Sunday, September 30, 2007

USA Women Ballers Are Beijing Bound

When the Olympics kick off in Beijing next summer, the three time defending Olympic champion US women ballers will be marching into the stadium.

Team USA completed their business trip in Valdivia, Chile by beating down the Cubans 101-71 in the finals of the 2007 FIBA Americas Championship for Women to take the gold medal. More importanly they clinched the FIBA Americas Zone automatic Olympic berth.

The number one team in FIBA's world basketball rankings started their run to the title on September 26 in shaky fashion. In their Group B opener the Cubans actually led our girls 34-33 at halftime and were up 58-55 at the end of the third quarter thanks to center Yakelyn Plutin-Pizon's game-high 23 points.

With the Chilean crowd at Antonio Azuermendy Arena loudly cheering for the Cubans the entire game, Sue Bird led the final Team USA charge to victory over Fidel's Belles with five minutes left in the game. She dished out 9 assists to fuel the three point shooting barrage from Tina Thompson, Katie Smith and Diana Taurasi to cap a 30 point fourth quarter surge that helped them escape with an 85-79 win.

Candace Parker led Team USA with 21 points, Diana Taurasi chipped in 16 on 4 for 7 three point shooting, Tina Thompson (my girl) and Katie Smith both finished the game with 13 points.

Team USA showed no love to the Jamaicans during their September 27 Group B game. Seimone Augustus was one of five Team USA players in double figures as she led all scorers with 19 points in the 115-47 victory. Tina Thompson scored 18 points, Diana Taurasi chipped in 12 with Sue Bird and Kara Lawson scoring 11 each. Every Team USA player scored as Coach Anne Donovan rested the starters. Ms. Deux's favorite player Cappie Poindexter got significant minutes in this one. She contributed 6 points in her 20 minutes of action as Team USA moved to 2-0 in Group B preliminary round play.

On September 28 it was No Canada as Team USA sprinted off to a 38-18 first quarter lead, held our neighbors to only six points in the second quarter and took a 59-24 halftime lead. The commanding 85-37 win secured their spot in the semifinal round as they finished Group B play with a 3-0 record.

11 of the 12 Team USA players contributed buckets as everybody got playing time. Tina Thompson led all scorers with 14 points with Delisha Milton-Jones and Candace Parker chipping in 12 apiece.

In the Semifinal round on September 29 Team USA took on Argentina, who finished second in Group A behind the Brazilians. The Argentinians were probably saying 'no mas' on their way to the locker room as Team USA's stifling defense and torrid shooting propelled them to a 58-15 halftime lead.

This time it was Rebekkah Brunson doing the damage as she took only 18 minutes to score 20 points on 7 of 9 shooting and grab 6 rebounds. Cappie Poindexter chipped in 5 points along with the 3 steals and 7 assists she dished out as all Team USA players scored for the second time in this tournament. Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus and Katie Smith were also in double figures with 17, 15 and 11 points. Delisha Milton-Jones chipped in 6 assists to go with her 8 points and 5 rebounds in her 17 minutes of work as the 104-53 spanking vaulted them into the championship game.


In the final that was played today, one of Team USA's missions in addition to winning the game was shutting down eventual tournament MVP Yakelyn Plutin-Pizon. She lit up the Brazilians for 28 points enroute to the Cubans 69-67 semifinal win that propelled them into the FIBA Americas Tournament for Women Gold medal game and a rematch with Team USA.

Team USA made sure there wasn't going to be a repeat of their opening round nail biter. They held Plutin-Pizon to 11 points on 4 for 11 shooting as they raced to a 29-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and expanded it to a 49-30 margin at the break. Tina Thompson led all scorers with 18 points and grabbed six rebounds. Diana Taurasi had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Kara Lawson was 4 for 7 from three point range as she finished with 14 points. Candace Parker contributed 12 points and Katie Smith scored 15 in the Gold medal game.

In the bronze medal game the Brazilians shook off a slow start and cruised to a 71-41 win over Argentina. Team Canada finshed fifth by beating the host Chileans 86-68.

Team USA's future is so bright we'll need shades. Candace Parker, Seimone Augustus, Diana Taurasi, Rebekkah Brunson and Cappie Poindexter made significant contributions along with the vets.

Team USA also looks forward to the return of center Lisa Leslie, who's still getting in playing shape after missing the 2007 WNBA season to have a baby. While our players stay sharp (and hopefully injury free) during the 2008 WNBA season, the silver medallist Cubans, the Brazilians and the Argentinians get one final chance to qualify for Beijing next summer at the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Looking forward to next summer's Olympic Games basketball tournaments already.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

I Am She


An MKR poem

I am she
Was never he
May not agree
But here I be

Whoopee
I'm a divorcee
From masculinity
I'm so happy

Femininity
Is my cup of tea
But society
Questions my sanity

Fortunately
I'm not a devotee
Of your whacked ideology
And let my femme spirit free

Take a look and see
The curvy femme body
Matching the femme personality
Residing in me

Born a he
Theoretically
Ain't easy being T
But I love myself unconditonally

I am she
Was never he
I say it with glee
For eternity

The New Barney Theme Song


(Sung to the tune of the Theme From Barney)
Dedicated to the transphobic congressman from Massachusetts


I love you, you love me
But I don't if you are T
With a wink and a nudge to my friends at HRC
Took transpeeps out of ENDA, yes sirree.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Wait Your Turn?

Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was 'well-timed' according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.

For years now I have heard the words "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never".

Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
'Letter From Birmingham City Jail', April 16, 1963.



Ever since I begun fighting in 1998 in conjunction with other transgender people around the country to expand the work of Dr. King, I have heard a late 20th-early 21st century variation of that paragraph uttered from the lips of numerous gay and lesbian people when it comes to transgender civil rights.

Wait your turn.

Wait my turn? Wait my turn for what?

Did you gay and lesbian people 'wait you turn' when you pushed for inclusion in civil rights legislation in the 70's?

