Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The 'Venus Envy' Village Voice Article

By the time I was in the late 80's I was becoming more cognizant of the fact that I wasn't happy not living as my true self, I was starting to come to the conclusion I was trans, and being in the frustrating position of not having the info readily available to make informed decisions on how to transition was becoming a heavy psychic burden on my soul

So because this was the pre-Internet days, news about trans issues and people was hard to find and come by, and when i stumbled across an article about a trans person openly living their life, it was like a a life preserver being thrown to a person drowning in misery.  Seeing those articles also gave me hope that it would one day happen for me.

I was perusing magazines at a newsstand one day back in May 1988 and noted that month's issue of the Village Voice had an article about the New York ballroom community that featured Carmen Xtravaganza.

The article was entitled 'Venus Envy: The Drag Balls Of Harlem' by Donald Snuggs.  It was the first mainstream publication article about the Harlem based ballroom community and featured Carmen in the interview.   It was also several years before the Paris Is Burning documentary would take movie theaters by storm and become an iconic film for our community.

I was fascinated by Sylvia Plachy's photo's of my trans sisters and the ballroom action, and bought it.

I was now 13 months into my airline career and had the ability to jet off anywhere in the US at that time. Fascinated by what I'd just read in that Village voice article, I resolved to go see a ball and meet Carmen one day.

After several moves I lost the magazine and the manila folder that had my trans news story clippings, so I'm happy to see this article in digital form.

While one part of that resolution came true in terms of meeting Carmen, doing a TransGriot Ten Questions interview with her and getting to chat with her from time to time, still have yet to see a New York ball.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

What's The Holdup For Open Trans Military Service?

There are over 15,000 trans people serving in the US Armed Forces, and they and their trans siblings on the home front are wondering what is taking so long for the US Department of Defense to get on the job and create the rules and policies necessary in order for them to not have to hide who they are and serve our country.

According to a published August 25 USA Today report from Pentagon documents  the US ban on transgender troops serving openly in our armed forces would end on May 27.  Yeah we know it's an election year, but if y'all had not throw us under the bus during that lame duck 2010 session, you'd already have that mission of open trans military service accomplished by now

The clock is ticking toward that date, and inquiring minds in Trans World and our siblings currently serving in our nation's armed forces want to know what's up and is the Pentagon still on schedule to make that open trans service happen?.

Guess we'll find out in a few days.

Hey NBC, Will You Interview A Trans Brazilian During The Games?

When the Olympics kick off in Rio this August, we will see during the broadcast coverage in addition to seeing all the pageantry of the opening ceremonies,  the competition,  and the shots of the natural beauty of Brazil in and around the Rio area over the period of the XXXI Olympic Games from August 5-22.

File:Map of Brazil with flag.svg
There are also moments during the NBC coverage when they aren't updating the national medal counts, will take some time to address the news making issues that cropped up either during the runup to the Games or during the Olympiad itself.

And they will have a few non Olympic news stories to choose from.  From the Zika virus outbreak to the contentious attempt to impeach Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to wondering whether the Olympic venues would be ready on time, the NBC media team will have a lot to talk about that's non Rio Olympic competition related during the breaks between the competitions they wish to televise during their upcoming prime time broadcasts..

I also hope that one of the issues that will get discussed in a time in which we trans people are getting heightened attention is the off the charts violence aimed at my Brazilian trans sisters.  

While we are justifiably concerned about the 11 trans women we've lost this year, our Brazilian sisters look at our trans murder rate in the US with envy as they are sadly the runaway leaders when it comes to the near-genocidal slaughter of our trans siblings.

The anti-trans hate equation is in full effect in Brazil no thanks to a lethal cocktail of anti-trans hate peddled by the Roman Catholic Church and fundamentalist Christians, guns, anti-trans discrimination, no trans rights protections at the federal and state level,  and indifference by law enforcement to vigorously prosecute crimes committed against trans people.

