Monday, June 25, 2007

Looking Back: Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria

This clip is from the excellent documentary by Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman about "transgenders and transvestites fighting police harassment at Compton's Cafeteria in San Francisco's Tenderloin in 1966, three years before the famous riot at Stonewall Inn bar in NYC."

A supportive dad speaks. . .

An articulate FTM college student introduces himself

Southern Comfort. . .offers female-to-male transgender individuals access to healthcare services in a supportive, trans-friendly environment

FtM's face unique challenges in the area of healthcare needs, and are often unable to identify or access healthcare providers with an understanding of these issues. SCC organizers believe the Men's Health Project is a first step toward better healthcare services for transmen. We have teamed up with an Atlanta feminist health clinic, and will provide transportation from the hotel and back, along with significantly discounted exams and lab work.

Those who have attended in the past found that the clinic provided a comfortable environment staffed with caring people. The clinic accepts Mastercard, Visa, Discover and ATM check cards; they do not accept personal checks. If you would like to reserve a space for this event or if you need additional information regarding clinic services and fees, please contact the event organizer at

The Men's Health Project was created in 2000 in honor of our friend Robert Eads.

Never quite male or female, it's her decision now

Houston woman born intersexual is getting the surgery she's dreamed of


A doctor hurried from the delivery room following the early morning C-section at Houston Northwest Hospital — the sounds of infant screams rising from inside.

"Congratulations," he told the young man and his mother-in-law, both waiting just beyond the door. "You have a healthy baby boy."

It was the man's first child. Excited and giddy, he and his young bride called friends and family with the good news. Soon the hospital room filled with flowers and relatives.

But by that afternoon, doctors were urging caution. One mentioned the need for hormone injections. That night, the family's pediatrician called the young woman in her recovery room. He asked her whether she had named the baby yet, and she said yes: Dan Jr., after his father.

The doctor paused.

"I think you better wait a few days to name it because we don't know if it's a boy or a girl," he said, according to family members' accounts of that conversation.

Taking the phone, the baby's father listened to the same message as he watched his wife cry. The next day, doctors advised that Dan Jr. needed a new name. The new parents chose Jessica.

One or 2 in every 1,000

Jessica, now 21, was born intersex, meaning as an infant she fell somewhere in that gray territory between male and female. Babies like her arrive in hospitals every day, their confusing bodies confounding parents in an estimated one to two of every 1,000 births, according to a 2000 survey of medical literature.

For decades, these babies were treated as secrets. Often, doctors alone picked their sex and prescribed the surgeries and lifetime of hormones. Parents were rarely involved in the decision-making process, and their children even less so.

But in recent years, this has begun to change. Emboldened by the Internet and patients' rights movements, adults classified as intersex at birth have begun sharing their stories of botched surgeries and childhoods filled with shame. And some doctors are listening. Within the past five years, many have begun delaying irreversible surgery until later in a child's life, seeking more parental input and following up on the results of the treatments they recommend.

In other words, they are realizing that gender is complicated. . . .

Boyish Girl Meets Girlish Boy

By Eleanor J. Bader

Helen Boyd’s fascinating memoir-cum-social analysis, She’s Not the Man I Married, turns a personal dilemma into fodder to discuss what we mean — or don’t mean — when we pin gender labels on each other.

For starters, there are those pesky terms, “male” and “female.” By way of introduction, Boyd informs readers that the book is the story “of how a tomboy fell in love with a sissy, how a butch found her femme, how a boyish girl met a girlish boy. Who is who is not always clear and doesn’t always matter. In some ways, that’s the heart of this book: the idea that a relationship is a place where people can and do and maybe even ought to become as ungendered as they can.”

Sounds great in theory. But again, there’s that pesky thing: reality. Here, we smack head-on into the blues and pinks of childrearing and the homophobia that undergirds the sexuality we develop.

Boyd wasn’t raised in a bubble, and understands the obstacles that make complete “ungendering” a utopian fantasy. Like all of us, she carries ideological baggage and is unabashedly honest about her heterosexual preference. Nonetheless, when her husband, “Betty,” whose male name is never revealed, announced his interest in crossdressing, Boyd was nonplussed. In fact, she found it something of a turn-on and enjoyed helping him primp, apply make-up and shop for female attire. But shortly thereafter, when Betty opted to move from the boudoir to the streets, spending more and more time as a woman, things got increasingly thorny. To wit, Boyd had to confront both public perceptions and her own deep-seated ideas about sexuality, propriety and physical appearance.

Casual observers watching the pair toddle down the street, for example, saw them as an attractive lesbian couple. Was that okay? Did it matter? What’s more, Boyd has had to ask herself if she will stay with Betty if he opts to surgically alter his body. Will she still desire him if he physically becomes she?

It’s not your standard boy-girl stuff and Boyd admits that she vacillates about the answer. On some days, Betty is the love of her life, regardless of which genitals she possesses; at other times she is far less certain. Luckily for both, it is a non-issue since Betty is currently not pursuing medical intervention. . . .

Transgender may KO Barack dinner

Helen Kennedy

Barack Obama

When Florida Firefighter Jennifer Lasko told Barack Obama's campaign she wanted to have dinner with the candidate, she mentioned that she used to be an Army soldier and an active Republican who had become an anti-war Democrat.

The campaign, which loves to highlight support from former Republicans, picked her as one of four small donors it is flying to Washington on July 10 to meet Obama at a restaurant.

But Lasko, 42, didn't mention another big change: Until 2005, she was John William Lasko.

Now, after the Palm Beach Post unearthed her past life, Lasko thinks she should skip the dinner.

"I'm just a citizen who wants to discuss issues. I was foolish to think I could keep it under wraps," she told the paper. "There are a lot of close-minded people who'll make an issue of this."

Lasko, who underwent the sex change while working at Delray Beach Fire-Rescue Department, says it's not a secret, but she doesn't want to cause trouble for Obama.

A campaign spokeswoman said if they had known she used to be a he, it wouldn't have mattered.

"Sen. Obama would love to have her attend the dinner. If she chooses not to attend, Sen. Obama looks forward to meeting her and hearing more about her thoughts on how we can change this country," said spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Trans editor of 'Baseball Prospectus' tells her story

By Ronit Bezalel

Christina Kahrl, one of the founding five members of Baseball Prospectus, made news by coming out as transgender in 2003. For Christina (who grew up as Chris), coming out was relatively easy once she had made the decision to do so. It was the journey getting there that was the challenge.

"From an early age, I knew I was different," Kahrl told Outsports. "I knew that I wasn't like the other boys. I knew I wasn't like the other girls; I couldn't put my finger on it. I grew up feeling like an ‘odd duck.’ I didn't stress out about it. I didn't mind being different. I just knew that I was."

It wasn't until college that Kahrl began to make sense of her experience when she came across information about transgender issues while browsing the stacks in The University of Chicago Library.

"It was sort of a revelation, and something I could finally understand was a pretty well-understood phenomenon," Kahrl said. “This was in 1990, the year that I graduated. I worked on campus subsequent to my graduation and spent considerable time reading about transgender issues from there, but I really couldn't say that I knew what to do about it at the time; it was simultaneously reassuring and terrifying." . . .