Did you gay and lesbian people 'wait your turn' when you demanded that funding for HIV/AIDS research and finding a cure for it get higher priority in the 80's?

Did you 'wait your turn' when you demanded that your rights be acknowledged and respected in the 90's?

Did you gay and lesbian people 'wait your turn' in 2003 when you disastrously pushed for marriage equality one year before a critical presidential election?


How dare you part your lips to even say that to us. We transgender people are the ones who had the cojones to stand up to police harassment in San Francisco in 1966 and during the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 while you gay and lesbian peeps were cowering in your closets. It is transgender blood that is being shed and transgender peeps who are discriminated against, denigrated, and disrespected by our foes and even by you, our so-called allies.

You have repeatedly cut us out of civil rights legislation on every level of government with the soothing words of 'we'll come back for you'. That has been proven over the years to be an odious lie as we wait for you in many jurisdictions across the United States to fulfill your broken promises.

Yesterday, led by your point gay Rep. Barney Frank, you once again cut us out of a bill that frankly, we need more than you do. You uttered the lie that 'we'll come back for you' and help you pass the 'GENDA bill' while pulling HR 2015 that was inclusive and replacing it with a gay and lesbian only one in addition to GENDA.

We transpeople know that you will bury that GENDA bill in a subcommittee, never call hearings on it and let it die a painful death while you selfishly fast-track your gay and lesbian only ENDA bill to the House floor for passage.

The sad part is that President Bush isn't going to sign it, so why start a civil war in the GLB community over this issue?

If there's anything that the misguided pastors of the Hi Impact Leadership Coalition have been proven right on is that your GLB civil rights movement is not like ours. Your GLB movement is selfish, morally bankrupt, exclusive and has been so since 1971, while the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King was a morally strong and inclusive one. You have more in common with the Dixiecrats than with civil rights warriors such as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

You say the country is not ready for transgender inclusion in civil rights law. Just today Oprah Winfrey did a show on transgender people and is doing another one on October 12. Transgender people are getting more positive coverage every day. Surveys prove over and over again that the public is more enlightened on the transgender issue than the Barney Franks of the GLB movement who are still drinking the hate-on-transpeople Kool-aid of Janice Raymond and Jim Fouratt.

As a transperson who also happens to be a proud African-American, the 'wait your turn' to me and transpeople who share my ethnic heritage sounds eerily similar to what Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney wrote in the Dred Scott Decision majority opinion 150 years ago: That I have no rights that you are bound to respect.

Wait your turn.

Rep. Frank and all you gay and lesbian conservaqueers who share his myopic self-centered views, how long must I and other transgender people wait for their constitutional rights in your infinite wisdom? It's sickening that transpeople in other countries around the world such as Spain and Great Britain are gaining and have more rights that those of us who live in the so-called cradle of democracy.

Will little six year old Jazz, the transkid profiled in Barbara Walters 20/20 story on transgender people have to wait until she's 21 to get constitutional protection?

How about Rochelle Evans in Fort Worth? Will she have to wait until she's 45 to get a law that protects her civil rights?

How long will transgender prom queen Crystal Vera have to wait? How long will Jake, the 16 year old transman profiled on today's Oprah show have to wait?

Rep. Frank and Speaker Pelosi, do you have the balls to tell the parents of these transkids that they must 'wait their turn' for their constitutional rights?

How long will transpeople who've been fighting this pitched battle with you for a decade over ENDA and simple inclusion in the GLB community since the 1970's have to wait? Can you walk into a TAVA meeting and tell our transgender veterans who honorably served our country, fought to protect, extend and defend people's civil rights and freedoms abroad that they have to 'wait their turn' to have the same freedoms extended to them at home?

Can you look all the parents and family members of deceased transpeople such as Rita Hester, Tyra Hunter, Gwen Araujo, Brandon Teena, Deborah Forte, and hundreds of others in the eye and tell them that transpeople have to 'wait their turn 'to have their civil rights codified into law?

So if you couldn't 'wait your turn', then why would you dare ask us, the shock troops of the GLBT movement to do something that you yourselves are unwilling to acquiesce to?

Fight The Power

TransGriot Note: Whenever I get in a militant mood (which this ENDA bullcrap has me in right now), I pull out my Isley Brothers CD along with Public Enemy's 'Can't Truss It', Cameo's 'Talking out the Side of Your Neck' and other political themed songs. I've been playing this one most of the day.


Time is truly wastin'
There's no guarantee
Smile is in the makin'
You gotta fight the powers that be
Got so many forces
Stayin' on the scene
Givin' up all around me
Faces full a' pain

I try to play my music
They say my music's too loud
I tried talkin' about it
I got the big run around
And when I rolled with the punches
I got knocked on the ground
By all this bullshit going down

Time is truly wastin'
There's no guarantee, yeah
Smile's in the makin'
We gotta fight the powers that be
I don't understand it
People wanna see, yeah
Those that got the answers
Red tape in the way
I could take to it easy
That's just half the fun, naw naw
Seeking my satisfaction
Keeps me on the run

I try to play my music
They say my music's too loud
I tried talkin' about it
I got the big run around
And when I rolled with the punches
I got knocked on the ground
By all this bullshit going down

Time is truly wastin'
There's no guarantee, yeah yeah
Smile is in the makin'
We gotta fight the powers that be
Fight it baby, yeah

Ooh, yeah, If you do it I can - fight the power
C'mon, Fight it, fight the power
Fight it, fight the yeah baby, yeah baby
Fight it, c'mon, fight the power
Fight it, fight it, fight the power
Fight, fight, fight the power
Stand up and fight it, fight the power
Stand up, Stand up Fight the power
Fight, fight, fight

fight fight the fight power
I believe, I believe flight the power

I'm Not Surprised: GLB Version

One of the things that I've been worried about since my DC lobby trip was a scenario in which they kept transpeople in hate crimes and let it pass, but transpeople got stripped out of the more critically important HR 2015, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Well, that scenario just happened. HR 2015 as of this morning is no longer being moved. It was replaced with two separate ENDA bills filed Thursday by the transgender community's old nemesis, the Purple Dinosaur AKA Rep Barney Frank (D-MA).
One bill is gay and lesbian only, the other has the 'gender identity' language.

