Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I'm Going To Denver!

To be precise, I'm going to Boulder, CO and the University of Colorado campus.

This has been an interesting year for me so far, and this morning I received an early birthday present. (BTW, TransGriot readers, my birthday is Sunday)

I received word from the wonderful folks who put on the TRANSforming Gender conference on the CU Boulder campus that yours truly has not only been invited to participate in the 2008 edition of this conference, I'll be the keynote speaker!

The speakers at the two previous conferences CU's GLBT Resource Center and other campus organizations host have included people such as my 2006 Trinity classmate Gordene MacKenzie, Pauline Park, Andrea James, Calpernia Addams, Thea Hillman, Jamison Green, Dean Spade, Anderson Toone, Diane Tor, Avy Skolnick, Helen Boyd, Julia Serano, Matt Kailey and Dylan Scholinski.

The third annual edition of this event will be taking place October 17-19, and as I get more details about it I'll be passing that info on to you. It'll give you peeps who live in the Denver metro area who wish to attend an opportunity to meet the TransGriot. It's been twenty years since I spent July 1988 in the Denver area taking a training class when I worked for CAL, and now it looks like thanks to the Project and CU I'll be back twice in the span of a few weeks.

I'm really excited to be participating in this conference and I'm looking forward to seeing some of you on the CU Boulder campus in October.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Don't Be Shy...Ask Me Questions

This morning I had the pleasure of corresponding with a young college student about a transgender related relationship issue. I hope that I was successful in resolving to her satisfaction and clearing up some questions in her mind. She was a little nervous at first, but as one of my college professors and my parents once told me, the only dumb question is the one that's never asked.

I presume that like the person I'm talking about in the previous paragraph, some of you may have stumbled upon TransGriot while web surfing, Googling a question or for myriad other reasons.

One of the reasons I blog is to kick knowledge out about transgender issues, with an emphasis on African-Americans and what we deal with when we transition. Some issues are similar to my transsisters ad transbrothers in general, while others are unique to the African-American experience.

So if you have some burning questions on something I may not have touched on in the 700 plus posts I have here, feel free to leave a comment in this thread or hit me at transgriot@yahoo.com. If it doesn't get too personal, I'll answer it.

It doesn't even have to be transgender related. ;)

If y'all hit me with some good ones, they may even show up in a future TransGriot post.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright Defending Himself, But Is He Hurting Barack Obama in the Process?

Monday, April 28, 2008
By: Jackie Jones, BlackAmericaWeb.com

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s recent schedule of public appearances, including a prime-time television interview with Bill Moyers Friday, either threaten to pose a major problem for Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign or is absolutely meaningless in the grand scheme of things, depending on to whom you talk.

“I don’t think it’s helpful for Obama at all,” said radio host, columnist and CNN contributor Roland Martin. “The story was dying down. Now, all of a sudden, with two critical primaries two weeks away, that could have an impact.”

Wright, former pastor at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama's church home, said that publicizing sound bites of sermons from several years ago in which he condemned U.S. policies was “unfair” and “devious,” and done by people who know nothing about his ministry, he told "Bill Moyers’ Journal" in a PBS interview.

As an activist, he is accustomed to being “at odds with the establishment,” but the response to the sermons has been “very, very unsettling,” Wright said.

In a major address on race on March 18 in Philadelphia, Obama described the history of injustice that fueled Wright's comments, acknowledged white resentment of being portrayed as privileged and/or bigoted and denounced his former pastor's remarks.

The interview broadcast Friday was the first Wright has given since video featuring brief, fiery excerpts of his preaching hit the national scene last month and forced Obama to defend his own spiritual and political views. Wright is scheduled to speak Monday at the National Press Club in Washington.

Sunday night, Wright told an audience of 10,000 at an NAACP dinner that despite what his critics say, he is descriptive, not divisive, when he speaks about racial injustices.

"I describe the conditions in this country," Wright said during the 53rd annual Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner held by the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"I'm not here for political reasons," Wright said. "I'm not a politician. I know that fact will surprise many of you because many in the corporate-owned media made it seem like I am running for the Oval Office. I am not running for the Oval Office. I've been running for Jesus a long, long time, and I'm not tired yet."

By speaking at the event, Wright was following in the footsteps of Obama and the senator's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as former President Bill Clinton. It's a $150-a-plate fundraiser billed as America's largest sit-down dinner.

"I am not one of the most divisive" black spiritual leaders, he said. "I'm one of the most descriptive."

Wright received a long, loud standing ovation.

“Rev. Wright has already been framed. Some people may get a greater understanding of him from what he has to say,” but a lot of people have already made up their minds about him, Martin told BlackAmericaWeb.com.

“Politically, you take the hit; you learn from it and move on,” Martin said, but for Obama, that has become more difficult because the issue, which took up most of March, has come back in April and threatens to roll into May.

