Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Loreena McKennitt - The Mummers' Dance

Comment: Renee Richards is a trans hero

Renee Richards is an athlete who defied all the odds and through her courage was able to change the world.

18th December 2007

Imagine waking up every day and feeling like you were in the wrong body.

Imagine the frustration and angst it would cause to know that although you felt like a human being, those around you didn't treat you that way.

Imagine spending a lifetime trying to excel at a sport only to be told that physically you were unable to compete because an unprecedented gender policy forbids your inclusion.

Imagine being the first person ever to challenge that rule and win.

For former tennis player Renee Richards, those scenarios were reality.

As one of the first recognised professional transgendered athletes, Richards made waves and broke down barriers, creating a legacy that would change the face of sports forever. . . .

Transgender student battles SUU over housing issue

By Brian Maffly

The Salt Lake Tribune

For his entire childhood, Kourt Osborn felt as if he were playing a character in a play. But when the play was over he kept his costume on and continued pretending to be someone he was not: a girl.

Now in college two years after initiating transgender treatment and living as a man, he has found that Southern Utah University housing officials cannot accommodate him because he won't provide medical documentation that "proves" he is male. Citing criteria that Osborn's supporters denounce as arbitrary and an invasion of medical privacy, university officials insist on proof that transgender students have undergone various medical interventions, including surgery, or that they have been diagnosed with "gender identity disorder."

Neuman Duncan, SUU's housing director, says the school is not discriminating against transgender students, but simply following a policy to ensure the comfort and safety of all students.

"He has not transgendered completely so we are unable to assign him men's housing. It's a housing policy that we require transgender students to provide a letter from a doctor that says they have undergone all necessary treatments and hormone therapy has been completed," says Duncan. . . .

Men donning female tattoos warned

Dec 5, 2007

Men who live like women in Samoa have been warned they could be cursed and die if they get tattoos with designs traditionally worn by the country's females.

Males who are raised, dress and behave as women are a traditional part of society in Samoa and other parts of the Pacific, often in families where there are too many boys.

Known in Samoa as fa'afafines, the men dress and live largely as women and even have their own beauty pageants.

But the president of the Samoa Fa'afafine Association, Roger Stanley, has warned some are tempting fate by getting tattoos that are traditionally worn only by women. . . .

Denied at NECC

Jason Tait

December 17, 2007

HAVERHILL — Northern Essex Community College has denied the use of the men’s locker room to a transgender student because of his female anatomy.

Ethan Santiago, 20, of Methuen was born a girl but identifies himself as a man and applied for a men’s locker at the school. School officials refused his request for safety reasons, concerned that Santiago may be physically assaulted in the men’s facility.

The student has since filed an Affirmative Action complaint with the school and is pushing to reform what he calls discrimination against transgender people, he said.

But the school won’t budge, citing safety concerns, Santiago said.

“I’ve never been beaten up,” Santiago said. “But I figure that some day I will probably be beaten up. That’s a fact of life for me and I’m not afraid.”

Santiago was born in Lawrence and named Elizabeth. He changed his name about two years ago when he declared to family and friends that he was a man.

Since then, Santiago has dressed as a man and used the men’s restroom wherever he goes, including the college’s restrooms. He has also been taking hormones to appear more male and develop facial hair, and is planning on having breast reduction surgery.

“I just want people to see me the way I see myself,” Santiago said. “And I want sideburns, I have to admit.”

Santiago said he would feel uncomfortable in the girls locker room since he identifies as a man. He decided to use the men’s facilities because he identifies himself as male.

The request was denied by Nita Lamborghini, a school dean, after consulting the school’s lawyers and doing extensive research on the issue, college spokeswoman Ernie Greenslade said. . . .

Korea: The Men Who Wear Women's Clothes

December 17, 2007

Crossdressers are men obsessed with wearing women’s clothes. They are neither necessarily gay nor transsexuals and cross-dressing is common across the globe. In fact, a CIA report on cross-dressing in 1993 says they are “mostly heterosexual and they wear women’s clothes usually as a means of reducing psychic stress or tension. In most cases, crossdressers were well educated and were high achievers, driven to seek personal success.”