The resident transphobe on Capitol Hill has PERMANENTLY earned the wrath and vitriol he's gonna get from transpeople.

Barney has been the point gay on keeping us out of ENDA. He has basically provided the religious right with their talking points over the last decade to use against transpeople by bringing up the shower issue and calling Riki Wilchins 'Read My Lips' book a transgender handbook. (which is laughable)

Of course the 'sell the trannies out' gay and lesbian voices are in full throat with their 'wait your turn' spin. What they won't tell you is that we've done canvass after canvass of congresscritters over the last decade that indicate that transgender inclusion won't sink ENDA.

And they know that as well. The Mattachine wing of the gay rights movement has reared its ugly trans-hating head.

I think we need to make a serious push toward getting transpersons elected to Congress. In the interim, somebody needs to run against Barney Frank in the primary next year to send him (and any other transphobic legislator) a personal message that we've had it with being cut out of civil rights bills.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Political Good News-Bad News

Today is a day of mixed emotions for me. This morning the Senate passed by a 60-39 margin (John McCain R-AZ abstained) Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-MA) Hate Crimes amendment to HR 1585 that covers transgender people like myself.

You'll recall the trip I made to DC last May in order to lobby in favor of HR 1592 (the Hate Crimes Bill) and HR 2015, the Employment Non Discrimination Act or ENDA. And that's a nice segue into the bad news part of this post.

During the night a Washington Blade story broke the news that there may be a move underway to cut transgender people out of HR 2015. That news has incensed myself and other transgender activists who have seen this scenario replayed over and over during the last decade.

Some gay and lesbian activists make the claim that GLBT civil rights legislation such as ENDA won't pass with transpeople in it. They cut us out of it, claim they'll come back and help us pass a transgender-only bill after they get 'their' rights and then leave us hanging out to dry.

Not this time. We're beyond sick and tired of this crap. We're the ones dying, we're the ones being discriminated against and we're being arrogantly told by some elements of the gay and lesbian community that 'it's not your turn' to get rights?

What kind of Bush Bizarro World logic is that? Without the 'gender identity' language in this bill it doesn't cover YOU.

ENDA's currently being debated in the House Committee on Education and Labor's Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions. We transpeople need your help. We have initiated a a phone and letter writing campaign in order to keep transpeople in this bill.

Call, write, e-mail, fax - don't wait, contact them now!

Further information on how to reach House members is available at www.house.gov.

Committee on Education and Labor
2181 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
202-225-3725


If you call or write, please emphasize these points.

*Transgender people are the most discriminated against minority in the workplace today, with estimates of over 70% of transgender people having actually experienced workplace discrimination.

*Without transgender inclusion, gay and lesbian people will continue to face legal discrimination in the workplace because of their lack of congruence with societal norms of gender presentation and behavior.

If you have personal discrimination stories to tell, I encourage you to do so. That tends to be powerful testimony. It might make the difference in turning a hardline NO vote to a YES one, or if they're worried about political retribution, give them cover to abstain.


Who to direct the call or letter to:

Members of the Committee on Education and Labor.

Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Members in Bold

Pertinent Staff Members:

Jody Calemine, Labor Policy Deputy Director
Jeffrey Hancuff, Staff Assistant, Labor

Democrats

All Phone numbers are in the (202) area code

* George Miller, Chairman (CA-07) 225-2095 Rm 2205

* Dale E. Kildee (MI-05) 225-3611 Rm 2107

* Donald M. Payne (NJ-10) 225-3436 Rm 2209

*Robert E. Andrews (NJ-01) 225-6501 Rm 2439 (Subcommittee chair)

* Robert C. Scott (VA-03) 225-8351 Rm 1201

* Lynn C. Woolsey (CA-06) 225-5161 Rm 2263

* Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15) 225-2531 Rm 2463

* Carolyn McCarthy (NY-04) 225-5516 Rm 106

* John F. Tierney (MA-06) 225-8020 Rm 2238

* Dennis J. Kucinich (OH-10) 225-5871 Rm 2445

* David Wu (OR-01) 225-0855 Rm 2338

* Rush D. Holt (NJ-12) 225-5801 Rm 1019

* Susan A. Davis (CA-53) 225-2040 Rm 1526

* Danny K. Davis (IL-07) 225-5006 Rm 2159

* Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-07) 225-2435 Rm 1440

* Timothy H. Bishop (NY-01) 225-3826 Rm 225

* Linda T. Sánchez (CA-39) 225-6676 Rm 1222

* John Sarbanes (MD-03) 225-4016 Rm 426

* Joe Sestak (PA-07) 225-2011 Rm 1022

* Dave Loebsack (IA-02) 225-6576 Rm 1513

* Mazie Hirono (HI-02) 225-4906 Rm 1229

* Jason Altmire (PA-04) 225-2565 Rm 1419

* John Yarmuth (KY-03) 225-5401 Rm 319

* Phil Hare (IL-17) 225-5905 Rm 1118

* Yvette Clarke (NY-11) 225-6231 Rm 1029

* Joe Courtney (CT-02) 225-2076 Rm 215

* Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) 225-5456 Rm 1508

Republicans

* Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Ranking Member (CA-25)225-1956 Rm 2351

* Thomas E. Petri (WI-06) 225-2476 Rm 2462

* Peter Hoekstra (MI-02) 225-4401 Rm 2234

* Michael N. Castle (DE-At Large)225-4165 Rm 1233

* Mark E. Souder (IN-03) 225-4436 Rm 2231

* Vernon J. Ehlers (MI-03) 225-3831 Rm 2182

* Judy Biggert (IL-13) 225-3515 Rm 1034

* Todd Russell Platts (PA-19) 225-5836 Rm 1032

* Ric Keller (FL-8) 225-2176 Rm 419

* Joe Wilson (SC-02) 225-2452 Rm 212

* John Kline (MN-02) 225-2271 Rm 1429 Subcommittee Ranking Member)

* Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05)225-2006 Rm 1708

* Kenny Marchant (TX-24) 225-6605 Rm 1037

* Tom Price (GA-06) 225-4501 Rm 424

* Luis G. Fortuño (PR) 225-2615 Rm 126

* Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (LA-07) 225-2031 Rm 1117

* Virginia Foxx (NC-05) 225-2071 Rm 430

* John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr. (NY-29) 225-3161 Rm 1505

* Rob Bishop (UT-01) 225-0453 Rm 124

* David Davis (TN-01) 225-6356 Rm 514

* Timothy Walberg (MI-07)225-6276 Rm 325

* Dean Heller (NV-02) 225-6155 Rm 1023

Important Members of Congress Who Need To Be Contacted:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 225-4965 Rm 235

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) 225-4131 Rm 1705

Barney Frank (D-MA) 225-5931 Rm 2252

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) 225-2906 Rm 2446

Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) 225-3315 Rm 2135

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dirty Sexy Money Has A Twist

When Dirty Sexy Money debuts tonight at 10/9 Central time on ABC, in addition to Blair Underwood having a recurring role in this series as Simon Elder, it will have a recurring transgender character like Ugly Betty.

The difference will be that unlike Rebecca Romijn's Alexis Meade, the transgender character will be played by a transwoman.

Miss Continental 2001-2002 Candis Cayne will play Carmelita, the transgender girlfriend of US Senator Patrick Darling IV played by Billy Baldwin.

This is not the first role for the Maui-born Manhattan based actress who transitioned in 1996. She was on an episode of CSI: New York and is currently filming a reality series for the LOGO Channel.

She gave some tidbits about her role in an interview with NY's Homo Xtra. here's a portion of that interview. (Thanks to Justin Van De Kamp's Televisionista blog for posting it.)




How did you get involved in the upcoming ABC drama series, Dirty Sexy Money?

Patricia Field was the costume designer for the pilot and actually recommended me for the role! I play Billy Baldwin's character's mistress, and every time you see her she's either in her bedroom or in a hotel room- wearing Louboutin. I thought I was maybe going to be in it for a couple episodes, but the writers must be getting a good response, because they've put me in four more episodes so far and keep writing new scenes for my character. It's a dream for me.

Were you intimidated by Billy?

Totally. But when I met him at the table read, he was like, "Candis! Give me a hug!" He was so relaxed and not awkward. He later asked a lot about my relationship with Marco, because his character is sort of in the same situation. A lot of people have weird notions that I'm gay or that people who date me are gay, but he got it and was really into it. Well, not into it, but...




Is it true that your voice was digitally lowered for the pilot episode in post-production?

Yes, but if they want to lower my voice for shock value, fine. They asked me to lower my voice, but I couldn't bring myself to do something that was completely unnatural for me. It's really important for me as a trans actress to be in situations that I'm comfortable with, because there's a lot of weird stuff thrown at trans actresses that we'd never do. So you have to pick your battles, because there are trannies with lower voices, but no tranny would ever stand to pee, for example. As soon as that happened in Transamerica, the movie lost me. With my role in CSI: NY earlier this year, they had a lot of stuff like that written in-like going into a men's room-and I said, "I won't do that because I would never do it in real life." That part was originally written for a drag queen, but I auditioned and I snatched. I snatched!

Isn't Dirty Sexy Money the first time that a trans actress has played a recurring trans character on television?

I think so! The first recurring trans character was on Ugly Betty, but Rebecca Romijn's a woman—which is better than a man playing it! I'm just happy the media is really starting to embrace us, and I'm happy to be working again. After I started transitioning, I stopped working for nearly 10 years. I couldn't go out for the drag roles because I was too womanly, and I couldn't go out for the woman roles because there's a gay guy in every single goddamn casting who'd be like, "She's a man!" It's always the gays spooking you. But now I think it's the year of the tranny. It's finally my year!

It's great that we FINALLY have a transgender actress playing a transwoman in a prime time role. Hopefully it will result in more realistic portrayals of transgender people and more roles for transgender actors of all ethnic backgrounds.

Now if my own people would get beyond treating Black transwomen as a running gag (see the Season 3 Wayans Brothers Return of the Temptones episode featuring Jazzmun for an example of what I'm talking about) I'll be a very happy camper.

Break a leg, Candis.

2007 Women's FIBA Americas Championship

Since 1996, the US women ballers have been an unstoppable juggernaut on the international scene. During that period Team USA garnered three Olympic gold medals (1996, 2000, 2004) and two FIBA world championships (1998 and 2002). Their sustained excellence has been welcomed by US basketball fans in light of the men's program high profile failures on the international level.

But after getting upset in the FIBA women's championship semifinals 75-68 by the Russians last year in Brazil and having their 50 game international win streak snapped, Team USA is in an unfamiliar position going into this FIBA Americas Championship For Women that starts today in Valdivia, Chile and runs through September 30.

Win or run the risk of not making it to the Beijing Olympic Games next year.

Due to being either the World or Olympic Champion and getting the automatic berth as the host Olympic country in 1984 and 1996, Team USA didn't have to qualify for the 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 Games. In the two previous Qualifying Tournaments Team USA participated in (1976,1980) they compiled a 10-1 record and captured gold both times.

Only the winner of this tournament gets the automatic bid to Beijing for the FIBA Americas Zone. Second through fourth place get one last shot to qualify for Beijing in a FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament that will be held June 9-15 at an undetermined site.