Hope the NBC Olympic commentators take the time to discuss that ongoing human rights problem and give it the international visibility and attention it deserves while the entire world's eyes are trained on Brazil for the Olympics.


KKK Joins World War T

Photo via Wikimedia commons and  Arete13/Flickr
If you needed any more convincing that trans human rights is the civil rights battle of our time, look no further than hearing the interesting news the trans community gained a new enemy in World War T.

Joining the Axis of Evil fighting our humanity that includes the Republican Party, the Southern Baptists, the Family Research Council, Alex Jones,  Paul McHugh, Fox Noise, NC Gov. Pat McCrory,  TX Lt Governor Dan Patrick, TX Gov Greg Abbott,  the TX Republican Party, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the TERF's is believe it or not, the Ku Klux Klan.

If I forgot any haters, let me know.  I want to give them the full credit they deserve.   But back to the post..

According to a Raw Story report that quotes Dothan Eagle reporting by Matt Elofson, at least two homes in an east Dothan, AL neighborhood reported receiving fliers that supported North Carolina's unjust Hate Bill 2 while soliciting donations and recruits for The Loyal White Knights of the KKK.  A similar flier was reportedly distributed in midtown Mobile last week.

The flier went on to attack trans people as 'abominations' according to the King James Bible, misquoted Deuteronomy 22:5, and peddled the lie that their (white) women and children's safety is endangered by trans people pooping and peeing in public bathrooms.  The transphobic hate flier also lists a website and phone number that you can call for info and to make donations to that Klan group.

Got three words for you Klan Klowns:  Matthew 19:12

Dothan Police Department Chief Steve Parrish confirmed the DPD had received the reports on Monday, and they were being investigated by the DPD's Criminal Investigation Division (CID).

'What you're dealing with is potentially implications of a hate crime or promotion of a hate crime, so we notified the FBI, " Parrish said.

Capt Will Benny, the commander of the CID, stated the flier appeared to be a recruitment flier.  "It appears to be against transgender (people) and transgender bathrooms, and it was basically a recruitment flier."

DPD Capt, Stacy Robinson said that the fliers were forwarded to the FBI as a precautionary measure.

"Obviously any time you get hate related material there's a reason to be cautious and investigate it," said Robinson.

It also points out something I've been warning about for months now in terms of the media letting unchecked anti-trans hate speech go unchallenged, or dismissing it for ratings purposes as if it were a legitimate difference of opinion argument.

It isn't, and now that anti-trans hate speech is now  manifesting itself into anti-trans hatred, and leading to harassment and attacks on trans and cisgender women   But with America's long time hatemongers in the KKK joining the anti-trans hate chorus, it helps point out that HB2, the anti-trans hate speech, and the bathroom crap being peddled is a Jim Crow remix.

It also points out my trans siblings and allies, that we are on the morally correct side of this human rights argument..  The Klan jumping into World War T and attacking the humanity of transpeople is irrefutable evidence of that..

Archie Marries The Sistah

Knowing Archie's history of not committing to either Betty or Veronica, the one with Valerie probably won't last either.
-TransGriot, April 23, 2010  'Archie Dates A Sistah'

Still tripping about how I missed this Archie related news four years ago, but then again, it WAS a presidential election year and I like everyone else in Black America was worried about the reelection of President Obama.

One of the things my close friends and longtime readers know about me is that I am a huge Archie comics fan.  I have followed the exploits of Archie, his Riverdale High friends and pondered the Betty and Veronica love triangle since my preteens.

I was pleased to see as a longtime Archie comics fan besides the gender swap one that happened in issue 636 that puts a new gender swapped spin on the Archie, Betty and Veronica love triangle, the interracial relationship curveball they introduced into this longtime iconic comic that is now 75 years old.

;It started with the release of Issues 608-609 featuring the budding relationship of Archie and Josie and the Pussycats bassist Valerie Smith, and received rave reviews from Archie fans.

The storyline picks up from where it left off in issues 631-634 that were published by Archie Comics starting in June 2012.

