Monday, September 10, 2007

Aleshia Brevard

Video: View here.

POV, Critique, Opinion: I have no moral obligation to be "out", to engage in "trans activism", or to be "visible".


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Imagine walking up to every black man you see, and asking him, "what are you doing for black people? don't you know you owe it to your forebears to advocate for black causes, to make your voice heard?" Imagine telling him exactly what he should be doing, exactly what issues he should care about.

Now imagine walking up to each and every woman, and telling them that to really be a true, honest, good woman, they should be members of specific women's organizations, they should donate to specific women's causes. And if they don't, for instance, support pro-choice candidates, or live in a woman's commune... then obviously, they're not thankful for the work of women's rights activists in the past.

No matter if they disagree. No matter if they do their own part already to contribute to their local community or to humanity generally. No manner if they actually already help black people or women, but not in the way you want them to. You would walk up to them and tell them exactly what they should do and how, just because they are black or are women.

That is NOT the way to build community or empower anyone. It is no better than telling them what they're not capable or worthy of for not being white, not being male. No better than telling the woman she ought to be a housewife.

So why do transgender and transsexual people think they have a right to tell me what I should be doing? Why do they think they have a right to proclaim that I am "wrong" for living a stealth life? Why do they think that if I'm not shouting their specific chosen slogans from the rooftops, and if I don't present myself in acceptable gender-rebel garb, then I must not be "thankful" for past advocates of transsexual rights?

I am stealth. I am becoming less and less engaged in the so-called "trans community", and I am not at all involved in "GLBT community". I contribute to human community. I volunteer and contribute my time, effort, and even money to causes not at all related to transsexuality. Yet because I don't tow the party line, a lot of "trans" people seem to think I'm bad, immoral, unethical.. that I'm a disgrace to all "trans" people. Because I live stealth. Because I don't fit into their "community".

I call bullshit. I'm not going to let these academic, activist-minded "trans" people tell me how to be a Good Transsexual. I'm not interested in being a Good Transsexual, or in being part of their community. I'm interested in living my life with integrity, being there for my family, friends, and (local) community. The incessant judgment just needs to stop!

See comments here.

POV, Critique, Opinion: Closets Are For Clothes, Stealth Is For Planes

Marti Abernathey | September 9, 2007 |

Recently, I read a blog post about an FTM complaining about being judged by other transgender people about living “stealth.” To those of you who feel the need to live secretly, I say this; if you wish to live your life in a closet that is your choice. But don’t be surprised when I judge you for this. For as long as folks with passing privilege hide in their closets, there will be a stigma attached to transgender people because they will be defined by those that don’t or aren’t trying to pass. By being stealth, you’re shaming yourself and those who are like you. If you want to do that, be my guest.

I don’t think you bad, immoral, or unethical for living a “stealth” existence. I would say you’re a coward and delusional, if you think that you can live stealth in todays world. There’s ALWAYS a path back to your birth gender, so you’re about as stealth as Valerie Plame.

There is no integrity in hiding. There is no integrity in shame. You don’t like that judgment? Tough shit. Those of us that choose to be out by choice get judged daily. But we do so, because we know that the people that know and love us will have hearts and minds changed because of us. Because of them knowing us. If you aren’t moving us forward, you’re setting us back. You don’t like that? Go hide in your closet.

See comments here.

Wedding Bell Blues

She’s Not The Man I Married

Helen Boyd. Photo by Ashley Thayer.

When writer Helen Boyd (born Gail Kramer) was growing up, she wanted to be C.S. Lewis. “What that meant was unclear,” she laughs, sitting in her small Park Slope living room, a pack of Camels by her side.

The youngest of six, Boyd was a questioning child who took great pleasure in books and music. By adolescence the constraints of her working-class Long Island town had her fleeing into Manhattan, taking in shows at the Ritz and shopping at record stores selling British vinyl. After high school, she attended Fordham, The New School, and City College and supported herself with office work, bookkeeping, and canvassing for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).

Then, in 1993, while still finishing her undergraduate studies, Boyd became an assistant to author Walter Moseley, a job that lasted nearly nine years. “I took it expecting to make connections for my own writing but didn’t,” she says.

