Friday, October 12, 2007

Transgender Rights in the ENDA Bill

Pushing the gender boundaries

COVER STORY / Vancouver welcomes the world's drag kings for IDKE 9

GENDERATIONS: Chantal Laporte (aka Majik) hopes hosting the International Drag King Extravaganza will give Vancouver drag kings a shot in the arm. (Shaira Holman photo)
Suzan Krieger says she "always ended up" playing a leather jacket-clad greaser with waterfall sideburns when she went into drag mode. It was mostly songs from the '50s, she remembers. Old school.

She also remembers doing "some stupid song about kissing and hugging in the back seat with Fred;" that Elvis was "a big hit;" and that Crema, of Crema Productions and Chicklets fame, was a dead ringer for Tom Jones.

Krieger pauses, then laughs.

"We did that nun song, 'Dominique,'" she reveals, referring to the historico-religious 1963 ballad composed and sung by Jeanine Decker, a Belgian nun of the Dominican Order, more popularly known as the Singing Nun —and gay, incidentally.

"We didn't call them drag kings, but we were doing drag," says Krieger who, along with Heather Farquahar, once owned the now-defunct Quadra Club that put on genderbending shows circa 1979 with its Quadra Players.
Shaira Holman photo

"[That] included women doing women, because a lot of us in the troupe weren't the most feminine of women, so for us to put on a dress and high heels was going drag, right? We were doing both-gender drag."

Selecting tunes like "Leader of the Pack" was an excuse to play a guy astride a motorbike.

"I don't think it was an expression of gender so much as playing it out the way drag queens were playing it out. It was having fun and entertaining ourselves. It really didn't have a political overtone at all," Krieger recollects, pointing to the old Lotus Club as the primary nexus of drag king-ing in the post-Quadra 1980s.

When Julie Stines (aka Buster Cherry of the $3 Bill drag king troupe) wanted to break into the scene about a decade later and didn't know how, she says the only drag king she knew was Crema.

"I said, 'I want to do that,' recalls Stines. "And then all of a sudden, there was an opportunity to do it" courtesy of a Lotus "call-out" for those itching to do drag.

By the time she donned an ample Michael Jackson Afro wig and did a rendition of his classic "I'll Be There," Stines says she knew she "wanted to do this again."

But the pickings were slim to none where venues for drag kings were concerned, and Stines had to slowly build her drag repertoire and reputation doing fundraisers before eventually being asked to join a troupe.

Even when Luvia Peterson, stage name Daxx, made her 1997 drag king debut, also at the Lotus, in her grandfather's pinstriped blue suit —the only thing in her wardrobe that screamed drag —the scene in Vancouver was still in its relative infancy.

"You'd say drag king, and even a lot of women in the queer community would look at you with a blank face, and you'd always have to make a reference to drag queens. Then they'd go, 'Oh, I get it, so the opposite of a drag queen,' which it really isn't. It's a totally different type of performance, but you had to associate it with something," Peterson explains. . . .

Athlete Fights For More Than a Spot at 2008 Olympics

By Jacob Anderson-Minshall
October 11, 2007

Kristen Worley is on a mission. The Canadian cyclist is determined to make it to the 2008 Olympics, but even more the transitioned athlete - the term she prefers over transsexual - hopes to prevent a repeat of what happened to Shanti Soundarajan. A runner from India who won a silver medal for women’s 800 meters at the 2006 Asian Games, Soundarajan drew international scrutiny when she “failed” a gender test and was stripped of her medal. Three weeks ago, the 26-year-old slipped into a coma after attempting suicide.

The Indian Olympic Association reported that the athlete “does not possess the sexual characteristics of a woman” and implied she had intentionally deceived them. But Soundarajan and her family insisted she’d done nothing wrong. It’s speculated that Soundarajan was born with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), which results in the external physical characteristics typically associated with women despite having XY chromosomes.

lthough the International Olympic Committee (IOC) discontinued gender testing female athletes in 1999, the Olympic Council of Asia continues the controversial practice.
Worley, a world-class cyclist and water skier, mounted a campaign to get Soundarajan’s medal returned. She calls the situation an example of “a gender policy gone terribly wrong,” and lays the blame on IOC’s misguided gender policies. “The IOC lied to the world,” Worley argues. “Which compromised so many athletes—and people’s understanding of gender variance and intersexed issues…The IOC’s gender practices have created undo invasiveness and disrespect and violations of women’s bodies.”

She’s also critical of IOC’s 2004 Stockholm Consensus, which set forth regulations transsexual athletes must meet in order to compete at the Olympics. Although the IOC ruling seemed to welcome transitioned athletes, Worley insists that was never the case. “The policy is totally exclusionary. In fact, it was designed that way on purpose. There was never an effort to make it inclusive.”

