Thursday, May 25, 2017

40th Anniversary of the Original 'Star Wars' Film Debut

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40 years ago in a galaxy called the Milky Way on a planet named Earth, a film debuted on this date that has become a iconic classic, sparked a revival in the science fiction genre and spawned a media empire that is now owned by Disney.

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On May 25, 1977, Star Wars debuted to the delight of science fiction nerds like myself.  We flocked to our local multiplex theaters in droves to see the space saga and fictional galaxy in which good as repped by the Rebellion and a Luke Skywalker trained in The Force triumphed in this movie over the evil Galactic Empire run by Emperor Palpatine and his Sith apprentice and enforcer Darth Vader.

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It is a saga that has now spawned seven films with the eighth in the series, The Last Jedi to debut in December 2017

As the original film became a trilogy and spawned a 1980 sequel The Empire Strikes Back, it was renamed in 1981 Star Wars Episode IV- A New Hope

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>The inaugural Star Wars movie raked in over $450 million in the US alone and another $775 million worldwide and has significantly impacted pop culture and even politics as Reagan's embrace of the term 'evil empire' to describe the then Soviet Union aptly is an example of.

In 1989, Star Wars was selected along with The Empire Strikes Back in 2010 by the Library of Congress to be preserved in the US National Film Registry for culturally dded to its

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Star Wars also borrows from politics and history.  The Galactic Empire's stormtroopers share the name from the Nazi stormtroopers.   The Empire's black political officer, commander and guards uniforms are modeled on the Waffen SS, and the Imperial fleet uniforms borrow elements from the World War II era German Wehrmacht.

Image result for Star Wars 4 emperor palpatinePalpatine's rise to power is is similar to how Hitler came to power in 1930's Germany.   Palapine was first elected chancellor of the Galactic Republic before seizing power to become dictator and declaring himself emperor. then subsequently having the Jedi Order exterminated. .

May the Force be with you on this 40th anniversary date of the debut of a movie that became part of our lives   May be time for me to check out my DVD copy of it again in honor of today's anniversary

Black Trans History- Jackie Shane

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'I never realized that I'd mean something to people all these years later'
-Jackie Shane  

I've talked about in these TransGriot electronic pages about trans masculine gospel singer Wilmer Broadnax, who was a major star from the 40's to the 70's.

Now it turns out that we are now getting another piece of our Black trans history revealed in the person of R&B singer Jackie Shane.

She was born in Nashville on May 15, 1940.  While Nashville is world renowned for its country music scene, it also had a thriving blues and R&B music scene centered on the clubs on Jefferson St.

Shane was surrounded by music from an early age, and according to the 2010 CBC Elaine Banks  radio documentary I Got Mine; The Story Of Jackie Shane, as a teen she stayed with Marion James, Nashville's legendary Queen of the Blues.

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She moved to Montreal in 1960, and a chance 1962 encounter with the Washington DC based band Frank Motley and the Motley Crew, known as Frank Motley and the Hitchhikers north of the border led to her becoming the lead singer for the group, relocating to Toronto with them in 1961 and as their lead singer subsequently taking Toronto's music scene by storm.  

Shane and the band would occasionally head south for US gigs in Boston, Nashville and Los Angeles, but it was Toronto where they were making their money.  Toronto's music scene was centered on Yonge Street, and they were tapping into the hunger Canadian audiences had for R&B and soul music.

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Shane's first single was a cover of the Frank Barrett Motown classic song Money, but it was the song she released later in 1962 entitled Any Other Way, that hit number two on the then influential CHUM radio music chart that led to her taking the Toronto based music scene by storm .

In addition to performing at Toronto's Sapphire Club , there was this 1965 performance on Nashville's WLAC-TV's Night Train show

As the 60's inexorably moved into the 70's the bookings dried up and Shane left Toronto in 1971 returned to the States and lost touch with her bandmates.   She turned down an offer from George Clinton to become part of Funkadelic and began caring for an aunt in Los Angeles.   She returned to Nashville around 1996 after the death of her mother as people wondered what happened to her.  

Rumors abounded that she had been violently murdered in LA or committed suicide until she was found by saxophonist Steve Kennedy living in Nashville in 2005.

Thanks to that 2010 CBC radio documentary, there has been renewed interest in Jackie Shane's career and life, and she's still alive and kicking in Nashville at age 77.

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And yes, Jackie, your life means plenty to all of us trans peeps all these years later as a Black trans woman living her life. doing what she loved and being unapologetic about it.      

It also means that another piece of our Black trans history has been uncovered for us to enjoy and appreciate.

