Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Returning to work concerns. . .

Japan: TG TV star releases single

Dondake?! Transvestite TV-star IKKO releases single

Transvestite make-up artist IKKO, who shot into TV stardom this year while popularizing the phrase “dondake!” (meaning, approximately, “what!”) will debut as a singer with the single “Dondake no housoku,” the Sankei Sports reported on Thursday.

The song is a song cheering for the plain and ugly girls, with lyrics about how anybody can turn into a butterfly if they try hard enough. Naturally, the phrase “dondake” will also be sung repeatedly.

The single will also include a cover of “Dou ni mo tomaranai,” a 1972 hit song. originally performed by Linda Yamamoto.

Boys will be girls

by Jade Wright

Jade Wright is the first person to go backstage with the Ladyboys of Bangkok as they perform in Liverpool

THE door is flung open and a whirlwind of sequins, feathers and bare skin sweeps through.

Click clack, click clack stiletto heels on tiled floor. One minute call. Beginners to the stage. The music builds to a crescendo, the spotlights peek through the velvet curtain and in a blur ... she is gone.

Backstage with the Ladyboys of Bangkok is a fascinating place to be. Sixteen of the world’s most beautiful transvestites vie for space in the brightly lit dressing rooms.

Beneath the sound of hairdryers and the music that floods from front of house, they speak quietly and quickly in Thai as they blow-dry each others’ hair and help each other into ever-more elaborate costumes. With over 200 outfit changes every night and just one wardrobe mistress, they work as one; a seamless team, getting ready in a flash.

Vivian sits in her dressing room with three of the other girls and more make-up than a small branch of Boots, putting the finishing touches to her hair.

Despite the frantic pace, she’s happy to chat and her English is good.

“Liverpool is very nice,” she grins. “Everybody is so friendly. I have been in town today and people are very kind, very smiley.”

Vivian – the English nickname she chose when she came here – is strikingly beautiful. She laughs a lot and her face lights up when she smiles. Looking at her smooth skin and stunning figure I wouldn’t have guessed she wasn’t born a woman.

It’s hard to pin an age to her. When I ask, she mimes shock and says something to the other girls. They laugh.

“How old do you think I look?” she asks, arching an eyebrow and pouting coquettishly.

I honestly can’t tell, and guess at 19.

“You are very sweet,” she grins, pinching me on the cheek. “I’m 24.”

Underneath her dressing gown a sparkly flapper dress peeks out, a Kit-Kat girl outfit for the Cabaret routine.

“I have nine costumes in this show. My favourites are the big feathered ones. They are very beautiful. It takes me about two hours to do my hair and make-up, but it goes very quickly because we like to talk and laugh.”

Like most of the girls, Vivian was born on the outskirts of Bangkok. Ladyboys are an honourable part of the rich cultural heritage of Thailand. They are people of a highly artistic and creative nature who believe that they have the right to define their own sexuality.

Although born physically as boys, they are identified at a young age as being transgender and adopt the lifestyle of a Ladyboy from as early as eight or nine. . . .

Transgender Teens, Sen. Sheila Kuehl Detail Threats Facing High School Students

Transgender Teens, Sen. Sheila Kuehl Detail Threats Facing High School Students

LOS ANGELES - California high schools need to do more to protect transgender students from demeaning and even violent situations. That’s the message of a special California Senate hearing today in Los Angeles.

Five years after the shocking murder of 17-year-old Gwen Araujo in Newark, Calif., students, experts on transgender youth and state Sen. Sheila James Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, will address efforts to make high schools safer for transgender students.

Araujo’s murder in October 2002 after an off-campus party sparked calls to combat harassment of transgender students.

“No student in California should have to live with the fear of being abused, harassed or ridiculed simply because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. “There’s a lack of understanding and knowledge about school safety issues for transgender youth. Until we educate our school officials and the public about this important topic, young people in our schools will continue to face the threat of daily discrimination,” Kors said.

Even when they don’t face violence from others, teenagers who cross gender norms have higher drop-out and suicide rates. “Transgender” is the umbrella term for a number of gender identities, including students who dress or identify as members of the opposite sex or who have sought sex-change surgery.

