Friday, February 29, 2008

Hillary Losing Black Superdelegates

I posted an article from BlackAmericaWeb.com on this back on February 18 about the intense pressure on African-American superdelegates who committed early for Sen. Hilary Clinton to follow the will of their constituents and support Sen. Barack Obama.

Rep. David Scott (D-GA) did so after the Georgia primary. Just a few days ago Sen. Clinton lost a big one when civil rights warrior Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) announced he was going to listen to his constituents, who voted 3-1 in favor of Sen. Obama and cast his Denver convention vote in support of him.

In my home state a similar dynamic is happening. Texas state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who has served in the Texas Legislature for 34 years and is chairwoman of the Texas Black Legislative Caucus has announced she is swiching her support to Sen. Obama.

I've had the pleasure of meeting her since she represents a northeast Houston district. While she isn't as well known as Rep. John Lewis, her voice carries weight in the Lege. The effect inside Texas is equivalent to Hillary's loss of Rep. Lewis on a national scale. She's also a candidate to become Speaker of the Texas House to replace the odious Tom Craddick should the Dems get the five seats they need to regain control of the Texas House this November.

The actual election day is March 4, but early voting has been going on since Febraury 18 in record breaking numbers and will conclude today. Sen. Obama according to recent polls has surged to a seven point lead in my home state and is attracting crowds numbering in the thousands at his rallies there.

Sen. Clinton has a major problem right now that's only going to get worse if Sen. Obama sweeps all four primaries being contested on March 4.

February 29


Today is a day that you only see on the calendar every four years.

The reason for it is because the Earth takes 365 days and 6 hours to make one trip arounbd the sun. After four of those trips the six hours part of the solar year accrues into an extra day, so in order to keep our calendars as accurate as possible we add the extra day to it, and that traditionally occurs in February.

Here's a small sample of the historical events that took place on February 29.

1692 – First accusations began during the Salem witch trials. The trials occurred in Massachusetts, where more than 150 people were arrested and at least 25 people died by hanging, torture or during their prison stay.

1848 – Neufchatel declares the independence of Switzerland.

1940 – Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American actress to win an Oscar. She won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind. The movie won eight Oscars.

1944 – The invasion of the Admiralty Islands began as General Douglas MacArthur led US forces in "Operation Brewer". Troops surged onto Los Negros, following a month of Allied advances in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

1952 – The first “Walk/Don't Walk” signs were installed in New York City.

1956 - U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announces to the nation that he is running for a second term.

1964 – Australian swimmer Dawn Fraser set her 36th world record. She was timed at 58.9 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle in Sydney, Australia. She was the first female swimmer to win gold medals in three consecutive Olympic Games (1956, 1960 and 1964).

1972 – The Carpenters received a gold record for the hit single Hurting Each Other. The Carpenters were made up of siblings Karen and Richard. They were some of the best-selling music artists of the 1970s. Karen unfortunately died in 1983 at the age of 32 due to complications from recoving from anorexia.

1972 - Hank Aaron becomes the first player in the history of Major League Baseball to sign a $200,000 contract.

1988 - South African archbishop Desmond Tutu is arrested along with 100 clergymen during a five-day anti-apartheid demonstration in Cape Town

1996 - Novelist Joan Collins awarded $1 million USD from Random House for breach of contract.

1996 - A Peruvian Boeing 737 crashes in the Andes, killing 123 people.

2000 - Six year old Dedrick Owens shoots and kills Kayla Rolland, also six years old, at Theo J. Buell Elementary School in Mount Morris Township, Michigan.

2004 - Jean-Bertrand Aristide resigns as President of Haiti following popular rebel uprising.

There are some folks who are getting the chance to celebrate their birthdays today. People born on this day are sometimes called leaplings and in non leap years they can either celebrate it either on February 28 or March 1.

People who were born on February 29 include:

1468 – Pope Paul III (d. 1549)
1792 – Gioacchino Rossini, Italian composer (William Tell, The Barber of Seville) (d. 1868)
1896 – Morarji Desai, former Indian prime minister (d. 1995)
1916 – Dinah Shore, American singer (d. 1994)
1924 – Al Rosen, American baseball player
1924 – Carlos Humberto Romero, former president of El Salvador
1936 - Jack Lousma, astronaut
1936 - Henri Richard, Canadian hockey player
1952 - Bart Stupak, American politician
1960 – Richard Ramirez, American serial killer
1960 – Anthony (Tony) Robbins, American motivational speaker
1964 – Lyndon Byers, Canadian hockey player
1968 - Chucky Brown, American basketball player
1968 - Bryce Paup, American football player
1972 - Saul Williams, American rapper, poet, and actor
1972 - Pedro Zamora, Cuban-born American AIDS activist (d. 1994)
1972 – Antonio Sab├áto Jr, Italian-born actor
1976 – Ja Rule, American rapper and actor
1980 – Chris Conley, American musician and songwriter/composer
1980 - Ruben Plaza, Spanish cyclist
1984 - Cam Ward, Canadian ice hockey player
1984 - Darren Ambrose, English footballer
1984 - Adam Sinclair, Indian Hockey player
1988 - Scott Golbourne, English footballer


My niece's original due date was supposed to be February 29, 2000. My sis whined and complained during her entire pregnancy that she didn't want her daughter to be born on a leap year day. She kept saying she hated the thought that her child would only have an actual birthday party every four years as I kept admonishing her to be careful what you wish for.

To help her see the upside of a February 29 birthday, I cracked the joke that when my niece turned 40 she would enjoy saying with a straight face that she was only 10 years old, but that didn't placate Latoya.

Well, my sis got her wish. My niece was born a month premature on January 20, so every four years Chanty's birthday is overshadowed by a presidential inauguration.

I hope my niece get to witness a historic inauguration for her 9th birthday. ;)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm Pissed Off

TransGriot Note: This is one I posted on Bilerico this morning that I need to share with you loyal TransGriot readers as well.

I'm not a happy camper this morning. A little after midnight EST I received a long distance phone call from a dear friend, who proceeded to shock me by revealing how despondent she was over some accumulated negativity in her life.

Then after getting approximately two hours of sleep and praying for a successful resolution to her problems, I check my e-mail this morning and get confirmation that Gabrielle Pickett was killed in June 2003.

This is on top of the reports I'm getting about the New York HRC dinner protest that Joe Solmonese is alleged to have admitted during his speech that they planned to cut transgender people out of ENDA all along.

So this morning I'm in a foul mood, and I have to get over it.

