really?   How the hell would you know?   I think you and all your conservafool masculine friends who believe that BS should have forced prostate exams with a frozen aluminum bat shoved up your anus.  

But keep talking Scott.  The more you do, the more you prove you're unfit to be POTUS.

Honorable mention number two is Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state who in the wake of Roman Catholic Ireland voting overwhelmingly (62% YES) to allow same sex marriage, the vote was a 'defeat for humanity.'

Honorable mention number three is Joseph Hayon.   The former leader in the Brooklyn Tea Party who ran on a 2012 pledge to protect children was arrested on child porn possession charges.

So tell me once again conservafools, who are the child predators we need to be looking out for?

Honorable mention number four is the Indian social media campaign that seeks to have women thank men for not sexually assaulting them.

Seriously?  How about you not acting like a horny caveman? You don't deserve a fracking cookie for the minimum expectation in a civilized society of keeping your hands and penis to yourself.

Honorable mention number five is Pat Robertson, who crawled out of the bowels of his crypt to say on the 666 700 Club that gay men are 'pedophiles who want to recruit your sons.'

Honorable mention number six is Nevada Assemblywoman Michelle Fiore, who in the middle of a debate about a racist voter ID law the GOP controlled legislature called a Black legislator 'colored' after trying to deny racism doesn't exist in the USA.

This week's winner is the junior senator from Alberta, Ted Cruz.   Remember when Teabagger Ted criticized and voted against funding for Hurricane Sandy victims? Well, seems like he's against ANY emergency relief unless it is going to Texas.

"Today, Texans are hurting. They're hurting here in San Marcos. They're hurting in Wimberley. They're hurting in Houston. They're hurting across the state.

"Democrats and Republicans in the congressional delegation will stand as one in support of the federal government meeting its statutory obligations to provide the relief to help the Texans who are hurting."

But when it was the northeastern US that needed the help, Comrade Ted was singing a different song before he voted against that emergency assistance.

"This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington—an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt."

Once upon a time Texas sent people to Washington DC like LBJ, Ralph Yarborough, John Tower, Sam Rayburn, Barbara Jordan, and Mickey Leland just to name a few who were respected and visionary national and international leaders.

Now we have leaders going to Washington representing my birth state that are running comedic jokes.

Ted Cruz, shut the HELL up fool!.

Happy Birthday Laverne!

It;s time for another TransGriot birthday shoutout, and today's recipient of it is my amazing sis Laverne Cox, who was born on this date in Mobile, Alabama along with her twin brother Lamar.

I have much love and respect for her, and I forgot to ask her the last time I talked to her who is the eldest sibling.

She continues to make history.  In addition to her role on Orange Is The New Black, she will get to play an Ivy League lawyer on a upcoming CBS legal series called Doubt that I'm looking forward to the premiere of.

Laverne also continues to be a lovely and thoughtful ambassador for our community as she travels the country speaking at various events and colleges.

Happy birthday Laverne!  May you continue to have much success with your acting career and get the roles that are not only challenging for you but expand opportunities for other trans actors following in your footsteps.   

May your birthday be filled with abundant blessings, and you be granted the time to celebrate many more of them.

Musing About The Trans People Of The African Diaspora

One of the things that has been an ongoing mission of this blog is to highlight what's happening for trans people of African descent across the Diaspora from the Americas to the Caribbean to the Mother Continent itself.

I have been fortunate in my time as a trans activist and blogger to be able to talk to other African descended trans people from Brazil, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Kenya, Panama, South Africa and Nigeria just for starters.

Oh yeah, happy belated birthday to my Brazilian sis Dora who I got to meet and room with during BTAC.   You get the hug when you get back to UT in the fall.

Talking to the trans peeps of the Diaspora has given me an insight as an American with African heritage into what's happening not only in those nations, but also just how interconnected we are here in the States with the rest of the African Diaspora. 

It has reinforced my pride in my African heritage and being trans, and reminds me on two levels that my brothers and sisters in my extended family extend across planet Earth.