In issue 631 Valerie returns to Riverdale for a Josie and the Pussycats concert with news for Archie that she and her family are moving there, which as you guessed is not received well by Betty and Veronica.

But Betty gets the bonus with the move to Riverdale of her latest romantic rival for Archie's affections an interracial relationship of her own.  Valerie's little brother Trevor quickly takes Betty's mind off of Archie's rekindled romance with his big sister, and Trev turns out to be a talented vocalist on top of it..

Valerie after moving to Riverdale with her family, takes a walk after settling into her Riverdale life down Memory Lane and starts imagining what her life would be like married to Archie.  

Valerie ends up seeing it five years into the future with her and Archie getting engaged and married. They leave their respective bands to make music together as the duo Him and Her, and Trevor Smith ends up as the new lead singer of Sugar Sugar, the renamed Archie's, and Veronica joins the Pussycats to fill the vacancy left by Valerie's departure.  

The happy couple ends up teaching at a music school, on a reality TV show, and eventually have a child together in their daughter Star.  She turns out to have inherited her parents musical talents and ends up being a serious attention getting child musical prodigy.

The four part 'Archie Marries Valerie' story arc concludes in Issue 634 with Valerie still wandering Memory Lane pondering their futures together.  She realizes that Archie has shown the ability to attract many of the girls in the Riverdale area prior to her arrival there, and ponders how that affects her by contemplating all the possible wedding scenarios  in the pages of that issue that involve Cheryl Blossom, her bandmate Josie McCoy, Sabrina Spellman, Betty and Veronica of course, Ginger Lopez, Midge Potts and even Big Ethel.

That TMI overload sends Valerie scurrying away from Memory Lane and leads to Valerie and Archie setting up a meeting to discuss their relationship. .

How that conversation between Valerie and Archie ended up, I'll have to get the graphic novel to tell you definitively what went down.

The series of comics covering the Archie and Valerie relationship story arc was published in the graphic novel entitled Archie- A Rock 'n' Roll Romance.
Looks like I'll have to see if I can find it either at my fave comic stores or try to find it online to see how the story ended.

Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Williams Watch-Time For The French Open

We are still in the month of May, and that means it's time for the second Grand Slam tournament on the professional tennis calendar.  It's the 2016 French Open, and the clay courts of Paris' Roland Garros await as the tournament is scheduled to run from May 22-June 5

The big story as usual is world number one Serena Williams and her attempt to win her 22nd Grand Slam title.  Little Sis has unfortunately been upset in her last two attempts to get that title, falling in the 2015 US Open semis and in this year's Australian Open title match.

So you know the defending French Open champ is ready and eager to get this milestone done and over with Williams-don and the Rio Olympics looming.

She's seeded number one in this 115th edition of the French Open, and Serena kicks off her title defense with a first round match against Serbia's Magdalena Rybarikova.   should she handle her tennis playing business she gets the winner of the Teliana Pereira- Kristyna Pliskova match.

Venus Williams is also in this tournament, and she's seeded number 9.  She faces off in the first round against Estonia's Anett Kontaveit.   Should Big Sis win this opening round match, she'll face the winner of an all-American first round battle between Louisa Chirico and Lauren Davis.

Unfortunately the Williams sisters are in the same half of the draw, and would potentially meet in the semis should both sisters go on extended runs during their time at Roland Garros.

Here's hoping my fave tennis playing siblings have a successful business trip to Paris, and Serena finally gets her 22nd Grand Slam title to tie her with Steffi Graf and add another Coupe Suzanne Lenglen to her trophy case..

Support The Brazilian #NomeSocialEDireito Campaign

Our Brazilian trans family are fighting to keep a policy alive that allows them to use their social names in dealings with the Brazilian federal government.

The backstory starts with embattled Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff issuing before she left office for an interim president pending the result of her impeachment trial issuing Decree n.8.727 that allows trans folks to use their social  names in federal government situations and settings.

But a Brazilian politician unfortunately is pushing to have the Rousseff issued decree invalidated, and that would cause problems for many of our Brazilian trans cousins.

