Monday, December 31, 2007

The Final Five Sellouts

This ENDA mess is reminding me more and more of Battlestar Galactica.

Mara Keisling reminds me of Gaius Baltar, who was seduced by Number Six only to discover to his horror within moments of the devastating Cylon nuclear attack on the Colonies that she was a Cylon. He also discovered that he unwittingly aided and abetted the destruction of the Colonies (think transgender community) by letting his girlfriend poke around the Colonial Military defense mainframe computer. He also submitted a Command Navigation Program to the Colonial military (think the 'HRC Is Our Friends' PR strategy) that contained an electronic backdoor that the Cylons used to neutralize Colonial defenses.

NTAC and current chair Ethan St. Pierre is represented by Admiral William Adara, who because of his previous service in the First Cylon War refused to network the computers on the Galactica, which saved his ship from destruction (and as we found out later and it was expounded on in Razor, the Pegasus as well because it was undergoing a retrofit at the Scorpian shipyards.

Admiral Helena Cain, AKA Dawn Wilson not only figured out what happened after the attack, but has been an unrelenting opponent of the Cylons (oops, HRC).

But people in the transgender community, despite her obvious talents and leadership skills, fear her.

You have President Laura Roslin, AKA former NTAC chair Vanessa Edwards Foster, who has grown into leadership stature despite being attacked by the cancerous whisper campaign orchestrated by the head of NCTE, outright efforts to sabotage her organization by repeated raids on the NTAC BOD and calls by transgender sheeple for NTAC to close its doors and merge with NCTE.

While all this was going on she was being called 'crazy' like myself and others who refused to drink the 'HRC is our friends' Kool-Aid.

Joe Solmonese is Aaron Doral, the smooth talking polished media pro who excels at sowing seeds of confusion and deception. Ask the folks who were in attendance at the 2007 SCC who parted with $20,000 of hard earned cash during his speech how good he is.

But as entertaining as this Battlestar analogy is getting, I'm going to skip ahead and get to the heart of it. It seems as though the HRCylons and Barney Frank are tired of me and the Admiral Adamas in the transgender Colonial Fleet criticizing them over their duplicitous amoral BS around ENDA and want to hand pick their own leaders to negotiate with.

The word from the transgender grapevine is that Mara is out and they are grooming Susan Stanton to become their new spokessellout. She's perfect in their eyes for the job. She doesn't know the community history because she's new, has a nationally known name, a very public discrimination story that played out in front of television cameras and hasn't had an opportunity to talk to us old HRCylon War vets about HRC's sorry history.

HRC in conjunction with Barney Frank's office are putting together their own transgender 'leaders' that they feel will be pliable enough for them to work with.

I've seen this game run before. It's the same one the Republican Party has been trying to run on the African-American community for decades. The GOP doesn't wanna talk to the NAACP or our elected leadership in the Congressional Black Caucus, so they have spent millions cultivating their network of megachurch black preachers and black conservatives that they conveniently use and ignore when it suits their purposes. HRC and Barney Frank are trying to run the same game on the transgender community.

The information that we do have on the Final Five sellouts thanks to Donna Rose is that they are upper middle class white transwomen.

No peeps of color, no transmen, no working class transpeeps who will inconveniently call them out like Commander Lee Adama on cutting transpeople out of ENDA. So far Susan Stanton's name is the only one that has surfaced, and we are working hard to find out the identities of the Final Five.

Fortunately I won't have to do what Deanna Biers (aka Number 3) did to find out that information and I'll definitely let you TransGriot readers in on the secret when they are revealed.

You Can't Judge A Transwoman By Her Shoe Size

One of the more amusing conversations I recently eavesdropped on while I was out and about was two brothers trading their 'how to spot a transsexual' tips. In addition to the usual stereotypes about height, broad shoulders, and 'masculine' facial looks, the one that made me chuckle was about shoe size.

"I can spot a transsexual from ten miles away because of them big feet." the so-called tranny-spotting expert proclaimed.

Yeah, right. If that was the case, how'd you miss spotting my elegantly dressed 6'2" behind wearing the hell out of my black Timothy Hitsman pumps, size 12? I have a size 13 navy pair of the same shoes in my wannabe Imelda Marcos sized shoe collection sitting in my closet.

I laugh sometimes when I hear biomen and some biowomen spout that fallacy. While there's a grain of truth to the fact there are some transwomen who have to shop at Payless or online at various websites to get fashionably stylish heels in double digit sizes, we are increasingly jostling with biowomen to grab the limited pairs of size 11s, 12s and 13s that are made available on store shelves.

Take note, alleged tranny spotters. Americans are not only getting fatter, we're getting bigger and taller as well. Feet are keeping evolutionary pace with that reality.

According to podiactric historian William Rossi, the foot enlarging trend for women has been occuring for about 150 years. At the beginning of the 20th century, the average American woman wore a size 3.5 or a 4. That climbed to a size 5.5 by the 1940s.