And sadly, it has also confirmed for me just how much Blackness is hated not only in my own country, but across the planet.   It's been eye opening to see that some of the issues I and other North American based trans people deal with are sadly prevalent in other parts of the world.

There are also situations in which my trans brothers and sisters in different parts of the Diaspora have been fighting tooth and nail just to get basic human rights recognition, as Audrey Mbugua has been doing for herself and Kenyan trans people for years.  Others are in the situation of moving from their native lands that were hostile to trans people and blossoming in countries more accepting of it. 

Some are in different nations just to further their education or to begin the process of morphing their bodies to be the men and women they know they are.  I'm also inspired to fight as hard as I do for trans human rights here in the States by watching my trans brothers and trans sisters in far more hostile territory in Uganda fight for their basic human right to exist.

But no matter the situation, despite the language differences and different nations we grew up in, we are all connected across the oceans and continents because of our African heritage and our trans status. 

 I'm looking forward to and welcome more of those conversations from trans masculine and trans feminine people across the Diaspora so that I can intelligently talk about those experiences.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

What's Wrong With A Trans Woman Being A Stay At Home Mom?

Stevie Wonder and Karyn White sang decades apart about superwomen from their masculine and feminine perspectives.   While we have some amazing girls like us representing our community, one of the insults we trans women get hurled at us from the TERFs who hate us is that we trans women are 'reinforcing gender stereotypes'.

But one of the beautiful things about femininity and especially the trans version of it is that there is no specific way of being a trans woman. 

It is as multidimensional as the women we are, just like it is for our cis counterparts.   For every time Laverne Cox rocks a red carpet, Geena Rocero travels the globe advancing our human rights, Arianna Lint appears on Spanish language television to talk about trans human rights issues from a Latina perspective, or yours truly bouncing from one convention to the next around the country, there are some of our trans sisters whose biggest transition dream was not only morphing their bodies to match the persons they always knew they were, but also seeing themselves with a husband, 2.5 kids and a house with a white picket fence.

I ain't mad at my sisters who chose that path, and neither should you be.   I also know some trans women who are working moms with kids.  One I know was named 'Working Mother of the Year' in 2014.

I had a conversation recently with a trans woman who is one of those trans moms raising kids.  Her face lit up when she talked about how this was her dream when she transitioned in her teens, and the reality of living her dream and having a husband, kids and family has made her exceedingly happy. 

Heard the same sentiments from even those trans women I know who are working mothers, and truth be told, sometimes I'm a little envious of them.

Being an either stay at home or working mom while trans is just as much a revolutionary act as me and everyone else bouncing up to the state capitol or Washington DC to fight for our human rights.  The more that society sees trans people doing mundane, everyday things that are beautifully human, the better.

So what's wrong with a trans woman being a stay at home mom?   Absolutely nothing.

Happy Birthday HERO!

On this day last year, after a long combined Houston City Council meeting that saw over 200 speakers spend one minute each pro and con debating it, on an 11-6 vote the HERO was passed to the joyous cries and cheers of all of us who busted our butts to make this day happen.

And yeah, as you know, a certain blogger had been hounding Houston City Council since January to make sure her hometown human rights ordinance was trans inclusive.

Our HERO covers 15 categories, but the HERO Haters were only concerned about two, sexual orientation and gender identity, and demonized trans folks in the month long contentious debate to passage.

We didn't get to celebrate our 30 years in the making win for long, because we immediately had to shift to defend it mode.   Thanks to unbridled arrogance, fraud and stupidity on the haters side as they collected the recall petitions, they discovered on August 4 didn't gather enough signatures to force it on the 2014 ballot for a recall.

The HERO Haters kept trying, and tried to get in the courts what they failed to get in the petition process they screwed up, and still lost twice in a jury trial and with the judge..

They just recently had another motion denied in which they tried to get an expedited trial in the 14th Texas Court of Appeals.   In order to get a HERO repeal on the ballot, they have to get a ruling overturning Judge Schaffer's decision before the August deadline to get ballots for November 2015  elections in Texas printed.