Angel Woolsey, now a 22-year-old college student, remembers the sense of threat. “Anytime you walk into a bathroom, you don’t know if you will be beaten up,” he said. “Principals and teachers don’t know how to help, or they actively do things to make the situation worse, such as segregating students or singling out transgender students for punishment.”

Schools need to take a series of steps to ensure the safety of transgender students, including:

adopt written policies that explicitly prohibit harassment of gay, lesbian and transgender students,
ask students about their experiences with gender-identity-related harassment and threats in the annual California Health Kids Survey and California Student Survey,
train teachers to identify and prevent harassment,
audit school districts to find out if they are complying with the Student Safety and Violence Prevention Act of 2000, Sen. Kuehl’s groundbreaking law to stop student harassment based on gender identity.

These steps are supported by Equality California, the Gay-Straight Alliance, the ACLUs of Northern California, Southern California, and San Diego and Imperial Counties, the Transgender Law Center, and the Safe Schools Coalition, an international public-private partnership in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth.

The ACLU’s Tamara Lange said that such legal changes are “necessary if we are to protect transgender students from the threats, violence and hostility that cause higher rates of school absence, failure to graduate, self-destructive behaviors such as unsafe sexual practices and drug use, and long-term suicide risk.”

Another teen who began her transgender transition in 8th grade talked about dodging lit cigarettes thrown at her by other students and getting no help from teachers and principals. Her high school principal threatened to suspend her after she went into the girls’ bathroom to put on makeup because the boys’ restroom had no mirrors. “And if I reported what other students did and said, I worried I would only experience worse aggression after school,” said Hiracheta, now 18.

The Senate Select Committee Hearing on Transgender School Safety Issues is being held today, Monday, October 15, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Los Angeles. The hearing takes place at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Saban Research Building Auditorium, 4661 Sunset Blvd.

Last week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed three EQCA-sponsored bills that will help protect all California youth, including those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. The three pieces of legislation create better safeguards for students in public schools and youth in California’s juvenile justice facilities.

The Difficulties and Rewards of Gender Transition

Listen to this story...

News & Notes, May 30, 2007 · Sabel Samone-Loreca is a youth outreach worker and a transgendered African-American woman. She talks to Tony Cox about her decision to leave the gender of her birth, as well as the broader changes that becoming a woman has brought to her life.

Some gays oppose bill to prohibit bias on job

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times staff reporter

From New York to Seattle, gays are divided over a workplace protection bill in Congress, not because of whom it covers but because of whom it leaves out: transgender people.

At a rally on Seattle's Capitol Hill today, gay-rights activists will join a nationwide call for defeat of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, which would ban discrimination in the workplace against people who are gay.

This is huge for the gay community, which has waited nearly 30 years to reach this point. And when U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., first introduced the measure earlier this year, it included protections for the entire community — lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

But in recent weeks, Frank, who is gay, told the LGBT community that he needed to strip gender identity from the measure, essentially excluding transgender people, because with them he didn't have the votes to win passage in the House of Representatives.

"What I have learned in the past month was that we weren't yet at the point where we could wish away this prejudice" against transgender people, Frank said in a speech before Congress last week.

"We can say, until we are able to do everything we are going to abandon this effort... " he said. "Or we can take one of the biggest steps forward in the anti-discrimination march... "

ENDA is largely symbolic — it lacks the votes needed to pass the Senate, and President Bush is unlikely to sign it. But the exclusion of transgender people from workplace protection has sparked division and fierce debate among gays across the country.

Some say the gay community cannot abandon its own, while others argue that an all-or-nothing position helps no one at all.

Gay bloggers have weighed in: Some questioned whether transgender people have enough in common with lesbians and gays, only to find themselves skewered by other bloggers for their selfishness.

More than 270 gay-rights organizations — including several in Seattle and across Washington state — oppose the bill and say they will work to see it fail.

Locally, they've scheduled a unity rally for 2 p.m. today at the LGBT Community Center, 1115 E. Pike St.

"We'd rather have the bill fail than leave anyone behind," said Bill Dubay, a longtime Seattle gay-rights activist. "We can be frozen here for a while; we're not going backward.". . .

Will Things Get Dirty Between Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Candis Cayne?

Watch out, Elisabeth Hasselbeck! Candis Cayne is coming to The View.

Cayne, a transsexual performer who plays the transsexual mistress of William Baldwin's politico character on ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money, revealed during her cabaret act on Saturday that she’s going to a guest on Barbara Walters’ chat show this Friday.