According to the Professional Shoe Fitting Manual, the average American adult female's shoe size in the 1960s was a size 5.5 to a 6. By the '70s it climbed to a 7.5 and in the '80s it had reached a size 8 or 8.5. As of yet stats haven't been compiled for the 90's, but you can do the logical progression and presume that the average American woman's shoe size will have climbed to a size 9.

In addition, thanks to regular wear and tear, pregnancy, and the stretching of foot ligaments and joints, over the course of a lifetime a woman's shoe size tends to increase by about a half to one full shoe size.

My homegirl Tracy discovered that fact to her horror after she gave birth to her daughter a few years ago. She's six feet tall and before her pregnancy wore a size 10. Her foot grew an inch during her pregnancy and she now wears a size 11. She used to mildly tease me when I'd whine about how hard it was for me to find fashionable shoes. Now she feels my pain.

And bioboys, don't be so quick to diss the sistahs about expanding shoe sizes either. This phenomenon isn't just limited to the feminine half of the US population. According to US Army records, the average shoe size worn by male recruits has gone up from about a 6 to about a 9.5 since the American Revolution.

But back to my regularly scheduled post. Transwomen come in all shapes, sizes and shoe sizes. I had a roommate back in Houston who was 5'6" and wore a size 7. My homegirl Lexi is 5'7", is a size 0 dress size and wears a size 9 shoe.

I know more than a few transsistahs that wear anywhere from size 7.5-to 11. Dawn needles me about the fact that she wears an 11, which is the largest size that most women's shoe catalogs display.

Conversely, I not only personally know more than a few biowomen who wear double-digit shoe sizes like my homegirl, but I'm aware that some celebrity women such as Paris Hilton (size 11), Tyra Banks (10), assorted supermodels, and most of the WNBA wear double digit sizes as well. There are some women's college and WNBA basketball team players that have bigger feet than mine. I remember the day I quit griping about my shoe size when I read that Chamique Holdsclaw wears a size 14.

So bioboys, better check your pseudoscience at the door. You may be missing out on a wonderful woman because you're either mistaking her for a transwoman based on her shoe size, or not taking the time to get to know a transwoman who has character, class and substance because of her size 12 pumps.

Yvonne Buschbaum's Retirement With A Twist

German Olympian Yvonne Buschbaum, the world junior record holder in the pole vault, announced her retirement November 21 from the sport. She finished third in the European championships in 1998 in Budapest, Hungary, won the European junior title in 1999 and placed sixth at the Sydney Games in 2000. Buschbaum's best year was 2002, when she finished second in the European Indoor Championships in Vienna, Austria and third at the European Championships contested on home soil in Munich, Germany.

The interesting twist in this story is that the other reason she cited for her retirement decision in addition to her persistent injuries was a desire to transition to male.

In a statement from her web site, Buschbaum said, "I feel as if I am a man and have to live my life in the body of a woman. I am aware of the fact that transsexuality is a fringe issue, and I do not want to be responsible for it remaining on the fringe."

Buschbaum also asked for respect for her decision and urged observers not to draw false conclusions. "I do not dope," she said and added that her upcoming hormone treatments to facilitate her transition contributed to her decision to quit along with the persistent injury.

As I keep saying over and over, transsexuality is an international medical and social issue that cuts across class, race, religious and geographic boundaries. Just as transpeople exist who are in politics, business, education, law, and the arts and sciences, we have transgender athletes as well. It's why the IOC and other international sports governing bodies allow transgender people to participate.

I wish Yvonne much happiness and success as a new chapter unfolds in her life.

End of 2007 Musings

In a little more than 17 hours we say goodbye to 2007 and hello to 2008. It's been an interesting but tumultuous year not only for the transgender community but for me personally as well.

I started the year with a newspaper column I loved, a job I didn't like and 15 pounds heavier. I lost that job three days into the New Year and got my current one, lost the weight through the course of the year, got a year older and unexpectedly lost my column in September.

And still I rise.

While I don't have my column any more and I miss writing it once a month, I still have this blog. There was a silver lining in the loss of the monthly column although I'm majorly pissed about the way it went down. It allowed me to focus more of my creative energy on TransGriot and other writing projects. I've been blessed to see my readership grow from just 100 hits per day from the time I installed my counter on January 17 to 400 per day.

I set a record for one day hit totals twice. I received 1200 hits for my posts on the Miss Universe pageant and broke it when I received 1500 hits on the blog for my history on HRC-transgender community relations. I composed my 500th post since starting TransGriot. And best of all, thanks to the blog, I'm blessed with the ability to intelligently expound on a wide range of issues. I also get the bonus of corresponding with and meeting some wonderful people and fellow bloggers I wouldn't have otherwise.

