Monday, March 31, 2008

No Joke...Condi Remembers She's Black

The interesting thing about Negro conservatives is that every now and then, when an issue comes up that Black America is commenting on that is strongly at variance with prevailing conservative opinion or spin, every now and then they shock us by being down with the rest of us. They'll occasionally make comments that leave us wondering if they took a look in the mirror that morning.

Such a moment happened last Thursday when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has never been a favorite of mine (I have more respect and love for her cousin Constance Rice) was asked about the Rev. Wright controversy during a wide ranging March 28 Washington Times interview.

Believe it or not Condi had this to say to the editors of the conservative Washington Times:

"The United States still has trouble dealing with race because of a national "birth defect" that denied black Americans the opportunities given to whites at the country's very founding."

"Black Americans were a founding population. Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together — Europeans by choice and Africans in chains. That's not a very pretty reality of our founding."

"As a result, descendants of slaves did not get much of a head start, and I think you continue to see some of the effects of that."

"That particular birth defect makes it hard for us to confront it, hard for us to talk about it, and hard for us to realize that it has continuing relevance for who we are today."

Rice continued on to say that "America doesn't have an easy time dealing with race, and added that members of her family have "endured terrible humiliations."

"What I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn't love and have faith in them —and that's our legacy," she said.
Well, well, well. Did she finally remember that she was born in Bomingham, oops Birmingham, AL and lost a classmate in the Klan orchestrated 16th Street Baptist Church bombing?

Whatever prompted her to make these comments, for once I'll have to give her some credit for honestly saying what's so freaking obvious: Rev. Wright spoke the truth about America's race problems.

It's interesting to note, however that the hysterical foaming mouth high-tech witch hunt that has continued to dog Rev. Wright has not darkened Condi's door (pardon the pun) except in Freeperland. The Freepers are in full throated racist rant mode and have turned on her like rabid dogs. I also note that the media has been strangely silent about this save for CNN discussing these comments on Friday's The Situation Room.

As I have said ad nauseum over the years, the color line predates the founding of this country and infects everything and every aspect of our society. Until we forcefully deal with it, America's original sin of slavery and racims will continue to rear its ugly head.

This post also can be found at the Bilerico Project

Tim Wise Schoolin' Peeps

Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama and the Unacceptability of Truth
Of National Lies and Racial America

March 18, 2008
This essay originally appeared in Lip.

For most white folks, indignation just doesn't wear well. Once affected or conjured up, it reminds one of a pudgy man, wearing a tie that may well have fit him when he was fifty pounds lighter, but which now cuts off somewhere above his navel and makes him look like an idiot.

Indignation doesn't work for most whites, because having remained sanguine about, silent during, indeed often supportive of so much injustice over the years in this country--the theft of native land and genocide of indigenous persons, and the enslavement of Africans being only two of the best examples--we are just a bit late to get into the game of moral rectitude. And once we enter it, our efforts at righteousness tend to fail the test of sincerity.

But here we are, in 2008, fuming at the words of Pastor Jeremiah Wright, of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago--occasionally Barack Obama's pastor, and the man whom Obama credits with having brought him to Christianity--for merely reminding us of those evils about which we have remained so quiet, so dismissive, so unconcerned. It is not the crime that bothers us, but the remembrance of it, the unwillingness to let it go--these last words being the first ones uttered by most whites it seems whenever anyone, least of all an "angry black man" like Jeremiah Wright, foists upon us the bill of particulars for several centuries of white supremacy.

But our collective indignation, no matter how loudly we announce it, cannot drown out the truth. And as much as white America may not be able to hear it (and as much as politics may require Obama to condemn it) let us be clear, Jeremiah Wright fundamentally told the truth.

Oh I know that for some such a comment will seem shocking. After all, didn't he say that America "got what it deserved" on 9/11? And didn't he say that black people should be singing "God Damn America" because of its treatment of the African American community throughout the years?

Well actually, no he didn't.

Wright said not that the attacks of September 11th were justified, but that they were, in effect, predictable. Deploying the imagery of chickens coming home to roost is not to give thanks for the return of the poultry or to endorse such feathered homecoming as a positive good; rather, it is merely to note two things: first, that what goes around, indeed, comes around--a notion with longstanding theological grounding--and secondly, that the U.S. has indeed engaged in more than enough violence against innocent people to make it just a tad bit hypocritical for us to then evince shock and outrage about an attack on ourselves, as if the latter were unprecedented.

He noted that we killed far more people, far more innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki than were killed on 9/11 and "never batted an eye." That this statement is true is inarguable, at least amongst sane people. He is correct on the math, he is correct on the innocence of the dead (neither city was a military target), and he is most definitely correct on the lack of remorse or even self-doubt about the act: sixty-plus years later most Americans still believe those attacks were justified, that they were needed to end the war and "save American lives."

But not only does such a calculus suggest that American lives are inherently worth more than the lives of Japanese civilians (or, one supposes, Vietnamese, Iraqi or Afghan civilians too), but it also ignores the long-declassified documents, and President Truman's own war diaries, all of which indicate clearly that Japan had already signaled its desire to end the war, and that we knew they were going to surrender, even without the dropping of atomic weapons. The conclusion to which these truths then attest is simple, both in its basic veracity and it monstrousness: namely, that in those places we committed premeditated and deliberate mass murder, with no justification whatsoever; and yet for saying that I will receive more hate mail, more hostility, more dismissive and contemptuous responses than will those who suggest that no body count is too high when we're the ones doing the killing. Jeremiah Wright becomes a pariah, because, you see, we much prefer the logic of George Bush the First, who once said that as President he would "never apologize for the United States of America. I don't care what the facts are."

And Wright didn't say blacks should be singing "God Damn America." He was suggesting that blacks owe little moral allegiance to a nation that has treated so many of them for so long as animals, as persons undeserving of dignity and respect, and which even now locks up hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders (especially for drug possession), even while whites who do the same crimes (and according to the data, when it comes to drugs, more often in fact), are walking around free. His reference to God in that sermon was more about what God will do to such a nation, than it was about what should or shouldn't happen. It was a comment derived from, and fully in keeping with, the black prophetic tradition, and although one can surely disagree with the theology (I do, actually, and don't believe that any God either blesses or condemns nation states for their actions), the statement itself was no call for blacks to turn on America. If anything, it was a demand that America earn the respect of black people, something the evidence and history suggests it has yet to do.

Finally, although one can certainly disagree with Wright about his suggestion that the government created AIDS to get rid of black folks--and I do, for instance--it is worth pointing out that Wright isn't the only one who has said this. In fact, none other than Bill Cosby (oh yes, that Bill Cosby, the one white folks love because of his recent moral crusade against the black poor) proffered his belief in the very same thing back in the early '90s in an interview on CNN, when he said that AIDS may well have been created to get rid of people whom the government deemed "undesirable" including gays and racial minorities.

So that's the truth of the matter: Wright made one comment that is highly arguable, but which has also been voiced by white America's favorite black man, another that was horribly misinterpreted and stripped of all context, and then another that was demonstrably accurate. And for this, he is pilloried and made into a virtual enemy of the state; for this, Barack Obama may lose the support of just enough white folks to cost him the Democratic nomination, and/or the Presidency; all of it, because Jeremiah Wright, unlike most preachers opted for truth. If he had been one of those "prosperity ministers" who says Jesus wants nothing so much as for you to be rich, like Joel Osteen, that would have been fine. Had he been a retread bigot like Falwell was, or Pat Robertson is, he might have been criticized, but he would have remained in good standing and surely not have damaged a Presidential candidate in this way. But unlike Osteen, and Falwell, and Robertson, Jeremiah Wright refused to feed his parishioners lies.