But that's gonna be tough. This accumulation of events over the last few hours has restoked my dormant anger at being cut out of ENDA. I have been increasingly hearing more and more distressing reports of transgender people who have lost hope thanks to Barney's and Joe's ENDA BS. Some are taking their lives or contemplating it as a result of their despondency over this situation.

We have had an explosion of jurisdictions since September 2007 either cutting us out of proposed policy changes such as the Jefferson County Public School Board's gay-only expansion of JCPS anti-discrimination policy here in Da Ville, or attempting to cut us out of legislation like the opposition tried to do in Scottsdale, AZ, Montgomery County MD, and Fort Lauderdale. They attempted to use the negative precedent that Barney Frank set as an excuse to deny transgender people our constitutional rights.

Fortunately for us those attempts failed and those protections passed in all three locales (unanimously in the case of Montgomery County, MD). The Fairness Campaign wasn't able to reverse what happened in Jefferson County, KY despite having an inclusive law on the books for almost a decade, and the policy squeaked by on a 4-3 vote without us. Two JCPS board members reluctantly voted for it, and were not happy that transgender people weren't included.

I'm even more upset that the Forces of Intolerance in the Montgomery County, MD battle are using the Barney Frank crafted 'showers argument' as cover for their bigotry. These so called 'christians' have lied, cheated and obsfucated their way into collecting enough signatures in their attempt to force an election to overturn the new law and deny their fellow transgender citizens civil rights coverage.

Barney Frank has the nerve to get indignant when he gets rightfully called out by Matt Foreman and others for being the Grinch Who Stole Civil Rights. Joe Solmonese is getting huffy along with his alleged civil rights organization because they are justifiably taking heat for their decade long morally bankrupt position opposing transgender inclusion in ENDA.

And while these two (and other anti-transgender gay exclusionists) gloat over their no prize winning hollow ENDA victory and try to justify their actions with the bogus 'incremental progress' lie, my people die.

They are dying either by their own hand or at the hands of the haters out there who took your actions as a signal that it's open season on transgender people. I shudder to think about how many names we'll be memorializing during this year's Transgender Day Of Remembrance events this November. One thing I can say with certainty is that a disproportionate number of those names we read later this year will be African-American and Latina.

The way I and some transgender people see it, every transgender person since September 2007 who violently dies or loses a shot at gainful employment because of your reprehensible actions, their blood is on your hands.

I hope that Joe, Barney and everyone who donates money to HRC can live with that.

Gabrielle's Gone

TransGriot readers,
if you've been perusing the blog lately you know that ever since I was sent the YouTube link to the Jenny Jones show interview with the Pickett twins, I've been wondering what happened to Gabrielle.

Today I'm sad to report that I received an e-mail from my homegirl Alexis. In that e-mail, she mentions that according to Gwen Smith, who chronicles the deaths of transpeople through her Remembering our Dead website and maintains a blog, Gabrielle was murdered in June 2003.

As I get further details, I will pass them on to you.

Monday, February 25, 2008

GenderTalk Interview with Gabrielle Pickett

Thanks to Nancy Nangeroni, the May 7, 1997 GenderTalk radio interview that was done with Gabrielle Pickett in the wake of the 'not guilty' verdict of her twin sister's murderer is now available from the GenderTalk archives for your listening pleasure.

I had the pleasure of hanging out with Nancy in Philly when her radio broadcast partner Gordene MacKenzie was part of my 2006 Trinity Award class along with Chicago's Miranda Stevens-Miller.

Nancy has also made available on her blog a previously written 1997 account by her of the events surrounding the Chanelle Pickett murder. It's interesting reading as a time capsule of those events and includes some details not published elsewhere.

There is also a rumor circulating in the transgender community that Gabrielle has subsequently met the same fate as her twin sister. Once again, if anyone has seen her or is in contact with Gabrielle, please tell her to either contact me, someone in the Boston area or anyone in the community and let us know she's alive. If you have information that the rumors are true, then let someone know what her ultimate fate was.

It also speaks to what I said when I wrote about Marti finding the YouTube video of the Pickett twins 1990's Jenny Jones interview. We don't have to, nor should we wait until November to remember our sisters and brothers who have died at the hands of others due to anti-transgender violence.

Michelle, I Feel Ya

The conservatives have their panties in a knot because Michelle Obama was quoted as saying during a recent campaign appearance that this is the first time in her adult life she's been proud of this country. They're also whining about the fact that Senator Obama allegedly doesn't put an American flag lapel on his coat.

If that's the best shade you GOPers can throw, and I know you're capable of doing much worse, then I should be preparing for a historic trip to Washington DC next January 20 to see the first African-American president be inaugurated.

My feelings for this country echo a line from the HBO movie The Tuskegee Airmen.

How do I feel about my country, and how does my country feel about me?

It's hard to love a country that enslaved your ancestors for two and a half centuries, spent another 100 years terrorizing them, lynching them and denying them basic opportunities, refuses to apologize and pay reparations for their crimes, and has one party that bases its ability to win elections on how much Hateraid they can stir up against African-Americans. It's a testament to the strength and inner fortitude of my people that we've survived and thrived despite all the negativity that's been thrown at us.

Patriotism is not the armchair variety as espoused by conservatives. Just because they put American flag pins on the lapels of their suits, put American flag decals on their SUV's, cars and pickup trucks doesn't mean they love this country any more than someone who doesn't. The conservative movement's actions over the last 40 years are those of people who clearly don't love or have respect for the constitution or our country.

I must point out that despite all the bullshit that this country has taken my people through, African-Americans have fought in every war this country has waged from the Revolutionary War to the misguided adventure in Iraq. That's more than I can say for my people's draft and combat dodging critics.

Our innovative creativity and intelligence has enriched this country, shaped its culture and advanced its scientific knowledge, technical and engineering prowess.

Patriotism is not blind obedience to the status quo and never criticizing the president as conservative pundits would have you believe. It's praising your country when it does the right thing and calling it out when it does things that even though they may be legal, are morally and ethically wrong.

The United States is held to a higher standard of behavior on the world stage. Frankly, we have slipped from that high standard thanks to the idiots we have in charge that stole two elections to stay in power for the last seven years.

The conservative vision for America, the mean-spirited, hate thy neighbor, I got mine and screw the rest of y'all one is not the kind of America I and the vast majority of people want to live in.