The transgender community has gone through similar ups and downs. Here in the States we've not only seen increased coverage of transgender issues in our media, but several television shows that have or debuted with good and bad transgender characters. We've seen a transperson get elected statewide in Hawaii but lose locally in Riverdale, GA and Aurora, CO. We've had several cities and states pass inclusive rights legislation.

But in late September our world got rocked by being messily cut out of ENDA by so-called allies. It's triggered not only a schism in the GLB_t community, but a long overdue American transgender community reexamination of how we do business as a community, how inclusive we really are, what tactics we use to pursue our twin legislative Holy Grails of a transgender inclusive ENDA and hate crimes bills and our place in the GLBT community. We transpeople are also searching for, as Aretha Franklin so eloquently sang, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

It's been a mixed bag of success and failure in the worldwide community as well. We've had legal reversals mixed with success. They too have experienced increasing popularity and media coverage as well. But at the same time while my transgender cousins in Jamaica and on the African continent are catching hell, my African cousins are garnering more positive press as well. (hey, that rhymed)

Around the world, it's becoming more obvious by the day that being transgender is a worldwide medical issue that calls for a compassionate medical, social and legal response, not faith-based hatred and condemnation. Despite what the Catholic Church, fundamentalists and many conservative pundits think, we exist, we have human rights and we aren't going away.

That's one part of the worldwide struggle that will continue into the New Year, and we'll also see the various societies and governments around the world adjust to varying degrees of success or failure.

As for the Phenomenal Transwoman herself? I've been spending the last few days in my traditional end of the year assessment of my life. Been reassessing goals, rechecking my New Year's resolutions I wrote down at the beginning of 2007 and seeing how much progress I made (or lack thereof) toward achieving them.

I'm also at a personal crossroads in my life on a few fronts. Over the next year I'll be working diligently toward successfully resolving those issues. The issues need to be resolved in order for me to continue maintaining my forward progress toward evolving into the type I woman I want to be.

But the best news about 2008? It's a presidential election year.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Transtasia is a documentary about the 2004 World's Most Beautiful Transsexual Pageant. It not only shows scenes from the pageant, but interviews several contestants about their lives.

BBC America 'Teen Transsexual'

BBC America
Sunday, December 30, 2007
10:00pm EST /7:00pm PST
Repeated at 1:00am EST / 10:00pm PST

All Richard Parker wants for his 18th birthday is to be Lucy Parker.
Richard has spent his life dealing with gender identity issues and has long dreamed of the day when he can have surgery to become a real woman.

Unable to get the surgery until he turns 18 and has proven to doctors that he is psychologically committed to life as a woman, Richard has spent the last two years living as Lucy. This is her story.

Premieres December 30th at 10pm et/pt. Part of BBC America Reveals.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Kwanzaa!

Tonight is the first night of Kwanzaa, which runs from December 26 to January 1. The celebration was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 in the wake of the Watts riots in Los Angeles.

Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African "first fruit" (harvest) celebrations. Dr. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.

While Kwanzaa has the flexibility to be celebrated by people in many ways, it's based on seven core principles called the Nguzo Saba. They are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans and each of those core principle is celebrated over the seven nights of Kwanzaa.

The core principles are:

Umoja (Unity)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Nia (Purpose)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Kuumba (Creativity)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Imani (Faith)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

The core principles are not just for being remembered during the Kwanzaa celebration, they are also to be used to help not only organize the community, but be used by individuals as well.

Kwanzaa is growing in popularity among some African-Americans since it's founding as people look for ways to reconnect to our African cultural roots.

Happy Kwanzaa to all you peeps who celebrate it.

The Great Debaters

I'm a huge Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker fan. Any time I have an opportunity to see a movie that has either one of these guys acting in it, I'm jumping at the opportunity to head to my favorite multiplex, chow down on some popcorn and watch these gentlemen work.

I get to double my pleasure in the movie that just opened yesterday called The Great Debaters.

Denzel plays Wiley College Professor Melvin B. Tolson. He inspired students in 1935 to form the school's first debate team, which in reality went on to challenge Southern Californa, but in the movie is depicted as debating Harvard in the national championship.

The movie has already been nominated for a Golden Globe Award and is produced by Oprah's Harpo Productions.

One little known tidbit about my hometown is that Houston is a city with a great debate tradition. Texas Southern University has a outstanding debate team that was founded in 1949 under the leadership of the legendary Dr. Thomas F. Freeman. The late US Rep. Barbara Jordan was a member and a national champion along with my former Texas state senator Rodney Ellis. The TSU debaters were also technical advisors for this film as well

Another little known fact about Houston's rich debate tradition is that Lyndon B. Johnson, before he became Texas' US senator in 1948 and a future president was briefly a teacher and an award-winning debate coach at San Jacinto High School.

I'm looking forward to checking out this movie this weekend and seeing another piece of my people's history portrayed by a great actor.

That's One Large Step For Women

Jodi Grace is riding a trend: Feet are getting bigger. Her store, Big Foot, 5610 Fourth St. N, specializes in women's shoes size 10 and up.
photo-James Borchuck

A New Specialty Shop Offers Large Shoes For Large Feet.

