Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mike Floyd's PISD Board Trustee Inauguration Today

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling
18 year old Mike Floyd is having the Senior Week to beat all Senior Weeks.  

While his fellow Glenda Dawson High School classmates are looking forward to Senior Week activities and heading to NRG Stadium for their looming graduation on Friday, the UH bound Floyd will be getting inaugurated as the newest and youngest member of the Pearland ISD school board later today.

The 18 year old Floyd pulled off the upset by knocking off two time PISD school board incumbent Rusty DeBorde, who had the endorsement of US 22nd District Congressman Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land ).   DeBorde also committed an unforced error during the campaign by sharing an Islamophobic article on his Facebook page from former Pearland City Councilmember Kevin Cole that caused a major online backlash in the Pearland area on the eve of the election.

Mike Floyd, an 18-year-old senior at Dawson High School, speaks to a potential voter about his run for the Pearland Independent School District's Board of Trustees, Wednesday, March 15, 2017, at Silverlake Park.
Even though the Islamophobic post didn't name her, it was obviously aimed at Pearland City Council candidate Dalia Kasseb, who is the first ever Muslim candidate in Brazoria County history and is currently in a runoff for a city council seat against Woody Owens.

Floyd ran in large part because he was angered by the shameful treatment of trans kid and Pearland ISD student Kai Shappley and the transphobic remarks of Pearland ISD superintendent Dr. James Kelly.  

And yes, in case you were wondering, Dr. Kelly was in Austin to testify in favor of the unjust SB 6 and disgustingly said last year in opposition to the DOE/DOJ letter that support for transgender students was akin to supporting pedophilia and polygamy

Helped out by the incumbent's unforced error and DeBorde's election eve non-apology, Floyd cruised to victory on May 6 by earning 3075 votes (54% of the votes)  to DeBorde's 2597 votes (46% of the votes) to become the youngest person elected to a school board in Texas history

Floyd wasn't your average 18 year old either.   He has been involved in politics for most of his young life before he ran for the PISD board, so he earned this win.

And Kimberly Shappley is ecstatic that he did.  She is grateful for PISD board trustee-Elect Floyd's support of hers and other transgender PISD kids.   She stated in a recent Houston Chronicle interview that his win is a sign that attitudes in Pearland are changing as this community becomes more ethnically and culturally diverse

"Across the board, people are fed up.  They are not going to allow this narrow mindset,"said Shappley.

Image may contain: living room and indoor
It also isn't hurting that Pearland area millennials are speaking up and in Mike Floyd's case, successfully running for office.

The result of the winds of change blowing through Pearland is the historic event that will take place at 5 PM later today as Mike Floyd is sworn in as a PISD board trustee.

It may also be a sign that supporting trans people is an enhancement, not a detriment to your electoral chances in the Lone Star State.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Texas GOP Messes With Texas Trans Kids

During a debate on the "bathroom bill," state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, holds up a photo of a sign that reads, "RESTROOMS WHITE COLORED," on May 21, 2017.
Pissed off because their big unjust anti-trans discriminatory bills in SB 6 and HB 2899 were bottled up and died in committee,  the Texas GOP majority on Sunday, facing a looming threat of a special session, decided to switch tactics and attack Texas trans kids.

The Texas GOP House decided to attach an anti-trans amendment to SB 2078, which was supposed to be focused on Texas school districts 'multihazard emergency operations plans' and by a 91-50 party line vote amended it to require transgender students to use a single stall restroom, locker room, and changing facility at their school if they didn't want to use one based on their birth gender.

The amended bill then passed a 92-49 second reading vote.

The Texas Democrats put up a fight, with Rep Senfronia Thomson (D-Houston) pointing out along with other Dems during a tense House floor debate that this was nothing more than a replay of Jim Crow era segregation as the Republicans tried to pathetically claim it wasn't meant to target transgender students.

“White. Colored. I was living through that era ... bathrooms divided us then, and it divides us now,” said Rep. Thompson, the dean of the TX House, to her colleagues. “America has long recognized that separate but equal is not equal at all.”