I'm proud of my country when it lives up to the high moral standards, fair play and ideals of justice and equality it espouses. I'm proud of my country when government power is used to help the least among us, not corporations and the 'have mores'. I'm proud of my country when it helps people around the world get back on their feet after a natural disaster strikes. I'm proud of my country when it uses its moral leadership judiciously to wage peace. I'm proud of my country when it bears in mind that we need to leave an America (and a world) that's better than the one we found.

Those moments where my country lives up to its lofty ideals have been few and far between in my life, and we've definitely been devoid of those moments under GOP rule.

As a patriot, I'm going to criticize it until 'errbody' has a fair shot at the American Dream, and not just a limited slice of the white male population. I want to be a drum major for justice like Dr. King was. I want transgender people included in the 'We The People' preamble to the constitution and not have people think it's okay to put my civil rights up to a vote or repeal them because of false interpretations of Biblical teachings. I'm going to support candidates for political office and like minded Americans who feel the same way.

And frankly, I just want to be proud of my country again.

"These Republicans Will Self-Destruct in 10 Seconds...."


Guest Post By Vanessa Edwards Foster
Trans Political


“In the attic, lies.
Voices scream.
Nothing’s seen.
Real’s a dream.” — Toys In The Attic, Aerosmith


Is it just me, or does the Republican Party seem to be doing everything possible to self-destruct right before everyone’s eyes? Sex scandals, crossdressing judges, financial improprieties, lobbyist influences, dissension amongst their ranks, duplicity and a seeming obliviousness to reality all seem to be the mode of the day in what’s become the legacy of the so-called Reagan Revolution.

This week saw (of all things) innuendo of possible extra-marital relations from presidential front-runner John McCain with (of all people) a lead lobbyist for the telecommunications industry. Apparently this was based upon speculation … but it was speculation by his own senate and former campaign staff – not from Democratic Party insiders.

Could it be the revenge of the conservatives – the Coulter, Limbaugh & Dobson wing of the party? It’s certainly possible. Currently the party and the McCain campaign are trying to deflect the spotlight and force it to the New York Times who broke the story. Unsurprisingly there’s been nothing but outrage coming in concert from the entire GOP party ranks (though I can’t help but think there’s a vengeful smirk on the faces of some of those McCain-haters in hardcore conservative-land).

But before you rush to judge the New York Times for putting the hater-ade on McCain, keep in mind that this is the same New York Times who also endorsed McCain as the best candidate for president over even home-state girl, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Yes the timing of this seems suspicious and the automatic presumption that it was a liberal sneak-attack may well be overlooking obvious saboteurs from within. As I write, it appears there may be some cracks in McCain’s solid denials as other publications such as Newsweek are inspecting this closer.

Beyond the top-level it seems the hits just keep on coming in sanctimonious GOPperville. Arizona Rep. Rick Renzi is now charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering from a land deal he pushed in his congressional committee for a business partner and other which netted him $733,000 at a time his insurance business was strapped for cash. He allegedly worked to conceal the transaction as well, failing to disclose it on that year’s financial disclosure statement. I’m sure the excuse will be “mere oversight … it’s hard to keep track of all these insignificant amounts of money….”

But there’s more! Renzi was also charged with insurance fraud and embezzling from the trust account of Patriot Insurance Agency, his family-owned business in his home district. It seems he raided the business cookie jar and left nothing but crumbs in order to fund his successful election to Congress in the Bush/Cheney coattail elections in 2000. Shades of Tom “the Hammerhead” Delay – or as he’s more commonly known in Texas: BugBoy. DeLay did the same thing by timing his entry to Congress on the Reagan coattails and did so by bankrupting his former exterminating business (slogan: “DDT is healthy!”) to finance his successful ascent to U.S. Congress. Oh – and he left his former partners holding the bag. At least Renzi tried to go back and help his former bagmen. Too bad it’s going to backfire on them.

Then there’s the ongoing saga Idaho Sen. Larry Craig in what was a busy news month (thankfully allowing very little press attention for the senator!) The Senate Ethics Committee gave ol’ Sen. Larry a soft slap-down (admonished, not censured) for his indiscretion. True-to-form he’s going down swinging, saying he was “disappointed” and that he “strongly disagree[s] with the conclusions reached” by the committee. Sen. Larry feels he got the shaft. But hey, he at least had use of a couple-hundred grand from his campaign fund to help him fight to overturn his initial guilty plea! Yep, life’s so unfair to the senate’s top toilet tapdancer.

“I will tell you that the Senate certainly can bring about a censure reslution and it's a slap on the wrist. It's a, "Bad boy, Bill Clinton. You're a naughty boy." The American people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy, a naughty boy. I'm going to speak out for the citizens of my state, who in the majority think that Bill Clinton is probably even a nasty, bad, naughty boy.” — Sen. Larry Craig, remarking on Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions with Monica Lewinsky.

Not to be outqueered, there was a Bush appointee to the federal bankruptcy court bench, Robert Somma. It seems the good judge was arrested on a driving-while-intoxicated charge after a minor rear-ender (not the queer part, this was the vehicular variety) in neighboring New Hampshire. It seems Judge Somma was pulled over following a visit to a gay bar while in heels, fishnet hose and a black evening gown.

For Judge Somma, I feel sorry: he hasn’t made a career of being a red-meat, mouth-frothing social conservative – it’s more a guilty by party affiliation situation. Of course that party affiliation will cease immediately now that he’s been found to be trans while driving drunk. DWI by itself is assailable, heterosexual adultery (a la Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana) is excusable in family-values conservative-land. But being undeniably queer? Kiss of death.

It’s not necessarily the press’ fault this time. The conservative papers in New Hampshire only mentioned the drunk driving and had nothing about Somma’s dress – oddly a rather progressive take on it considering it was his DWI arrest that should’ve been the the highlight, not crossdressing. Expectedly, the bloggers – progressive and conservative alike – picked up on the crossdressing part. Now it’s all about the judge’s “perversions” of being caught in drag. On the liberal blogs it’s expected considering this was conservative Bush’s pick and considering the in-your-face conservative hypocrisy displayed this millennium. But conservative blogs? Gotta admire that Good-Ol’-Party loyalty a la Schrock and Foley….

“And does it matter who is right or wrong?
I look for something before I go insane.” — I Feel Insane, Daisy Chainsaw


On the topic of perversion, moving down to the state level there’s also the case of Republican State Delegate (State Rep) Robert McKee from Hagerstown MD. It appears that Delegate McKee recently resigned his longtime delegate seat after authorities obtained a search warrant and seized his computers and files. It appears the delegate, sponsor of bills on child abduction and protecting children from sexual predators had child pornography on his computer.