By PAUL SWIDER, Times Staff Writer
Published December 26, 2007
From the St. Petersburg Times


Jodi Grace is not a big woman, only 5 feet 2 with a proportionate size 7 shoe. But like the market she is addressing, she knows people with big feet.

"When a woman has big feet, all her friends and family know it," said Grace, who in October opened Big Foot, a store that caters to women needing large shoes.

"I've had a lot of people come in and say, 'My father saw this store and told me about it.' How many fathers know their daughter's shoe size? Fathers of big-footed women do."

Grace's best friend is a size 12 so she has heard the stories for years about how impossible it is to find stylish shoes for big female feet.

One day, while Grace was telling her friend about career woes, her friend was again complaining about shoe shortages. And the idea was born. While a simple concept, big-shoe sales have their complexities.

"I thought, they're shoes, it's not rocket science," said Grace, 45, who has spent most of her career as a sales rep for others. "But I've learned a lot."

Those who don't know women with big feet think the store is a failure waiting to happen, Grace said; those with big-footed friends think it's a gold mine. Solving this latter group's pain is something like a public service, she said.

"It's not exactly social work, but people thank me all the time for starting this store," she said.

Grace did her homework before opening the store, but while business is good and growing, it's not in the areas she expected.

"I'm amazed at what's selling," she said. "The frumpy ones are doing 10 times better than I thought they would."

Grace had heard from her friend and others that it's hard for big-footed women to find style, so she deliberately downplayed the "old-lady" shoes. She also didn't think tall women would want heels, but they do. She's also waiting for the colorful sandals to start selling because her research told her big-footed women were tired of buying dull men's sandals and slippers.

Grace is playing on a trend: Feet are getting bigger. Humans generally are getting taller, but women's shoes seem to be growing more rapidly. Shoe stocks are changing, too, she said, perhaps because women now feel freer to buy their correct size instead of squeezing into the mainstream product that is on most shelves.

A hundred years ago, the average American woman wore a 3.5 or a 4, Grace said. The Professional Shoe Fitting Manual says that 60 years later, it was a 5.5 or a 6, then 8 or 8.5 during the 1980s. Now, the average women's size is somewhere in the 9s.

"I'm convinced it's the hormones in the food," Grace said. She also said that women are often attracted to taller men, which could create a kind of natural selection for tall genes that correlate with big feet.

The culture certainly has its examples of big-footed women. According to the Web site, tall women celebrities like Geena Davis, Nicole Kidman, Tyra Banks and Uma Thurman all wear size 11s or bigger. But even Meg Ryan or Paris Hilton at 5-8 clock in with 11s, as does 5-6 Kate Winslet.

But Grace is not aiming at the celebrity market. Her average price point is about $70.

She goes after the athletic market. She has already sent letters to every high school women's basketball coach in Florida. Soon, she'll go for volleyball. With the 2008 Women's Final Four slated for the St. Pete Times Forum, Grace is working on that audience, too. She already has her foot in the door of the coaches' conference right before.

But Grace also wants more of the cross-dressing/transgender market. She expected it and researched to prepare for it but hasn't seen as many customers as she hoped.

She suspects it's because that community is disorganized, so word hasn't gotten out yet. It will soon, though, she said, because she's already getting referrals from some men she has helped.

"They live in secret," Grace said. "They tell me it's psychologically helpful for them just to come and talk to me."

She sometimes stands in front of the store as a lookout while a man tries on shoes. She is planning invitation-only sales events where she'll cover the windows for privacy.

The window has been a telltale for the store, too. Grace still works as a sales rep for a carpet company, so the store is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. She said that on Wednesdays, when she comes in, she can see nose and hand prints from where the curious eagerly tried to see exactly what was inside.

While the business has been a learning experience, one thing she got right was the name. Colleagues told her women might find it too blunt and offensive, but she said customers appreciate the directness.

"They're adults," she said. "They know they have big feet."

Paul Swider can be reached at or (727) 892-2271.

Fast facts

Big Foot
5610 Fourth St. N
St. Petersburg, FL
(727) 525-3300

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Help Wanted: Sellout Tranny

This is part of a brilliant post on Vanessa Edwards Foster's Trans Political blog called Want Ads: Looking For Mr. or Ms. Goodbar

Help Wanted: Transgender Political Insider, No Experience Necessary - Will Train!

Need individual with a smiling face and a Can-Do Attitude! Personal Ambition a serious plus! Must take directions well. Must be able to learn public relations marketing from a gay and lesbian perspective (Marketing experience a huge plus)

Must like the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Gay and Lesbian Equality. Must possess ability and willingness to both raise funds or to be able to attract leads for fundraising for HRC. Can easily substitute a great personal story (author of an autobiography or esp. high-profile job loss, lawsuit or hate crime victim) for fundraising skills.