Tick, tick, tick , tick...

Meanwhile the HERO is in effect and being implemented by the city of Houston, so for the first time in Houston history we have a local remedy for discrimination that happens in the Houston city limits.

But what I was most proud of as a native Houstonian was that we sent the message to the state, the nation and the world that discrimination's time had expired in the fourth largest city in America.

So happy birthday HERO!   May you be around to celebrate many more!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Houston Floods, I'm Okay And Dry!

As many of you TransGriot readers are aware of, the Houston area got hit with 8-12 inches of rain in a six hour period from 9 PM Monday night to early Tuesday morning from an intense line of storms that brewed up on Memorial Day and extended from San Antonio to the Texas-Oklahoma border.

While the northern end of that line quickly blew through the Dallas-Ft Worth area, the southern end took its sweet time passing though our metro area which has had more than our fair share of rain over the last several weeks.

It didn't help that much of the rain hitting central Texas flows through Houston and its network of bayous on its way to emptying out into Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

The southwest side got the bulk of the rain, with 11.5 inches falling on that side of town.  I live on the northwest side, and while we got 8 to 9.5 inches, we were spared the flooding that whacked Meyerland and other affected parts of Southwest Houston.

There were 200 folks stuck at Toyota Center downtown after the Warriors-Rockets playoff game until early Tuesday morning because they couldn't get back home our out of the downtown area.

It got bad around 1 AM when Buffalo, White Oak, Keegan's and Brays Bayous went over their banks and caused major flooding on I-45 where it crosses White Oak Bayou at the junction with I-10 near downtown, and TX 288 flooded as usual between where it splits south of downtown from US 59 and 610 South and crosses Brays Bayou near the Med Center..

The Buffalo Bayou flooding also affected Memorial Dr. and Allen Parkway, which are major routes into downtown Houston from the west side of town.

There was also street flooding in various parts of town since Houston streets are designed to hold it, then feed it to the drains that lead to the bayous.  We had many of the underpasses hit with so much water it overwhelmed the pumps that keep them dry.

We also had a lightning caused fire at an apartment complex in the area near NRG Stadium that left 16 people homeless.

Sadly, we have had 5 deaths from the flooding, mainly drivers who realized too late the water they were driving in during the late night-early AM hours was rising too fast and quickly became too deep for them to act quickly.  They are also at this writing still searching for two senior citizens who were swept away down Brays Bayou after a boat that was rescuing them Tuesday capsized.

Houston caught a little break because the sun was out most of the day yesterday, and gave the swollen and affected bayous a chance to send that excess water to Galveston Bay.  

As of yet, haven't heard if any of our community peeps or allies being negatively affected, but know that if I do, I'll pass that information on to you as I receive it.

However, we are expecting more heavy rain later this week, so we'll be casting a nervous eye to the skies over the next few days and paying more attention than usual to the weather forecasts..

Monday, May 25, 2015

Congrats Nicole Maines!

Jazz Jennings wasn't the only amazing trans teen I got the opportunity to meet during last year's Philly Trans Health Conference.  I also got to meet Nicole Maines and her amazing father Wayne. 

Nicole is the trans teen who was transphobically discriminated against by the Orono, ME school district as a fifth grader when they tried to ban her from using the girls restroom.  Her precedent setting case eventually made it to the Maine Supreme Court when she won in early 2014 and the Orono schools had to pay the trans young lady.

She also helped kill one of the first anti-trans bathroom bills in LD 1046 back in 2011, has been on Maine public radio and in other venues doing education about trans issues, been an Equality Maine volunteer and is a role model for other trans teens/

The now 17 year old high school senior has been getting numerous deserved awards lately.  Glamour magazine last year named her  one of their 50 Amazing Women Who Are Making A Difference.

She has also won the Hardy Girls Healthy Women’s Community Organizing Award and the Maine Women's Fund honored her earlier this month with the Samantha Smith Award

And she's even appearing on an episode of USA Network's Royal Pains   

Nicole will be attending the University of Maine in the fall, and megacongrats to the well deserved accolades.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

ConGRADulations UHD Gators!