Those FIBA Americas teams will have to fight it out with nine other national teams from around the globe who did not claim gold in the other FIBA zones. Those teams will have to battle two from Africa (silver and bronze medalists), two from Asia (silver and bronze medalists), four from Europe (second through fourth place finishers) and one from Oceania (silver medalist), to claim the final five Olympic slots.

Team USA would rather handle their business now and not wait until June 2008 to qualify. The team that will attempt to bring home the FIBA Americas championship consists of Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx), Sue Bird (Seattle Storm), Rebekkah Brunson (Sacramento Monarchs), Swin Cash (Detroit Shock), Kara Lawson (Sacramento Monarchs), DeLisha Milton-Jones (Washington Mystics), Courtney Paris (University of Oklahoma), Candace Parker (University of Tennessee), Cappie Pondexter (Phoenix Mercury), Katie Smith (Detroit Shock), Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury) and Tina Thompson (Houston Comets). Additionally, Candice Wiggins was addded as an alternate and will travel to Chile to train with the squad prior to the FIBA Americas Championship.

Team USA will be coached by the Seattle Storm's Anne Donovan. Her assistants are Mike Thibault (Connecticut Sun) and collegiate head coaches Gail Goestenkors of the University of Texas and Temple University's Dawn Staley.

Despite the loss in last year's semis, Team USA is still ranked number 1 in the FIBA world rankings and is in Group B with Cuba, Canada and Jamaica. Group A has the always tough Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and the hosts from Chile.

Team USA's opening game in Group B play will be against the Cubans.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rachel's Right


Miss USA Rachel Smith has incensed some people by inadvertanly dissing current CBS anchor Katie Couric.

During a recent Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network event last week in New York, when Smith was asked about her future career aspirations she expressed her desire to get into journalism. FYI for your Rachel bashers, she interned last summer in Chicago at Harpo Productions and graduated magne cum laude from Belmont College with a degree in journalism.

She's quoted by the New York Daily News as saying, "I always wanted to be a reporter — maybe some TV. Who knows? Some serious news — but some modeling, too. I just don't want to end up like Katie Couric. I want people to take me seriously."

In response, Couric's rep later told the Daily News: "If she continues to offer such profound insight, she will not have to worry about anyone taking her seriously."

For the folks who are attacking Rachel, if they took a monent to actually think about what the sistah's saying, she's right. Katie Couric is one of the reasons I gave up watching CBS News. I watched her the first week after she took over as news anchor and was sadly disappointed about the direction that the newscast took with her in the anchor chair.

CBS, the network home of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, and once was the gold standard in terms of broadcast journalism surrendered to the right wing. The network that once had the cojones to call out Joseph McCarthy during the height of the red-baiting McCarthy era, have its news anchor call Vietnam 'unwinnable' caved and fired Dan Rather when the right-wingers screamed about a 60 Minutes report that dared to ask the question that many of us had on our minds long before the 2004 election.

Where was George W. Bush during the last 18 months of his National Guard service?

I noticed that once again, most of Rachel's critics are white and are comparing her to the recent Miss Teen South Carolina who botched her question. Rachel ain't her.

In our community, Black girls are taught from birth that beauty fades. It's drilled into Black girls to rely more on their brains than a beautiful exterior and a pretty face to carry you through life.

For those who choose to model or enter beauty pageants, they are used as springboards for other careers. There's a former Miss America you may have heard of named Vanessa Williams who's conquered Hollywood, the music business and television. 1977 Miss Universe Janelle Commissiong runs a successful business in Trinidad. Before B. Smith took the culinary world by storm she was an Ebony Fashion Fair model. I doubt that anyone considers Tyra Banks a joke these days either.

Beauty queens aren't taken seriously? Just ask a former Miss Black Tennessee who's now running a media empire worth billions. What's her name again?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Things I DIDN'T Expect About Transistion

When you start a gender transition, there are some things you have a basic knowledge about or some assumptions that you go into it with.

You expect to lose a few friends and relatives along the way. You know that your body is finally going to morph in the feminine direction with the accompanying gender characteristics. You're aware that you're going to lose some of your male strength level and your breast size will be the roughly the same cup size as the biowomen in your immediate family. Your emotions will get scrambled in the early stages as your mind and body get adapted to the hormones. You anticipate that there will be some awkward moments, some humorous ones, hurt feelings, joy and pain as you get adjusted to living on the other side of the gender fence.

But there are some things about a gender transition that catch you off guard because you didn't expect it.

For me, there were a few.

One of the things I didn't expect was an increase in the frequency of my bathroom visits. The spironolactone that I take as a testosterone blocker is also a diuretic. Translation: It makes me go to the bathroom more often.

I was stunned at how fast my breast development occurred once I started on hormones. I had breast buds and nipple expansion growth within days of taking my first hormones.

I discovered the reason for it when I did followup blood work a month into my transition and it was compared to my baseline numbers. I had a low testosterone count. The testosterone level is measured on a 0-900 scale by your endocrinologist. Biomale testosterone level is usually on the upper end of that scale in the 700-900 range. Biowomen also have small amounts of testosterone in the 50-100 range that basically govern a woman's sex drive.

Mine was at 400 when I started in 1994 and its around 120 now. Slightly higher than what a biowoman would have in her body yet significantly less than what a biomale has in his system. I didn't expect to hear from my endo that my risk for prostate cancer would dwindle to almost zero.

However, my risk for breast cancer has doubled.

Another medical surprise was revealed to me during a subsequent check up as well. My blood pressure and stress level dropped dramatically despite being in a high stress airline job. That one's easy to explain. I wasn't living a double life anymore. I was finally becoming on the outside the person I was on the inside and was damned happy about it.

I discovered by accident that my reflexes and hearing improved. One day I knocked a half full cup of Kool-Aid off the edge of my dining table in my apartment and without thinking quickly snatched it in mid-air. Saved me from cleaning the spill out of my carpet. My guess is this might be a biological thang because mothers have heightened sensory awareness in order to protect their children from approaching danger.