What Jeremiah Wright knows, and told his flock--though make no mistake, they already knew it--is that 9/11 was neither the first, nor worst act of terrorism on American soil. The history of this nation for folks of color, was for generations, nothing less than an intergenerational hate crime, one in which 9/11s were woven into the fabric of everyday life: hundreds of thousands of the enslaved who died from the conditions of their bondage; thousands more who were lynched (as many as 10,000 in the first few years after the Civil War, according to testimony in the Congressional Record at the time); millions of indigenous persons wiped off the face of the Earth. No, to some, the horror of 9/11 was not new. To some it was not on that day that "everything changed." To some, everything changed four hundred years ago, when that first ship landed at what would become Jamestown. To some, everything changed when their ancestors were forced into the hulls of slave ships at Goree Island and brought to a strange land as chattel. To some, everything changed when they were run out of Northern Mexico, only to watch it become the Southwest United States, thanks to a war of annihilation initiated by the U.S. government. To some, being on the receiving end of terrorism has been a way of life. Until recently it was absolutely normal in fact.

But white folks have a hard time hearing these simple truths. We find it almost impossible to listen to an alternative version of reality. Indeed, what seems to bother white people more than anything, whether in the recent episode, or at any other time, is being confronted with the recognition that black people do not, by and large, see the world like we do; that black people, by and large, do not view America as white people view it. We are, in fact, shocked that this should be so, having come to believe, apparently, that the falsehoods to which we cling like a kidney patient clings to a dialysis machine, are equally shared by our darker-skinned compatriots.

This is what James Baldwin was talking about in his classic 1972 work, No Name in the Street, wherein he noted:

"White children, in the main, and whether they are rich or poor, grow up with a grasp of reality so feeble that they can very accurately be described as deluded--about themselves and the world they live in. White people have managed to get through their entire lifetimes in this euphoric state, but black people have not been so lucky: a black man who sees the world the way John Wayne, for example, sees it would not be an eccentric patriot, but a raving maniac."

And so we were shocked in 1987, when Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall declined to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution, because, as he noted, most of that history had been one of overt racism and injustice, and to his way of thinking, the only history worth celebrating had been that of the past three or four decades.

We were shocked to learn that black people actually believed that a white cop who was a documented racist might frame a black man; and we're shocked to learn that lots of black folks still perceive the U.S. as a racist nation--we're literally stunned that people who say they experience discrimination regularly (and who have the social science research to back them up) actually think that those experiences and that data might actually say something about the nation in which they reside. Imagine.

Whites are easily shocked by what we see and hear from Pastor Wright and Trinity Church, because what we see and hear so thoroughly challenges our understanding of who we are as a nation. But black people have never, for the most part, believed in the imagery of the "shining city on a hill," for they have never had the option of looking at their nation and ignoring the mountain-sized warts still dotting its face when it comes to race. Black people do not, in the main, get misty eyed at the sight of the flag the way white people do--and this is true even for millions of black veterans--for they understand that the nation for whom that flag waves is still not fully committed to their own equality. They have a harder time singing those tunes that white people seem so eager to belt out, like "God Bless America," for they know that whites sang those words loudly and proudly even as they were enforcing Jim Crow segregation, rioting against blacks who dared move into previously white neighborhoods, throwing rocks at Dr. King and then cheering, as so many did, when they heard the news that he had been assassinated.

Whites refuse to remember (or perhaps have never learned) that which black folks cannot afford to forget. I've seen white people stunned to the point of paralysis when they learn the truth about lynchings in this country--when they discover that such events were not just a couple of good old boys with a truck and a rope hauling some black guy out to the tree, hanging him, and letting him swing there. They were never told the truth: that lynchings were often community events, advertised in papers as "Negro Barbecues," involving hundreds or even thousands of whites, who would join in the fun, eat chicken salad and drink sweet tea, all while the black victims of their depravity were being hung, then shot, then burned, and then having their body parts cut off, to be handed out to onlookers. They are stunned to learn that postcards of the events were traded as souvenirs, and that very few whites, including members of their own families did or said anything to stop it.

Rather than knowing about and confronting the ugliness of our past, whites take steps to excise the less flattering aspects of our history so that we need not be bothered with them. So, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for example, site of an orgy of violence against the black community in 1921, city officials literally went into the town library and removed all reference to the mass killings in the Greenwood district from the papers with a razor blade--an excising of truth and an assault on memory that would remain unchanged for over seventy years.

Most white people desire, or perhaps even require the propagation of lies when it comes to our history. Surely we prefer the lies to anything resembling, even remotely, the truth. Our version of history, of our national past, simply cannot allow for the intrusion of fact into a worldview so thoroughly identified with fiction. But that white version of America is not only extraordinarily incomplete, in that it so favors the white experience to the exclusion of others; it is more than that; it is actually a slap in the face to people of color, a re-injury, a reminder that they are essentially irrelevant, their concerns trivial, their lives unworthy of being taken seriously. In that sense, and what few if any white Americans appear capable of grasping at present, is that "Leave it Beaver" and "Father Knows Best," portray an America so divorced from the reality of the times in which they were produced, as to raise serious questions about the sanity of those who found them so moving, so accurate, so real. These iconographic representations of life in the U.S. are worse than selective, worse than false, they are assaults to the humanity and memory of black people, who were being savagely oppressed even as June Cleaver did housework in heels and laughed about the hilarious hijinks of Beaver and Larry Mondello.

These portraits of America are certifiable evidence of how disconnected white folks were--and to the extent we still love them and view them as representations of the "good old days" to which we wish we could return, still are--from those men and women of color with whom we have long shared a nation. Just two months before "Leave it to Beaver" debuted, proposed civil rights legislation was killed thanks to Strom Thurmond's 24-hour filibuster speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate. One month prior, Arkansas Governor Orville Faubus called out the National Guard to block black students from entering Little Rock Central High; and nine days before America was introduced to the Cleavers, and the comforting image of national life they represented, those black students were finally allowed to enter, amid the screams of enraged, unhinged, viciously bigoted white people, who saw nothing wrong with calling children niggers in front of cameras. That was America of the 1950s: not the sanitized version into which so many escape thanks to the miracle of syndication, which merely allows white people to relive a lie, year after year after year.

No, it is not the pastor who distorts history; Nick at Nite and your teenager's textbooks do that. It is not he who casts aspersions upon "this great country" as Barack Obama put it in his public denunciations of him; it is the historic leadership of the nation that has cast aspersions upon it; it is they who have cheapened it, who have made gaudy and vile the promise of American democracy by defiling it with lies. They engage in a patriotism that is pathological in its implications, that asks of those who adhere to it not merely a love of country but the turning of one's nation into an idol to be worshipped, it not literally, then at least in terms of consequence.

It is they--the flag-lapel-pin wearing leaders of this land--who bring shame to the country with their nonsensical suggestions that we are always noble in warfare, always well-intended, and although we occasionally make mistakes, we are never the ones to blame for anything. Nothing that happens to us has anything to do with us at all. It is always about them. They are evil, crazy, fanatical, hate our freedoms, and are jealous of our prosperity. When individuals prattle on in this manner we diagnose them as narcissistic, as deluded. When nations do it--when our nation does--we celebrate it as though it were the very model of rational and informed citizenship.

So what can we say about a nation that values lies more than it loves truth? A place where adherence to sincerely believed and internalized fictions allows one to rise to the highest offices in the land, and to earn the respect of millions, while a willingness to challenge those fictions and offer a more accurate counter-narrative earns one nothing but contempt, derision, indeed outright hatred? What we can say is that such a place is signing its own death warrant. What we can say is that such a place is missing the only and last opportunity it may ever have to make things right, to live up to its professed ideals. What we can say is that such a place can never move forward, because we have yet to fully address and come to terms with that which lay behind.

What can we say about a nation where white preachers can lie every week from their pulpits without so much as having to worry that their lies might be noticed by the shiny white faces in their pews, while black preachers who tell one after another essential truth are demonized, not only for the stridency of their tone--which needless to say scares white folks, who have long preferred a style of praise and worship resembling nothing so much as a coma--but for merely calling bullshit on those whose lies are swallowed whole?

And oh yes, I said it: white preachers lie. In fact, they lie with a skill, fluidity, and precision unparalleled in the history of either preaching or lying, both of which histories stretch back a ways and have often overlapped. They lie every Sunday, as they talk about a Savior they have chosen to represent dishonestly as a white man, in every picture to be found of him in their tabernacles, every children's story book in their Sunday Schools, every Christmas card they'll send to relatives and friends this December. But to lie about Jesus, about the one they consider God--to bear false witness as to who this man was and what he looked like--is no cause for concern.