Equality Texas CEO Chuck Smith said this in a statement concerning SB 2078 and another unjust bill in HB 3859:

 “Tonight, the state of Texas voted to advance two bills that discriminate against LGBTQ Texans. SB 2078 allows for continued discrimination against transgender students with regard to restroom facilities and HB 3859 allows faith based child welfare providers to use taxpayer money to refuse to serve LBGTQ people. No amount of discrimination is acceptable. There is no middle ground. All discrimination is bad, full stop. Targeting some of the most vulnerable children in our state is abhorrent, shameful, and disgraceful. The Texas lawmakers of the 85th legislative session are on the wrong side of history. No matter how upset or scared our LGBTQ friends and families are feeling this evening, Equality Texas wants you to know that we stand with you; and we will fight to protect you.”

The unjust SB 2078 It still faces a third reading vote later today before it heads back to the Texas Senate for its approval before it goes to Governor Abbott's desk

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Assigned Male Cartoonist Attacked By Online Haters

A Montreal-based trans cartoonist, Sophia Labelle, was the victim of a vicious, apparently coordinated online attack that targeted her and other trans-supportive activists.
I've loved the online webcomic Assigned Male ever since I stumbled across it during one of my web searching forays for interesting things to write about.

I wrote about its importance to our community, and even had the pleasure of meeting its lovely artist Sophie Labelle in the vendors area during last year's Philadelphia Trans Health Conference.

But what I'm not happy to hear is that haters have been sending Labelle death threats, doxxed her and hackers in a coordinated attack were successful in temporarily taking down her Facebook website with over three years of Assigned Male strips on it.  

And this is happening during a week in which the Canadian Senate was debating Bill C-16, the Trans Rights Act in a Senate committee

Fortunately she'd backed up her work and the Facebook site is now back up online, but it forced her to cancel a book tour appearance in Halifax.

Labelle's book is entitled Dating Tips For Trans and Queer Weirdos, and is a 28 page one that explores the relationship between Ciel and Eirikur, two of the Assigned Male comic characters.  

The book tour has two more stops in Quebec City on May 25 and Vancouver on June 1.

Labelle says in a Toronto Star interview that she is more determined than ever to not let the haters win and give it the best she's got.

Image result for Assigned Male characters
That's wonderful to  hear because the comic stip is important to our trans kids.   They need to see positive representations of themselves in the comic world, and I agree with Sophie, that's one of the reasons why the haters came after your strip.

But it's nice to know that your book tour will not only continue, but we'll see more of the Assigned Male adventures of Stephanie and her friends. .  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rest In Power, Kristen Capps

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, suit and indoor
I awoke this morning to hear the shocking news that one of ur Houston TBLGQIA community sheroes in Kristen Capps has passed away.

My condolences to Maria Gonzalez, her family, friends and all who loved her as we absorb this devastating news.

Just heard that the Texas House adjourned until 1 PM in her honor thanks to Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) making that happen.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing, outdoor and closeup
She was an attorney and fellow Cougar who had this amazing ability to get you to see an argument from the other side.   The last time I had an extended moment to spend some quality time basking in her awesomeness was during last year's Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit in Killeen, but was always bumping into her at many of our Houston community events

Image may contain: 1 person, text
Kristen was one of my leadership role models, and an inspiration to many of us in Houston.   She was always ready to use her talents to help our community as her HERO testimony was just one sterling example of.   I was proud to call her a friend, and had mad love and respect for her intellect and legal acumen.   I fondly look back at some of the good natured debates we got into at times and can do nothing but smile about it.



I'm a better person and leader because Kristen Michele Capps was in my life.

As of yet don't have the information on the cause of death or any word on when her memorial service is planned, but when I get that info, will be passing it along as soon as I receive it.

Image may contain: 3 people, indoor
One of our Houston community sheroes has been taken away from us way too soon, and I know myself and a lot of folks in the Houston area are going to miss her.

Rest in power and peace,  Kristen

Dear Transphobic People

Image result for Dear white people
It's past time to call these fools and trans haters out on a regular basis,  and there are enough of them out there for me to skewer on a regular basis.  

So let's get this party started.