To be filled: Immediately.

Very competitive salary commensurate with other transgender activist salaries, plus perks! We are an EEOC employer. Only transgendered applicants, preferably white, docile and above-average income need apply.


Yes, the above is a satirical take on what's actually happening right now. HRC is in desperate need of superficially plastering over the era of discontent in Transgender, and subsequently adjacent portions of the GLB community. They can't be without a throw-down tranny to upkeep the façade of plausible deniability.

Merry Christmas, Y'all

To my family, friends and loyal TransGriot readers, Merry Christmas!

Enjoy one of my fave Christmas songs by Alexander O'Neal, Remember Why (It's Christmas)

May your dinner come out perfectly, you get most of what you want under the tree, don't forget the reason for the season and have a happy, healthy, mostly stress-free and prosperous New Year.

Oh yeah, only 314 more days to Election Day!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Media Exposure...Or Lack Thereof

Media exposure is something we African-Americans know about all too well. We've been hit with the negative end of it far too often during our 400 years on American shores or deafening silence when it comes to our positive attributes.

That's true of the transgender community as well. It's one of the reasons I was a co-host on an FM radio show back in my hometown from 1999-2001, started my blog two years ago and up until September wrote a monthly column for almost 4 years in a local GLBT newspaper.

While there are more than a few transgender podcasts and Internet radio shows, the only radio shows I've gotten to do on a regular basis is Ethan St Pierre's and Becky Juro's once. Kat Rose and I have been trying to synchronize our schedules so that I can appear on hers as well.

After I did Becky's show back in May (and the topic was on racism, BTW), I read the comments on her blog about it later. I had one detractor who flat out wrote they couldn't stand me because in their words, 'I acted like I spoke for the entire African-American transgender community.'


One of the reasons it seems as though I 'speak for the African-American transgender community' is because representatives of the African-American transgender community don't appear on these shows often enough.

I'm one of the peeps (along with Dawn Wilson) who's a proud African-American transperson not only willing to be on the air speaking for the community, but has the media background, the education and the experience to not only articulately represent my African-American community but the transgender one as a whole.

But one of the problems is that when these media opportunities come up, rarely are African-Americans chosen to be the spokespeople for the community at large. We saw that over and over again this year with Larry King and other mainstream talk shows. Only Tyra Banks featured African-American transpeople on her transgender-oriented shows this year.

So when we do get that rare media op, we have it in the back of our minds that we have ground to make up. We make sure that we are on point with our facts, are knowledgeable, get some points in about our experiences as African-American transpeople, and cover as much ground as possible in the time we have slotted for us on the various transgender oriented shows. We also want to make sure we don't have a Sherri Shepherd moment on these shows as well.

The point is whether you want to admit it or not, there are TWO Americas. Black and White Americans look at the same issues through different prisms. The same is true of Black and White Transgender America as well.

But since some white transpeeps disagree mightily with what I have to say, I have to wonder sometimes if there is a conscious effort afloat to keep me (and Dawn) at arms length from those media opportunities until they can find a more pliable Condoleezza Rice clone to give 'the African-American transgender viewpoint' in a more palatable version to white ears.

My views are not the ONLY African-American transgender ones. If you spent time on my TSTB list you'd discover I have people calling me out on a list I founded. I'm not the first or only African-American transperson that's been interviewed by a newspaper reporter or had a mic or TV camera stuck in their face. I've just been more willing to speak on the record when the camera starts taping or the tape recorder starts rolling.

My point is that the transgender community is NOT a monolithic one. Transgender people come in a variety of flavors and shades as well. If you are serious about getting transpeople included in any civil rights bill in 2009, that message has to be relentlessly hammered home in 2008 by a rainbow of transgender people.

The only faces that Mr. and Ms. America see of transpeople can no longer be just white ones.

STRAP To Philippine Supreme Court: We Understand

TransGriot Note: This is the official statement of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) in regards to a recent adverse Philippine Supreme Court decision in regards to name and document changes. It also drives home the point I make (and will continue to make) that transgender rights and recognition of our human right to live our lives are a worldwide struggle.

Official statement of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines regarding the decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines

Filipina transsexual group to Supreme Court: We understand

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP) understands why the Supreme Court of the Philippines denied the petition for a change of first name and sex of Ms. Mely Silverio, a landmark decision penned by Associate Justice Renato Corona, promulgated on the 22nd of October 2007.

In one way or another, we are all ignorant. Since omniscience is not a human quality, the decisions and choices that we make in life, no matter how we claim to be rational and intelligent, are always limited by the information that we have, the quality of the information, and by our capacity to process and interpret them. Moreover, our biases, prejudices, and emotional commitment to our long-cherished beliefs affect the manner we reach our conclusion. This is unavoidable for basking in the bliss of perpetual ignorance is very comfortable. Just like any decision, this one, without doubt, suffers from it. We understand for STRAP is also ignorant.

