Thursday, September 13, 2007
And now the 58 year old – who underwent gender changing surgery in 2001 – has penned a ‘tell-all’ book about her journey from man to woman.
The true life tale, which includes details of her operation and struggles to finally be accepted, chronicles the grandma's life from growing up as a young boy to becoming a fully fledged woman.
And it is a colourful story.
From fathering nine children, travelling the world as a seaman – with a different woman in every port – and battling alcoholism to posing topless as a woman for a red top paper, bagging her first boyfriend and getting engaged to a man she had never met - the page turner covers every facet of her extraordinary life.
Speaking from her home at Hopwood Court in Hollin, Tanya – who is now looking for a publisher to take on her book – says it’s been a hard task unearthing the past.
She said: "I never thought it would be so hard, especially remembering everything. I've had three different titles for the book and rewritten it four times. It has taken me seven years to write, sometimes getting up at 3 o'clock in the morning.
"But now its finished I’m really proud of it."
Tanya was born in 1949 to a Middleton family, but quickly realised from the age of six that she was different to the other boys. . . .
Verdict: A bit of a mess - but powerfulTransvestites turned out in force for Tuesday night's opening of Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother.
The Old Vic foyer beforehand saw several jovial 'girls' with five o'clock shadows and voices as deep as Windsor Davies. A fetching tartan tutu, too.
Senor Almodovar is the Spanish film-maker whose tales include liberal cross-dressing.
In Almodovar's vivid films, gay men are often the best at soothing women's sorrows.
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Devotion to emotion: Diana Rigg and Mark Gatiss in the Old Vic's passionate and moving production
So it almost proves in All About My Mother, in which a single mother suffers a terrible bereavement. She goes running off to her old friend, a tranny in Barcelona.
One complication is that her troubles were also partly caused by a transvestite who got her pregnant in the first place and then scarpered. Once a man, always a man.
The episodic storyline, punchy in a cinema, does not easily translate to the stage.
The action bounces around and despite the ingenuity of set director Hildegard Bechtler, there are moments when it all becomes a little confusing.
At times we are watching a play within a play - much of the plot is wrapped up with a travelling production of A Streetcar Named Desire - and the settings range from a theatre dressing room to a Barcelona townhouse, a hospital to a drag queen's lair.
The Old Vic's large wings are used to the full, with various contraptions and wheeled flats.
Front of curtain turns by the show's main tranny (Mark Gatiss, legs like Jerry Hall, accent like Huw Edwards) allow for scenery changes, but interrupt the story's flow. Nor is there much flavour of Spain to proceedings.
This is hardly surprising when words such as 'peseta' and 'Alicante' are pronounced with their full Estuary English wheedle.
Saturday September 8, 2007
Midway between east and west, man and woman ... Jin Xing. Photograph:Jin Xing/Atlantic Books
Li Jian taps his watch. "We have to go."
It is 1995 and we have just celebrated Chinese New Year. I turn 28 in August.
At the Hospital of the Perfumed Hills, Dr Yang shows me her collection of silicone breasts. I prod the largest one as if I were shopping for fruit. That's the one I want, but Dr Yang praises the elegance of the smallest one. No way! It is laughably flat, like a 15-year-old girl. But Dr Yang won't be swayed. They would bother you when you dance, she says.
Before I'm allowed anywhere near the scalpel, I must take a psychology test. If only 60% of your answers come up as "feminine", you will not qualify for sex-reassignment surgery. If you hit 75%, you are encouraged to undergo "re-masculinisation" therapy - something I must avoid at all costs. Above 80% and surgery is recommended. I shoot for 80%. The result exceeds my expectations: 94%. The day after I have my first operation, I cup my hands around my new breasts, astonished. I can't believe that I have made the first step. I know there is a long way to go, but my childhood dream is finally becoming reality.
I am six years old. I have just come home after watching a performance of The White-Haired Girl, one of communist China's first major ballets. I climb up onto my kang - my brick sleeping platform - peel off a pillowcase and make a headdress. Then I twirl round and round, pretending I am the white-haired heroine.
