Monday, July 30, 2007

That was then this is now

Alice’s Alias

Published: August 20, 2006

Even in a science fiction writer’s most inaccurate predictions, there are sometimes valuable truths to be gleaned. In an introduction to “Warm Worlds and Otherwise,” a 1975 collection of short stories by the elusive and enigmatic James Tiptree Jr., his editor and fellow author Robert Silverberg attempted to sketch a portrait of a cult figure who had never been seen in public, and whose only tangible connection to the known universe was a steady stream of letters originating from a post office box in McLean, Va. Though some fans believed that the mysterious Tiptree was actually J.D. Salinger or Henry Kissinger, Silverberg speculated that the writer was probably employed as a federal bureaucrat, around 50 or 55 years old, and enjoyed the outdoors. Furthermore, Silverberg wrote: “It has been suggested that Tiptree is female, a theory that I find absurd, for there is to me something ineluctably masculine about Tiptree’s writing. I don’t think the novels of Jane Austen could have been written by a man nor the stories of Ernest Hemingway by a woman, and in the same way I believe the author of the James Tiptree stories is male.” . . .

The New York Times: Paperback Row

Published: July 29, 2007

JAMES TIPTREE, JR.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon, by Julie Phillips. (Picador, $18. ) By the early 1970s, James Tiptree Jr. was one of the brightest-burning talents in science fiction, conjuring interplanetary gender-bending fantasies that rev olutionized the genre. But in 1976, Tiptree was revealed to be Alice Sheldon, an enigmatic woman who had also been, in her colorful career, a psychologist, a C.I.A. counterintelligence analyst and a chicken farmer. This fascinating portrait by Phillips (inset) traces the life and work of a woman who found in her invented persona a partial resolution to the conflicts that plagued her throughout her life. (Sheldon committed suicide in 1987.) In the Book Review, Dave Itzkoff called this biography “engrossing and endlessly revelatory.”

Mary Hastings Bradley Papers, University of Illinois, Chicago

Alice Sheldon

Scottsdale official to fight 'transgender' bar ban

Jul 30, 2007 9:22 AM

A bar fight is brewing between one Scottsdale establishment and the chairwoman of the city's Human Relations Commission.

At issue, a ban on transgendered people at Anderson's Fifth Estate nightclub.

Michele deLaFreniere believes its wrong to treat gay and transgendered people differently in the City of Scottsdale. DeLaFreniere, 52, has lived as a woman since 2004.

DeLaFreniere filed a discrimination complaint with the Arizona Attorney General's Office against the Old Town Scottsdale night spot.

Owner Tom Anderson acknowledges banning transgendered people from the club, but he said it was the best solution he could come up after female customers objected to having "men in dresses" using the women's restroom.

Anderson said he couldn't have them using the men's restroom, because men harassed them and took their pictures.

Since he's liable for his customer's safety, Anderson said he had no choice but to ban transgendered people from the bar. "There was no place I could put these people," Anderson said.

While deLaFreniere charged Anderson with bigotry, Anderson said that deLaFreniere threatened to use her position with the city against him, an accusation she denies.

DeLaFreniere said Anderson rudely refused her and one of her friends entry into the club a couple of days after Thanksgiving. "He grabbed the money from my hand and said, 'I don't want your business or your kind here," she said. "That, to me, is discrimination."

Anderson said he never told deLaFreniere that "her kind" were not welcome in his club. "That's a dramatization she wants to make to further her cause. I don't use that kind of language," he said. "I don't have a problem with (the transgendered). If that's the way your life is going, so be it. It doesn't bother me in the slightest."

Anderson said his customers "felt totally threatened. I believe I made the right move to protect the women that frequent this club." He said.


Singaporean transsexual mulls over tough question

by Ng Wan Ching

July 30, 2007

FOR years, Ms Leono Lo knew it was not going to be easy. Asking to be accepted on a personal and human level is in sync with Singapore's vision of an all-inclusive society. But somehow things are different for a sex-change individual.

Click to see larger image
Once she was Leonard, now she's Leona: Leonard (above) in a 1990 picture taken with the late MrDavid Marshall, lawyer, politician and Singapore's one-time ambassador to France. Now, as Leona (below), she is a happy and confident woman.

The gay debate might have had some airing but what about the Third Gender? Transsexuals cause discomfort because they challenge conventional notions of male and female bodies.

Part man and part woman.

Fear of the unfamiliar spawns fear of such fringe groups and their lifestyles multiplying. Will it destabilise the traditional structure of family here?

Ms Leono Lo is aware of social prejudices and has no antidote to offer.