As many of you long time readers are aware of, ever since I came back home in May 2010, I've been blessed to interact and work with some amazing student leaders at UH, Rice, TSU, HCC-Southeast and UH-Downtown on various projects.

Many of them were freshmen and sophomores at their respective institutions at the time I encountered them or we started talking and staying in contact after I did panel discussions on those respective campuses.

But as y'all are all keenly aware of and was reinforced today, time marches on.  Those collegiate freshmen and sophomores I met have become seniors about to say goodbye to their college years and hello to their post-graduation lives.

So once again I was taking some time out on a Saturday to check out another collegiate graduation.  Today I was at Minute Maid Park to watch four Gator student leaders, Sarah Syed, LaTrina Carter, Tarah Taylor and Kristopher Sharp step across the stage and graduate from UHD with their various degrees.

It started at 9:15 AM with the graduates marching from their staging area down along the left field side stands around home plate to their blocked off area along the right field stands where the stage was set up,  After hanging out near the student seating and waving at Trina and Sarah, I decided to get some seats behind home plate so I could see the massive Jumbotron board which was in operation and get a better view of the ceremony.

It was also amusing to me that while I was there to support these student leaders on their special day, several people and UHD students who walked past my seat in Section 118 recognized and thanked me for coming to UHD to do those various panels.

I also had a fascinating conversation with another woman who was watching the UHD one, and then hit the road at 11 AM to go to the UT-Austin one to see another relative graduate today.

But today was all about the UHD Class of 2015, and I was honored to get an invitation to witness your special day.

ConGRADulations Sarah, Tarah, Kristopher and Trina! You are all amazing young leaders who accomplished much in your time at 1 Main Street.   I salute you for achieving a personal life goal, and I have no doubts that you will continue to do great things for our community, our state and our country.

METRORail Green and Purple Lines FINALLY Open Today

You long time readers know that I am a rail enthusiast, and one of the things I was happy to see was METRO build a rail component to our transit system that started construction with a 7.5 mile (12.1 km) segment that opened for service in January 2004.

The METRORail Red Line has been wildly successful, with ridership projections four years ahead of schedule.  After a successful  2003 referendum to expand the system to four lines, construction on the 5.3 mile (8.5 km) Red Line North Extension, the 3.3 mile (5.3 km) Green and (6.6 mile (10.6 km) Purple Lines began in 2009 with an original target date of 2012 completion for the Red Line extension and 2014 for the Green and Purple Lines.

But while the North Extension opened early in December 2013, construction delays, rolling stock procurement issues, and other problems caused by non-METRO construction projects pushed the opening of the Green and Purple Lines back to 2014, and eventually to today's opening date.

Harrisburg Overpass Bridge concept drawingThe Harrisburg bridge that will carry the Green Line over freight rail tracks and to the Magnolia Transit Center just broke ground in March and won't be completed until 2016.

The Gold Line through the Galleria area is being built initially as a bus rapid transit lane which will be able to be easily converted to light rail service in the future.   That will allow it to be operational in 2017, while the needed east west University Line is on hold pending funding.

But the long awaited day is here, and METRO is celebrating with a free Railfest concert at BBVA Compass Stadium featuring Ne-Yo Frankie J and a fireworks finale.    BBVA Compass Stadium sits at the junction between the Green and Purple Lines. 

And just as was done when the North extention opened, rides on the rail system will be free all day.

The opening of the Green and Purple lines means that as of today, METRORail is not just one rail line, but a system spanning much of my hometown, with hopefully future expansion to Hobby and Intercontinental airports and the addition of a commuter rail component.

But until then, I'll take advantage of my free rides that start up in a few hours..

Friday, May 22, 2015

LA State Senator Rips Jindal A New One

In 2005, after the Texas Legislature passed that unjust constitutional marriage ban, Texas State Rep Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) let loose with a memorable floor speech excoriating it.