The attempt to invalidate Decree n.8.727 is instead serving to galvanize the Brazilian trans community in a 'we're fed up and not gonna take it any more' way.  A social media campaign has popped up #NomeSocialEDireito with the goal of keeping the decree in place.

Brazilian trans people and their allies are asked to take photos with the #NomeSocialEDireito hashtag which translates in English to 'My Name Is My Right'.

Here's hoping my Brazilian trans fam is successful in keep Decree n 8.727, and success in doing so leads to more wins in Brazil for our trans family.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

What Happens With My African Diaspora Trans Peeps IS My Business

One of the things that has always bothered me is that I am more cognizant about trans people and the issues that affect them in Latin America, Europe, Australia, and the Asia-Pacific region than I am about the issues that affect the trans peeps that share my African bloodlines on the Mother Continent.

That desire and yearning to know more about what's happening with trans issues on the African continent is one of the reasons why TransGriot was founded ten years ago.

It's also part of my mission, and one of the reasons I eagerly feature posts about African trans activists like Kenya's Audrey Mbugua, talk about organizations like South Africa's Gender DynamiX,  and follow what happens when African trans activists organize regional conferences and gatherings..

I was cheering when Titica was busting out as an out trans music artist in Angola, and was keenly interested in hearing her story

It's also why I have the attitude that what happens to African descended trans people in the Caribbean, Latin America, Brazil, continental Africa or anywhere else on the planet where African descended trans people reside IS my business.

That desire to know more about what's going on with my continental African trans siblings is why I'm proud to have several African diaspora trans siblings as FB friends. I not only want to know what's happening in their lives, but git is a two way relationship that helps give me  insight and context as an African descended person living in the United States concerning some of the trans developments going on in continental African nations and across the African Diaspora from their vantage points. .

It's also interesting to note that there are not only gender variant peoples on the African continent, but one of the initial international destinations where trans women from around the world converged to get gender confirmation surgeries in the mid 1950's-1960's was Dr. Georges Burou's Clinique du Parc in Casablanca, Morocco. 

Dr. Burou not only was the innovative surgeon who performed the SRS surgeries for April Ashley, Marie-Pier Ysser, the late Jacqueline-Charlotte 'Coccinelle' Dufresnoy, and author Jan Morris he influenced his contemporaries in the SRS field like Dr Stanley Biber

Speaking of gender variant people on the African continent, there is also evidence of gender variant behavior across the African continent going back to ancient Egypt and persisting to the present day.  During the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate that was in power from the 1200's to the 1700's, assigned female at birth children who exhibited masculine behavior could be raised as men.

In Benin, during its Kingdom of Dahomey days, there were the Mino, assigned female at birth persons (AFAB)who were warriors, and considered masculine.  The Maale peoples in Ethiopia have peeps they call the Ashtime, assigned masculine at birth (AMAB) eunuchs who lives as women.  The Ashtime term evolved to become a term describing all types gender variant people who were assigned masculine at birth.

In Swahili speaking areas of the Kenyan coast including Mombasa, the Mashoga reign, and in the Democratic republic of the Congo, the Mbo people have the Mangaiko, and in Madagascar, the Sakalava people have the Sekrata, who are analogous to binary trans women.

And I agree, we need more media focus on continental Africans when we talk about transgender issues and the unique complexities and challenges it entails.

Trans people exist on the second largest continent on this planet, and their stories need to be heard and talked about.   As long as this blog exists, that's exactly what's going to transpire..

What happens with my African Diaspora trans peeps is not only my business, I have a responsibility to help get those stories out to my readers and the general public.. .  .

Happy 25th Birthday Raquel!

Last year I got to meet this amazing twentysomething trans advocate during an anti-violence conference in Chicago..

When I first met her, I originally thought she was a cis feminine ally until she spoke during one of the discussion sessions and let us all know she was a girl like us.  