STRAP is ignorant of how the justice system in the Philippines really works or whether it is working at all.

STRAP is ignorant of whether or not the freedom of expression enshrined in our constitution includes gender expression.

STRAP is ignorant of the wisdom behind this decision that leaves us with the unnecessary suffering and inconvenience brought by the “M” on our birth certificates until Philippine Congress finally decide that we deserve to live a dignified, joyful, and self-fulfilling existence, just like every human being.

STRAP is ignorant of why our Supreme Court cannot be like the Supreme Court of South Korea, which decided in 2006 to allow transsexual people to change their sex on their birth certificates. Justice Kim, commenting on their decision, said that their decision “is the best choice to alleviate the suffering of transsexual people at a time when any tangible legislative measures to protect their rights is most likely a long time coming.”

But we are not comfortable in our ignorance for we know that there are a lot of countries whose legal systems allow our legal identity to reflect, even without sex reassignment surgery, the gender we actually live rather than the gender declared by the doctors upon our birth. Of course, these countries have access to the latest information regarding the reality behind the category of sex. Information that, undoubtedly, the Supreme Court of the Philippines failed to take into consideration. Perhaps the Supreme Court simply has no access to them. We understand.

However, access to information does not always guarantee wisdom. Without compassion, understanding, and the humility to accept that you are ignorant, wisdom is impossible. Perhaps our country’s institutions have not yet reached the same stage and level of compassion and understanding that other countries have towards people like us. We understand.

We are among the daughters and citizens of this country. We are humbly reclaiming the right to define our gender identity. Our male name is not the name that we use every day. The male on our birth certificates is not the life we live every day. The legal identity that we carry is a lie because that is not who we really are. We want the gender that we actually live, present and declare every day be the one reflected on our birth certificates and not what the doctors declared upon our birth.

We are not asking for the stars, just our real life to be reflected on our legal papers. When will we be understood? We hope that Philippine Congress is listening, compassionately.

In loving kindness,
The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines

E :

Leona Lo Seeks Education Meeting With Club

Transsexual Author Seeks To Educate Club That Asked Her To Leave
By Sylvia Tan
November 13, 2007

A well known Singaporean transsexual author and speaker, who was asked to leave a club early Saturday morning, hopes to turn the incident into an opportunity to educate the club’s bouncers and management about gender diversity.

Leona Lo, the author of the first transsexual autobiography to be published in Singapore, was asked to leave a bar known as The Pump Room after being told that it did not welcome “lady boys.”

Leona Lo, author of From Leonard to Leona, the first transsexual autobiography to be published in Singapore. The author of From Leonard to Leona said she was approached by a bouncer while she was dancing at the Clarke Quay nightspot with her friends early Saturday morning.

In an email to the media over the weekend, Lo said that despite trying to explain that she is a transsexual author raising awareness of transsexual issues in Singapore, the supervisor whom the bouncer summoned reiterated that the club did not welcome "lady boys."

Feeling "enraged at being called a lady boy and being discriminated against," she had refused to show the bouncer her ID although it states female as her gender.

“Sorry, this not my policy, this the bar's policy. Our clients don't like. You not happy please leave.” Lo quoted the supervisor as saying.

When contacted by Fridae, Bill Graham, a director of The Pump Room, said in an email that the club is still “trying to patch together a picture of exactly what happened that night” as their security staff are largely part-timers especially on weekends.

He added that the club has “no policy excluding any groups whatsoever excepting those who are below our recommended age limit, are in breach of our very reasonable dress code, or people who are behaving inappropriately or have done so in the past.”

The British-educated 32-year-old, who runs her own public relations consultancy, told Fridae that she is not "looking for an apology - but the opportunity to conduct an hour-long lecture on gender diversity for the bouncers and their management.”

“In the States, when there are acts of discrimination, people are sometimes sentenced to community service. In this instance, I will undertake the 'community service' myself.”

When asked why she had alerted the media to her experience, she explained: “If this could happen to me, it's probably happening to lots of transsexuals on a regular basis. In the past, transsexuals used to live under the sword of fear, and no one stood up for them.”

“I feel it's my duty to stand up to the bullies - and that's what they are, bullies. Bullies try to strike fear in the hearts of the more socially vulnerable. But in so doing, they also reveal themselves to be cowards.”

“I hope to promote understanding and compassion among Singaporeans for those they perceive to be ‘different.’ I believe in promoting awareness through peaceful methods. Awareness has already been raised in Today and Shin Min (a Chinese-language daily), so I'm happy with this."

Both Lo and the management of the Pump Room have said that they will be in touch to seek a resolution to the matter.

Since 1996, Singapore has recognised the right of transsexuals to marry in their reassigned sex.

The Christmas Assembly

Every time I hear the song Angels We Have Heard On High during the holidays, I start chuckling to myself and my mind drifts back to a Christmas assembly during my junior year of high school.