Nor is it a problem for these preachers to teach and preach that those who don't believe as they believe are going to hell. Despite the fact that such a belief casts aspersions upon God that are so profound as to defy belief--after all, they imply that God is so fundamentally evil that he would burn non-believers in a lake of eternal fire--many of the white folks who now condemn Jeremiah Wright welcome that theology of hate. Indeed, back when President Bush was the Governor of Texas, he endorsed this kind of thinking, responding to a question about whether Jews were going to go to hell, by saying that unless one accepted Jesus as one's personal savior, the Bible made it pretty clear that indeed, hell was where you'd be heading.

So you can curse God in this way--and to imply such hate on God's part is surely to curse him--and in effect, curse those who aren't Christians, and no one says anything. That isn't considered bigoted. That isn't considered beyond the pale of polite society. One is not disqualified from becoming President in the minds of millions because they go to a church that says that shit every single week, or because they believe it themselves. And millions do believe it, and see nothing wrong with it whatsoever.

So white folks are mad at Jeremiah Wright because he challenges their views about their country. Meanwhile, those same white folks, and their ministers and priests, every week put forth a false image of the God Jeremiah Wright serves, and yet it is whites who feel we have the right to be offended.

Pardon me, but something is wrong here, and whatever it is, is not to be found at Trinity United Church of Christ.

Tim Wise is the author of: White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son (Soft Skull Press, 2005), and Affirmative Action: Racial Preference in Black and White (Routledge: 2005). He can be reached at:

You can also check out Tim's blog.

No Backsliding On This Campaign Promise

Sen. Barack Obama:

I will also place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sen. Hillary Clinton:

We’re going to expand our federal hate crimes legislation and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and assure that they are both fully inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

Autumn has a February 11 post on her The View From (Ab)Normal Heights blog talking about this, and I concur with her assessment.

After January 20, 2009, if either Sen Obama or Sen Clinton wins the Democratic party nomination and goes on to be inaugurated as our next president, I and my fellow transgender Americans will expect nothing less in exchange for our votes than a fully-inclusive ENDA.

We expect the presidential bully pulpit in an Obama or a second Clinton administration to be used to not only help get a fully inclusive ENDA passed, but signed by you in the Rose Garden with TV cameras recording the scene for posterity.

There will be zero tolerance of excuses, triangulation, cutting us out of the legislation citing bogus whip counts, rigged polls, false assumptions the law won't pass with transgender people in it, whatever future excuse for non-inclusion I don't have covered in this post or claiming you misspoke on the campaign trail.

I will allow for delay of it in order to take care of more pressing national matters and for the maintenance of Democratic majorities in the House and Senate during the 2010 midterm elections and the 2012 campaign, but I'm not sure how patient my transgender brothers and sisters will be.

If you have wavering DINO's, we expect you to lean on them to get the inclusive ENDA passed. If there are any GOP amendments proposed to water it down, defeat them. If HRC starts spouting that incrementalist crap, tell the incrementalists that it hasn't passed with transgender people cut out of it, so what do you have to lose by including them? If the Sacrilegious Right starts squawking, tell 'em that you do not have a right to hate on, discriminate or demonize fellow Americans or claim that your 'religion' allows you to do so. If that doesn't work, tell 'em go to Hades.

And if some peeps have a problem with that, tough. We transpeople have waited far too long, shed too much blood, and taken too much abuse to NOT have our constitutional rights respected and protected.

A democracy is judged based on how it treats the least of its citizens, not how it treats the powerful and privileged. It's also past time for America to lead on civil rights issues instead of follow.

That message needs to be sent loud and clear to the nation and the world after January 20, 2009.

The Operation

If you haven't eaten lunch or are curious as to how an 'outie' gets turned into an 'innie', you can check out these videos of a gender reconfiguration surgery (or GRS for short).

WARNING: These videos will be fairly graphic, so if you have a weak constitution or just ate, these aren't the video clips for you. You may want to wait until you get home to see this one if you're at work. Minors need to get parental permission to see them.

Part 1

Part 2

Don't Diss My Community To Build Pride In Yours

I happened to be off from work on the day Oprah broadcast her show on intersex people. It's a community that can definitely use the media face time and I eagerly tuned in to watch and learn more about a community that definitely needed the media face time. I was enjoying the show until a panellist made this comment in an effort to explain the differences between the transgender and intersex communities:

"Intersex is a medical problem, transgender is a mental one."

FYI to that person, there is increasing research into transsexuallity that point ot such causes as the 'hormone wash' theory and the BSTc brain regions of transgender people being being at variance with the biological birth gender identity. That would make it a MEDICAL condition.

Transgender people have to deal with enough drama from the religious Right, conservatives, ignorant sheeple in society, right wing talk show hosts and elements of the GLB community. The last thing we want or need is piling on from the intersex community as well. You can respectfully point out the differences between our communities without making incorrect statements as this person did on Oprah.

So what is intersex? It's the preferred description for what used to be called hermaphroditism, which according to the Intersex Society of North America, is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. It occurs in one out of every 1500-2000 births.

For example, a person might be born appearing to be female on the outside, but having mostly male-typical anatomy on the inside. Or a person may be born with genitals that seem to be in-between the usual male and female types—for example, a girl may be born with a noticeably large clitoris, or lacking a vaginal opening, or a boy may be born with a notably small penis, or with a scrotum that is divided so that it has formed more like labia. Or a person may be born with mosaic genetics, so that some of her cells have XX chromosomes and some of them have XY.

Intersex is the preferred term of the community. Using the old hermaphrodite term is considered by some people in the intersex community as an insulting and derogatory slur, while others are seeking to reclaim it as a pride word to describe themselves like some people in the GLBT community did for the words 'queer' and 'dyke'.

But a sometimes contentious debate in the intersex community roils up about not only how far do they go to raise awareness and educate the public on these issues, but how to build coalitions with allied groups to advocate for the interests of intersex people.

Some of that debate is exposing some peeps in the intersex community's frustrations with being lumped in transgender people. There are some intersex people who have expressed the opinion that 'transgender activists' are 'forcing them into an unwanted association with the GLB and transgender communities and trampling their rights to self-determination'.

As someone who is one of those 'activists' that peeps love to throw shade at, speaking for myself, that charge is ludicrous and baseless.

The last thing that I or any transgender person wants, given our own tortured history with the GLB community, is to be perceived as someone or a group interfering with the self-determination rights of others like our intersex friends.

I lived for two years with a roomie that was intersex, and I'm deeply aware of some of the shame and guilt issues she had (and still has to) deal with along with her post-surgery gender transition during her late teens. As Lynell Stephani Long can tell you, it ain't easy being an African-American and growing up intersex.

I agree with this closing paragraph from the ISNA website in the section concerning the differences between transgender and intersex people.

People who identify as transgender or transsexual also face discrimination and deserve equality. We also believe that people with intersex conditions and folks who identify as transgender or transsexual can and should continue to work together on human rights issues; however, there are important differences to keep in mind so that both groups can work toward a better future.

Amen. There are issues in which intersex and transgender people can collaborate on that will result in a win-win partnership for both groups. The anti-gay marriage push has negative effects on our and intersex people's marriages. We need to be in coalition fighting ANY Religious Right sponsored legislation that seeks to fix gender definitions based on birth genitalia, makes it harder to change identity documents or even narrowly defines what a woman or a man is legally. We also have shame and guilt issues we have to work out, and that's common ground for jump starting a dialogue between our communities.

But those working partnerships have to be built on a foundation of mutual respect and trust.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The October 5, 1999 700 Club Show

TransGriot Note: With all the faith-based Hateraid being spewed at transgender people lately by fundamentalists and the Catholic Church, I thought it was time to post this transcript from a 700 Club show. Pat Robertson weighed in on transsexuality and stated the obvious on October 5, 1999. Note the parts I have in bold print.