Instead, a relationship with actor Jason Crowl begun in 1998 and sent Boyd’s career in an unanticipated direction. The courtship began simply enough: Girl meets boy; girl asks boy out; and sooner than later love is in the air. Early on, Crowl confessed his penchant for women’s wear. “I thought I’d found someone who was secure enough in his masculinity to play with it,” Boyd says. In her exuberance she began to call him “Betty.” Efforts to evade Jason’s harassing ex-girlfriend caused Kramer to begin using the name Helen Boyd.

Now 38, she and Crowl have been together for nine years. Their relationship has given birth to two books that merge memoir with social analysis: My Husband Betty in 2003, and She’s Not the Man I Married: My Life with a Transgendered Husband, which was published this Spring.

Both books parse the couple’s unique relationship, educating readers about crossdressing and the transgendered. Critics have described the books as potent, alluring and challenging. . . .

POV, Critique, Opinion: Santhi Soundarajan: Sport, Gender and Suicide in India

September 09, 2007

Amrita Rajan

Just a few months ago, Santhi Soundarajan was the butt of late night jokes on American television and the subject of outraged editorials in Indian newspapers as the Indian woman athlete who failed a gender test.

While details are scarce and confusing, news reports have it that shortly after Soundarajan won the silver in the women’s 800 metre event for India at the Asian Games in Doha last year, she failed a routine (but not compulsory) test carried out by a team of doctors (including a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist and internal medicine specialist). Their consensus? Soundarajan “does not possess the sexual characteristics” necessary to qualify as a female of the species.

Perhaps it was the outcome of Games officials seeing an Indian win a medal in a sporting event and thinking, Now what’s wrong with this picture?

Levity aside, this past week, Soundarajan, now stripped of her medal (featured above, first from left), made the news again when she was admitted to a hospital in her native Tamil Nadu for attempted suicide. Well, there’s a shock for Chief Minister Karunanidhi - apparently a shiny new plasma TV and a check for a few lakh rupees isn’t a magical cure-all for having your life turned upside down.

Leading the life of a recluse and unemployed, this was the first anybody had heard of her since the results of the gender test were revealed. Although she has denied all allegations even in her weakened state, her doctors insist that she swallowed “veterinary medicines” in a bid to end her life. A few thoughts:

When somebody tries to commit suicide and you’re called to attend to them, kindly keep the details of your patient to yourself. The place for a doctor attending a high risk patient is by that patient’s bedside, not confirming the particulars of the case to whichever reporter that’s on the phone. She’s already been through a lot if she’s tried to kill herself, she doesn’t need your tuppence to help her that last remaining inch over the edge, alright?

Secondly, why is it that we’re only hearing about her now and in these circumstances? Immediately after the scandal broke there was a lot of stuff written up in the papers about the smelly state of affairs in Indian sport, especially women’s sport. Months and one successful sports movie later, everything is very Chak De and all the righteous indignation is about media coverage.

This is what really bothers me about the Chak De phenomenon. I loved the movie unreservedly and I agree with the point that so many have raised i.e. that our famous obsession with cricket has slowly strangled all other sport in India. I even agree with the argument that publicity has a lot to do with the popularity of a sport. Look at spelling bees, for example - I mean, spelling bees for crying out loud, people! All it took was one bizarre documentary full of kids going crazy under parental pressure and hey, presto! Memorizing the dictionary is now a sport and you can catch it on ESPN (funny post).

But coming back to Chak De, very little of the focus seems to have shifted to underlying point driven home relentlessly with everything but a sledgehammer throughout the movie: the apathy and downright criminal negligence on the part of the government authorities and officials who run Indian sport and the deep rot that has set into the “system”. . . .

Gender changes, but a wife's love stays

No living a lie: Janet Rice (left) with husband Penny — formerly Peter — Whetton.

No living a lie: Janet Rice (left) with husband Penny — formerly Peter — Whetton

September 9, 2007

Greens candidate married Peter, who is now Penny, reports William Birnbauer.

JANET Rice arches forward in her seat, her eyes on high beam and her manner direct. "Absolutely," she declares when asked if she would discuss her personal life. "If you don't talk about it, it's going to be used against you."

Her eagerness to talk about her long-term partner's gender swap and its impact on her own sexuality is a little disconcerting. But keen she is.

Ms Rice is the Greens candidate for Saturday's byelection in the safe Labor seat of Williamstown, vacated by the retired Premier Steve Bracks.

She is a former mayor of Maribyrnong and has lived within two kilometres of the Williamstown electorate for 40 of her 46 years.