President Obama and Chancellor Merkel Speak At Kirchentag

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President Obama journeyed to Berlin at the invitation of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the leader of the free world, for the Kirchentag, the German Protestant Church Congress.

This one was taking place not only during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, but with a looming German federal election in September that you know the Russians are just itching to mess with.

The invitation to speak came last year, so it's a coincidence that the former POTUS is here in Europe as the same time as 45 is on his problematic first international trip in which he's Making America Look Bad Again..

And President Obama is still very popular in Germany.   He visited Germany six times, with the initial trip happening during his 2008 campaign in which 200,000 Germans gathered to hear him speak in front of Berlin's Siegessaule (Victory Column).

Here's the video from today's event with Chancellor Merkel

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Texas Trans Kids, The Fight Ain't Over

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At this point we all know what happened on May 21, 2017  in what will forever known in Texas history as Discrimination Sunday.  

The Texas House and Senate Republican majorities rammed through the unjust SB 2078 and  HB 3859 to satisfy their oppressor genes and to satisfy their right wing pastors and base.

As the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr stated, "We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope."

Yes, this was a loss, but it was only one battle in the long road we are traveling towards trans liberation and ultimate victory in World War T.   The world is increasingly coming to the realization that trans rights are international human rights, but as usual, the conservative movement is on the wrong side of history.

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Texas trans kids, know that this fight isn't over.   I, your parents, your trans elders, our allies and all who love you will continue to fight to ensure that you have better quality lives than we did growing up,  I have the infinite hope that we will in my remaining lifetime on this space rock emerge victorious and see Texas stop attacking your humanity and instead embrace it as we do.

I have the infinite hope this will happen because I see the determination in your and your parents eyes to make this a reality, and it inspires me to keep fighting.
Texas is your state, too.  It, the state seal, the Texas flag and our state capitol building in Austin are not the wholly owned subsidiaries of the Texas Republican Party.   This diverse multicultural state will be blue again, and once that happens we will once again see common sense legislation coming from under the Pink Dome.

But we have a lot of work to do to get it to that point, and Discrimination Sunday made it clear what we must do starting today and in every election cycle at all levels of government in our state from now on is #FireTheTexasGOP.

If it takes some of us running for office to flush transphobia from Texas government, then that what's going to and must happen.

They messed with you, Texas trans kids.  It's time for them to pay a political price for that, the same one that Debbie Riddle and Gilbert Pena did for sponsoring anti-trans legislation in the 2015 session.

They thought that attacking you would help them in their Texas GOP reelection campaigns, but both of them found themselves when this 85th Texas legislative session started in January out of office

Know beyond a shadow of a doubt Texas trans kids, you are loved, you are worth fighting for, and we will not rest until the Lone Star State realizes that the humanity and human rights of trans people are not a political wedge issue.

Number 11- Rest In Power And Peace, Sherrell Faulkner

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One of the things I was deeply concerned about when the North Carolina GOP started messing with trans people and passed the unjust HB 2 law was that the ramped up anti-trans rhetoric the North Carolina GOP used to satisfy their trans oppressor gene would result in trans folks in the Tarheel State being targeted for violence or worse.

I feared that the folks who would feel the brunt of the ramped up anti-trans violence would be the North Carolina trans communities of color because anti-trans hate thoughts + anti-trans hate speech = anti-trans violence/ murders.  

Well, that fear became a reality on November 30, 2016 for 46 year old Sherrell Faulkner.  

She was found near a dumpster in Charlotte's gay friendly Plaza-Midwood neighborhood at The Plaza and 35th Street suffering from trauma and was taken to Carolinas Medical Center for treatment.

She died on May 16 from the injuries sustained in the attack, and became the 11th person in 2017 and 10th African-American trans woman to die this year because of anti-trans violence.  

And in a far too common and infuriating media pattern, another Black trans murder victim has been misgendered once again.  This time the guilty party is WCNC-TV.

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Faulkner's death is also on the hands of the North Carolina Republican Party and former Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who with their loud and wrong anti-trans rhetoric incited the violence that led to the attack on Faulkner in the first place.

Her family has been notified of her death, and no word as of yet from my North Carolina trans family and media peeps if there is a memorial service planned for her.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police are now investigating this case as a homicide.

If you have information that will lead to the capture, conviction and incarceration of the person of persons who killed Sherrell, please call Charlotte Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600 or 704-432-TIPS (8477)

And as always, will be keeping track of this case until justice is served.

Rest in power and peace Sherrell.  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mike Floyd's PISD Board Trustee Inauguration Today

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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.

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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 as trans kids and their parents observed the unjust proceedings from the House gallery.

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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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. .

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.