Friday, July 13, 2007

Jake: Born a girl with a boy brain

Social trends favor transgender consumers

Stepping Out!

Consumer Rights: In 2000, 3.8% of the US population lived in legal jurisdictions that explicitly protected the consumer rights of transgendered consumers. Six years later that percentage has increased eightfold to 31% This percentage does not include the legislation recently passed in New Jersey (passing by a 10-to-1 majority) making it the ninth state to outlaw discrimination against their transgender residents.

Corporate Policies: In 1997, Lucent Technologies because the first Fortune 500 company to include 'gender identity and/expression' in their anti-discrimation/sexual harassment policies. Less than ten years later, there are now 110 Fortune 500 companies extending these protections to their transgendered employees and employment applicants.

Corporate Advertising: Corporate American has learned that there is no significant backlash to advertising to the GLBT market and substantial rewards for doing so. The number of corporations advertising in GLBT media has tripled over the last ten years. Advertising has awaken the GLBT consumer to their power in the marketplace.

Spending Power: The GLBT market spends an estimated $464,000,000,000. The transgendered population of the United States is generally recognized to be 10% of the GLBT population of 16,000,000 and as such they spend roughly $46,000,000,000 annually.

Social Acceptance: Social analysts were surprised by the results of a 2002 national poll. 74% of those polled said they would have no objection to working with a transgendered co-worker. 77% feel that transgendered children should be allowed to attend public shcools. 68% favor protections for transgendered individuals against hate crimes. These numbers suggest that society is ready for the transgendered individual to become a more active member of their community.

Hollywood and the Media: 'Transamerica' and the acclaim Felicity Huffman recieved for her portrayal of a transgendered individual is merely the best example (and by no means the only example) of a new sensitivity in the media towards transgendered individauls, a willingness to portray them as more deserving of compassion than ridicule. . . .

Transgender leader of The Cliks hopes to make a musical statement

By REBECCA LOUIE, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Lucas Silveira wears his heart on his tattoo sleeve.

The frontman of Toronto rock band The Cliks bares a turbulent tapestry on his arm: a dragon leaping through flames and waves, two guns bearing wide wings, and the word "Survivor."

"This is all to commemorate what I went through," says Silveira, who is transgender. He notes that transgender people are more likely to commit suicide than others — and he knows the pain involved: "I went to that place, and I know where that comes from. I felt so lucky that I got through it that this was to commemorate the entire ordeal."

Silveira is the first out transgender artist to be signed to a high profile label, Tommy Boy's gay-friendly imprint Silver Label. These days he is trying to build a career as he rebuilds his life as a biological female who identifies as male.

The Cliks were featured on the recent gay-oriented "True Colors Tour," playing alongside Cyndi Lauper, Erasure and Debbie Harry. This spring they released "Snakehouse," an emotional, guitar-driven album. Their single "Oh Yeah" spent several weeks atop a musical countdown on Logo, the gay-themed cable network.

Performers who defy the status quo face a unique challenge: living up to the hype on an artistic level that their unique identities generate. Sometimes, these acts rely on novelty alone for sales and popularity. Conversely, Silveira hopes his artistry will eventually outshine a gender identity that has become edgy in the pop mainstream.

At first glance the singer, who declines to give his age, looks like a petite tomboy with stylish, cropped locks and thick, lush eyelashes. While shopping for sneakers in downtown Manhattan ("I love shoes, man," he gushes), salesmen offer him women's sizes even though he asks for men's. Silveira knows he looks more female than male; on his records he sounds like it too. He sacrificed the male attributes hormones offer to maintain his singing voice. Instead, he underwent a double mastectomy to feel more comfortable in his skin.

"People are like, 'How opportunistic of you. Is this a gimmick? Do you think it's stylish to be this way?" he says of skeptics. "And I am like, 'Yeah, I am really, really into having a double mastectomy for fashion.'"

In recent months, the transgender community has gotten a surge of exposure on television ("All My Children," "Ugly Betty") and in film (2005's award winning "Transamerica" and documentaries like "Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother"). These works have banked on the characters' transgender experience to draw audiences. However, The Cliks' work is more vague. They deliver the standard rock fare of emotional songs that express trials that are not transgender so much as they are human.

"I think that authenticity is reflected in their particular single and I can only theorize that is why it has caught on," says Brian Graden, president of Logo and of entertainment at MTV Networks Music Group. "I don't think it's because of any hook of being transgender."

Graden adds that being transgender is "one of the last frontiers of non-understanding in our culture." But of late, more people "exploring that subject refused to be coded or denied." . . .

Self-castrating inmate sues for hormone therapy

An Idaho inmate who identifies as a transgender woman—and who performed a self-castration while in prison—is suing the state federal court to get female hormone therapy to treat her gender identity disorder, reports the Associated Press.

Jenniffer Spencer, born Randall Gammett, claims the Idaho Department of Correction is violating her constitutional right to proper health care and subjecting her to cruel and unusual punishment by failing to diagnose her gender identity disorder and give her access to the female hormone estrogen. She performed her own castration using a disposable razor blade in her prison cell.

According to the Associated Press, the state's attorneys argue that prison doctors did not find substantial evidence that Spencer had gender identity disorder. After her castration Spencer was given an option to undergo male hormone therapy, which she refused. . . .