***

Dear Transphobic People,

One of the things I've been quite pissed off about is you peeps who call yourselves Republicans or conservatives, mad because you lost the Obergefell SCOTUS case, retooling and turning your anti-gay industry and Right Wing Noise Machine loose on the trans community.

You ran your standard disinformation and demonization playbook.  You've retooled the predator myth you used on the gay community to attack trans women, and attacked our trans kids and their parents.

You started World War T expecting an easy political Culture War win you could ride to 2018 GOP primary midterm success, and have been shocked to find out that we had more allies than you thought.   We're also fighting your right wing behinds tooth and nail because frankly, you messed with us and our kids, and we have no choice but to fight you back and win.

And what made you peeps think that trans folks, who have fought tooth and nail and gone through hell to become their true selves, were going to just roll over for you?  

Hell naw, we weren't.  We're going to fight your GOP behinds tooth and nail until you leave us alone and stop attacking our humanity and human rights. .

Image result for Dan patrick transphobe
And yeah, the slimiest people are the so called pastors pimping anti-trans hate from their pulpits and politicians like former NC governor Pat McCrory (R) and current (for now) Texas Lt/ Governor Dan  'Potty Panic' Patrick (R)  who are pushing anti-trans hate for his political benefit next year.

But Pat McCrory found out that hatin' on trans people isn't the ticket to electoral success.  So did former Texas House state reps Debbie Riddle (R-Tomball) and Gilbert Pena (R-Pasadena) who pushed four anti-trans bills that were defeated in the 2015 Texas Lege session and found themselves flushed by the voters outside of the Pink Dome when the 2017 session started.  

We can only hope that Dan Patrick. Sen Lois Kolkhorst  (R-Brenham) and Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr's (DINO-Brownsville)  the only Democrat to vote for SB 6) political careers will suffer the same fate as SB 6 for messing with Texas trans kids and Texas trans women.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Happy IDAHOT 2017!

Image result for idahot 2017 theme
Today also marks the 12th annual celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia or the IDAHOT as it's abbreviated.

In many areas buildings and iconic structures are being lit in rainbow colors to signify support for the IDAHOT.

This 2017 observance finds us not only celebrating the day in over 140 countries, but with TBLGQ people in some parts of the world under legislative and physical attacks.

Image may contain: night, sky, bridge, outdoor and water
We're increasingly hearing about the horrible situation in Chechnya, and in the United States we've lost in the first five months of 2017 ten trans women of color to anti-trans violence, of which nine of them are Black.

No automatic alt text available.We've also witnessed in the USA increased efforts by the Republican to roll back the positive advances for trans human rights pushed by the Obama Administration and simultaneously roll out anti-trans legislative attacks in the state legislatures they control.

To add an exclamation point to that last sentence, Texas Lt Gov Dan Patrick (R)  upset that his unjust SB 6 has been killed in the Texas House, with the sessions sine die day looming on May 29, picked this day to call for a tax money wasting special session to pass his anti-trans hate bill

Guess you forgot we have an election in Texas next year and we trans Texans vote.

We're also seeing increased resistance to the demonization of trans people as the realization sinks in that TBLGQ rights are international human rights.

But Happy IDAHOT, TransGriot readers!  

Now That Chelsea's Out Of Jail, Can We Do The Same For Ky Peterson?

Image result for ky peterson petition
Chelsea Manning is getting out of jail today and there is mixed reaction about that in many quarters of TransWorld.  I'll admit I'm conflicted about it because while I didn't like the harsh sentence she was given, neither do I condone what she did either.

So now that one of the last acts of President Obama in terms of commutation of Manning's sentence has happened, can we talk about and finally get the community focused on a really serious miscarriage of justice in the Ky Peterson case?

Ky-peterson-bazant-sml_(1)Peterson was a trans man living in rural Americus, Georgia with a supportive family whose world changed on October 28, 2011.

He decided to walk home ahead of his brother and while passing what appeared to be an empty mobile home trailer was hit in the back of the head, rendered unconscious and when he came to was being sexually assaulted by the stranger from the convenience store .

He shot his attacker in self defense who later died, but as you probably guessed, Stand Your Ground doesn't work for Black people.