Letter Writer:
I'm 40 years old and have had a sex change. I've been watching your program and was wondering if God forgave me. Should I live as I am now or go back to my birth gender?

Pat Robertson:
This is a very serious question and I appreciate it. There are people who are born with various types of hormonal activity in their bodies and they feel more male than female, and more female than male. I know a plastic surgeon here, in this area who indeed does that sort of thing and, ah, to accommodate what is going on in peoples lives.

Terry Meeuwsen:
This is a very legitimate hormonal thing happening.

Pat Robertson:
Exactly. So, it is not a sin. So you don't need to feel guilty.

He goes on to say...

So you say, will God forgive me. Of course He will, He does. This isn't something that you have sinned and if you wish to get back and your 40 years old, it's not exctly too late. I know as I say, one man who can do a sex change reversal.

Terry Meeuwsen:
God is interested in what his heart, attitude is, speaking spiritually.

Pat Robertson:
God does not care what your external organs are. The question is whether you are living for God or not. Yes, He loves you. Yes, He forgives you and He understands what is going on in your body.


Any wonder that the Forces of Intolerance quickly scrubbed this transcript snippet from the 700 Club archives? Pat has since tried to distance himself from these remarks, but it's out in The Net and the gift that keeps on giving. I used that last quote in March 2001 when I testified in my home state in favor of a streamlined name change bill that TGAIN was sponsoring.

I'd like to conclude this post with a scripture from Galatians 3:28 which reads, There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Congratulations Number Two!

There are currently only three African-Americans who have been honored with the transgender community's second highest award for service, the IFGE Trinity Award. Dawn Wilson, moi and Marisa Richmond.

She, I and Dawn have crossed paths more than a few times at various events in the community over the years and we're only a two hour ride up and down I-65 from each other. We jokingly call each other Numbers One, Two and Three in reference to the order in which we won our respective Trinity's. (Dawn in 2000, Marisa in 2002 and mine in 2006)

Marisa is set later this summer to achieve another trailblazing milestone. When the Democratic National Convention kicks off later this summer in Denver, the history professor will be making a little history of her own. She will become the first African-American transgender delegate to participate.

She is pledged to Sen. Clinton, but told the Washington Blade in an interview said that she wouldn't be disappointed if Sen. Obama ends up with the nomination.

She won't be the only transgender person making history at this convention. Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean named transman Diego Sanchez from Massachusetts to one of the convention’s standing committees.

Sanchez is the first transgender person to be selected by the chair of the DNC and the first to serve on the platform committee. There will also be other transgender people who will probably join them as the delegates are chosen in the various state conventions.

In 2004 we had a total of eight transgender people as delegates to the DNC convention in Boston. I thought about trying to become a delegate here in Kentucky, but once I discovered that our state delegation's limited slots were going to reserved for political office holders and higher level party officials, I dropped the idea. I may still end up in Denver anyway blogging the convention. I'll keep you TransGriot readers updated on that as I get further info.

But back to my homegirl. Congratulations Number Two! I'm so proud that Marisa is the first and will represent me and my community well. We'll have to hit Corky's the next time I'm in Nashville to celebrate.

Talking Honestly About Race Is Easier Said Than Done

by Betty Winston Baye'
Louisville Courier-Journal
March 27, 2008

While on break in a jury pool this week, I read every word of Barack Obama's Philadelphia unburdening on race. It's not the best ever delivered, and his delivery didn't knock my socks off, but it was a very good speech.

Referring to his friend and pastor of 20 years, Obama acknowledged that Rev. Jeremiah Wright's remarks ignited a "firestorm" and reflected "a profoundly distorted view of this country -- a view that sees white racism as endemic and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right about America." My response is that people tend to see America how they experience America.

I felt a little better when Obama went on to say that "the snippets" of Wright's sermon and "the caricatures being peddled by some commentators" do not represent "all that I know of the man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith."

Obama recalled that Wright and other African Americans of his generation (my generation, I hasten to add) "came of age in the late '50s and early '60s… a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What's remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them."

I'll say.

At least Obama, unlike some his age, sees that he is not self-created -- that he is, in fact, the beneficiary of struggles waged long before a white American from Kansas met an African from Kenya in Hawaii, married and in 1961 gave birth to a pretty brown baby boy.

I didn't like what seemed to me Obama's putdown of my generation. But it's hard to hold a grudge when my generation of social activists was in the habit of putting down predecessors. It's a rite of passage to see flaws in one's elders. It was a while before many of us in the movement understood that social revolutions tend to take time.

It pains me to recall an especially unkind letter I wrote to The New York Amsterdam News, attacking NAACP leader Roy Wilkins. I was young, energetic and enthusiastic, but had never walked a mile in the shoes of a black man many years my elder.

As for Obama, he'll figure out that he didn't invent the idea of forging alliances across racial lines, and that he's not the first to cry for change, now! He's been able to carry the demand further because of what others did.

Sadly, the impact of his speech won't reach some, because there's still no common vocabulary for black and white Americans to use in talking honestly about race.

I adored his insistence that Americans "realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper." Shared adversity often has been an organizing tool, helping to keep disadvantaged groups from being at one another's throats.

Audacity of hope notwithstanding, Obama gets it that America has been stuck in "racial stalemate" for years, partly because we talk past each other. I was reminded of this anew when a near-hysterical caller on a radio show excoriated Obama for belonging to that "segregated church," Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Actually, the UCC is a predominately white denomination, and the caller missed the part of Obama's speech in which he repeated "the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning."

Most American Christian churches are segregated; a few blacks or whites sprinkled in does not an integrated congregation make. The difference, however, is that some churches acknowledge their segregation and talk often about how they came to be that way. At other segregated churches, the subject of why they're segregated hardly ever comes up. It's the old elephant in the living room. Sunday after Sunday, pastors preach comfort-food sermons that don't challenge the fact that good church folks make wonderful mission trips abroad, but hardly engage in meaningful ways with fellow Christians worshipping in their segregated churches across town.

Obama said in his speech, and he's right, that there remain "complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked out." Isn't it obvious in the tenor of this campaign? Obama is also right that it's naïve to believe we can "get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy -- particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own."

Clearly, a lot of Americans aren't comfortable with race "talk." It's painful. So they ask the infamous Rodney King question, "Can't we all just get along?" Well, now Barack Obama says, "Yes we can," and he's being told by some, "Not now, Junior."

But you know in my church, from pulpit, pews and the choir stand, it often is said and sung, "What God has for me is for me," and "No weapon formed against me shall prosper." I take that to mean that if the presidency is what God has for Barack Obama, it will be, and nobody -- not Hillary Clinton, John McCain or Jeremiah Wright -- will stop it.

Betty Winston Bayé is a Courier-Journal editorial writer. Her column appears Thursdays in Community Forum.

Second Texas Democratic Caucuses Bring More Chaos

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

AUSTIN — Traffic jams, long lines, crowds, confusion and chaos marked Texas Democratic regional conventions Saturday as an unprecedented number of political activists turned out to help elect presidential nominating delegates for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

There are 67 at-large delegates at stake, depending mostly on the results of the state senatorial district and county conventions.

Obama was the caucus winner on primary night, and an Associated Press delegate count showed he might be holding his ground.

Obama's campaign late Saturday said he would win, claiming he would receive 38 delegates to Clinton's 29. Clinton's campaign says Obama should wait for the official results before declaring victory.

If the Obama campaign prediction is accurate, that would give Obama a total five-delegate advantage over Clinton in the Texas primary/caucus contest.

Obama won all of the Houston-area conventions, except Senate District 6, a heavily Hispanic community that went for Clinton in the popular vote. That district's results were the subject of an ongoing dispute late Saturday.

The area conventions often were marked by exasperation as thousands of people who had never participated in the process before gathered to show support for their candidate and try to win a slot to attend the state party convention in June.

"It's going very good," state Senate District 17 Chairman Bert Anson said in the midst of the convention in Elsik High School's gymnasium. "I've only been yelled at and cursed twice. I've only lost my temper once. No, I've lost my temper twice."