Even more troubling was the resume outside of politics from the family values Republican: Washington County Foster Care Review Board, 1989-95; Western Maryland Children's Center Advisory Board, 2005-Executive Director, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Washington County, Little League of Halfway, Inc., 1980-85, Secretary, Parent and Child Center Advisory Committee, 1985-88, Staff, Maryland District I Little League, 1986-. Chair, Maryland State Association of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Agencies, 1986-. Vice-President, Hagerstown Junior Basketball League as well as a member in good stead of First Christian Church in Hagerstown. McKee called the incident “deeply embarrassing” and added that, “it reflects poorly on my service to the community.” You reckon?

Want something local? Here in Harris County / Houston, Texas we’ve got our own red-meat conservative in deep doo-doo. It seems our District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal got into trouble for Email indiscretions (including shared racial cartoons and videos), then after his communications were subpoenaed, he committed obstruction of justice by deleting the evidence. His initial Email trail exposed little love notes to his administrative assistant: things like “every time I fly I think of you” and “I bet I could help you sleep” and “I want to kiss you behind your ear.” When it was just those claims, he attempted to put on the innocent face, claiming it wasn’t what people were thinking they were. Then came the racially-biased cartoons and shared videos depicting African Americans that came to light with much more heat. This from our county, which sentences more people to death row than any other county in the nation in a state that executes more convicts than any other in the nation – the overwhelming majority are minority with African-Americans comprising the highest individual number.

So what does our top legal beagle in the county do when the state’s closing in and orders him to turn over all communication transcripts? Why, what any other good law-and-order Republican would do: delete the Emails. If the White House can do it, why can’t he … right? Meanwhile one of the instant candidates (someone deep in the closet, no less) who swarmed in from the GOP side like vultures on a fresh carcass began the call for Rosenthal to step aside “for the good of the party.” Yeah. Someone’s wearing their ambition a bit too prominently on their sleeve, it seems. And who better to elect than another closeted Republican, eh? Bush redux, or Schrock or Foley or Craig et. al.

Finally, DA Rosenthal resigned this week, claiming his decision-making was clouded due to his prescription drugs. And, oh yeah – the dog ate his homework too. Certainly it makes you wonder about this obscured judgment from the top legal authority in the county that he would even attempt the claim (not to mention all the convictions now lying in the balance considering this impairment). But maybe there’s some merit to this claim (implausible as it seems). On the Bennett & Bennett.com blog noting Rosenthal’s departure and claims about prescription drugs, Mark Bennett notes that Rosenthal’s prescribing physician was Dr. Sam Siegler … husband of Kelly Siegler … assistant prosecutor in the DA’s office and one of the loudest voices calling for Rosenthal’s resignation and herself one of those instant candidates filing for Rosenthal’s seat in the 24-period between the Rosenthal scandal hitting the air and the deadline to make the upcoming primary elections. This is the kind of intrigue and curious maneuvering you typically only see in soap operas.

“Although I have enjoyed excellent medical and pharmacological treatment, I have come to learn that the particular combination of drugs prescribed for me in the past has caused some impairment in my judgment.” — Harris County District Attorney, Chuck Rosenthal

Think this kind of backroom strategizing doesn’t occur in real life? Just tonight I watched as 60 minutes broke the story on former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, a democrat, being apparently railroaded and convicted on bribery charges and sentenced to seven years last summer. It appears that Siegelman was specifically targeted being the only democrat as governor of the bank of states in the Deep South. This rubbed the Bush Administration raw, and none other than master-of-chaos Karl Rove began a search to have someone find a way to frame the governor (for lack of a better word). Currently 52 current and former state attorneys general of both parties – conservative and liberal alike – have called for a congressional investigation into what they feel was a blatant miscarriage of justice. Apparently the entire scheme was plotted to keep Alabama’s governor a Republican. And apparently they can concoct such a plot, find the devotees to carry the case to fruition and lock someone up merely for a political agenda.

This was ordered from the White House administration!

“Leaving the things that are real behind.
Leaving the things that you love from mind.
All of the things you learned from fears.
Nothing is left for the years ….
Toys! Toys! Toys … in the attic!” — Toys In The Attic, Aerosmith


Yes, this Grand Old Party has shown its rotten core from the top to the bottom. Think the GOPpers are slinking away? From presidential frontrunner McCain, it was damn the torpedoes and blast away at Obama, calling the senator’s campaign “an eloquent but empty call for change.” At the local level, I watched nine of the ten GOP candidates running for Tom DeLay’s old seat, all of whom were completely making no bones about their desire to retake his seat and America with a return to “true conservative values,” as candidate Patricia Dunbar put it. All of the assembled on this morning’s local were trying mightily to out-froth-at-the-mouth the others candidates, and in fact the debate was great for a few great belly laughs (which I may write about later). These GOP folk are so clueless they may as well be from another galaxy!

Who needs the “call for change” when, as McCain would infer, we’re doing just great with the past eight years of conservative reign? And they think transgenders are crazy?

“I'm getting (fucking) older but still I'm hanging on.
The world gets weirder – or maybe I'm insane.” — I Feel Insane, Daisy Chainsaw

"There is a fine line between genius and insanity. I have erased this line." — TV personality, Oscar Levant

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Many Blacks Worry About Obama's Safety


By DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer
Fri Feb 22, 5:18 PM ET

NEW YORK - For many black Americans, it's a conversation they find hard to avoid, revisiting old fears in the light of bright new hopes.

They watch with wonder as Barack Obama moves ever closer to becoming America's first black president. And they ask themselves, their family, their friends: Is he at risk? Will he be safe?

There is, of course, no sure answer. But interviews with blacks across the country, prominent and otherwise, suggest that lingering worries are outweighed by enthusiasm and determination.

"You can't have lived through the civil rights movement and know something about the history of African-Americans in this country and not be a little concerned," said Edna Medford, a history professor at Washington's Howard University.

"But African-Americans are more concerned that Obama get the opportunity to do the best he can," she added. "And if he wins, most of us believe the country would do for him what it would do for any president, that he will be as well protected as any of them."

Clyde Barrett, 66, a longtime U.S. Labor Department employee now retired in Tampa, Fla., says he often hears expressions of concern for Obama's safety. One young acquaintance, Barrett said, declared he wouldn't even vote for Obama for fear of exposing him to more danger.