I didn't expect to gain the ability to have multiple orgasms or realize just how good they feel. ;) That was a wonderful surprise. Another interesting discovery was that some biowomen desire to have intimate relationships with pre-op transwomen. I found it ironic that I got hit on my more women after I started transition that I did before as The Twin. I wasn't in gay clubs either when these propositions happened.

Oh well, you never know what people like when you get them behind closed doors.

One of the other surprises was also in a social setting. It's one I chafe at and it took me awhile to get over. Being interrupted when in a converation with a man, having to explain myself and having my intelligence questioned or dismissed. It was a frequent occurrence in business situations as well.

I sarcastically lamented one day to my sistafriends that I lost ten points on my IQ when I transtioned as far as men are concerned. My sistafriends replied that I got it wrong. I didn't lose points, I GAINED twenty points when I transitioned.

I also discovered that some African-Americans have a long way to go in terms of being 'ejumacated' on transgender issues. Despite long time exposure to trans issues thanks to articles in Ebony and Jet, drag shows, balls and pageants and famous crossdressers in our midst such as Flip Wilson (Geraldine Jones), RuPaul, and Tyler Perry's Madea, I quickly found that some of our peeps are WORSE than white fundamentalists. I felt that my brothas and sistahs, given our own civil rights struggles would be more tolerant of transgender people.

Despite those surprises, I adapted and now happily thrive in my life as a Phenomenal Transwoman.

Why Did I Get Married?

I'm a movie junkie, and this is one I'm definitely looking forward to seeing when it hits my local multiplex on its projected release date of October 12.

Tyler Perry returns in front of a camera for the first time since Madea's Family Reunion, but you won't see Tyler's pistol packing alter ego in this story adapted for the big screen from the hit play of the same name.

Why Did I Get Married? stars an ensemble cast that in addition to Perry, includes Janet Jackson, Malik Yoba, Jill Scott, Sharon Leal, Tasha Smith, Michael Jai White, Denise Boutte and Lamann Rucker.

Hmm. That's worth the price of admission and a large buttered popcorn alone. ;)

Why Did I Get Married? is the story about how difficult it is to maintain a solid loving relationship in modern times. It revolves around a group of eight married college friends who have gathered for their annual reunion in the snow-capped mountains of Colorado.


They discover that infidelity has creeped into one couple's marriage. It triggers a series of events over the reunion weekend in which secrets are revealed and they question how valid and solid their own marriages are. Both the husbands and wives also take hard looks at their own lives during this weekend as well.



This looks like another Tyler Perry hit. The trailers are already on The Net and I'll definitely be sitting in the front row next month happily munching my popcorn.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why Don't You Do More Transgender Posts?

Every now and then while I'm out and about in Da Ville I run into peeps who when they find out I'm the TransGriot, rave about my column or the blog.

One of the questions I got asked recently was why I don't have more content on transgender issues.

While transsexuality is a subject that I could literally find tons of angles to discuss, being a transperson is only one aspect of all the things that make up me. There are transgender bloggers, but not many of them focus on the issues of being TWB (transgender while Black).

As you TransGriot readers have discovered, I had (and still have) a relatively interesting life prior to transition that I've barely scratched the surface of. I have interests beyond just talking about being trans. I have sistafriends I hang out with, talk to on a regular basis and help sort out their drama. I'm keeping abreast of the news. I'm reading various books and listening to my massive CD collection. I'm also working 40 plus hours a week while squeezing time in to work on my novels.

I deeply appreciate the fact that many of you enjoy your time on TransGriot and keep coming back. As any writer will tell you, we love it when the work and sometimes late hours we put into compiling interesting and quality blog content is acknowledged by the comments you leave on the various posts. (hint, hint)

But as one of the few African-American peeps who talk about transgender issues, some of the stuff I relay to you is personal. My own family is struggling with a lot of the issues as well, so I have to balance what I can personally talk about versus a desire to not have too many details of their lives exposed to millions of people. I chose to do that in the name of educating peeps on transgender issues, they didn't.

Then there's simply writer's block. There are days or nights I sit in front of this computer and have a wonderful idea for a post, then I start typing, don't like the first, second or third draft and set it aside for a few hours. Sometimes I just hold the idea for a later time. Sometimes I end up just sitting there staring at the computer screen until I give up, shut it down and do something else for a while.

Rest assured, there will always be transgender content in this blog. It isn't called TransGriot for nothing. But the 'griot' in the blog name also means that I'm living up to the West African griot tradition of kicking knowledge to you on a wide variety of subjects as well.

Black Radio Days

A post on the Mes Deaux Cents blog was the inspiration for this one. She talked about her love of radio and working in the business. It's generated a lot of comments from people like myself who fondly remember the pioneering deejays in their hometowns and got me thinking once again about that part of my childhood.

Radio, especially Black radio has a special place not only for me but in the hearts of our people. As someone who grew up around radio stations, cut a promo commercial for my dad's AM drive time show when I was in the first grade and another one years later, I saw that love firsthand.

Black radio entertained us, informed us, raised money, helped us get organized and gave us a voice. It's rightfully credited by no less than Dr. King and others with being the engine that powered the 50's and 60's Civil Rights Movement.

Because the deejay has an exalted place in our community. they were considered leaders and opinion makers. The movie Talk To Me, in which Don Cheadle depicted the life of legendary jock Ralph Waldo 'Petey' Greene who was on Washington DC's WOL-AM during the 60's and 70's, illustrates the ability of Black deejays to shape community public opinions. It was a power that J. Edgar Hoover and others were so afraid of they actually monitored many Black deejays from the late 60's through the mid 70's.

It's no accident that when the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was passed, the first victims of the rush to buy stations in many markets were Black ones. They were part of small radio station networks or had individual owners. When the Clear Channels with their megabucks started calling, they cashed out. If it weren't for Cathy Hughes and Radio One Inc, Black radio as we know it wouldn't exist.