Unlikely to win the byelection, she hopes her activism and community profile might pull a few votes from traditional Liberal and Labor party voters.

Like most aspiring politicians, Ms Rice is only too happy to run through the problems plaguing the electorate. Unlike most politicians, however, she is willing to tell the truth about a personal life that is anything but conventional.

"Absolutely," she repeats.

For 16 years she lived with her husband, Peter Whetton, a high-profile climate change expert, in what she saw as a normal marriage. They had two boys, now aged 15 and 12.

Four years ago, Peter broke the news that he was a cross-dresser and felt more woman than man.

Peter had a sex-change operation and changed his name to Penny. Her first years as a woman were a rollercoaster ride and coincided with Ms Rice's election to Maribyrnong council. She told a confidential meeting of councillors and officers about the sex change.

She acknowledges that many marriages would not have withstood such a dramatic shift in roles and beliefs. For many couples "it doesn't work out for them sexuality-wise, whereas for me, I still love Penny", she says. "For me, it was saying, 'Oh, I'm a bisexual. OK, I'm not a heterosexual.'

"That was a big thing for me. I'm not heterosexual; I'm bisexual. The main shock was that here was this person I had been married to for 16 years and here was an incredibly important part of her life I knew nothing about."

The boys, while being "absolutely terrific" about it, differed in their responses. The older boy was "not all that open about it", while the younger one tells his mates, "My dad's Penny; my dad's a woman."

Trying to hide the truth would be used against her, she says. After the initial shock of discovery, there was acceptance and a willingness to stay together. A marriage between a passionate local campaigner and a classic scientist.

"We're a good pair," she says, "because Penny does the unravelling and understanding and I need to be taking action on it."

Transgender pastor's new test of faith (United Methodist Church)

The Rev. Drew Phoenix, formerly the Rev. Ann Gordon, at St. John’s of Baltimore City. The Judicial Council will take up his case next month, deciding whether the church should accept transgender pastors.

LA Times ^ | September 9, 2007 | Stephanie Simon

Posted on 09/10/2007 7:32:00 AM PDT by NYer

BALTIMORE — The Rev. Ann Gordon stood in front of her United Methodist congregation last fall and announced that she was now he.

Surgery and testosterone had transformed Ann into the Rev. Drew Phoenix -- still as liberal and laid-back as always, but now legally male. Most in the small congregation accepted their pastor's transition; they even threw him a renaming party, complete with birthday cake.

But when Phoenix, 48, was reappointed to another year of ministry this spring by his bishop, it sparked a protest in the United Methodist Church.

The denomination's highest authority, the Judicial Council, will take up the case next month, deciding whether the church should accept transgender pastors. The decision will determine Phoenix's future; it could also have political implications. Presiding over the Judicial Council is Dr. James W. Holsinger Jr., President Bush's nominee for surgeon general and a longtime lay leader of the United Methodist church. Democrats have objected to Holsinger in large part because of work he has done for his church over the years.

In 1991, Holsinger wrote a paper for the church describing gay sex as abnormal and unhealthy. On the Judicial Council last year, he supported a pastor who would not permit a gay man to join his congregation. Holsinger has also affirmed the church's stance against openly gay and lesbian clergy.

The Senate has not yet scheduled a vote on Holsinger, though his confirmation hearing was two months ago. He has been asked to answer further questions in writing. In the meantime, Holsinger will handle several Judicial Council cases dealing with sexuality. Most prominent is the question of Phoenix's right to remain in ministry.

Significant Majority of All Adult Americans Believe it is Unfair that Federal Law Allows Employers to Fire Someone Because. . .

Sixth Annual Out & Equal/Harris Interactive/Witeck-Combs Communications Survey Explores Workplace Attitudes toward GLBT People
2007 Out & Equal Workplace Summit

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. & ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nearly two-thirds of all American adults (64%) believe it is unfair that federal law currently allows for an employer to fire someone because they are gay or lesbian. A similar majority (60%) of heterosexual adults were not even aware that federal law does not provide protections for employees on the basis of sexual orientation. An overwhelming majority (79%) of heterosexuals also feel that how an employee does his or her job, and not their sexual orientation, should be the standard for judging an employee. When it comes to the issue of transgender employees in the work place, two thirds of heterosexuals (67%) also agree that employee performance should be the standard by which they are judged and not whether they are transgender.