"To me that's a cop-out, where you can't take a stand and support someone because you fear for his safety," Barrett said. "I don't have any apprehension ... We've got to go ahead and persevere."

For many older blacks, the barometer for gauging hopes and fears is the 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

But concern about Obama's safety transcends racial lines. He has white supporters who see him as an inspiring, youthful advocate of change in the mold of Robert F. Kennedy, and they are mindful of Kennedy's assassination just two months after King's.

Pam Hart, the principal of a multiracial elementary school in the Philadelphia suburb of Cheltenham, said she is struck by the contrast between some of the black students there, innocently excited about Obama's candidacy, and the more anxious perspective of older people who lived through the violence of the 1960s.

"My 70-year-old aunt — every time I call her, she says she's really afraid Obama is going to be assassinated. She is so worried that history will repeat itself," said Hart, who is 40. "I understand why she's afraid, but I feel we live in a different world now."

Bruce Gordon, a New York-based business leader and former president of the NAACP, also feels the climate has changed dramatically — as evidenced by the strong nationwide support that Obama is receiving from whites as well as blacks.

Gordon felt differently back in the mid-1990s, when Gen. Colin Powell was weighing a run for the presidency, and Powell's wife, Alma, was among those voicing concern about his safety.

"When Powell decided not to run, I said to myself, 'Good,' because I thought someone would kill him," Gordon recalled. "This time, I think that if, out of fear, we keep our most talented people from running for office, it will never happen.

"Yes, there's a risk, but I would never want it to be in the way," Gordon added. "In running, Barack Obama has to accept the fact that he faces a risk. And yes, we pray for him."

Obama received Secret Service protection last May — the earliest ever for any presidential candidate. At the time, federal officials said they were not aware of any direct threats to Obama, but Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin — who was among those recommending the Secret Service deployment — acknowledged receiving information, some with racial overtones, that made him concerned for Obama's safety.

Obama's campaign, invited this week to comment on the concerns felt by many blacks, referred to a speech given by the candidate's wife, Michelle, to a mostly black audience in South Carolina last fall.

"I know people care about Barack and our family. I know people want to protect us and themselves from disappointment," she said, before urging people to cast fear aside.

"If you're willing to heed Coretta Scott King's words and not be afraid of the future ... there's no challenge we can't overcome," she said.

Obama himself, while acknowledging that his family and friends are concerned about his safety, has drawn a contrast with King.

"He didn't have Secret Service protection," Obama told TV host Tavis Smiley last fall. "I can't even comprehend the degree of courage that was required, and look what he did."

Sherry Miles, 45, of Madison Heights, Va., said she's had sobering talks about Obama's safety with her friends and her mother.

"People who want to bring drastic change bring a certain fear among those who don't want change," Miles said. "You look back at our history, and all of the people who tried to bring about change were killed or threatened."

Miles, who works for Virginia's Department of Mental Health, said she was troubled listening to a recent local radio show in which one female caller termed Obama "the devil" and falsely asserted that he was Muslim.

"It's ill-informed people like her who concern me," Miles said. "I'm very pleased that Obama is there, doing so well. But at the same time I'm fearful someone will try to hurt him."

Bryan Monroe, Chicago-based editorial director for Ebony magazine, said the risk faced by Obama "is in the back of people's minds," but that their worries are often superseded by excitement that he could win. Their No. 1 question, Monroe says, "is could this really happen in our lifetime?"

Yvonne Scruggs-Leftwich, a former executive director of the Black Leadership Forum, noted that political leaders of any race face risks in a society where mass shootings and other violence by aggrieved or deranged assailants is all too common.

It is troubling, she said, to acknowledge such dangers at the very moment when Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton are demonstrating the historic opportunities available to blacks and women.

"We cannot be crippled by fear. That's the overwhelming emotion in the African-American community," Scruggs-Leftwich said. "We have to do the American thing: We buckle up and keep going."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hate Crimes Laws-Needed and Necessary

One of the things that irritates me is when somebody on the GLBT side of the equation (usually white) starts making these BS arguments that hate crimes laws aren't needed, are a waste of time or they start echoing the 'all crimes are hate crimes' conservaargument.

Hate crimes are any crime that is committed with an intent, either intentionally or unintentionally to send an intimidating message to a minority group. Under hate crimes laws when these crimes occur, they are given enhanced criminal penalties.

I'll give you an example of one that my late Grandmother Tama told me about that happened back when she was a little girl growing up in then rural Fort Bend County.

There was a wealthy African-American who sponsored a countywide Juneteenth picnic. One year he got tired of being gouged and disrespected while purchasing supplies at the local general store in Rosenberg, TX for the event. He decided to drive up the road to Houston, spend the money with Black owned businesses and get the picnic supplies he needed there.

The white males who owned the general store were incensed when they found out and decided they would teach the uppity n----r a lesson. They rolled up on the packed picnic site along with a few friends guns drawn, found the picnic host, and in front of horrified onlookers he was severely beaten for his 'crime' of looking for courteous service and a better deal.

I noted that while my grandmother was telling me this story, despite the fact this happened when she was nine years old and she was now in her seventies, she was angrily crying.

That's one reason why hate crimes need more enhanced punishments. Hate crimes are not just simple murders or beatdowns administered to someone. They have an effect on people far beyond the local site where they are committed and as my grandmother demonstrated, in some cases they affect people beyond the time period that the crimes were originally committed as well.

The Emmitt Till lynching in August 1955 had repercussions far beyond the borders of Mississippi where it happened and in Chicago where Till was buried. It basically jump started the Civil Rights movement.

The September 15, 1963 16th Street Church bombing in Birmingham that killed Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and injured 22 other parishioners was such a crime. It was designed to intimidate not only the citizens of that city but have an effect beyond the borders of Alabama.

When the June 7, 1998 James Byrd dragging death happened in Jasper, TX his murder reverberated not only in the nearby Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange Golden Triangle area, it had repercussions in Houston, Dallas and with every African-American in eastern Texas.

I pointed this out when I lobbied my home state senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson last year in support of the Matthew Shepard bill. When her aide tried to use that 'all crimes are hate crimes' and 'murder is murder' spin line, I calmly pointed out to her that if Sen. Hutchinson truly felt that way, why did her boss attend the James Byrd funeral?