Delegates statewide also had to suffer through long sign-in lines to declare their allegiance to a candidate. Some arrived at 7 a.m. and did not make it into their convention halls for hours. The delegates were elected at the March 4 precinct caucuses.

"People are frustrated. Everybody's got a life. We're not professional politicians," said Ron Rothe, a Clinton alternate attending the Senate District 4 convention at the San Jacinto College North Campus. "But the crowd is very amiable, and we only do this every four years."

Republicans also held senatorial district and county conventions Saturday to elect delegates to their state convention, but there were no delegate contests because U.S. Sen. John McCain has clinched the GOP nomination.

Gov. Rick Perry attended the Senate District 14 convention in Austin to urge his fellow Republicans to pass a resolution showing support for the Boy Scouts of America against "increasing attacks" from "radical homosexuals, liberal extremists" and the American Civil Liberties Union. The Boy Scouts bar gays from serving as troop leaders.

Traffic jams
Democratic Party officials on the March 4 primary night had predicted Obama would lead 37-30 based on a preliminary count of the 1 million people who turned out for precinct caucuses. The delegate split, however, can change based on how many delegates pledged to each candidate showed up for the local and state conventions Saturday.

Clinton claimed a 65-61 advantage in the delegates allotted based on the March 4 popular vote results in the primary.

The conventions Saturday were electing about 7,300 delegates to the state Democratic Convention, June 5-7 in Austin. Those delegates will make the final decision on how the 67 caucus delegates are divided.

Typically, only a few hundred people turn out for the local conventions, but this year party officials had to find larger venues because tens of thousands of delegates attended.

Traffic jams leading to the Travis County Exposition Center for the Senate District 14 and Senate District 25 conventions caused numerous delegates to abandon their vehicles more than a mile away and walk to the convention.

The Senate District 11 convention in Pasadena had more than 1,200 people show up at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Hall. The parking lot overflowed into a nearby elementary school, and cars lined the streets for blocks.

At the Senate District 6 convention, an area of heavy Clinton support, there were more than 40 precincts who had no delegates show up for the convention.

Clinton received about 64 percent of the popular vote in the Senate District 6 in the March 4 primary, but only 55 percent of the delegates attending Saturday's convention backed her.

That gave Obama an opportunity to make up for losing ground in Webb County, where Clinton received all 51 delegates to the state convention because Obama's delegates did not reach a 15 percent threshold attendance for claiming delegates. He had received 20 percent of the vote in the primary there.

Getting wild
One of the wildest conventions was Senate District 19 held at a San Antonio warehouse.

When there was a fight over the list and credentials of registered delegates, the warehouse owner threatened to expel the convention.

At the Senate District 13 convention at Texas Southern University in Houston, an Obama stronghold, Clinton supporters unsuccessfully tried to gain delegate strength by asking Obama backers to switch so they would be elected as delegates to the state convention. Obama came out of the convention with 272 state delegates to Clinton's 69.

When U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, a superdelegate pledged to Clinton, spoke to the Senate District 13 convention, some Obama supporters booed her.

Despite the hassles Saturday, many Democrats said the turnout excited them about their prospects of breaking the Republican political hold on Texas.

"I wish we could bottle this enthusiasm and carry it over to November, which I think we will do," said Rodney Griffin, temporary chairman of the Senate District 13 convention in Missouri City.

Houston Chronicle reporters Alan Bernstein, Cindy George, Eric Hanson, Harvey Rice, Matt Stiles, San Antonio Express-News reporter Graeme Zielinski and The Associated Press contributed.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Transgender Teen Tells Story

from MomLogic

03/13/08 1:03 PM
In her own words, a transgender teen talks candidly about acceptance and tolerance.

We were shocked by the recent murder of 15-year-old Lawrence King--a young boy who was openly gay and reportedly wore mascara, lipstick and jewelry to school. Transgender teens have been in the spotlight lately and have left a lot of parents at a loss when it comes to talking to their own kids. Rika, pictured, a 17-year-old boy who came out as a girl during her freshman year (pictured), sheds a little light on the world of transgender teenagers.

Mom Logic: How did your parents react when you realized that you were really a girl?

Rika: I was in this depressive state. I didn't know if I was gay. I had good friends I was able to connect with, but I wasn't really sure of myself. At that point it was a taboo thing for me to wear female clothing. I was doing badly in school. And my parents asked me questions to know what was wrong and to help them help me. Finally I came out and told them, "Yes I am transgender." Then we went to Puerto Rico and I wore feminine clothing comfortably. That was my freshman year of high school. At that point, I went to a therapist and she said, "Well, she knows that she is a girl and it would be more polite to refer to her as 'her.'"

Mom Logic: How have you had to endure slurs or insults?

Rika: Honestly, I don't know where people get the balls to come up to a girl and say, "Are you a guy?" That is the most hurtful thing someone has said. When someone says something that is really vile or evil, there is obviously more of a problem with you than with me, because I am confident with who I am. That question is offensive because even if I was born female, why would you come up to me and ask me that question?

Mom Logic: How has your Mom been supportive?

Rika: When it comes down to it, she doesn't hear what I say and say "Ohmigosh!" She has always been the person who has been open about sexuality and people being themselves. A lot of things that I am able to talk to my Mom about are things that people would not be able to talk to their parents about. She is really good at asking questions, and it helps me to be free to explore my sexuality. I think in the beginning she was saddened by the fact that I was her only son, and she felt like she was mourning her son. I was offended by that, because I said, "I was never your son. I was always your daughter." But she got over that really fast. I give a lot of credit to my Mom. There's no real strife between us. Other than that, we've always had our teenage struggles.

Mom Logic: What are your tips for Moms and teens who have friends that are transgender?

Rika: Honestly, one of the main things is that you have to reinforce confidence. No matter what decision your child makes, it is still your child. A lot of parents try to control their kids. It's not up to parents anymore what decision the child has to make. By neglecting giving them love you don't help them develop the confidence to stand up to other people. I am grateful that my parents gave me the confidence to say you can be female! It's a beautiful thing to be transgender, you can take both aspects of male and female and make a new person. For a parent it's about reinforcing what they are naturally. Nurture their natural tendencies and watch him develop. As for other teens, if you're not going to accept me, I'm not going to accept you. If you can't be supportive, you probably need to end the friendship, because the person who isn't transgender will probably be uncomfortable, and the person who is won't feel comfortable to be who they are.

Hillary Didn't Win Texas

One of the spin lines coming out of the Clinton campaign to mask the beatdowns she's been getting on a regular basis from Sen. Obama is that 'she wins the big states while he wins the little states and the caucses'.

Well, she needs to revise that one. One big state she didn't win is my home state of Texas. As many of you are now aware, my home state has a two-step process that determines the allocation of its delegates.

Two thirds of the delgates are determined by popular vote. The other delegates are determined by a caucus which starts 15 minutes after the polls close on election night.

Sen. Clinton narrowly won the popular vote by a 51-47% margin. That earned her 65 delegates to his 61. But what has been kept quiet is that she got blown out in the caucus portion of the Texas Two-Step Primary, and when you total up the delegates, Sen. Obama will have MORELone Star State delegates than Sen. Clinton. Since it's all about the delegates, Sen. Clinton actually lost Texas. CNN reported this on March 11.

The Texas secretary of state will be announcing the official results on March 29, and it will confirm what many of us have known for a while. Hillary not only lost Texas, but her chances of winning the nomination are growing more remote by the day.

New Rally Location Set for New England Transgender Pride March

The organizers of the first New England Transgender Pride March and Rally have announced a change in location for the rally. The march, which will step off at noon on June 7, 2008 from Lampron Park/Bridge Street School in Northampton, MA will proceed, not to Veterans Field, but to a rally in the Armory Street Lot behind Thornes Marketplace in downtown Northampton.

Veterans Field is unavailable due to re-seeding this year. The Armory Street Lot is the same location where Northampton Pride is held each May.