It was a JJ tradition to have the band and choir perform a Christmas concert just before we departed the school for winter break. The Mattel electronic football games were the ultra hot toy at the time and some of my friends already had them. Although I didn't know it at the time, I'd be getting one of my own in a few days. Mine was wrapped under the tree along with the Mattel electronic basketball for my brother. (We failed to find the hiding place in the house for our Christmas gifts that year)

My high school served breakfast in the morning, so we congregated inside the cafeteria before school started, especially during the winter months. (yes, Houston has winter weather)

That morning I'd been playing a game with James McCulloch. He was beating me badly before the opening school bell put a premature end to the electronic butt whipping he was administering.

That assembly happened after we got out of homeroom around second period, so as we were filing into the school auditorium we bumped into each other and grabbed seats together in the back.

The concert was turning out to be a long one, so James whips out his game and challenges me to play. He thought he was going to repeat the butt kicking he administered earlier that morning, but I had a new trick for him and decided to play ball control instead of the aggressive pass-happy style I normally employed.

The game makes loud noises when you score either a touchdown or a field goal and a double beep noise at the end of the half or the game. So in order to not be detected and have the game confiscated we used the cover of the concert to play.

We start playing, this is a tight game and so far so good. We're being careful to make sure that much of our game playing coincides with either the choir or band performances. The band is playing loud enough during their segments where no one more than five rows away from us suspects what we're up to. We're also benefitting from the fact that the auditorium is dark except for the stage lights and the couple sitting next to us is more concerned about kissing each other (no mistletoe required) rather than being annoyed about our titanic electronic football battle.

It's in the fourth quarter of the game and we're tied. I decide to try to eat up the entire quarter while scoring the touchdown that would win the game for me. So as I'm concentrating on the game the choir starts singing Angels We Have Heard On High.

I'm so focused on killing the clock and timing my drive so that I score with no time left that I'm not noticing that Mr. Addison (the then choir director) is directing the choir to sing the song softly at a low volume. Just as the choir gets to the 'Gloria' part of the song, I score and the double beep sound reverberates over the entire auditorium.

I look up and see our principal Mr. Pace and the assistant principals Mr. Henry and Ms. Broussard craning their necks from the front row along with several teachers trying to ascertain where the noise came from. They'd confiscated a bunch of them over the last two months and knew exactly what that sound was. They also knew at that moment some electronic shenanigans were going on somewhere in the auditorium. I see to my horror Mr. Henry get up from his seat with a not too pleasant expression on his face to begin his search and confiscate mission.

Fortunately for us when I scored the game was over. I quickly handed James his game with a satisfied smirk on my face as he put it away in his jacket pocket before Mr. Henry reached our section of the auditorium a few moments later. We were also fortunate we weren't ratted out by our fellow Falcons, otherwise we would have been spending a few minutes in the Principal's office.

But hey, I beat him. And James, if you're reading this, if you still have that game I hereby challenge you to a rematch at our reunion in 2010.

Sfiso Returns Home

Zulu Boy Returns As Drag-Queen Diva

from the SA Times
Johannesburg, South Africa
by Biénne Huisman
Published: Dec 22, 2007

Talented Sfiso is back in SA, all sass and style.

Sfiso was a starry- eyed Zulu boy from a humble township home when he left for London seven years ago.

This week he returned to South Africa as a glamorous drag queen — adorned in lipstick and long lashes.

The youngster has been recording tracks with British producers including Kwame Kwaten, who has worked with international stars like Jay Z and Mick Jagger.

Sfiso, whose name means “wish” in Zulu, has come a long way since being raised in a traditional family in the sugar-producing town of Mtubatuba, in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The once bashful lad has met Madonna, now addresses people as “honey” and prefers to be referred to as a “she”.

Sfiso performed in front of thousands of revellers at British gay and lesbian events in London and Manchester earlier this year.

She also took to the stage at the Mother City Queer Project (MCQP) bash in Cape Town last night and is determined to captivate local audiences with her single Diva and a cover version of Dontcha by the Pussycat Dolls.

The Sunday Times met the doe-eyed diva at a guesthouse in Cape Town.

She spoke of mingling with the rich and famous in London, but said she regularly visited her home in South Africa.

“I was so shocked to meet Madonna! I couldn’t say much more than: ‘Hello, how do you do? Your work is great,’” she recalled. “But it was really special to meet Janet Jackson, I mean I grew up listening to her music. She liked my jacket and asked if she could have it, and I said: ‘No, not really.’”

Sfiso cared for elderly people and worked as a boutique stylist to help foot her bills abroad while working her way up in the industry.

The willowy beauty sat bolt upright during the interview, occasionally sweeping long strands of hair from her forehead with a pink-tipped finger.

“The message in Diva is to be proud of yourself. To make the most of your life, no matter what colour, race or gender you are,” she said.

“I don’t like to be categorised and think of myself as genderless. I haven’t had an operation or anything; basically I view myself as a drag artist.