Martin said the Obama campaign, however, has decided not to further engage the issue.

“They’re not going to comment on it because they don’t have to; (Obama has) already addressed it,” Martin said.

But Rev. Wright, lapel pins, “bitter” working-class white folks all mean bumpkiss to the average voter, said David Bositis, senior analyst for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black think tank.

Bositis told BlackAmericaWeb.com he didn’t believe that Wright’s interview with Moyers really won’t have much of an impact.

“By and large, no, I don’t because there are real problems” that Americans are contending with, he said.

From Bositis' research, casual conversations and even listening to a recent radio talk show, he said, it is apparent voters “are tired of hearing about lapel pins and Rev. Wright," he said, "and what they are talking about is rice and Costco, how much gasoline costs, how much health care costs, the recession the country is in, people losing their homes and being in neighborhoods where lots of other people are losing their homes, increasing the risk of crime when you have abandoned homes. All this other stuff is a useless distraction to what other people are worried about.”

And while the issue may be framed in terms of how Obama may fare against McCain in November, it is nothing more than a smokescreen to suggest that these issues could cost Obama the Democratic nomination, Bositis said.

“Obama has more delegates, and when everything is done, he’s going to have more delegates, who are going to decide whether to seat Michigan and Florida, and it’s their decision. It’s not the party’s decision; it’s up to the delegation at the Democratic convention. And as long as Obama is in control of the delegation to the convention, he will tell the delegates how to vote, and this is one of the things that Clinton has been sick over,” Bositis said.

The argument that pledged delegates don’t have to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged is technically true, but virtually impossible to have happen, he said.

“It’s typical of Clinton that she wants to break the rules. Those delegates are not picked at random. They pick the most loyal people to be delegates, and it’s Obama loyalists” who are chosen, Bositis said. “She can make up all the fantasies she wants.”

Bositis said although Clinton won the Pennsylvania primary last Tuesday, she cut Obama’s lead by just three delegates. Superdelegates, he said, are still migrating to Obama’s side.

“She hasn’t gained any ground,” said Bositis.

Bositis and Martin also took political pundits and journalists to task for lazy reporting that has only served to confuse and misinform voters.

Martin, who said he viewed Wright’s sermon in its entirety and pointed out in several interviews that excerpts of Wright’s comments were taken out of context, said few in the media have sought to correct the record, but several commentators have accused him of being an apologist for the minister or a partisan player for Obama.

“I represent fact, I don’t represent factions,” Martin said. “So when somebody says that Wright called for God to damn America, I’ve got to correct them immediately, whether it’s on my radio show or on CNN. Nearly every one of these people coming on the air, none of them has heard the sermon in question. The question is have you heard it? Have you heard it? Have you heard it? And when they say no, you have to say ‘How can you speak with authority on the sermon that you have not heard? You can’t extrapolate.’”

Bositis said he has stopped watching television political pundits because their information is not reliable.

“I can get data on the Web without listening to a bunch of fools. If I want news, I get news from printed sources -- although there are plenty of print sources that are bull -- or on the Web,” he said. “It’s not even informed speculation. Those people are selling themselves. They’re playing roles. They haven’t been hired for analysis. Like local newscasters, (stations) always look for people who are attractive, who come across as trustworthy, who people like. Well, these people are hired to rant and rave.”


Associated Press contributed to this story.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

'Tipping' Affects More Than Just Housing Markets

When I talk about 'tipping', I'm not talking about trying to figure out how much cash you give your server after you chow down at your local restaurant.

In the real estate world, 'tipping' refers to the point of no return in which 'white flight' is triggered from a neighborhood because of the perception that it's 'too Black' or 'too ethnic'

What is that point? According to some studies, white flight from some neighborhoods can be triggered if just 8% of the homes are bought by Black owners. Translation, in a 100 home subdivision, if just eight African-American families move in, the mass exodus begins. Other studies say if the percentage of white residents dips below 50%, 'white flight' begins.

I believe it's the 8% figure, and I remember a vivid example of it.

My friend Leighton Lindsey and his family moved from my neighborhood to their Hiram Clarke area neighborhood in 1976. That area and their block was majority white at the time and their new home was just two blocks up the street from Madison High School in southwest Houston.

Two months later when they got settled into their new home, my brother and I were invited to spend the weekend with him and his brother Todd. I noted when we got dropped off at his house that not only did the next door neighbors have a 'For Sale' sign on their home, but four other houses on that same block had them as well.

I'm bringing up this childhood memory in the wake of the comments of a Projector on Bilerico where I'm a contributing writer. This person complained that Bilerico was becoming 'too black', a comment in which I and Bil Browning went off on.