He found himself being arrested for defending himself from the person who sexually assaulted him and finds himself in jail for 20 years as a result of it with a tentative parole date of July 2021.

It's time to focus our energy on getting Ky out of jail.

Here;s a petition to help get you started, and let's raise our voices to get the media talking about this case and the miscarriage of justice in this one.   You should have to go to jail for defending yourself against your transphobic rapist .

You can also keep up with what's transpiring in KY's case via the Free Ky website.

Let's step up our game and get justice for Ky Peterson.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The New H-Town Emancipation Avenue Signs Are Up!

Image result for Houston Emancipation Avenue street signs
I've known this was going to happen since January, but the city of Houston a month before Juneteenth finally has put the new street signs up on the street formerly known as Dowling Ave.

The city followed HISD's lead in renaming eight schools that were named for Confederates, and that at times contentious renaming took effect at the start of the 2016-17 academic year.

Texas State Rep Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) started the push to rename the street a year ago.  It was originally named for Houston businessman Dick Dowling, a Confederate war hero from the 1863 Second Battle of the Sabine Pass.  

Dowling and his 47 artillery armed troops faced and fought off a Union invasion flotilla of 22 ships, armed with four gunboats and artillery of its own and 18 transports with an Union invasion force of 5000 men.   Thanks to the inept execution of the Union invasion plan, Dowling and his men managed  to disable and capture two Union gunboats and 200 soldiers as the rest of the Union flotilla retreated to New Orleans.  

The victory was celebrated with much hyperbole throughout the Confederacy and the city of Houston, with Dowling being promoted to the rank of major, but after the war dying during a Houston yellow fever epidemic in 1867.  

The street traverses the historical heart of the predominately Black and southside Third Ward neighborhood near downtown.   It passes Emancipation Park, which sits on the corner of Elgin and now Emancipation Ave, and that park also has historical and emotional significance for Black Houstonians.

Freedmen led by the Rev. Jack Yates, the first pastor of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the oldest Black church in Houston, raised $800 to purchase the ten acres of land that Emancipation Park now sits on to have their Juneteenth celebrations.


Image result for emancipation park houston renovation


Emancipation Park when it opened in 1872 was Texas' first public park.   It was also the only one in the entire city of Houston open to Blacks , so it was rather insulting that a street named for a man who fought as part of an armed rebellion to keep us enslaved ran past that historic park that is directly tied to the early Juneteenth celebrations in Texas.

Until the Juneteeth Parade moved downtown, it used to come down Emancipation Ave to terminate at the park for the subsequent festival that happened there.  Went to more of a few of them with my brother and my late Grandmother Tama as a child as we grabbed a spot in the park to watch the parade go by..  

Image result for emancipation park houston renovation
In addition to city council unanimously voting to change the name of the street, it also repaved much of Emancipation Avenue in conjunction with the $33 million renovation of Emancipation Park that will be celebrated on Juneteenth 2017..

But so happy to see the new Emancipation Avenue signs

Monday, May 15, 2017

Ms Bostick Is Trans Feminine

Image result for Black female silhouette
There has been some confusion sown in the last few days about whether the latest person we have lost to anti-trans violence in Brenda Bostick was actually trans feminine.   That came in the wake of a unverified report of a person claiming on Facebook she was a caseworker showing a male pic of someone she alleged was Bostick was named Kenneth.

Because I had a trans panel discussion event I was participating in on Saturday with a memorial service component part of it,  Rev. Denise Junious who organized it had been hearing the chatter, and wanted to make sure the names list was accurate when we read those ten names of the people we've lost in 2017.

The claim wasn't adding up either. so I tapped some of my reliable sources and contacts in New York who also had the same questions because they were planning a vigil for her and we're making calls and talking to people themselves

And yes, because I strive for accuracy in whatever I post here at TransGriot, especially when it comes to keeping track of anti-trans murders, needed to know for myself if it was true that we've had our first trans masculine murder since 2013.

So what did my contacts tell me?   In the case of Ms. Bostick,  She's trans feminine.  Turns out that two of those contacts got in touch with the coroner who performed the autopsy on Bostick's body and shared with my contacts the body had a penis and breast implants.