“I’ve had some encounters but never a steady boyfriend... I’m open to meeting someone.”

Even as a young boy, Sfiso was flamboyant and scoffed at the unfashionable clothes sold in Mtubatuba’s stores. The youngster’s biggest wish was to bask in the glitz and glamour he associated with Europe. After matriculating at Empangeni High School in 1999, his wish came true when his mother helped him to buy a plane ticket to London.

Two days after arriving in the city he befriended Kwame and obtained a ticket to the premiere of Madonna’s film The Next Big Thing.

Kwame recalled Sfiso as a bashful youngster.

“Sfiso was different then; he was a very slight man and very unsure of who he was. But he was very kind, as she is today,” he said .

“I watched him transform into this magical person over the years in England. I then watched English audiences go crazy for her... a true success story.”

MCQP events manager, Rick Mahne, described the songbird as a “sexy, sexy little queen who sings beautifully”.

Sfiso spoke about being gay to her family for the first time while visiting last year.

“It was really tough, I cried and cried,” she recalled. “My mother was understanding, she was like: be who you are. But it was harder with my father. I left it to my mother to speak to him.”

Sfiso describes her family as grounded and loving.

But she was hesitant to elaborate on her parents and two siblings. “I would prefer to keep my family private. Please respect that. This is all new, and perhaps even a shock to them.”

She will spend Christmas at home in Mtubatuba before promoting her two singles around the country.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Tale of Two Classmates

I've thought about running for public office from time to time. That was true when I lived back home and I entertain thoughts of running for office here from time to time as well.

One of my dreams that I put on hold to transition was possibly serving on Houston's City Council. That's on indefinite hold unless I move back home and reestablish my residency in the next few years or I run for an open seat up here in Da Ville.

In the meantime, life moves on and I got a reminder as I perused and checked the election results that happened December 8. My mom also triggered this post as we talked about the latest happenings in H-town during a recent phone conversation and discussed her soror who now sits on the HISD school board.

The runoff elections saw two of my former classmates in races for Houston city council seats. It's not the first time I've seen my classmates run for office. My high school class president Tom Zakes ran in the mid 80's for a an at-large city council seat but lost.

In the 2007 election cycle (Houston council terms are for two year terms and you are limited to six years total per the city charter) my UH classmate and attorney Jolanda Jones was in an at large runoff seat race with Joe Trevino. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing her personally but we happened to be on campus at the same time. She was a star track athlete while I was there.

My fellow Falcon classmate Lawrence Allen Jr. was in a runoff battle with Wanda Adams for the District D seat. It's my home city council district and the one I wanted to sit in someday. It's also the one I'd been contemplating running for along with the District F one in southwest Houston I resided in. His mother is TX state Rep. Alma Allen, who represents my old Texas House district since she took out 16 year incumbent Ron Wilson in 2005. (another seat I had contemplated running for as well)

While Jolanda won her Position 5 seat by a two to one margin, 15,564 votes to 7,941 Lawrence wasn't so lucky. Wanda Adams got 58 percent of the vote to win District D, which covers not only my old south side Crestmont Plaza neighborhood, but Third Ward and the Montrose areas as well. So we're still waiting for a Falcon to end up on city council.

It was one of the things I was thinking about when I was a little down last week. My relocation rearranged a lot of long-range plans I had for my life and I'm struggling to deal with it. I'm also angry that it was triggered by GOP peeps who hated me as an out and proud transperson so much they jacked with my job.

The bottom line is that the deed's been done, it's over and there's not much I can do about it now. I have to move on, make lemonade out of this lemon situation, and get over the bitterness I have about it.

Even if it's taking me a little longer to readjust and make real the dreams I had for myself back home, I get my satisfaction on those who perpetrated the injustice on me by motivating myself to be as successful as I can with the remainder of the time I'm being granted by God to live my life. If that calls for the Phenomenal Transwoman to serve as a elected official, pass legislation by lobbying them, organize the transgender community, mentor young transwomen to make those moves in their lives to be successful regardless of the odds or speak truth to power, then that's all good too.

Whatever plans God has in store for me, I just have to be ready and prepared to do my part to successfully execute them.

Oh yeah, back to your regularly scheduled post. Better luck next time, Lawrence and congratulations Jolanda. Hope you have a sucessful run as a councilmember. Maybe we'll have the pleasure of seeing you as the first sistah mayor of Houston.

Houston Christmas Scenes

TransGriot Note: Thanks to my hometown paper and its photographers, I can go home for a minute and experience Christmas Houston style. Just because we don't get snow but once ever ten years and a white Christmas (last one in 2004) happens about as frequently as a brilliant George W. Bush speech doesn't mean the Christmas spirit is lacking.

A Houston Christmas tradition benefitting the Downtown YMCA, the Jingle Bell Run. Participants dress in holiday costumes for it.

Various Christmas light scenes around town.