I'm also seeing and hearing the same whispers on other GLBT oriented lists that I peruse that Bilerico is 'too Black' or 'too transgender'. Is that your code word or whatever the frack excuse you're using for not only not wanting to read the posts of people that don't look like you, but don't want to engage in the frank discussions we have on various issues on the Project?

If that's your opinion, you're entitled to it. But basing those comments on a small portion of the generated comment of the Project being authored by African-American GLBT people is bigoted and asinine.

As I have repeatedly stated, I see things through an African-American prism. The way I look at and analyze issues does not always neatly line up with a predominately white GLBT community's views. There are some issues I will agree with you with on that put me at odds with the African-American community. There are others that I'll have a radically different point of view on that will have me standing in solidarity with my people.

When I'm commenting on issues, it's primarily based on what's right and wrong along with the moral and ethical implications. I'm also blunt about tellin' it like it T-I-S is as the late Jack 'The Rapper' Gibson would say.

So if you can't handle what I have to say and try to dismiss it as a 'transgender conspiracy theory' or 'rubbing my blackness in your face', you do so at your own intellectual peril.

HRC's Overdrawn At The Bank Of Trust

by Vanessa Edwards Foster

"You say it's fine -- keep your place in line
Keep biding your time but you talk in a vacuum.
Because you've been bought
I don't know what I want
But I know I don't want to be anything like you." — Interference, Cop Shoot Cop

While I watch the returns coming in from Pennsylvania’s primary, I’m going to keep things short. It appears Hillary’s found a way to keep her campaign alive and a lot of it is dependent upon keeping the gay and lesbian vote in tact and activated.

Regardless of how little I care for her candidacy, sending Chelsea out was a good strategy and well-played: use your strength to cover the one area you might be weakest in to neutralize your opponent’s strength – in this case, Obama’s dominance of the urban centers. A little master-stroke for Harold Ickes. However, I still plan on making his and his candidate’s life hell for their taking for granted our community. Just the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) repudiation factor in Trans America alone will play well with our base and those who still support full equality rather than the watered-down imitation.

While on the subject of HRC, a rumor came a few weeks back from a prominent activist in the community with ties to HRC that another of our community leaders was meeting with Joe Solmonese. I just took it with a grain of salt to see if another shoe dropped.

Well, the other shoe did drop. This time it came from a surprise return of one of my old contacts on the Hill who noted HRC’s reporting to him of a lunch meeting between Joe himself and the “transgender community’s leader” to smooth things out. Initially he thought that was me! He’s been off the hill since about 2002 and I assured him it was no one from NTAC (barely able to contain my laugh). I can also say it was not Donna Rose either, something I confirmed.

For now we’ll just narrow it down and leave it at that point. Until then, it’s “Mystery Trans” ….

But it does beg one question from either party: what the hell are they thinking?!?

No matter how stupid HRC presumes trans folks are how do they calculate that we haven’t figured out their notably consistent behavior patterns yet? Even dumb animals pick up on patterns after so many replays. Speaking for myself, I’m no worse than a dumb animal and I’ll wager that the trans community isn’t either. (For the record, I was onto them in the late 90’s). Yeah, most all have figured out the cheap trick.

We in the transgender community have never been afforded credibility in gay and lesbian America even when we were fully honest. After HRC’s record of trust betrayal, and further the manipulation afterwards for political cover, how do they feel they’ll warrant any trust? As the saying goes “there’s no fool like an old fool.” Well, we’re done with this. Stick a fork in it. They’re inexpiable.

As for this “transgender community leader,” if you think you’re being seen as doing anything beyond self-serving motivations by playing into HRC’s hands and helping fracture our already-fractured community even further, dream on! Waking up to reality will be exceedingly tough.

Truly we’re a cash-poor community. HRC’s ability to flash a little green and put stars in peoples’ eyes and attract the occasional myopically self-ambitious tranny to help them sink us from inside is well established. But if HRC is thinking they’re going to have us following these Manchurian trannies now or in the future, they’re out of their overconfident minds. It’s this combination of temerity and arrogance that’s going to smash them and their historical legacy, along with any Transidict Arnold they get to cling to their back like a baby possum while mama possum crosses the ten-lane midtown interstate during rush hour.

Their history is etched in stone, never to be revised away. Forgiveness is easy – forgetting is not. They already know that. They’ve never forgotten us and what umbrage they took from us – and we’ve never taken money from or opportunized upon their issues nor urged gay-exclusive legislation. Yet they’re still vindictive. All things considered, what do they realistically expect from us?

As in banking, trust is doled out on their history. Debts can be forgiven, but future loans are only given again once they’ve demonstrated enough to make those they’ve burned previously sufficiently overlook those old burn scars. In the bank and trust of queer equality, HRC is the most severely and consistently overdrawn.

If HRC really thinks solutions are as simple as finding or creating their new tranny shill to assist in the obfuscation and deceit, they’ll learn in short order that we’re no longer playing those games. And it will be yet one more brick in the wall between us.