Things are much the same in Korea. One 40-year-old crossdresser, only identified as Kim, said, “Since childhood, I’ve been unable to stand the expectation and repression that demands masculinity of me. When I dress like a woman, I feel free from that repression.”

Prof. Bae Eun-kyung of Seoul National University’s Department of Sociology says some men “feel frustrated by the clear division of roles between men and women in society. In some cases, such men relieve stress by wearing women’s clothes.” According to Prof. Park Ki-soo of Hanyang University, “In the late 1990s, gender-blind unisex fashion was a trend. We should understand crossdressers as expressing themselves with unique fashion rather than treating them as mentally ill people.” . . .

Ten Things You Don't Know About Women: Ashley Jensen

The Extras and Ugly Betty actress on chest waxing and nine other things you don’t know about women.

By Ashley Jensen


1. We think that a man who even considers waxing his chest should go skin a rabbit or make a fire from two sticks.

2. The same goes for waxing your eyebrows. Unless you are a drag queen or a transsexual, in which case it's fine.

3. And never get manicures. Simply eat three eggs a week. Eggs contain a vitamin called biotin, which ups the production of keratin, which gives you strong and beautiful nails. You will also get constipated. So it's your call.

4. Wearing a big fat white toweling sock with a skinny wee nasty slip-on shoe is a no-no. If I can save at least one woman from this horror, I've done my job. . . .

Silly season

Mumming's the word as thousands parade in the streets of Philadelphia
Dec 15, 2007

Special to the Star

PHILADELPHIA–Amanda Ettinger had one burning ambition when she was a child.

"All the other little girls wanted to be princesses or movie stars," Ettinger recalls. "All I wanted was to grow up and be a mummer and march in the parade. All my boy cousins and uncles were in it every year but I wasn't allowed."

Back then, women's role in the historic New Year's Day Philadelphia parade was to sew costumes and prepare food. But Ettinger's wish came true in the early 1980s when the anti-female rule was changed.

She's been marching, strutting, cakewalking, dancing and drumming ever since – and loving every minute of it.

This New Year's Day, she joins 10,000 other mummers in a tradition dating from 1903, to sashay down Philadelphia's Broad Street to the rhythms of banjos and mandolins, saxophones and drums, wearing otherworldly costumes bedecked with sequins, beads and mirrors, billowing with feathers, weighed down by fantastical constructions that take all year to build.

The mummers' parade is a spectacle not to be missed. But their passion fuels a year-round hobby.

"A mummer is a blue-collar construction worker by day who voluntarily and proudly wears sequins, satin and feathers by night," Ettinger says. "Or a 16-year-old kid who plays `Golden Slippers' on a banjo while the rest of his buddies play hard rock on their guitars. Anywhere else they'd be ridiculed, but in Philadelphia, it's acceptable." . . .

A Newfoundland tradition for centuries

Cross-dressing musicians roam the streets with violins, accordions and even a harp
Dec 15, 2007

St. John's, Newfoundland, on a snowy winter night–A group of masked and costumed musicians roams the streets, knocking on doors, demanding entry. They're lugging violins, accordions and – wait for it – a harp.

They're led by Chris Brookes, proud Newfoundlander, Order of Canada member, respected documentary-maker, producer of a definitive TV show about mummers and a staunch fan of the ages-old practice of mumming, or mummering. With or without a harp.

Mummers have been a post-Christmas phenomenon in Newfoundland for centuries. A tradition imported from Britain and Ireland, Newfoundlanders maintain the practice during the 12 days of Christmas (Boxing Day to Jan. 6.)

"The tradition is not as strong as it once was," Brookes says. "The destruction of the cod fishery means small communities, where mummering was strongest, are really suffering."

But many mummer on. Disguised by masks, makeup (usually black) or perhaps a pillowcase with holes cut for eyes, dressed in whatever emerges from the costume trunk – "there's a lot of cross-dressing," Brookes says – the mummers sally forth merrily, intent on fun but aware of the weight of tradition.

While their hosts try to identify them, the mummers make music and mime, eat and drink. . . .