Back in the real world I am a young boy again, living with my mother and my elder sister. We lodge with an old lady in a small Manchurian village about 100 kilometres from Shenyang. My parents are both Korean émigrés. My mother and her sister fled Korea during the war, seeking refuge in northern China. It was there that she met my father, a handsome older officer in the People's Liberation Army of China. My sister Jin Xianglan was born in 1964 and I followed in 1967. . . .
LET'S GO BLOG WILD: My mail box is a lot emptier now that self-described "notorious transsexual," rock musician, lottery-winner, lottery-squanderer and prolific letter-writer Angela Douglas has died.
Douglas, who lived in Sneads in Jackson County, died of complications from heart trouble earlier this month. She was 64. As she said in one of her last communiqués: "I am 64 and Paul McCartney doesn't care."
In the above photo are Stuttering John, left, from "The Howard Stern Show" and, right, Angela Douglas. The picture was taken in Panama City Beach, circa 2000.
When I was a young reporter in the '80s, Douglas used to phone me in the newsroom of the Tallahassee Democrat and launch into wild, rambling monologues that were part performance art and part paranoid fantasy. She was always convinced someone had stolen her life story.
When "Top Gun" became a monster box-office smash in 1986, Douglas wanted to sue Tom Cruise for pilfering her self-published autobiography "Triple Jeopardy" from 1982. (I don't remember many trannies flying fighter jets in that pic, unless Goose wasn't telling us something, do you?) Famous musicians such as Warren Zevon, she claimed, had stolen her songs without payment.
Mostly, I just let her vent. As I learned long ago in bartending class, you let the customer talk while you just wipe the bar with a rag and keep saying, "Yep, I know what you mean."
Getting flaky phone calls in a newsroom is nothing new. For a few months, a caller identifying himself as God would phone up to predict the day's weather. And, you know, most of the time he was more accurate than the professional meteorologists we paid to do the same job. (God says it's going to be hot this weekend, by the way.) . . .
By ZACK HUDSON
Organizers of the 2007 Southern Comfort Conference for transgender men, women and their families are preparing to greet record crowds with a distinct — if unofficial — conference motto: It’s time to bring transgender issues and individuals out of the closet.
Lifestyle and health topics, as well as plenty of time to socialize, will continue to take up much of the conference schedule. But attendees will be hard pressed to miss programming geared to turn their attention to activism, politics and working with advocacy organizations.
With nearly 1,000 attendees expected to register for the six-day conference, political and business stakeholders like the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Equality will lobby conference guests in an effort to harness transgender support and numbers for their causes.
The efforts of gay political organizations, some of which previously shunned transgender issues as distracting obstacles, are welcomed by Southern Comfort organizers, who say the stage is set for increased awareness of transgender issues, and people, in the larger society.
“It’s just time,” explained Cat Turner, chairperson of the 2007 conference. “Thirty years ago it was time for gay and lesbian rights to move to the forefront. Now it’s our time.”
The conference — with a budget of about $120,000 and likely attendance of 1,000 people who pay between $100 and $325 for registration — is big business itself. In 2006, the first round of Southern Comfort Conference corporate sponsors came calling, including Raytheon, a munitions manufacturer.
This year, giants like Microsoft, American Airlines, Turner Broadcasting System are on board as paid sponsors or participants in the First Annual Transgender Career Expo.
Bringing in corporate partners to the conference was “not as difficult as you might think,” said Kristin Reichman, a Southern Comfort board member and organizer for the career expo.
Southern Comfort board members utilized HRC’s Corporate Equality Index to determine trans-friendly companies to invite to participate in the conference and the expo. . . .
I know it isn't time now; however, my brother is starting to wear a little makeup and dress in some feminine clothing. What exactly is the best way to explain this type of thing to young children?
Should I wait until they start asking questions, or do I approach the subject before that time?
I want to be prepared when the time comes. I also want to be supportive of my brother. I really don't understand the whole subject, but have done a little research since finding out about this. I greatly welcome any advice you have to offer.