So yes I repeat.  Ms. Bostick is a trans feminine person with possibly some genderqueer elements at play here and a story that is still evolving..

Image result for TransGriot Evon Young
I'm quite aware of the fact trans men have been assaulted and murdered like Evon Young was in Milwaukee.  Murders of trans men also happen internationally like Yoshi Tsuchida in Japan and F Hilario in Brazil have also been horrifically brutal, and in Evon Young's case his body has never been found. 

Trust that if God forbid, we have a trans masculine person taken from us far too soon, I'll be just as diligent and on the case about putting info about a memorial service or vigil out there, ensuring the trans masculine person isn't misgendered  by the media, pushing for justice and keeping you informed about what happened as I have been about my sisters

Image result for trans murders
But one thing we can all agree on is that I don't want to have to write another story or press release about another trans person being killed in 2017.

But sadly, we have seven more months left in this year .

TSA Still Has A Problem With Trans Travelers


Those assurances ring hollow when I continue to be told disturbing reports from a diverse group of trans people about incidents ranging from snide transphobic comments by TSA agents as people are clearing security to inappropriate questioning about our transitions and genital area searches by TSA personnel who obviously don't have a clear understanding of the protocols supposedly put in place to protect the dignity and human rights of trans travelers. 
-TransGriot  March 6, 2016  


As many of you TransGriot readers know, one of my nicknames in the community is the Air Marshal because I used to work in the airline business for over a decade, and ir was also to separate me from the other Monica in the trans activist community at the time, Monica Helms.

I have an ambivalent relationship with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), because as someone who used to do the security checkpoint tests as part of my job duties on our IAH private security peeps, I learned things that had me concerned before the 9-11 terror attacks happened.

So I understand why TSA exists.  The private security companies failed on September 11, 2001 and had been having problems prior to that date, so in order to ensure uniform airport checkpoint security standards in all US airports it required the federal government to step in and do the job.

But what I have been concerned about for several years now as a frequent flyer and advocate is the ongoing pattern of TSA harassment of trans travelers that I hear about so often that one of my sarcastic comments about it is that TSA stands for Transsexuals Searched Always 

And now, with anti-trans rhetoric and bigotry being ramped up by the Republican Party for their nefarious 2018 political gains, and a Trump Administration rolling back the trans human rights protections put in place by the Obama Administration, it seems that once again the TSA transphobes are taking their cue to ruin the travel days of transpeople across the country.

Ashley Yang won a five-figure settlement with the Transportation Security Administration.
That transphobia within TSA even extends as we discovered in 2011 to its own employees as was demonstrated by Ashley Yang's terminated tenure with LAX TSA,

I'm hearing and seeing on social media increasing complaints from trans frequent travelers about harassment by TSA agents, problematic searches and disrespectful treatment   And it is not just centered at particular airports, it's happening all over the country despite TSA's claims that they have policies and training in place for trans travelers.

In the wake of the complaints the trans community lodged about air travel while trans then, on October 8, 2015 a letter signed by 32 congressmembers was sent to then TSA administrator Peter Neffenger urging him to to review the transgender travel protocols.

Photo of Huban A. Gowadia
Obviously there is some disconnect between the TSA trans traveler policies being filtered down from management to the airport level and what's actually happening at the airports, and it needs to be dealt with soon.    It doesn't help that TSA now has an acting director in Huban A. Gowadia.  Even if she's empathetic to what's going on, will she get the 'acting' part removed from her title?

Because from where we trans Americans sit, the perception increasingly backed up by our travel experiences is that the TSA still has a problem with transgender travelers and is only flapping their gums about solving it.

Image result for TSA search female
Maybe it's time that the Trans Traveler 101 training needs to be done by trans folks to your TSA agents, and it needs to be shared and backed up with terminations if necessary that the TSA will not tolerate transphobia in the ranks that metastasizes into harassment of trans air travelers.

Trans folks travel by air, we're not going away, and we deserve the same level of dignity and respect that you give the cisgender peeps transiting your security checkpoints on the way to our flights.

We get enough crap from the rest of the world.  The last thing we need is another layer of disrespect dished out by people our taxes pay their salary  when we board flights for business or pleasure. ,