I get peturbed when I hear the words 'Philadelphia, Mississippi' because of what happened to the civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner there in 1964. It's a major component among other reasons of why I can't stand Ronald Reagan's racist behind. (Reagan kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign there)

Why do you think African-Americans go off whenever we see a hangman's noose or a Klan hood? It's because too many times back in the day they killed people and committed crimes that were designed to intimidate our community. That is what the kids in Jena, LA saw when those nooses in school colors were hanging from that tree.

The transgender community knows all too well what African-Americans have experienced. When Gwen Araujo was brutally murdered five years ago, the crime affected transpeople (and still is) in the Bay Area. There have been murders of transgender people in which their bodies were not only stabbed multiple times far beyond the point needed to kill someone, but sexually mutilated as well. The gay community has gotten a taste of what we've experienced with Matthew Shepard's killing.

So when I hear somebody say that hate crimes legislation won't help, or you're penalizing people's thoughts, that's bull. There are just certain crimes, like the ones I just highlighted in this post, that cry out for a punishment that goes beyond the penalties laid out for it or a mere slap on the wrist.

Hate crimes laws are not a waste of time, they are needed and necessary.

Monday, February 18, 2008

There's No Place Like Home: A History of House Ball Culture

TransGriot Note: I was going to write something on TransGriot about the drag balls for Black History Month, but who would know better than someone who participates in the ballroom community? Doctoral candidate, writer and scholar Frank Leon Roberts definitely would. (not sure if we're related, in case you're wondering) Check out his site at canwebefrank.com

By Frank Leon Roberts, June 6, 2007
WireTap Magazine

Even 16 years after the documentary Paris Is Burning shed light on New York City's gay underground house ball scene, misconceptions linger about the scene's past, present and future.

Jennifer Livingston's misleading 1991 documentary Paris Is Burning brought the underground world of black queer "houses" and "balls" to the attention of the mainstream public, yet the film left much to be desired in terms of understanding how these social networks have transformed the culture of black gay New York in innumerable ways.

Almost 20 years after Livingston began shooting footage for Paris, and perhaps as a result of the stereotypes the film presented, the house ball community continues to be grossly misunderstood and stigmatized by the masses of black people, both gay and straight. In a moment when being unapologetically black and gay has dangerous consequences, house ball culture continues to provide a viable space for a new generation of "ball kids," which has created a subculture that has redefined notions of family, masculinity, friendship and, of course, what it is means to be a diva.


Where did it all begin?

The history and legacy of the Harlem drag balls Numerous historians and cultural commentators have traced the origins of today's house ball scene to the notorious culture of Harlem drag balls in 1920s and 1930s New York. Between roughly 1919 and 1935, an artistic movement that would come to be known as the "Harlem Renaissance" transformed the culture of uptown Manhattan not only as a result of its establishing new trends in black literature, music and politics but also for its scandalous night life and party culture.

The Harlem drag balls -- usually held at venues such as the Rockland Palace on 155th street or later the Elks Lodge on 139th -- were initially organized by white gay men but featured multiracial audiences and participants. The annual pageants became a sort of who's who of Harlem's black literary elite: Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen and Richard Bruce Nugent were all frequent attendees. Moreover, white photographers and socialites, such as the infamous Carl Van Vechten (author of the scandalous 1926 novel Nigger Heaven), were also in attendance.

The mixed racial dynamics of these early drag balls reflected the interracial nature of the Harlem Renaissance in general: African-American artists looked to wealthy white investors for patronage, while white spectators flocked to "hip" Harlem spaces as sources of trend-setting and exotic "negro" spectacle. The drag balls thus became a space where newly migrated African-Americans from the south and "liberal" Northern whites could imagine themselves as mavericks, as radicals pushing the norms of a then highly racially segregated U.S. culture. The lavish, carnivalesque drag balls became spaces where racial taboos were broken through sexual and gender nonconformity. The events soon evolved from grand costume parties to outright gay beauty pageants with participants competing in a variety of categories, many of which still bear resemblance to the categories of today's house ball scene (such as "Face").


However, not surprisingly, the early drag balls were plagued by an imbalance of racial power. Black performers, though allowed to participate in and attend the events, were rarely winners at the balls and often felt restricted in their ability to fully participate in the scene. Soon the black queens looked for opportunities to create a sociocultural world that was truly all their own.

An exclusively black drag ball circuit in New York City began to form around the 1960s; almost three decades after the first "girls" started to compete at the earlier drag events. However the cultural and political landscape of Harlem, specifically the neighborhoods' earlier carefree "acceptance" of drag culture, had changed drastically.

Due to the growing popularity of 1960s black nationalist rhetoric (with its rigid restrictions on how "real" black men should express themselves), the balls became a more dangerous pastime pleasure. The balls began to be held as early as 3, 4 or 5 a.m. -- a tradition that continues to this day -- in order to make it safer for participants to travel the streets of Harlem safely with high heels and feathers when "trade" had gone to sleep. The early morning start times also made renting out halls cheaper, and ensured that "the working girls" (i.e., transsexuals who made their money as late-night sex workers) would also be able to make the function.

As the drag ball circuit continued to grow even in spite of a growing hostility towards queer black cultural practices in New York City, the time had come to create specific infrastructures that could help organize the balls as well as mobilize the friendships and familial alliances that were being formed between and among participants. The world of Harlem drag balls was about to transform itself once again.


From ballroom scene to house ball: moving from drag circuits to house networks

There has been a tendency among academics -- especially in the work of gay historians such as George Chauncey and Eric Garber -- to conflate the history of the drag balls with the history of the gay houses. While the "balls" can be traced back to the elaborate drag pageants of 1930s Harlem, it is important to keep in mind that the "houses" themselves were a new phenomenon that emerged in the specific socioeconomic and political contexts of 1970s and 1980s post-industrial New York. These contexts included a spiraling decline of the city's welfare and social services net, early gentrification of urban neighborhoods through private redevelopment, decreases in funding for group homes and other social services targeting homeless youth, a sharp rise in unemployment rates among black and Latino men, and a virtual absence of funding during the Reagan era for persons newly displaced and/or homeless as result of HIV/AIDS. All of these conditions forced blacks and gays (and especially black gays) onto the streets in unprecedented numbers.

Houses became alternative kinship networks that selected a "mother" and "father" as their leaders ("parents" could be of any gender) and "children" as their general membership body. The "houses" were a literal re-creation of "homes," in the sense that these groups became real-life families for individuals that might have been exiled from their birth homes. However, contrary to popular belief, many early "house" kids were still deeply connected to their biological families but still sought the unique protection, care and love the street houses provided.