I had a chance during the Chicago event to have a long one on one conversation with her, and participate in some discussion groups with her during the conference.  I could tell right away that she was going to do amazing things for our community.  The fact that she was a writer made me even more of a fan of hers, and we exchanged contact information that day.  

That twentysomething I met who so impressed me was Atlanta-based advocate Raquel Willis, and as I figured out after meeting her, my initial impression of her was on target.

 She has been getting well deserved attention for her thoughtful and incisive writing and her efforts as one of the group of trans leaders we are blessed to have in Atlanta doing the education not only on trans issues, but an eloquent voice speaking about a wide range of social justice issues.

Raquel is the bomb as one of our emerging young leaders, and I'm glad people inside and outside our trans   community ranks are recognizing it.

I'm also exceedingly proud of her. .Yeah, she's heard me say this to her in our check in phone conversations, but I wanted to put it in writing so she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt how much I love and admire her.
And what better day than her birthday to do so?

 I also couldn't let her 25th birthday pass without giving her the TransGriot shout out this auspicious occasion deserves.

Happy birthday Raquel!  Thanks for everything you do for our community, and I hope your special day is one filled with love, fun, and maximum fabulousness.    Hope it is also a blessings filled one for you, and you receive the ultimate blessing of being around to celebrate many more of them.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Another Busy H-town Saturday

This Saturday was a busy one, but in a good way for me.

I was invited to take part in a panel discussion for the New Leaders Council with Lura Groen and Judge Steven Kirkland about being a progressive leader in diverse communities on the fourth floor of the Legacy Health Services building in Montrose. .

The panel started a little after 11 PM, and it was a lively two way one and a half hour conversation that I hope the NLC fellows not only enjoyed but gleaned some lessons out of it.

I then went home and attempted to rest for a few hours, then get freshened up and dressed for the 19th annual Houston HRC Gala at the Hilton Americas Hotel in the downtown Convention Center District at the invitation of Lou Weaver.  .

Dee Dee was headed to Spring High School to support their GSA for an on campus event they were having that started at 7 PM, so the game plan was to bounce out of the crib at 6 PM, she drop me off, and she would continue to Spring High on the far north side.

But we ran into bumper to bumper traffic on I-45 that started past Loop 610 and was creeping along a such a snails pace that we eventually jumped ff I-45 and took side streets to the Hilton Americas.  the end result was I didn't get to the hotel until 6:50 PM, and got to the second floor ballroom moments later

Despite me not getting enough time to my liking to say hello to everyone there for what we call locally 'Houston Gay Prom', I did get to sit at Lou's table with my activist mentor Judge Phyllis Frye and her lovely wife Trish, and Mike Webb, who moderated the NLC panel I'd done that morning

The Houston human rights warriors were in the house in full effect   Got to see Januari Leo for the first time in months, Melissa Vivanco was looking fab along with Fran and Kim Watson, Crystal Solares, Jeffry Faircloth and a long list of people I managed to get conversations in with along with getting a chance to eat before i had to leave.  .  

I also got to see in the two and a half hours I was there everyone from City Councilmember Robert Gallegos to Rep Sheila Jackson-Lee to our former mayor Annise Parker.   I missed the speech that Houston homegirl Loretta Devine gave, but I was in the room for HRC president Chad Griffin's speech where i once again got an unexpected shout out along with Dee Dee Watters and Judge Frye.  

It was a busy H-town Saturday for me, but enjoyable.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tamron Hall Calls Out The Berner NV Bad Behavior

One of the many reasons I love my Texas homegirl Tamron Hall is because she's a no BS journalist who doesn't let peeps on either side of the political spectrum weasel out of tough questions.

Here's the recent interview in which she asks some tough question of Sanders surrogate Nina Turner in the wake of the Green Tea Partiers showed their nekulturny selves during last weekend's Nevada Democratic meeting

Watch as Tamron doesn't allow Turner to spin her way out of the mess the Benrers made in Nevada.