The history of Black Radio is thankfully preserved on the Indiana University campus in its Archives of African-American Music & Culture. There is a section of it that covers Black radio that has not only my dad's memorabilia, but a collection of the late Jack Gibson's Mello Yello magazines and other legendary deejays as well. I'm planning on taking a trip up the road to the IU-Bloomington campus soon and checking out all that radio history.

But it was interesting having a ringside seat for all of that. I got to meet various peeps ranging from politicians to music business people. I got to see some really cool concerts, collect a vast array of promo tee-shirts and have a cutting edge record collection. One of the first concerts I was allowed to attend by myself was a Parliament-Funkadelic one in which Bootsy was part of the tour. I also kept up with the news and happenings in the business by reading my dad's Mello Yello's when he was done with them.

There was one summer I got to tag along for a Jackson 5 concert and actually meet the Jacksons. I have an autographed picture from that encounter of me and Michael Jackson that won me much cash in junior high and high school. ;)

During my sophomore year there was a KYOK Night at the Ice Capades at the Summit in which my brother and I were added to an ice skating race with KYOK's deejays. I spent a lot of weekends on the Galleria's ice rink and in the process learned how to ice skate quite well. I won, but my main concern during the whole thing was not only beating my brother, but not falling in front of 17,000 people because I would have definitely heard about it at school the next morning.

Thanks to Cathy Hughes and others, the traditions and proud history of Black radio have been preserved for the 21st Century. It's cool to know that the kids now growing up will get the same joys out of flipping on their radio and listening to broadcast content that reflects their culture as we did.

It's also comforting to know that Black radio will still be around to help us mobilize our people to fight for justice, as was proven by Thursday's events in Jena, LA as well.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena 6 Protest

I am so proud of our people this morning. I caught parts of the Jena 6 protest yesterday on CNN and took time to fire off comments to the CNN website.

As I saw our people gather in Jena, assemble in front of the LaSalle Parish Courthouse, visit Jena High School and watched 'the Revs' and others speak I found myself wishing I could have been part of this history making event. We had a bus full of people that left from Louisville to go there, but I had to work last night.

It was beautiful to see 50,000 people peacefully assembling to march for justice. The best part of it was seeing all the young people that were involved. It brought tears to my eyes.

This is an opportunity for parents to have a teachable moment for their kids about our history in this country and the civil rights movement.



We must constantly remind our kids (and some whites as well) that 400 years of racism did not magically disappear in the 60's and 70's. The Forces of Intolerance are always at work and there are Jena's everywhere along with the attitudes that created them.

My hope and prayer is that our young people's involvement in social justice issues doesn't stop with this case. I hope that our youth and the participants realized that our fight for justice as African-Americans is an ongoing battle and that they must do their part to continue 'Fighting the Power' to the best of their abilities until Dr. King's dream is an unalterable reality.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Transparent


I just finished reading Transparent by Cris Beam. It's an interesting nonfiction book about several Los Angeles Latina and African-American transkids covering a period from 1998 to 2005.

One of the people featured in the book, Foxxjazell was familiar to me. I just wrote a blog post last month on her increasing popularity in California's rap scene as a transgender rapper. It was interesting to read her background story.

Some of it was sad, some triumphant. Some of their stories hit home and triggered some emotional memories concerning some things I was dealing with in my own childhood.

Cris Beam also weaves transgender history, science, and knowledge throughout the book. If you want to get some insight on some of the issues we deal with and how they affect these transkids, you may want to pick this book up and add it to your collection.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I'm Not Surprised


During the time I was working for Continental Airlines, Houston hosted the 1992 GOP convention. Many of those delegates went through IAH to get to the convention and return to their homes scattered across the country. I met some of the GOP leadership like now Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), other George HW Bush cabinet peeps, and convention delegates from various states as I worked flights during this period.

The day after it ended, I had a Seattle flight I was working. I was killing time until a short air traffic control delay was lifted before I could board the plane. In the lobby there was a group of teenaged kids who had just attended the convention. They had their GOP t-shirts on and were energized about working for George HW Bush's reeelection. Three girls approached the podium and engaged me in a discussion about joining their party and voting for Bush senior.

After politely listening to them for a few moments I replied, "No thanks, I'm voting for Clinton."

"But why?" one of the eager young white females replied.

"Your party has engaged in practices and behaviors over the years that have led me to conclude that people who look like me aren't wanted. Until your party gets serious about competing for my people's votes and doing the things necessary to get those votes beyond symbolic measures, I'll continue to be a Democrat."

I'm recounting this conversation because of the news that GOP frontrunners John McCain, Rudy Guiliani, and Mitt Romney all declined invitations to the All American Presidential Forum to be held on September 27 at Morgan State University for the GOP candidates. A similar forum was held on June 28th for the Democrats and all eight contenders showed up at Howard University for it.

I'm not surprised that Guiliani isn't gonna show up. He's 'scurred' about the questions that will pop up about his contentious relationship in NYC with the African-American community and the Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo NYPD incidents that happened under his tenure.

McCain has 'F' grades on his NAACP Civil Rights report cards and Romney is probably afraid he'll get hit with questions about the Mormon Church's negative beliefs about African-Americans. Only one of the GOP candidates, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) even bothered to show up for the presidential forum during the recent NAACP convention in Detroit.

The journalists who will be asking the questions for the five confirmed Republican presidential candidates showing up in Baltimore as I write this are Ray Suarez of The NewsHour, columnist Cynthia Tucker of The Atlanta Journal Constitution and NPR's Juan Williams. Tavis will once again be moderator for the event which will air on PBS starting at 9 PM EDT.

I read Tavis' comments on the snub and he's not a happy camper.

"The word frontrunner has taken a whole new meaning for me," said Smiley in an interview with Lee Bailey. "I didn't know it meant being out front and running from people of color."

