Friday, August 03, 2007


Neither/Nor Space Across Pop Cultures: 4th Netherlands Transgender Film Festival

Posted August 3, 2007 | 03:42 PM (EST)

I know that the film Transamerica was a big breakthrough for tranny visibility in the USA. But believe it or not, there's more to transgender than director Duncan Tucker and evening soap star Felicity Huffman can bring to the silver screen. In fact, there are movies being made all around the world that cast real live trannies in the tranny roles.

There are documentaries that get made about people who take gender exploration a hell of a lot further than man-becomes-woman or woman-becomes-man. Many of today's radical tranny films never make it to your local Cineplex, but they're out there. I'd love to give you a single link that would open for you the treasure trove of films about radical gender transgression, but no one's put a list together yet. You're gonna hafta google them for yourself, but I promise it'll be a fun search.

Or, if you're lucky, you live near a city that holds a transgender film festival. Don't worry if you're not in one of those cities. I live in New York, and there's not one here. San Francisco has one, though: Tranny Fest. And Seattle has the 2nd Annual Translations tranny film festival, this coming Labor Day weekend. You could still make your travel plans, and Seattle's gorgeous in the summer. You just missed London's Transfabulous this past June. But fret not. I'm gonna write about that next week.

Failing a full-fledged tranny film festival, you can always catch a few of us in most film festivals calling themselves "Lesbian and Gay," or "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender." (It's called LGBT, pronounced as if the B and T were silent.) Many of those festivals do have a tranny track of films, and sitting in the audience at that kind of screening does make my heart leap with joy cuz I'm sitting there for a solid two hours with so many of my family. And look, if I left out a tranny film festival, I'm sorry. My bad -- please send me the link care of the comments section, and I'll include it in my next blog.

But then there's Amsterdam where every two years, people from around the globe gather to celebrate the image of neither/nor gender in film. Film makers, actors, photographers, theorists, journalists and activists from all over the world, and the only thing they've got in common is that they're work somehow contradicts the notion that in this world, there are men and there are woman and never the two shall switch. It's the Netherlands Transgender Film Festival, founded and directed by Kam Wai Kui in 2001.

Kate and Director Kam Wai Kui

Kam Wai asked me to attend the 4th of these festivals, this past May, 2007. I had a wonderful time, meeting so many members of my tribe. Look, it's one thing to look up at the screen and go, "Wow, look how ugly that brave Felicity Huffman has let herself become. Why, she's almost ugly enough to be a real live transwoman." Okay, meow, but it's true. It's another thing to look up and see yourself, or someone really a lot like you and go, "Wow."

Gender doesn't have to be black and white. It can be a sparkling jewel with many facets, and that's what wowed me in Amsterdam: I met gender freak artists who capture us magnificently! Please treat yourself, and peruse the online festival program and see for yourself how bedazzling gender can be. There was art that crossed lines of age, race, nationality, and class. There was some pretty polished stuff and a couple of charmingly rough home-filmed pieces. It was a space where we could meet each other and exchange ideas and art and politics. We even talked about ::gasp:: sex! A lot, in fact. And wow did that ever feel good, because in the USA you so rarely get to sit around in public and discuss sex, do you? Nothing in the Netherlands Transgender Film Festival was boring! . . .

East Bay hosts trans health care forum

City and state officials gathered with activists, health care providers, and community members for the East Bay's first transgender health care forum July 25. The two-hour town hall meeting took place at the Elihu Harris State building in downtown Oakland, with a goal of starting a dialogue about the need for organized, comprehensive health care services for transgender people in their communities.

According to openly gay Berkeley City Council member Kriss Worthington, the meeting was the start of a much-needed process of improving services in the community.

"I'm here to learn," said Worthington.

About 100 people attended the meeting, which was moderated by noted transgender activist and Oakland native Jamison Green. In his opening remarks, Greene emphasized the need for comprehensive health care for the transgender community.

"Tonight's town hall was planned by community members who are concerned about transgender health care, and who want to make sure that [we] have the health care we need to fully participate in making Alameda County a great place to live," Green said.

The meeting also included health care providers, including representatives of the Berkeley Free Clinic and Tri-City Health Center in Fremont. Practitioners and transgender people spoke to the need for comprehensive, affordable care sensitive to the needs of transgender people. A common thread was the need for people to be able to access appropriate health care close to home. . . .

Moderator Jamison Green speaks at last week's forum. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Trans drop-in center ‘swamped’ by youth

Funding for D.C. facility expires in September

Friday, August 03, 2007

When the local group Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc., launched its Tyra Hunter Drop-In Center last March in a three-story townhouse on North Capitol Street, organizers expected to provide a variety of HIV prevention and social services to mostly adult transgender women.

But in the past two months, younger clients like 19-year-old Nannaboo Mack, a transgender woman who said she learned about the center from the “streets,” have descended on the facility in large numbers, stretching its resources and threatening to overextend its budget.

“We’re getting swamped,” said Brian Watson, Transgender Health Empowerment’s director of programs.

As a first-of-its-kind transgender facility in Washington, the center includes a washer and dryer, a shower, a kitchen and a supply of emergency clothing and hygienic products for clients who often are homeless, Watson and other center staff members said.

They said the center, among other things, provides employment, medical and drug treatment referral services, along with HIV testing and prevention counseling — all aimed at helping transgender persons in need get on their feet and become self-sufficient. . . .