So she's doing the only thing she can think of - opening up and telling her story so others might see her as a human being.

Ms Lo had known something was different about her since she was 12years old and went by the name Leonard.

She knew she was not a homosexual.

But what was she then?

Click to see larger image

At 15, she chanced upon a book at the Jurong East Community Library called Cries From Within, co-written by the late Professor SSRatnam who performed Asia's first sexual re-assignment surgery here in 1971.

Said Ms Lo, 32: 'Every word in that book made sense to me. Finally, I had the words to describe how I felt. I read it from start to finish in one sitting.'

Today, she has not only written a book chronicling the stories of 13 transsexuals, My Sisters, Their Stories, but also her autobiography.


The book, From Leonard To Leona, details incidents which marked her journey from manhood to womanhood.

It is published by Select Books and will be out in the first week of September.

She started giving talks this year to help others understand.

'I do this so others may feel that they can live openly too,' MsLo said in an interview with The New Paper on Sunday.

She strikes you as just another woman, from the top of her coiffed head to her slinky outfits, attitude, outlook and slingback heels.

Her life took a turn at 21, while at university in the UK. She threw all caution to the wind and flew to Bangkok alone for the gender-changing operation which turned her physically into the woman she knew she had always been inside.

Her parents had no idea that she was going to have the operation. . . .

To Serve, Protect and Mind Their Manners

James Estrin/The New York Times

New York Police Officer Paul Daly gave directions in Times Square, where he’s in his 16th year on foot patrol. People often ask for help, he says, but aren’t always happy with it.

Published: July 29, 2007

If the New York Police Department had a model of a polite policeman, it might be Paul Daly, now in his 16th year on foot patrol in Times Square. “ ‘The Color Purple’? Eight blocks north,” he called out the other day, directing a warm smile toward a woman who appeared lost.

She glared back.

“People ask for help, then they argue,” Officer Daly said with a laugh. It was impossible to tell what had offended the woman. Officer Daly’s tone of voice? His demeanor? His uniform? Whatever it was, she went away unhappy.

For most people, direct encounters with the police are rare occurrences. The vast majority of New Yorkers will never be arrested, and the vast majority of officers will never draw their guns.

But when passing encounters with the police go wrong, they can leave a lasting impression and can do as much damage over time to police-public relations as a highly publicized case of police brutality.

A decade after adopting the motto “Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect” and holding precinct commanders accountable for civilian complaints, allegations of discourtesy by the police are on the rise: up 47 percent in five years, to 3,807 in 2006.

And so the department has started a new effort to make sure officers are, quite simply, more polite. It includes role playing — at one recent session, cadets had to deal with actors playing out an interracial dispute, and a transgender robbery victim who was becoming hysterical — and one new but simple tactic: officers are going to start introducing themselves to people on the street. . . .

Looking Back: Stanley Biber, M.D., surgeon

The surgical team gathers early one Saturday morning, not exactly hiding what they're doing, but not advertising it, either. The procedure is still in its experimental stages, and who knows how people will react.

Dr. Stanley Biber stands beside the operating table, white light shining down, the patient's chest rising and falling with each breath of anesthetic.

A few weeks before, Ann had come to him, sitting in the same chair as thousands of other patients and putting the question to him directly. She is a friend, a social worker who has brought him harelip and cleft palate cases from around Las Animas County. Ann is impressed with his work.

"Can you do my surgery?"
"Sure," Biber says. "There's not a surgery I can't do."
He has no humility. He's 46 years old and still a rising star.
"What kind of surgery is it?"
"I'm a transsexual," Ann says.
"A transsexual? What in hell's name is that?"

It's 1969. Most people don't know a transsexual from a transvestite, and Biber himself is a little sketchy. To him, this person sitting across his desk is a woman. Reddish hair. Medium build. Not bad-looking.

As it turns out, Ann is one of the first patients to receive hormone therapy from Dr. Harry Benjamin, the father of transsexual research. Ann has passed Benjamin's psychological criteria, lived as a woman for a year and is ready for the final step.

That afternoon, Biber calls New York and asks Benjamin's advice. He then contacts surgeons at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where the early sex-change operations have been performed, and arranges for the hospital to send hand-drawn diagrams that detail transforming a man's genitals into a woman's. The technique is basic--crude, even--but similar to the procedure for prostate cancer.

"Okay," he says. "We can do it."
So Biber stands in the operating room of Trinidad's Mt. San Rafael Hospital on this Saturday morning. His team is ready. His patient is prepped. Biber selects a scalpel and steadies his hand. . . .