"The frontrunners, specifically Mr. Romney, Mr. McCain and Mr. Guiliani, have said to us they will not be on stage at Morgan State University on September 27th. All the Democrats showed up in June, but the front running Republicans have said they will not be there. They have also told Univision that they will not be there for the Hispanic debate. So, collectively, what the Republican frontrunners have told both black and brown Americans is that we don't appreciate you, don't value your issues and you're not a priority to us."

"You can't go through an entire primary process and refuse to talk to black and brown voters," he continued. "It's unconscionable, it's untenable, it's unthinkable and no one should be elected president in 2008, in the most multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial America ever and, in the process, ignore and ditch those voters. If you're not going to talk to all of America then you don't deserve to be president of all of America."

That's been the GOP game plan since Nixon concocted the 'Southern Strategy'. Like Tavis, I'm sick of Black conservatives spouting that bullshit 'you need to get off the Democrat plantation line'. You Black conservative clowns continue to apologize and make excuses for your GOP massas. These GOP peeps say they want to compete for our votes, but don't have the cojones to show up at our conventions, our events or give interviews to our media peeps to address our issues.

You black conservatives have shown the African-American community repeatedly over the years where your loyalties lie.

In 2004 the negro Ken Blackwell led the charge to suppress our people's votes in Ohio (he doesn't deserve to be called Black). Ward Connerly is the point negro in trying to get affirmative action programs killed. Don't even get me started on Uncle Thomas, the 'honorary white man' as conservative commentators call him on the Supreme Court.

And all you Black conservative bloggers and GOP butt-kissing preachers have been deafingly silent about how your vaunted GOP showed the world how much they cared about New Orleans and its African-American residents, but can flap your gums ad nauseum when it comes to same-sex marriage and hatin' on GLBT people.

And you want to know why reality based African-Americans vote at a 90% clip for Democratic candidates?

Thanks to the naked racism that's spewing out of your base over the immigration issue, you're driving Latinos away from your party as well at a record clip. 'Bout time they woke up to the true nature of the Republican Party.

Can't wait for September 27 to get here. I'm gonna make sure I have plenty of popcorn on hand to munch on for what promises to be an entertaining evening.

NAACP And The Jena 6 Case


TransGriot Note: For those of you who question whether the NAACP is relevant, this is an e-mail blast I received yesterday about the Jena 6 case.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


It's an American outrage that demonstrates the continuing shame of racism in our country.


Six black teenagers in a small Louisiana town are facing some of the most overly aggressive prosecution we've seen - all over a schoolyard fight with white students. The group has come to be known in the media as the Jena 6, in reference to the small town where a series of racial incidents escalated after three nooses were hung from a tree at a local high school.


Click here to add your name to the Justice for Jena petition now!


The events led to the arrest of the young men - all being charged with serious criminal offenses that could lead to decades in jail. But, the white students involved were not initially prosecuted; they received a three-day in school suspension for hanging the nooses.


In a trial that lasted only two days, an all-white jury convicted Mychal Bell, the first of the group to be tried. The public defender presented no rebuttal or witnesses, and the jury deliberated for less than two hours.


On Friday, the Louisiana Court of Appeals took an important step towards justice for the Jena 6. They tossed out Bell's conviction for aggravated battery, stating that he should not have been tried and convicted as an adult. But, Mychal Bell remains in jail awaiting a new trial. The legal fight is far from over for him and his co-defendants.


Donate to the NAACP Justice for Jena Fund.


How the NAACP is Advocating For Justice

The NAACP is mobilized to secure justice and equity for these young men.

* The NAACP, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern University Law Center, has provided some additional legal support and resources to the defendants' attorneys and remains committed to the defense of the remaining young men.

* We presented a petition of over 62,000 signatures (gathered on the NAACP website; signatures now exceed 92,000) to the Governor of Louisiana on Sept. 17 as a symbol of the thousands of citizens concerned with the unequal treatment of the defendants and the pubic acknowledgement that the hanging of the three nooses is a serious hate crime offense.

* We have demanded that the Attorney General's office investigate the prosecution and monitor the trials.

* We organized activities, including a rally and town hall, in Jena on Sept. 20 in the spirit of justice and equality. The town hall will focus on racial disparities in the education and criminal justice systems.

* We are actively monitoring the situation and remain committed to the defense of the six young men to ensure proper treatment by the court system and protection of their rights under the law.

If you can't come to Jena, you can participate in our efforts via the NAACP website by signing the Justice for Jena petition, donating to the cause, or by viewing our live webcast of the rally and town hall meeting on Sept. 20. Forward this email to your family and friends and ask them to sign the petition.
We cannot afford to be silent when so much is at stake.


Sincerely,

Dennis Courtland Hayes
Interim President & CEO
NAACP

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

First Brotha In Space

Today is the 26th anniversary of the launch of the first brotha in space. And no, it wasn't Guy Bluford. His launch into space on the NASA STS-8 mission didn't occur until August 30, 1983.

That honor goes to Cuban cosmonaut Colonel Arnaldo Tamayo-Mendez. On September 18, 1980 he was launched into space as part of the Soyuz 38 mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Cuban Air Force pilot was selected on March 1, 1978 as part of the Intercosmos program the Russian (then Soviet) space program was conducting to allow fellow Eastern Bloc nations to take part in space exploration.

After docking with the Salyut 6 space station, Tamayo and his Russian counterpart Yuri Romanenko remained on board to conduct experiments into what causes a form of motion sickness in some space travelers called SAS or space adaptation sickness.

After 120 orbits of the earth covering a total of 7 days, 20 hours and 43 minutes, Tamayo and Romamenko executed a risky night landing. They returned safely to earth 180 kilometers from the city of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on September 26, 1980.

The Guantanamo born (January 29, 1942) Tamayo-Mendez was not only the first person of African descent into space, he was also the first Hispanic and the first person from a Western Hemisphere nation other than the United States to fly a space mission.

After his cosmonaut career he was promoted to brigadier general in the Cuban Air Force and settled into married life with his wife and two sons.