Between 1970 and 1980 at least eight major houses formed in Harlem: the House of Labeija (an African-American vernacular redeployment of the Spanish word for "beauty"), the House of Corey, the House of Wong, the House of Dupree, the House of Christian, the House of Princess and the House of Pendavis.

Just as hip hop -- with its emphasis on street crews and other forms of black male fraternal bonding -- emerged in roughly the same era as an artistic response to some of the political and economic conditions plaguing black men in New York, the houses became underground social networks by and for urban black gay people. By 1980 three houses emerged straight out of Brooklyn: the House of Omni, the House of Ebony, and the House of Chanel.

These houses were composed of mostly men, many of whom preferred masculine aesthetics over drag. The creation of houses transformed the drag circuit forever as newer populations, some of which would have never been attracted to drag balls, entered into the community. A rich taxonomy of gender personas and identities flooded in: thugged-out hustlers who were "new" to gay culture, butch lesbians with erotic attachments to gay men, bootleg black designers and fashionistas eager to put their garments "to test" in a new, urban scene.


The term "drag" now meant something much richer than only men who cross-dressed as women. Drag was now a metaphor for everyday life -- everyone was in some way or another performing a specific identity, regardless of whether or not cross-dressing was involved. In attempt to make sense of this growing array of gender performance, ball kids adopted a complicated language system that accounted for the different types of identities they noticed in the community: "Butch Queens" was a term used to describe any biologically born male that presented himself of as male, "Butch Queens Up in Drag" on the other hand came to signify gay men who dressed in drag specifically for the balls, but still lived his everyday life as a man.

"Femme Queens" were preoperative male to female transsexuals, often known for their alluring beauty and uncanny "realness." "Butches" was a term used to describe either aggressive lesbian women or female-to-male transsexuals. The term "woman" was only reserved for either heterosexual, biologically born women or feminine lesbians that did not identify with the "butch" title. Finally "trade" was meant to describe men whose sexuality might have been in question even if their masculinity was not. This language system for describing gender in the house ball scene exists to this day.

By the end of the 1980s, the balls were no longer the single most important element of the culture, as the houses provided a new life outside of the balls. The drag ball scene had now become the "house ball scene," with hundreds of individuals belonging to "houses" even if they did not participate in the drag events.


How hip-hop changed house ball culture

By the mid-'90s, long after Paris Is Burning had come and gone, house ball culture continued to evolve, while still remaining true to its history as a form of cultural expression by and for working-class African-American and Latina/o queer people from urban inner cities. Though the scene started in New York City, by 1996 there were sizable house ball communities in the roughest sections of Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles as well as in parts of North Carolina and South Carolina. In each of the cities, balls kids adopted and incorporated other, more local forms to make the culture regionally specific and relevant. This was the case with Atlanta's house ball scene, which borrowed from local black styles like "J-Setting," and Los Angeles, which even incorporated "krumpin" into the culture.

Across all the regions one thing was clear, though: whereas house music and dance culture served as the soundtrack and political landscape of the '80s scene, by the mid-'90s the influence of hip-hop on house ball culture was transformative.

Hip-hop was much more than a musical style -- it was a movement. As a renaissance of sorts (albeit highly manufactured), hip-hop influenced and popularized certain notions of black masculinity and gender relations that found their way into the house ball scene.

Categories at the balls such as "Thug Realness," "Urban Streetwear," "Bangee Realness" and "Foot and Eyewear" were all indebted to hip-hop culture's emphasis on bling bling aesthetics, aggressive black masculinities, in your face black style, baby mama drama and other racialized forms of expression. Many "voguers" in the community started looking for gigs as choreographers for hip-hop artists, as was the case with legends such as Andre Mizrahi of Atlanta and Pony Blahnik of New York City. "Voguing" transformed from the Willi Ninja-esque, "pose" heavy style (mis)appropriated by Madonna, to more a fluid, acrobatic dance which now looked like a sort of new black gay break dance.

Moreover, because of the scene's deeply underground nature, and also because of the creation of categories like "best dressed man," "masculine face" and "realness," the house ball community provided a new space for discrete working-class men of color (men on "the D.L.") to feel comfortable participating in an openly SGL culture without necessarily outright identifying as gay. The incorporation of hip-hop into the scene broadened the full spectrum of gender performances that ball society became home to.


House ball culture today

Today's house ball scene features over 100 active "houses" in more than 13 cities across the country. In New York City alone there are at least 30 houses with memberships of a dozen or more: Aphrodite, Allure, Milan, Blahnik, Balenciaga, Mizrahi, Miyake-Mugler, Chanel, Infiniti, Revlon, Evisu, Prodigy, Latex, Xtravaganza, Ninja, Prada, St. Clair, Jourdan, Khan, La Perla, Labeija, Escada, Pendavis, Cavalli, Karan, Ebony, Omni, Tsnumani, Angel and Icon. While every individual ball can often have dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of specific criteria, all of the categories are still organized around six major concepts: realness, face, sex and body, runway, performance and fashion.

Many outsiders misinterpret the house ball scene's fascination with things like labels and fashion as a simplistic envying of white consumer culture. However, in actuality, a closer look at the sociocultural context of the balls shows that this is really not the case. The categories themselves are not nearly as important as the competition, kinship and relationships that are formed by and through the preparation for the events and the effects of gaining "status" within the community.

Also, house ball culture is rooted in a rich tradition of African-American cultural practices that privilege inversion, code switching and signifyin'. Thus, unlike hip-hop culture, the emphasis on bling bling and acting like a "white woman" is actually more of an ironic mockery and critique of these values more so than a straight-forward embracing.

In a moment when the culture of black gay life in New York has been reduced to an endless parade of "hot boy" parties, "sup niggah" salutations and lukewarm political "activism," the creation of spaces where new modes of black masculinity, kinship and love can thrive is particularly inventive. House ball culture, with its rich and complicated history as an alternative site of black "community," moves us forward to time and place where black queer people can imagine new ways of making home -- and identity itself -- from scratch.

------

Frank Leon Roberts is a 24-year-old public intellectual, cultural critic and doctoral candidate at NYU. Find his work at BrooklynBoyBlues.

Fallen Sisters

As a blogger whose emphasis is focusing on the issues of transgender people of African descent, sometimes my fellow transgender bloggers will send me interesting stuff they run across.

Marti Abernathey sent me this link yesterday afternoon to a new post on her Transadvocate blog.

The accompanying YouTube video that goes with it is of an early 1990's appearance of African-American transgender twins on the Jenny Jones show.