“We’re pleased with the new rally location, as it is more central in Northampton and more easily wheelchair-accessible than Veterans Field,” said Justin Adkins, a member of the Trans Pride steering committee. “We’ll be providing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting for the entire event.”

The rally, which will begin at 12:30 p.m. and end at 5:00 p.m., will be headlined by Leslie Feinberg, a pioneering transgender writer whose books include Stone Butch Blues, Transgender Warriors, and Drag King Dreams; and Miss Major, a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion and Lead Community Organizer of the Transgender, Gender Variant, and Intersex Justice Project, which advocates for the human rights of transgender prisoners. Several activists are slated to speak who will address proposed gender identity/expression anti-discrimination legislation in MA and CT, and the civil rights needs of transgender people in employment, education, housing, healthcare, and public accommodations. Featured performers will include the Boston-based drag troupe All The Kings Men and Joe Stevens of Coyote Grace.

New England Transgender Pride is currently seeking volunteer workers and sponsors for the event. Interested individuals and organizations may sign up online at, and groups that wish to march with their banners may register there, as well.

TransGriot Note: I've just accepted an invitation to speak at this upcoming historic pride march. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What Kind of Prophet?

Reflections on the Rhetoric of Preaching in Light of Recent News Coverage of Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. and Trinity United Church of Christ

by The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

Over the weekend members of our church and others have been subjected to the relentless airing of two or three brief video clips of sermons by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ for thirty-six years and, for over half of those years, pastor of Senator Barack Obama and his family. These video clips, and news stories about them, have been served up with frenzied and heated commentary by media personalities expressing shock that such language and sentiments could be uttered from the pulpit.

One is tempted to ask whether these commentators ever listen to the overcharged rhetoric of their own opinion shows. Even more to the point is to wonder whether they have a working knowledge of the history of preaching in the United States from the unrelentingly grim language of New England election day sermons to the fiery rhetoric of the Black church prophetic tradition. Maybe they prefer the false prophets with their happy homilies in Jeremiah who say to the people: "You shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you true peace in this place." To which God responds, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name; I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds. . . . By sword and famine those prophets shall be consumed," (Jeremiah 14.14-15). The Biblical Jeremiah was coarse and provocative. Faithfulness, not respectability was the order of the day then. And now?

What's really going on here? First, it may state the obvious to point out that these television and radio shows have very little interest in Trinity Church or Jeremiah Wright. Those who sifted through hours of sermons searching for a few lurid phrases and those who have aired them repeatedly have only one intention. It is to wound a presidential candidate. In the process a congregation that does exceptional ministry and a pastor who has given his life to shape those ministries is caricatured and demonized. You don't have to be an Obama supporter to be alarmed at this. Will Clinton's United Methodist Church be next? Or McCain's Episcopal Church? Wouldn't we have been just as alarmed had it been Huckabee's Southern Baptist Church, or Romney's Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

Many of us would prefer to avoid the stark and startling language Pastor Wright used in these clips. But what was his real crime? He is condemned for using a mild "obscenity" in reference to the United States. This week we mark the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, a war conceived in deception and prosecuted in foolish arrogance. Nearly four thousand cherished Americans have been killed, countless more wounded, and tens of thousands of Iraqis slaughtered. Where is the real obscenity here? True patriotism requires a degree of self-criticism, even self-judgment that may not always be easy or genteel. Pastor Wright's judgment may be starker and more sweeping than many of us are prepared to accept. But is the soul of our nation served any better by the polite prayers and gentle admonitions that have gone without a real hearing for these five years while the dying and destruction continues?

We might like to think that racism is a thing of the past, that Martin Luther King's harmonious multi-racial vision, articulated in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and then struck down by an assassin's bullet in Memphis in 1968, has somehow been resurrected and now reigns throughout the land. Significant progress has been made. A black man is a legitimate candidate for President of the United States. A black woman serves as Secretary of State. The accomplishments are profound. But on the gritty streets of Chicago's south side where Trinity has planted itself, race continues to play favorites in failing urban school systems, unresponsive health care systems, crumbling infrastructure, and meager economic development. Are we to pretend all is well because much is, in fact, better than it used to be? Is it racist to name the racial divides that continue to afflict our nation, and to do so loudly? How ironic that a pastor and congregation which, for forty-five years, has cast its lot with a predominantly white denomination, participating fully in its wider church life and contributing generously to it, would be accused of racial exclusion and a failure to reach for racial reconciliation.

The gospel narrative of Palm Sunday's entrance into Jerusalem concludes with the overturning of the money changers' tables in the Temple courtyard. Here wealth and power and greed were challenged for the way the poor were oppressed to the point of exclusion from a share in the religious practices of the Temple. Today we watch as the gap between the obscenely wealthy and the obscenely poor widens. More and more of our neighbors are relegated to minimal health care or to no health care at all. Foreclosures destroy families while unscrupulous lenders seek bailouts from regulators who turned a blind eye to the impending crisis. Should the preacher today respond to this with only a whisper and a sigh?

Is Pastor Wright to be ridiculed and condemned for refusing to play the court prophet, blessing land and sovereign while pledging allegiance to our preoccupation with wealth and our fascination with weapons? In the United Church of Christ we honor diversity. For nearly four centuries we have respected dissent and have struggled to maintain the freedom of the pulpit. Not every pastor in the United Church of Christ will want to share Pastor Wright's rhetoric or his politics. Not every member will rise to shout "Amen!" But I trust we will all struggle in our own way to resist the lure of respectable religion that seeks to displace evangelical faith. For what this nation needs is not so much polite piety as the rough and radical word of the prophet calling us to repentance. And, as we struggle with that ancient calling, I pray we will be shrewd enough to name the hypocrisy of those who decry the mixing of religion and politics in order to serve their own political ends.

Moni's Take on the Rev.Wright-Obama Controversy

As the child of a retired media personality, one of the things my father drilled into me and my siblings was don't believe what you read in the papers (and the Net), hear on radio and see on television at first glance. You have to always ask the who, what, when, where and why questions. You ask yourself why is this coming out now, what's their agenda, and who's behind it.

My father's words were ringing in my ears when I first heard about the alleged hostile remarks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I didn't go into 'Attack Obama' mode like it seems that some whites have done who were looking for ANY excuse to NOT support him. I went into critical thinking mode.

I also considered where this video was coming from. FOX News.

This is a proven Republican propaganda mill that has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to lie, obfuscate, and bend the truth to accomplish its mission of electing GOP candidates.

The GOP is scared shitless that they will have to face Obama in the fall and contend with the massive voter turnouts and new voters that he would not only bring into the process, but swamp their candidates in a Democratic landslide. GOP electability is dependent upon low turnout elections. The more people brought into the process, the higher the probability of Democratic candidates for office getting elected.

The GOP has a long, negative history of using race baiting to boost their electoral chances, bait and switch campaigning and voter suppression tactics in minority communities to win elections. They were faced with a situation in which their old tried and true tactics weren't going to work. They were originally salivating at the prospect of a race with Hillary Clinton and had to find some way to negatively define Obama without looking racist as they always do.

Enter Faux News, Rev. Wright and edited video played in an endless loop with faux indignation spewing out of various conservative commentators mouths. I do find it interesting that this selectively edited video comes out not long after the GOP had a closed door strategy meeting a few weeks ago about how they were going to combat Sen. Obama's surging popularity and was timed to appear while Sen. Hillary Clinton's executing her 'kitchen sink' strategy.

By the way, here's the so-called 'hate sermon' in context.

Since when did non journalism award winning Fox News become a trusted news source? I'm a little sick of news organizations like CNN and others treating the propaganda arm of the Republican party as a news source.

But back to this controversy. It's interesting as well that this so-called 'hate-mongering' pastor was invited to this September 11, 1998 White House gathering of clergy that President Clinton held during the height of the Lewinsky scandal (and BTW, Sen Hillary's just released First Lady schedules show that she was there in attendance.)

Ask yourself this question. If Rev. Jeremiah Wright is such a 'hate mongerer', then why was he invited to this event?