Cayne told the crowd at Eleven in West Hollywood she’ll do her best to zip it when she comes face-to-face with Ms. Hasselbeck, because her "first instinct" is to give the conservative cohost quite the tongue lashing.

Cayne has a special mantra to keep herself in check. “Happy transsexual, happy transsexual,” she announced to laughter and applause.

If Cayne wasn’t enough gender-bending for me this weekend, I also caught drag queen Coco Peru’s new show, Ugly Coco, last night at the Renberg Theater.

In Ugly, a mix of stand-up and music, Coco reminisces about being ridiculed as a “fairy” while growing up in the Bronx but finding happier times when she landed in Hollywood and became friends with gay icons like Liza Minnelli and Bea Arthur. (For all you New Yorkers, you can catch Coco Nov. 9-11 at Joe’s Pub.)

Felicia Luna Lemus

10 October 2007

Like Son is Felicis Luna Lemus' second novel, a startling and imaginative journey through three time periods, experienced by one of the best transgender protagonists in recent queer literature. Here the author discusses her obsession with the novel's cover star, her beloved New York City, and her penchant for the occasional piña colada.

How did you come to write Like Son?
Nahui Olin bewitched me. I mean, have you seen the Edward Weston portrait of her on the cover of the book?! Upon seeing her for the first time, I swear I went weak at the knees. The year was 1998 and I figured she was the front girl for some fierce riot girl band coming through town. I was determined to stalk her and be her biggest fan.

Then I read the accompanying article and realised the photo was from 1924 and that it was part of an Edward Weston exhibit at a local museum. Slightly bummed, but entirely titillated, I went to the exhibit, and that was it - Nahui had me wrapped around her little finger. She’s just so haggard and beautiful all at once in that portrait. I needed to know everything about her.

Initially all I could find were passing references in books about other 1920s Mexican avant-garde artists, in biographies of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Tina Modotti, et al. With only my imagination and her portrait to work with, I started writing fictional vignettes about her. For a while I put those aside and wrote my first novel. But even after Trace Elements of Random Tea Parties was published, Nahui remained a total obsession for me. I needed to write a novel that could include her, that would honour her spirit of transgressive brilliance. And so was born Like Son.

Your novel blends fiction and reality, could you say a little bit more about that please?
I’m very interested in stories that are pushed into dark shadows in order to allow ‘reality’ to shine brightly. Much of what we understand to be real is as much a construct as is fiction. We employ narrative strategies to tell and document our truths same as we do to create our fables. While I want to respect what is established historical fact, I also want to dig around the edges, peel back layers, critically examine and expand the entire notion of truth.

Frank’s family has closets full of skeletons that have been edited out of his family’s version of reality. Similarly, for over half a century Nahui Olin’s importance in the early 20th century international avant-garde was swept under the rug. Like Son brings these deletions to the centre and shines a spotlight on them.

What are your favourite passages in the book?
As a writer it’s my job to be pretty hard on my own words, so I wouldn’t necessarily say I have any favourite passages in my own books, but I would say that I’m happy when a reader feels a strong connection to a given passage - that’s an awesome feeling as a writer.

What do you think that Nahui Olin would make of Like Son?
Nahui Olin would totally dig a hot transboy and his eccentric girlfriend obsessing over her. I mean, in a lot of ways Like Son is an homage to her importance and timelessness. That said, Edward Weston wrote in his journals that Nahui was displeased with the portrait of her that’s so central to Like Son. Nahui was a classically beautiful woman who was accustomed to being depicted prettily in portraits. Apparently she didn’t like how intense she looked in Weston’s portrait. For me that intensity - the same genius fireworks that came across in her poems and paintings - is precisely what is so damned stunning about her.

Who are your favourite gender queer characters in literature?
The character ‘T Cooper’ in T Cooper’s Lipshitz Six or Two Angry Blondes. And Pippi Longstocking.

New York sounds like a very good place for edgy, up and coming queer writers, how true is this?
Anything goes in New York City. As far as I’m concerned, it’s heaven.

What's next for you?
A piña colada and a night on the town. Other than that, I’m headed on a whirlwind book tour this fall and I’m working on my next novel.

What else would you like to say?
I heart unicorns. Over and out...