The twins in this clip were none other than Chanelle and Gabrielle Pickett.

If that name sound familiar to you, it should. It's the same Chanelle Pickett who was brutally murdered in Boston back in November 1995 by William Palmer and only got a two year probated sentence for it.

I've been concerned for some time about Gabrielle Pickett. I don't know if she's still alive or how she's doing, but I'd definitely like to know along with the peeps in Transsistahs-Transbrothas. If anyone has any information in that regard or is in regular contact with her, please have her contact me.

We don't (and shouldn't) have to wait until November to remember our fallen sisters that were tragically taken from us. It should be something we do on a regular basis.

Sick-Ohh

If you've visited the blog over the last few days, you probably noticed I haven't been my usual prolific self in posting to TransGriot lately.

Here in Da Ville we've had a nasty flu strain that has been hitting people hard around town and unfortunately I caught it around Tuesday while at work. I had a 100 degree fever coupled with body aches, chills, congestion, a sore throat and an annoying cough that kept me miserable and bedridden for a few days.

Thanks to my mom and grandmother Lou Ella I inherited their amazing immune systems so I rarely get sick. When I do it usually takes something like this flu strain to waylay me, and I'm an unhappy, cranky camper when it does.

I muddled through work for the next two days and spent Friday and most of Saturday morning crashed in the bed. I got up to run a few errands and grab a copy of Why Did I Get Married? since I was feeling 60% better by that afternoon.

I was feeling well enough after drinking enough orange juice and Dawn's family recipe hot toddy over the last few days to get up and spend most of Sunday being part of the Fairness Campaign's community conversation with its potential new director.

I think this thing has finally run its course, but I'm going to bury it in Vitamin C over this week just to make sure.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Black Superdelegates Reconsider Backing Clinton


Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis says he'll vote for Obama as a superdelegate

By JEFF ZELENY and PATRICK HEALY
New York Times
Feb. 14, 2008, 11:54PM

MILWAUKEE, WIS. — Rep. John Lewis, an elder statesman from the civil rights era and one of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's most prominent black supporters, said on Thursday night that he planned to cast his vote as a superdelegate for Sen. Barack Obama in hopes of preventing a fight at the Democratic convention.

"In recent days, there is a sense of movement and a sense of spirit," said Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who endorsed Clinton last fall. "Something is happening in America and people are prepared and ready to make that great leap."

Lewis carries great influence among other members of Congress. His comments came as fresh signs emerged that Clinton's support was beginning to erode from some other black lawmakers who also serve as superdelegates. Rep. David Scott of Georgia, who was among the first to defect, said he would not go against the will of voters in his district, who overwhelmingly supported Obama last week.

The developments came on a day in which Clinton set out anew to prove that the fight for the Democratic nomination was far from over. Campaigning in Ohio, she pursued a new strategy of biting attack lines against Obama, while adopting a newly populist tone as she courted blue-collar voters.

Clinton also intensified her efforts in Wisconsin, which holds its primary on Tuesday and where she and Obama now have the first dueling negative television advertisements of the campaign. In the ads, Clinton taunted Obama for refusing to debate her in Wisconsin.

Yet even as the Democratic rivals looked ahead to the primaries in Wisconsin, Ohio and Texas, Lewis said he and other prominent black party leaders had been moved by Obama's recent victories and his ability to transcend racial and geographic lines.

Though Lewis had praise for Clinton and for her historic candidacy, he said he would decide within days whether to formally endorse Obama. He also said he and other lawmakers would meet in the coming days to decide how they intended to weigh into the nominating fight.

"If I can be used as a mediator, a negotiator or a peacemaker, I'd be happy to step in," Lewis said. "I don't want to see Mrs. Clinton damaged or Mr. Obama damaged."

Jay Carson, a spokesman for Clinton, said on Thursday: "Congressman Lewis is a true American hero and we have the utmost respect for him and understand the great pressure he faced."

The comments by Lewis underscored a growing sentiment among some of the party's black leaders that they should not stand in the way of Obama's historic quest for the nomination and should not go against the will of their constituents. As superdelegates, they may have the final say, which is something Lewis said he feared would weaken Democrats and raise Republicans' chances of winning.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Letter To The Ladies Who Loved My 'Twin'


Dear Ladies,
Today finds me in introspective mode thinking about all of you, wondering how your lives are progressing and if you eventually found someone to share your lives with.

I know that some of you considered me for that role in my pretransition life. You were attracted to some of the qualities, the intelligence and values that make me the person I am and wanted to get to know me on another level.

And yeah, some of you thought I was handsome, too.

As some of you may (or may not) know I transitioned back in 1994. One of the major reasons I finally made that move besides the internal gender conflicts I'd been battling for years became intolerable, was the fact that I was starting to get major hints from several of you, your friends, and even your parents in some cases that considered my 'twin' marriage material.

While I have no doubts about whether I could have made any of you happy had a relationship progressed to that level, I'd reached a point in which I couldn't stomach being a 'guy' one more second. The way I saw it at the time, there was no point in me getting into a relationship in which the final outcome would be you or both of us getting hurt. I definitely didn't want to bring a child into this situation either. I know all too well how cruel other kids can be when it comes to someone that has a situation that isn't perceived as 'normal'.

That's why I pushed many of you away, or seemed noncommittal about taking our friendships to the next level or in some cases even getting intimate with some of you despite raging testosterone.

Yeah, I know that sounds selfish. Maybe I should have explained where my head was at during that time. But how could I explain something that I didn't quite have a grasp on myself, much less was in severe denial about?

But that's neither here or there. The bottom line is that I should have let y'all determine whether my 'twin' was worthy of your time, your body and your love. Because I didn't give you that opportunity, I apologize to all of you.

I do have to thank those of you ladies who cut my 'twin' loose when I was trying to play 'boy'. I didn't want to admit it at the time, but I'm thankful that some of y'all were point blank honest with me.

Some of you told me that being with my 'twin' was like being with one of your girlfriends. Others of you commented about it in less than complimentary ways that deeply hurt my feelings. Some of you just simply sensed the confusion and inner turmoil I was going through and simply let me go.

In the end, those of you who loved me enough to be real with me were right. I had to transition sooner or later to be the best person I could be. What several of you said almost unanimously and in your own ways after you discovered I'd transitioned was right on target. I was never a guy, I only played one for public consumption.

Thanks for loving me enough to help me see that, and Happy Valentine's Day to all of you.


Love always,
Monica