I also find the hypocrisy and racism inherent in this high-tech lynching of Rev. Wright breathtaking. The conservative media is all over the edited out-of-context video of Rev Wright's sermons, but no similar sustained foaming-mouth outrage from my white brothers and sisters is forthcoming at Rev. Rod Parsley or McCain spiritual advisor John Hagee, who have longer histories of saying anti-American statements and jacked up comments.

Gee, I wonder why?

Hagee and Parsley have in the name of God, accused Catholics of aiding in the Holocaust, said that the victims of Hurricane Katrina got what they deserved, advocates wiping out more than a billion Muslims, and the fact that John McCain has enthusiastically solicited the support of people he once called 'divisive and dangerous' in 2000 is ignored.

What's even sadder is that the parishioners of Trinity UCC are being savaged by race-baiting conservative pundits who have no clue, don't want to know or don't care about our culture. What's even sadder is that people in my own party are repeating the Faux News talking points ad nauseum without asking themselves why Rev. Wright and this church is being attacked.

I also have to laugh at the conservative definition of racism, which is basically any Black person who is not only unabashedly proud of their heritage, but has the cojones to criticize this country, point out the reality of the color line and how it affects everything in this country.

Hell, I've been accused by some peeps in the transgender community of being 'racist' despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Jasmyne Cannick has also had the same 'racist' charge hurled at her because she's unapologetically Black as well and has called out the GLBT community on numerous occasions on her blog and in the various media forums she participates in for their racist behavior on various issues.

Y'all can fall for the Faux News okey-doke, or the bogus racism charges from Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly and the rest of the GOP-Conservative Noise Machine if you want to, but the facts are that racism is alive and well in this country. I've been saying it for years along with others and now this discussion is for better or worse, happening during a presidential political campaign.

One of the fears I'd expressed when I announced on the blog that I was supporting Sen. Obama in an earlier post was that some white people have higher than normal expectations for an African-American candidate than they do for a similar white candidate. An African-American candidate has to almost walk on water to get support from these peeps, and if they grudgingly give him that support, they are quick to abandon him if any bullcrap surfaces.

That is what I fear is happening now. I felt that much of the early white support for Obama was because of the fact he wasn't in their minds tied to the old Civil Rights Movement peeps, which some whites still harbor ill will to even in my own party. Obama also didn't feed into the 'angry Black' stereotype that some peeps still tar and feather any African-American who dares to think and candidly speak their mind with.

It's ironic that the best man for the job, who tried to avoid discussing race and run an issues-oriented campaign, may possibly end up not getting the nomination or end up in the White House because of the unresolved racial baggage of this country.

And that would be a tragedy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Moni's 2008 NCAA Women's Tournament Picks

I'm a big college hoops fan, and that also includes women's games as well. I have been pleased to see the increasing amounts of quality women's college games being broadcast on TV.

So I'm starting a new tradition on TransGriot in honor of Women's History Month. I'm going to post my NCAA tournament picks for the women's tournament as well.

Greensboro Region

First Round
UConn, Texas, Old Dominion, Virginia, George Washington, Cal, Iowa State, Rutgers

Second Round
UConn, Old Dominion, Cal, Rutgers

Regional Final
Uconn, Rutgers

Greensboro Region Champ

Spokane Region

First Round
Maryland, Xavier, W. Virginia, Vanderbilt, Pitt, Baylor, UTEP, Stanford

Second Round
Maryland, Vanderbilt, Baylor, Stanford

Regional Final
Maryland, Stanford

Spokane Region Champ

New Orleans Region

First Round
North Carolina, Georgia, Kansas State, Louisville, Oklahoma State, Marist, LSU

Second Round
North Carolina, Louisville, Oklahoma State, LSU

Regional Final
North Carolina, LSU

New Orleans Region Champ

Oklahoma City Regional

First Round
Tennessee, Purdue, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Duke, Syracuse, Texas A&M

Second Round
Tennessee, Oklahoma, Duke, Texas A&M

Regional Final
Tennessee, Duke

Oklahoma City Regional Champ

Final Four Teams
UConn, Stanford, LSU, Tennessee

Championship Game
UConn, Tennessee

2008 NCAA Women's Champion

Gov. Bill Richardson Endorses Sen. Obama

This video says it all. Bew Mexico Governor and former Clinton cabinet member Bill Richardson aendorses Senator Barack Obama for president.

And to add to the Clinton campaign embarrassment for losing the endorsement of a major player in hubby Bill's administration and the only sitting Latino governor, Casey Knowles, the then 8 year old girl in Hillary's '3 AM' ad is now 18 years old and an Obama precinct captain in Washington state. She's not happy with her likeness being used in Hillary's attack ad.

Thinking About My Ex

Today would have been the 45th birthday for my ex-girlfriend Glenda.

She was the last person I dated before I transitioned, and I find myself thinking about her from time to time even though she's been deceased for seven years. We had a rocky, contentious relationship that put a major chill on our friendship for a while when it ended.

It was 1991 and I had reached a crossroads in my life. The only time I was dressing in male clothes at this point was either to visit family or go to work. I was kicking myself for letting another crossroads opportunity slip by when I was 19. As the 80's gave way to the 90's I had come to the conclusion I'd made a big mistake.

Enter Glenda. She and I were co-workers once upon a time, and I was feeling the heavy breath of my rapidly approaching big 3-0 birthday the next year. She entered my life at the time I was seriously wrestling with the 'do I or don't I pull the trigger on transition' question. She didn't know I was dealing with that issue since I kept it hidden from all except a few carefully chosen few people.

As I mentioned in my Valentine's day post, I was trying to avoid getting entangled in romantic relationships, but basically what happened to me is what Miriam Makeba said about the subject in her 1987 book 'My Story'.

Love has never cared about my schedule. It just barges in whenever it wants.

And it kicked the door down in this case.

One of the things that was causing the hesitation was that I was not only working in a place where I was surrounded by beautiful, college educated sistahs, I was getting increased romantic attention from those same sistahs. They saw my college educated happily single childless and gainfully employed self as marriage material.

I knew that once I began transition, that I was taking a 'good brother' as they saw me off the market forever. I began to wonder if I was doing everything possible to be a 'guy', and felt that maybe the key to some of my troubles was that I was avoiding romantic entanglements.

And I had to admit that Glenda had a lot of the qualities "the Twin' was looking for. She was a PK, intelligent (we both went to UH at the same time but didn't cross paths there), a sports fanatic, breathtakingly beautiful with supermodel looks, was proud of and cognizant of our history, and was just short of six feet tall at 5'11" with long, shapely legs.

But at the time I was gradually making moves to begin transition and had even started taking hormones. I tried to keep our interactions at 'just friends' level but she wanted more.

Then love barged in and we spent the next two tumultuous years together. The relationship got off to a rocky start because she wasn't honest about being a divorced mother with a teenage child, I didn't tell her about my gender issues and both of us found out about the other's big secret AFTER we fell into bed.

Long story short, two years later the relationship collapsed. When you wake up looking at a woman with a caramel brown complexion so flawless she only wore lipstick and mascara and barely wore makeup, has a curvy 38-25-38 body that allows her to wear a burlap sack and make it look fashion forward and sexy, and you have you own gender issues it breeds jealously.

She had her own demons and insecurities, exacerbated by her desires to have another child with 'The Twin' as the baby daddy. It also doesn't help your own sense of femininity if you're dating someone who also looks as good wearing a dress and heels as you do and you are occasionally borrowing panty hose from the 'brother' you want to father your next child.

When we broke up I came home from work that evening to find out she'd walked with half the stuff in my apartment, including a stereo that I'd owned since the early 80's that had sentimental value for me. I'd bought it from earnings with my first job. She'd also slashed my uniform jackets. It guaranteed that the bitterness I harbored over all the arguments, lack of closure and the night she swung a glass Coke bottle at my head (and fortunately missed) wouldn't go away for a while.