Ten years later, east of the Sabine River in Baton Rouge, State Senator Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans)  took to the Louisiana Senate floor to rip Governor Bobby Jindal (R) for his unjust executive order intended to do an end run around the Louisiana Legislature to institute HB 707, a 'right to discriminate' law the Legislature rejected and the Louisiana business community didn't want.

But since Piyush is running for president on the GOP side, in his attempt to pander to Iowa social conservafool voters, he decided to unilaterally issue this executive order.that all the states competing with Louisiana for Super Bowls, Final Fours and other convention business are saying thank you very much for your stupidity.

Here's Senator Peterson's floor speech.

Shut Up Fool Awards-I Pity The Post Birthday Fools Edition

Mr. T's 63rd birthday was yesterday and we're going to celebrate it properly by doing what we normally do on this blog every Friday without fail.

It's time to call out the fool, fools or group of fools that exhibit mind numbing stupidity, immense levels of ignorance, horrific levels of hubris, and off the chain levels of arrogance.

Yep, it's time for the post-Mr T birthday edition of this week's Shut Up Fool Awards.

Honorable mention number one is a joint one for  the entire GOP clown car, er' 2016 GOP presidential candidate field. Just pick a way too numerous moment this week in which they all said something incredibly stupid.

Honorable mention number two is Maine Gov Paul LePage (R) in the latest GOP War on the Poor move, wants to kick convicted felons off of TANF and SNAP even if they have kids and have turned their lives around.

And y'all wanna know why I hate these evil Teapublicans

Honorable mention number three is Rep Louie Gohmert (R-TX) m who actually parted his lips (surprise surprise) to say that Dubya would have rethought the Iraq War if he'd known that President Obama would have followed him into office.

Still trying to blame the Black Democratic POTUS for the white GOP POTUS' screw ups.

Honorable mention number four is Rep David Brat (R-VA) who is a living example of the be careful what you wish for in political circles.   Brat replaced Eric Cantor, and is far worse than the guy he replaced.   He recently said that DREAMers in the military will lead to the 'decline of Western Civilization'.

Yo David, your white sheet is showing.

Honorable mention number five also goes to someone else whose white sheet was showing in Dork Duke University professor Jerry Hough, who parted his lips to say some racist crap in the local media concerning the Baltimore Rebellion.

Honorable mention number six is Peter Brimelow, who forgot the Civil War ended 150 years and said a white nationalists supremacists conference that stats should consider secession from the US for the protection of 'white rights'.

Dude you have an entire political party and two political movements in conservatism and libertarianism that seek to do precisely that.

And news flash, y'all lost the War To Preserve Slavery, get over it.

This week's Shut Up Fool awards winner  is a joint award for Josh Duggar and his mother Michelle Duggar.    Josh and his mother have spent a lot of time demonizing TBLG people and Josh worked for the Family Fascist Research Council until he had to resign after revelations broke that Duggar molested several teenage girls, including his own sisters.

Michelle slimed trans women calling us predators on behalf of the right wing efforts to kill trans inclusive human rights laws while basking in the hypocritical knowledge that the real sexual predator was her own son, and she helped keep it quiet.

19 Molestations and Counting needs to be cancelled

I takes some serious cojones for you to project your own reprehensible molestation behavior on someone else for your own personal and political gain.

It's even more reprehensible when some of the victims of it are your own sisters and mommy and daddy cover it up.

Josh and Michelle Duggar, shut up fools!.

Andrea Jenkins Gets Added To The Congressional Record!

You know I have much love and respect for my sis Andrea Jenkins, who I met and roomed with during the TransFaith in Color Conference in Charlotte back in 2012 and is a trailblazing girl like us and advocate in her own right up in Minneapolis.

Jenkins recently received two honors that need and deserve to be signal boosted.   She was named as the Grand Marshal for the upcoming Twin Cities Pride Parade.  She is the second trans person to receive that honor.(Debbie Davis in 2000) third African-American after Minnesota Lynx guard Seimone Augustus and her fiance LaTaya Varner in 2012 and first ever African-American trans person to do so.