These are some of the results from the latest national Out & Equal Workplace survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive® in conjunction with Out & Equal and Witeck-Combs Communications, among 2,868 U.S. adults, of whom 350 self-identified as, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT)1. The survey is an annual barometer of attitudes surrounding GLBT issues in the workplace and is the longest-running survey of its kind.

Within the next two weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a proposed U.S. federal law that, if enacted, will prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The current version of the bill was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2007 and for the first time includes gender identity as a protected category in relation to job discrimination.

“This survey continues to demonstrate that clear majorities of American adults agree that discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is wrong,” says Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse Berry. “It is apparent that heterosexual co-workers are realizing that sexual orientation is not relevant to job performance.”

In addition, more heterosexuals (88%) say they would feel indifferent or feel positively upon learning that a co-worker is gay or lesbian. About one-in-ten (12%) say they would feel negatively. . . .

Transgender men outraged over mall bathroom incident

Simon Adriane (left) and Sean Brochin

Story Updated: Sep 8, 2007 at 2:25 PM PDT
By KOMO Staff

Watch the story

SEATTLE -- Two transgender men say they're the victims of discrimination after they were kicked out of a downtown mall for allegedly using the wrong restroom.

Trouble began when Simon Adriane and Sean Brochin needed to use the bathroom after watching a movie at Pacific Place mall in downtown Seattle.

Adriane and Brochin, who were both born female but consider themselves male, entered the men's bathroom, which upset a man in teh bathroom.

But the mall claims the men were simply disruptive.

"He was screaming 'you're a woman, you can't be in here!'" said Adriane.

"The first thing I thought is 'oh no, not again.' Because it happened many times in my life," Brochin said.

Adriane tried calming the man.

"I said I'm not a girl, I'm just here to pee," he said.

But the customer called security.

"Security was banging on the door and ordered us to get out," Adriane said.

The security guard escorted the pair out of the bathroom and out of the mall.

According to the state Human Rights Commission, transgenders are protected and have the right to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

But the commission recommends they use the unisex or family restroom to avoid wrestling with gender issues. In this case, Adriane and Brochin said it was occupied. . . .

Singapore transsexual battles culture of shame

Ten years after fulfilling a lifelong dream to become a woman through sex-change surgery, Leona Lo, seen here, has embarked on an uphill battle to change the "culture of shame" surrounding transsexuals in Asia

SINGAPORE (AFP) — She loves children and her lifelong dream is to be a wife and a mother, but the raspy voice and masculine frame betray the fact that Leona Lo was born a man.

Unlike many other transsexuals in Asia who prefer to live privately because of the social stigma of sex change, the British-educated, Singaporean transsexual woman has chosen to live a normal life, but in public.

Smart, confident and articulate, the communications specialist who heads her own public relations company has embarked on a mission to help turn around the "culture of shame" surrounding transsexuals in Singapore and the region.

"Somewhere out there, not just in Singapore but throughout Asia, there are lots of young people who are suffering the way I suffered years ago," Leona, 32, tells AFP in an interview.

In her former life as a man, she was called Leonard.

These days, she draws on her experiences of gender identity crisis, rejection and discrimination to challenge social mores on behalf of the so-called silent community.

"It's this entire culture of shame that gets under your skin. It's not something that you can isolate and demolish because it is so much a part of our culture," she says.

While a few transsexuals are gaining prominence in Asia -- notably China's Jin Xing -- most continue to live in silence.

In May, a 32-year-old South Korean transsexual entertainer, whose sex alteration led the country to change its family registry laws, married her rapper boyfriend.

Parinya "Nong Toom" Charoenphol's rags-to-riches story was made into a movie, "Beautiful Boxer." Former Chinese People's Liberation Army colonel and now woman Jin Xing is a prize-winning dancer and choreographer.

Slim and taller than the average local woman, Leona packs charm and gets animated when talking about children.

But her lipsticked mouth creases into a pensive smile when she says: "I can't bear children. I have to be on hormones for life and I have this body structure of a guy."

The hormone treatment has "feminised" the former man. While traces of masculinity are evident, Leona says she has already come to terms with being a woman -- although a transsexual one.

"I can't deny that biologically I'm different," says Leona, wearing a blue dress, the muscles on her shoulders and arms clearly visible. . . .