But I do have to give her credit. Being with Glenda wasn't all bad, it was fun at times. She was affectionate and loving when she wanted to be, she gave me a run for my money when we fired off sports trivia questions at each other, and had a wild sense of humor. After she discovered my stash of femme clothes early in our relationship and point blank called me on my transgender issues, she helped me with my presentation and makeup issues, got me more comfortable in going out in the big cruel world out there, went on a few forays into Montrose with me, and basically told me on numerous occasions (even though she was less than pleasant about it when she said it during one argument) that I was more feminine than she was.

That relationship also emphatically drove home the point that I was on the wrong side of the gender fence and needed to correct it ASAP.

The Cold War between us lasted until 1998. One day Glenda surprised me by pulling me aside in the crew lounge and told me that she was sorry for all the negative things that happened during our relationship. She said she missed our friendship and wanted to repair it. I discovered that some of her co-workers blamed her for my transition and were giving her the cold shoulder as a result. It took us a while, but we eventually got back to the communication and friendship level we were at before our ill-fated relationship.

I remember the last time I saw her like yesterday. It was Thursday, March 15, 2001 and I was getting my hair done at Sadat's shop when she walked in. We exchanged greetings and then she asked me to give her a hug, which I did.

She proceeded to tell me that she was having pain in her abdomen area, had it checked out by a doctor friend of hers but he couldn't find anything wrong. I told her she needed to get a second opinion. She said she was planning to see another doctor after she flew a two day trip she had scheduled starting the next day.

That Sunday night something told me to call her, but I changed my mind and decided I'd call Glenda on her birthday which was coming Tuesday.

I never got the opportunity to deliver that birthday greeting. Monday night I received a tearful phone call from her homegirl DeAndria informing me that she was dead. She'd been found collapsed on the bathroom floor of her apartment and the subsequent autopsy confirmed what I suspected was wrong when I talked to her in the shop.

Her appendix ruptured.

I didn't go to the funeral. I was still reeling from my involuntary separation from the airline after 14 years a month earlier (which I found out later was initiated by a right-wing Republican state legislator) and wasn't ready to face all my former co-workers yet who were traveling to her hometown for the funeral.

There are days when I think about her, I wonder if she'd still be alive if I'd followed my instincts and called her on that fateful Sunday night.

One of these days when I go back home I'll travel there, head to the cemetery where she's resting and say my goodbyes.

Blue Bell and Me

If you've been a loyal longtime TransGriot reader, you'll notice that I not only make frequent references to 'The Best Ice Cream In The Country', aka Blue Bell, but talk it up with an almost missionary zeal.

Hold on a sec, I'll be right back. (now on knees bowing in direction of Brenham, TX)

Okay, I'll now return you to this regularly scheduled post. Had to go downstairs to the fridge and help myself to a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream before I continue writing.

What is it about Blue Bell that makes native and naturalized Texans go wild about it? For me, it's a taste of home I don't get often in Bluegrass country. In fact, they only started selling it up here just last year.

Every part of the United States has a regional dish or snack food unique to the area that you can't get anywhere else. For example, Chicagoans are that way about Jay's Potato Chips and deep dish pizza. As a matter of fact, every time I'm in the Chicago area I don't leave Chicagoland without either grabbing a large bag of Jay's or chowing down on a deep dish pie. You can make a friend for life with a Philadelphia native that's residing somewhere else if you visit their hometown and bring them back Tastykakes. Native Louisvillians are the same way about Grippo's Potato Chips.

I can't get Frenchy's chicken, Harlon's barbecue, or a Katz's deli sandwich up here, but I can go to my local Walgreens or Kroger's and purchase my favorite Blue Bell flavors. If I'm feeling homesick, one bowl of it is enough to help me get through it.

Blue Bell is quintessentially Texas as well. The creamery was founded just over 100 years ago in Brenham, and for the longest time you couldn't get it anywhere but southeast Texas. They slowly expanded the distribution area for this legendary ice cream to cover all of the Lone Star State, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and southern New Mexico. You can now get it in 19 states.

If you want to find an expatriate Texan, hang around the Blue Bell freezer. Sooner or later we'll show up to pick up our favorite flavor.

Speaking of favorite flavors, time for me to get a refill.

Transgender Pride: It’s About Time

Guest Post by Bet Power

When it comes to our rights, we transgender people cannot wait our turn. Yet that’s what Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and the Human Rights Campaign told us to do when they stripped the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) of protections for gender identity/expression and left in only sexual orientation.

They also told us this: Let lesbians and gays (but only those who are gender-conforming) move forward under the law while trans people stay behind; “incrementalism” is a valid strategy for human rights; gender identity/expression would kill the bill; the votes were not there to pass the original, trans-inclusive ENDA; trans people first need to educate others more; and – most offensively – yours (Trans) is a new movement: put in more time, pay some more dues.

Tell that to Susan Stanton, the Largo, Florida city manager fired for transitioning to female. Tell that to 15-year-old Lawrence King, an effeminate gay boy bullied and then killed by a classmate who shot him in the head just because of what he wore.

It’s about time we look at history to see how long trans people have struggled.

Transgender is not a recent fad. In the United States, trans and intersex activism started before gay activism. In 1895, a group of New York androgynes started a group called The Cercle Hermaphrodites “to unite for defense against the world’s bitter persecution.” (Stryker: It’s Your History). It wasn’t until 1924 that Henry Gerber founded The Society for Human Rights, in Chicago. In 1950, the gay-male oriented Mattachine Society began; and in 1956, the lesbian group Daughters of Bilitis.

Trans people took part in the civil rights activism of the 1960s, including a group of 150 patrons in “non-conforming clothes” who were turned away at Dewey’s Lunch Counter in Philadelphia. They went on to protest and distribute information about gender variance.

Some would like us not to mention Compton’s Cafeteria, where the first recorded transgender riot against police oppression occurred in August 1966 in San Francisco, preceding the more famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in NYC by three years.

Some prefer to erase important historical facts about Stonewall itself, which started Gay Pride:

▼ Police routinely harassed bar patrons under old NY state laws prohibiting cross-dressing as well as men dancing with men.

▼ A transgender woman, Sylvia Rivera, threw a bottle at a police officer after being prodded by his nightstick (Duberman: Stonewall), perhaps the first act of resistance at the Stonewall Inn sparking several nights of riots. Rivera said, “That night, everything clicked. Great, now it’s my time. I’m out there being a revolutionary for everybody else, now it’s time to do my own thing for my own people.” (E. Marcus: Making History)

▼ A butch female wearing a man’s black leather jacket who was being brought to a patrol car put up a fierce struggle that encouraged the crowd to do the same (D’Emilio: Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities).

▼ Besides Sylvia Rivera, these transgender individuals – among others – are veterans of Stonewall: Marsha P. Johnson, Daria Modon, Miss Major, China Fucito, and Storme DeLarverie.

▼ When riot control police arrived at the Stonewall to rescue officers trapped inside the bar and break up the demonstration, a group of drag queens formed a chorus line, kicked up their heels, and taunted police by singing, “ We are the Stonewall girls / We wear our hair in curls / We wear no underwear / We wear our dungarees / Above our nelly knees!” (

▼ Throughout the first night of the riots, police singled out many transgender and transsexual people and gender non-conformists, including butch women and effeminate men, often beating them.

If it were not for the Stonewall veterans – including drag queens, trans people, and transsexuals alongside gays and lesbians – we would not have the community assets and organizations we have today, from GLAAD and GMHC to Lambda Legal Defense and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project.

It’s about time we move forward with a loud and proud 21st century Transgender Movement. We’ve come of age. Our time is now. Critical legislation is in need of your support. Until the LGBTI Movement stands up to oppression based both on gender expression/identity and sexual orientation, the federal ENDA and Hate Crimes bills may never pass. Trans people want to keep making progress along with gays, lesbians, and bisexuals – just like at Stonewall.

We hope to see you all at the first New England Transgender Pride March & Rally on June 7 in Northampton ( Remember Stonewall? That was us! “We’re fired up / Won’t take no more!”

Bet Power is the Director and Curator of the Sexual Minorities Archives, a national collection of LGBTI literature, history, and art since 1974, located in Northampton, MA. He is also the founder of the East Coast FTM Group (, monthly peer support for the full spectrum of masculine persons in the transgender community.