Andrea on May 20 had her name added to the Congressional Record for the 114th Congress by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), whose 5th Congressional District covers that area.

So what's the Congressional Record you ask?  It is the official record of proceedings and debates of the United States Congress, and from time to time congressmembers will take a moment to use some of their time to do floor speech that recognizes people and organizations in their home districts.

Those speeches, because they happen on the House floor, get recorded, published and at the end of the 114th Congress in 2017 will be placed in bound volumes enshrined permanently in the Library of Congress and online via THOMAS.

Translation, this is a Big Fracking Deal, and so proud of Andrea for getting this well deserved recognition for the work she's done in the Twin Cities.  

She was a longtime policy aide for 12 years on the Minneapolis City Council for Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden where she initiated and helped develop the the Minneapolis Transgender Issues Work Group and produced the first Transgender Summit in the city.

Jenkins also a published poet, serves on numerous boards and is now with the University of Minnesota as the curator for their Transgender Oral History Project

I hear Andrea plays a mean game of tennis, so I'll have to remember to bring my racquet when I get the opportunity to visit her and the rest of the Twin Cities trans fam.

Congratulations Andrea for a well deserved honor!

Here We Go Again With Internet Blocking Of TransGriot

One of the things I get tired of and pissed off about is the blanket blocking of trans themed sites because of the erroneous assumption that all that deal with trans subjects are porn related.

I had this issue with Uniguest until they finally saw the light and recognized my GLAAD Media Award nominated blog is exactly that, an information site that happens to tackle trans topics, and looks like I'm going to have to bitch and yell until Megabus (or whoever is managing their Wifi for them) gets that message as well.

On my last trip to Dallas from Houston a few weeks ago, since I had four hours until I arrived there, I wanted to write some posts for my blog, but the Megabus WiFi wouldn't allow me access to do that, much less see if the auto posts I'd set before leaving actually went up on the blog because its filter assumed it was porn related.

And you know what has been said about when you assume...

Now I've had the same crap happen on my Houston-Austin run, and I'm beyond pissed off about it.

Hey Megabus, news flash for you:  There are transgender themed blogs that are legitimate news sites.   Some of your passengers also happen to be trans people who spend our hard earned T-bills to use your double decker buses for inexpensive intercity travel from one place to another like I and others do inside the borders of the Lone Star State.

I'd like to have the ability when I'm traveling to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio or in the future to New Orleans and other Megabus destinations, to have the ability to not only work on my blog that has garnered 6 million hits since its 2006 founding, but also read other trans themed sites that cover the new that pertains to my community.

Can we make that expeditiously happen Megabus?  Sure hope so.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Headed Home To H-town

I've done the speech, it was well received and I enjoyed my all too brief time in Austin and on the UT-Austin campus.

Now it's time for me to go back to Houston and deal with my life back home.

Thanks to  Melinda Bogdanovich and her family for allowing me to hang out in their home while I was here in the ATX, and to Liz Elsen for making this event a smooth one logistically for me.

Thanks to all you students, faculty and allies for expressing your appreciation for the speech.  As long as y'all liked it and especially the graduates, I'm happy.

Enjoyed coming to Austin to do something besides running up to our state capitol to lobby for a change.

Where's Moni headed next?   Hopefully to Philly for the PTHC.  But some things have to happen for me to be writing posts from the City of Brotherly Love again.

Anyway, hope the wifi is working on this bus.

Happy 63rd Birthday, Mr T!

You longtime TransGriot readers know that my inspiration for my Friday Shut Up Fool Awards is a certain 1980's tough guy, and today is Mr.T's birthday.

But before he was named to the WWE Hall of Fame and had roles on The A-Team and Rocky III, Mr. T was born 63 years ago today in Chicago.

His heyday was the 80's in which he won the World's Toughest Bouncer competition twice in addition to his acting roles and advocacy for kids.

So yep I have much love for him, and hope he continues to celebrate many more birthdays to come.