Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The State of The Trinity/Virginia Prince Awards

One of the things I was looking for news wise out of last month's IFGE Conference in Tucson and I look forward to hearing about when an IFGE Conference convenes is who won the Trinity and Virginia Prince Awards.

I didn't find out about the Class of 2008 recipients until after the IFGE conference was over, and only because there was some controversy about Cheryl Ann Costa's acceptance speech remarks.

But my question to the IFGE board is this: If the Trinity and the Virginia Prince are considered the highest honors our community give someone for meritorious service to it, isn't that a newsworthy event we should be shouting from the rooftops?

I was set to write Bilerico and TransGriot blog posts publicizing the award winners. But I can't do that if I don't know who won them in a timely fashion.

I'm also concerned that as a 2006 Trinity winner, I have not had any input or been asked to join whatever committee oversees that process. The fact that we've only had three African-American winners of this award, with none of them African-American transmen speaks volumes as to why I'm concerned about the lack of input. You can't tell me that there aren't people of color who are doing yeoman's work for the transgender community that don't deserve at least some consideration for the Trinity or the Virginia Prince.

Now if the Trinity and Virginia Prince are supposed to be our community's highest award, then I submit that one group of people who definitely need to be in the loop on either choosing them or suggesting worthy candidates for these awards is former Trinity/Virginia Prince winners.

I would also suggest that they automatically get that right for life once they win either award. If we wish to increase the diversity of the winners of this award, it might help to have the only three African-American winners on that panel and other people of color as well.

We also need to do a better job publicizing the award. For example, the NAACP Image Awards get major television exposure, so do the GLAAD Awards. If we're going to dispel the myths our opponents throw at us we need to seize every opportunity for positive publicity or that paints our community in a positive light.

What could be more positive and uplifting than to have your community's heroes and heroines get the publicity they deserve as they win these awards? It doesn't
necessarily have to be a TV awards show, but most definitely a press release and a television camera or a newspaper photographer needed to be on hand trumpeting the awards.

This was a positive news opportunity that was missed, and we definitely needed it in light of the negativity flowing from conservative pundits and fundies concerning the recent Thomas Beattie story, the continuing negative attacks we get from our 'frenemy' Barney Frank, other anti-inclusionary ENDA GLB peeps, and elsewhere from other transgender haters.

While I'm making the case as a Trinity winner for better handling and promotion of this community's signature award, I'm also sounding a warning as well. One of the reasons the NAACP Image Awards were created was because of the lack of diversity in mainstream awards shows. Don't think that transpeople of color haven't noted and aren't happy about the lack of diversity when it comes to choosing these awards. You may find yourself one day looking at an African-American, Asian-Pacific Islander or Latino/Latina version of the Trinity if things don't expeditiously improve diversity wise.

We really can't afford as a community any more to be fumbling positive news ops if we wish to make federal transgender rights coverage in our lifetimes a reality.


Cass said...

I agree with everything in here 100%. I don't know what it is, to be honest, because Trans people come from so many different backgrounds and educations that something like putting on a top-notch award show and ensuring proper media coverage shouldn't be a problem.

I'm hardly an expert or even decently experienced, but I know how to get media to show up and write something about an event. It isn't that hard. Part of the problem probably lies in a great deal of low expectations within the community. I think we have plenty of folks who EXPECT the haters to hunt us all down, so we don't want to get too out there. It's a paranoia derived as a survival tactic adapted to larger social movement; so many of us live in constant fear and that carries over to some of our organizations. We need to make sure anyone who tries to step up to move things in organizations are the kinds of folks willing to step out as well and not just do things, but demand those things get recognized and respected.

As well, I totally agree with what you said on the nomination and selection process. Personally, I'm saddened to see transmen of color excluded; I want to hear what they have to say, because Lord knows there's plenty to be said about the state of masculinity.

As well, I think it's perfectly reasonable to include past recipients in the process. It's baffling to not even have you all excluded even from hearing things, let alone from having any voice in the process. How DO they choose who makes the nominations and selections?

SeaMonica said...

I am on the IFGE board. The awards process is in a state of flux at this time, and if you had asked any of the people on the board, including Denise, they would have provided you the information you wanted.

I'm not saying that what you are saying here is wrong, because it is right. I also agree with you on the need for your input on the awards. But, how about asking someone how you can be included rather than getting upset that you are not included. I didn't know until you said something in a very public manner.

The Virginia Prince Award no longer exists. Had you asked, we would have told you this. We cannot read minds, nor can you. So, do you want to talk so we can fix all of this?

Monica Roberts said...

I'm getting a little tired of people hurling that 'angry Black woman' bull just because I do what I always do, loudly question what's up when it comes to the transgender community's tortoise-paced efforts at diversifying this community.

Now that I've gooten that off my chest, as a member if the IFGE board, SeaMonica, will the suggestions I posted here be taken up at the next IFGE board meeting, and if the board likes them, will they be implemented as expeditiosly as possible?

SeaMonica said...

Please remember, I'm the last person you should accused of any racist comments. I'm color blind, remember? Most of my co-workers are African Americans, as is my supervisor. I live in Atlanta and your are my friend, so "Grasshopper" has learned well.

Now that I got that off of my chest, yes, I will be making the board very much aware of your concerns here, long before our next meeting. You'll be hearing from me. Rest assure.

Monica Roberts said...

I said I was getting tired of people hurliny the 'angry B;ack woman' bull at me. You extrapolated that to mean that I was calling you racist, which was not the case. I'm already aware of who some of the racists are in the transgender communty, and you ain't part of that clique.

Now moving on to the issue that I was talking about, the Trinity and Virginia Prince awards and their lack of visibility and diversity.

I'm glad that IFGE is aware of the problem and will address it.

SeaMonica said...

Thank you for your explination. You can always come to me if you have any issues that I can help with, as I know I can always come to you.

You are correct in that we need to make a big deal of the Trinity Awards and if we create a replacement for the Virgina Prince, that too. Your help in this area will be greatly appreciated.