A. It's a good idea to be prepared, because your 5-year-old is likely to ask questions if he notices his uncle's makeup. There's no reason to give advanced information to either child while their uncle appears mostly unchanged.
However, if he should decide to go through medical procedures and entirely change his appearance to that of a woman, both children will require some forewarning, and you shouldn't wait for questions.
Your answers can be simplified to fit with their young ages and can be something like the following:
Some babies are born as boys and some as girls, but some are born who look like once sex and feel like another. When they become adults, if a man feels more like a woman and decides that's what he really is, the doctor can help him make some changes so that he looks more like the woman he feels like. That's what your uncle has decided to do, and after he does, then you'll be able to call him your aunt. The same can be done for a woman who feels more like a man. The name for those special situations is "transgender."
You may be surprised to find that your children simply accept your explanation and go right on playing without any further questions, or they may have a few questions at a later date, right after their uncle (or aunt) visits.
Children are likely to be more accepting and less surprised by your simple explanation than your adult friends will be. Your younger child may not remember the new word, but your older one will and will probably give it as an explanation if another child asks him how his uncle became an aunt.
I'm sure your brother needs all the support and kindness you can give him during this complex time in his life, but while it's difficult for you and for him, your young children will have little problem accepting this change in their lives. . . .
By Liau Y-Sing
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - When Khartini Slamah first came out as a transsexual, he was a dutiful Muslim son by day and a prostitute by night, working on the streets of the Malaysian capital.
The option of sex change surgery was out of the question in this moderate Muslim country where Muslim transsexuals are banned from changing their gender and same sex relationships are a criminal offence.
"I tried to find a job but because of my sexuality I was turned down," said the 44-year-old former prostitute who now works as an activist and counselor to other transsexuals.
Twenty years later, sex change surgery may be routine in some countries but it's still banned by law in Malaysia -- at least for Muslims. The ruling doesn't apply to non-Muslims who make up about half of the estimated 30,000 transsexuals in Malaysia.
The ban stems from an Islamic belief that it is wrong to alter that which God has given. This belief also forbids Muslims from dressing up as the opposite sex and undergoing major cosmetic surgery other than for medical reasons.
Non-Muslims don't have the same problems, although they do sometimes have trouble registering their new gender with the state and like their Muslim counterparts, many have to work as prostitutes as there are few job opportunities for transsexuals. . . .
Former radio personality launches new life as woman, career in stand-up comedy
Sitting with Gishelle Gish, there’s a sense of what is and what has been.
In the dining room of her West Knoxville home, Gish is surrounded by gold records, signed plaques and posters from Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand and other music stars, all thanking her for her help with their careers and the success of certain records.
Yet all of the thanks are for “Brother Clay” Gish.
Brother Clay Gish was an athlete, a Vietnam veteran, a father who married four times and a star in the radio world. He was known in Atlanta, Houston, Miami and Knoxville as a popular radio personality, a programmer who could help take a station to the top and could always tell a future hit.
Clay Gish began living as Gishelle Diva Gish in January and has since undergone breast augmentation surgery and a legal name change. She hopes to have sex-reassignment surgery in the near future.
“People who knew me didn’t really know me,” says Gish. “Now my skin is reflecting who I am inside.”
Gishelle is wearing a pink polka-dot dress, white high-heeled sandals and a long blond wig. She smiles often and retains the outgoing personality that made Brother Clay a popular personality on Knoxville’s WOKI, Atlanta’s WZGC, Houston’s KRBE and other stations. . . .
by Gwendolyn Ann Smith
There are few topics I have generally avoided in this column – but I want to get into one of them this time out. I want to discuss transgender bodies. As a friend of mine said when I had suggested the topic, "We all have one."
It's not a subject I've avoided because of some political agenda, but rather because the topic is an uncomfortable one. It's not a pleasant one to discuss in many ways. So often, we can have very negative feelings toward our own transgender bodies, even if one has corrective surgeries done to same. . . .