Thursday, May 19, 2016

Once Again, Trans Rights Are Human Rights

Trans rights are human rights.  Simple statement, but with all the anti-trans hate rhetoric coming from the Right Wing noise machine at maximum volume, they are desperately trying to drown out that message.

But no matter what they say, the bottom line is that the war they stated to attack our humanity and eviscerate our civil rights with it is not going the way they expected.   They expected a blitzkrieg of success when they launched World War T, but what they are getting is a protracted struggle that we have no choice in Trans World but to fight and win.

It will take a united effort from all trans folks around the world and our allies to make this global trans human rights dream a reality.  We will have to work twice and three times as hard as our opponents are who are desperately attempting to oppress us to work on making the public relations and legislative equity tide match the moral arc of the universe that is already in our favor.

And if we want the trans kids going up to have the quality lives they deserve, then we trans elders have to get cracking on defeating the Ignorati and moving the middle to our side.  We're going to have to vote for trans human rights supportive candidates in every election cycle at all levels of government, and vote out the transphobic bigots when they reveal themselves.    That is just a small part of the sweat equity part of this World War T fight were engaged in for our trans and gender variant kids.

And make no mistake about it, we are winning.  We're making progress. If we weren't the right wingers wouldn't be tripping with all this blatant anti-trans hared and flood of unjust legislation in their desperate attempt to stop our forward societal momentum.

That progress may not be fast enough or coming soon enough for some of you, but it is progress.  Every time a trans person is elected to office, that's progress.  When a trans kids graduates from high school or college while matriculating in a school system or on a college campus that is trans supportive, that's progress. When a trans kid and her family has a highly rated reality TV show that basically shows her interesting life, that's progress.  

When you have trans characters on television and in the movies, that's progress.  When that trans kids can dream dreams and make them come true, that's progress. When we can serve openly in our country's armed forces, that's progress.  When trans actors can play trans people on TV, that's progress. When  it becomes a political liability for a politician to push anti-trans hate, that's progress   When a nation like Canada makes a huge deal out of introducing trans human rights legislation, that's progress

When the United States Attorney General states that the DOJ and the Obama Administration will do everything to protect your human rights, that's progress..   

Vice President Biden was correct, Trans rights are the human rights issue of our time. And trans rights are human rights.   The world is starting to get it that it's not cool to oppress people who are part of the diverse mosaic of human life.

And I'm happy to see that this shift in attitudes is happening in my lifetime. .  .


DC Security Guard Charged With Assault After Playing Potty Police

I've been expressing my concerns that all this negative anti-trans hatred being put in the atmosphere by the Republican Party and the conservafool movement would eventually start having negative consequences for cis and trans women.

Yesterday that played out in Washington DC when a security guard took it upon herself to play potty police and forced trans woman Ebony Belcher out of the restroom of a Giant Foods store in NE DC.

Giant, gay news, Washington BladeThe 32 year old Belcher was at the store on 3rd and H Streets to pick up a Western Union delivery with a friend and asked a store employee to point her to the restroom.  She passed the security guard while en route to it, and said the security guard entered the restroom making derogatory comments while telling her to get out.

The security officer then grabbed her by the shoulder and arm and shoved her out of the store.. Belcher alleges the guard said, "You guys cannot keep coming in here to use our women's restroom.  They did not pass the law yet."

Wrong, boo boo kitty. The human rights of trans people in the District of Columbia have been covered and protected under the DC Human Rights Law since 2006.

Giant has issued a press statement:
"As this matter involves a third party that provides security services for Giant and there's an ongoing criminal investigation, all inquiries related to the incident at the H Street Giant should be directed to the local police for a comment at this time."
The unidentified guard in question was arrested and charged with simple assault.  We'll see how this plays out in court..  

TransGriot Update:  The security guard busted for her transphobic crime is 45 year old Francine Bernice Jones according to a Washington Blade report by Lou Chibbaro,Jr.  After spending the night in jail was released by Superior Court Judge Renee Raymond on personal recognizance pending a July 21 status hearing.