Instead, Worley says, “It was a step to protect sports, from what was perceived as a threat. Yet, when the science is on the table, there is no threat and [transitioned] athletes are incredibly disadvantaged, with over a dozen or more well know contraindications.”

A year ago, Worley says, an IOC representative disclosed that the policy wasn’t based on scientific research. IOC medical director, Dr. Patrick Schamasch - on a conference call - admitted that the agency hadn’t done its homework and offered to re-consider the ruling if someone would “get them the science.”

“Wasn’t that your job?” Worley purportedly responded, “To do that prior to releasing such a policy to the global public?”

In addition to working with the IOC, Worley, golfer Mianne Bagger and trans activist Jamison Green have meet with sports organizations, coaches and athletes to educate them on the issues facing transitioned athletes. They’ve been particularly successful in Canada, even gaining financial support from the Canadian government.

Earlier this year, Worley gave a presentation at the Canadian Academy of Sport Medicine’s annual symposium and Green and Worley penned an influential paper for the World Anti-Doping Agency, addressing the anti-doping code’s therapeutic exemptions and the use of therapeutic testosterone. Unlike other female athletes, transitioned women have no testosterone and must receive testosterone therapy to bring their levels up to those of other women their age.

Worley won’t learn if she’s made it to the 2008 Olympics until the World Track & Field Championships next March. When she’s not training or changing the world, Worley is a design engineer for a water ski boat manufacturer. Sharing her love for the water sport, this summer Worley hosted a ski day for gender variant teens.

“This beautiful young boy…looked like Harry Potter. [He] said, ‘Until today I felt like a broken toy.’ This is why what I’m doing is so important. It has little to do with me personally or my own efforts as an athlete, [but] it’s important to me, to see others succeed.”

Trans writer, Jacob Anderson-Minshall, co-authored Blind Leap, the second book in the Blind Eye Mystery series, available in October. Contact or visit for more information. . . .

Couple marks Coming Out Day

Duo says they wrestle with same issues as heterosexuals

Angela Palermo, left, and Sandra Azcarate pose for a portrait at the University of Colorado's Norlin Quadrangle.

Photo by Sammy Dallal

Angela Palermo, left, and Sandra Azcarate pose for a portrait at the University of Colorado's Norlin Quadrangle.

Sandra Azcarate has never considered herself "mainstream."

She listens to The Ramones and The Sex Pistols, likes artsy movies and intellectual conversations and grew up in Peru — so there are a lot of aspects of American society she says she'll never understand.

She said she hoped to find a place in the Denver area's GLBT community but was disappointed to find that most of the people she met were "just as mainstream as everyone else."

Then she met Angela Palermo, a transsexual woman who shared her love of punk-rock bands and political issues.

Azcarate and Palermo have been together for three years now, but both had heterosexual relationships in the past. Both said it was often easier to be in a "socially acceptable" relationship — but that the most important part is being themselves.

That's the message behind National Coming Out Day, which marked its 20th anniversary Thursday.

The day isn't just about coming out of the closet, said Kirsten Spielmann, executive director of Boulder Pride.

"It's really about honoring the thousands and thousands of GLBT individuals who are out and living their lives out every day," Spielmann said. "That's not easy in a society that's been historically homo-bi-trans-phobic."

Even Boulder, considered liberal, doesn't feel safe for one University of Colorado transsexual male who declined to be identified in fear for his safety. . . .

Transgendered Aggie tells her story

By: Thomas McKigney

Phyllis Randolph Frye, advocate for transgender rights, shared her story of struggle as a transsexual Thursday in the Stark Galleries at Texas A&M's Memorial Student Center.

Before her transition she graduated from A&M, was a former member of the Corps or Cadets, Army officer and engineer.

She became a lawyer after her transition to becoming a female. Her parents, siblings, and many of her friends disowned her. She lost her military career and her first marriage. It has been 30 years since her transition.

Frye has fought for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights for 25 years. In 1980, she changed the Houston law against cross-dressing, which police officers were using to arrest gays and lesbians. In 1991, she founded the Transgender Law Conference, which addresses the various legal and employment issues facing members of the transgender community. In 1995, Frye received the "Creator of Change" award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Most recently, she had taken the case of Houston Police Department officer Julia Jack Oliver. Oliver was a transsexual who was transitioning into becoming a female when a police chief told news agencies of her transition. Frye helped Oliver with her legal services, even going so far as to hold a press conference in her legal offices. Today Oliver still works as a HPD officer.

Frye spoke out for making A&M more inclusive, saying that much progress has been made but that there was still much to do. She encouraged students to open doors now rather then let the issues sit till later.

"It's slow, but it's not as slow as it used to be. It used to be slower then a turtle. It's gained a good amount of speed," Frye said.

Psychology major Ashley Babjack said, "I think the truth should be out there and that things like this are important for the community and for our students."

Frye spoke as part of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Aggies schedule of events for Coming Out Week.