“I don't need no walls around me.
And I don't need no drugs to calm me.
I have seen the writing on the wall.
Don't think I need any thing at all.
All in all it was all just the bricks in the wall.” — Another Brick In The Wall - Part III, Pink Floyd

“You're a total blank and you're as funny as a bank.” — Interference, Cop Shoot Cop

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New England Trans Pride March Announces Rally Lineup, Seeks Support

The organizers of the first New England Transgender Pride March and Rally have announced the following lineup of speakers and performers for the event, scheduled for June 7, 2008 in Northampton, MA.

11:00 a.m. Assemble at Lampron Park

Noon March steps off

12:30 – 12:45 p.m. Marchers arrive at Armory Street Lot (behind Thornes Marketplace)

12:45 – 12:50 p.m. Welcome by MC Louis Mitchell and Proclamation by Mayor Clare Higgins

12:50 – 1:00 p.m Political official TBD

1:00 – 1:10 p.m. Miss Major (Grand Marshal; Transgender, Gender Variant, Intersex Justice Project)

1:10 – 1:20 p.m. Gunner Scott (Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition)

1:20 – 1:30 p.m. Jerimarie Liesegang (CT TransAdvocacy Coalition)

1:30 – 1:40 p.m. Jill Berlin (TransForming Families)

1:40 – 1:45 p.m. Elliot Halloway (Trans youth)

1:45 – 2:00 p.m. Ellen Wittlinger (Author reading from Parrotfish)

2:00 – 2:05 p.m. Alex Pangborn (Generation Q)

2:05 – 2:15 p.m. Lee Elder (FTM folksinger)

2:15 – 2:30 p.m. Joe Stevens (singer/songwriter of Coyote Grace)

2:30 – 2:40 p.m. Announcements / Intermission

2:40 – 2:50 p.m. Monica Roberts (Trans Griot blog, founding member of National Transgender Advocacy Coalition)

2:50 – 3:10 p.m. New England Transgender Pride Steering Committee members:

Bet Power, Marie Ali, Dru Levasseur, and Jacklyn Matts

3:10 – 3:25 p.m. Statement from Leslie Feinberg (Trans author and activist)

3:25 – 3:35 p.m. Moonhawk River Stone (Trans psychotherapist and activist)

3:35 – 3:40 p.m. Vickie Boisseau (Intersex activist)

3:40 – 3:50 p.m. Imani Henry (Trans activist and performance artist)

3:50 – 4:00 p.m. Dr. Enoch Page (Associate Professor of Anthropology, UMass Amherst)

4:00 – 4:10 p.m. Cathy Worthley (MTF folksinger)

4:10 – 4:20 p.m. Ethan St. Pierre (TransFM Radio)

4:20 – 4:30 p.m. Donna Rose (TransEducate, resigned from HRC board over ENDA)

4:30 – 4:45 p.m. Kate Bornstein (Trans author, playwright, and performance artist)

4:45 – 5:00 p.m. All The Kings Men: Boston’s Drag Troupe

“Presenting our foremost transgender authors, along with 1969 Stonewall Rebellion veteran Miss Major, and several prominent trans activists and musicians on one stage may be unprecedented,” said Bet Power, a Trans Pride steering committee member. “It will certainly be an historic event, a pivotal day that the national, regional, and local transgender community is very much looking forward to. Trans people and our allies will be traveling from both coasts and locations in-between to march for our civil rights and celebrate our pride in who we are.”

Trans ally and steering committee member Alicia Jay stated, “It has been a powerful experience organizing with the trans community, and I feel very honored to be part of this event. It is crucial for trans allies to get involved in the growing trans civil rights movement, and support the right of all communities to stand up and be heard.”

New England Transgender Pride is seeking sponsors, donations from organizations and individuals, and volunteers to help on the day of the march. For more information or to participate, visit www.transpridemarch.org.


Note: Speaker and performer bios and photos are available upon request.

TransGriot Note: As many of you probably noted, I'm one of the speakers for this event. The logo in this post is designed by artist Yohah Ralph and is on the t-shirts available for purchase for this historic event.

Black Feminism and Transwomen-What's the 411?

From time to time I like stimulating my mind by engaging in hard, solid thinking as Dr. King eloquently called it.

One of the questions that's recently popped into my head since I read those jacked up comments on a Questioning Transphobia post about Black transwomen and Black women in general, is where do my African-American biosisters who consider themselves feminists stand when it comes to transgender issues?

There is a long-standing historical beef between transpeople and the radical feminist community thanks to the poisonous attitudes that Janice Raymond and Germaine Greer injected into the movement back in the 70's and 80's. Mention the Michigan Womyn's Music Fest to some of the transwomen of and before my generation and you'll see a level of bile and vitriol that's usually reserved for HRC. Don't even get me started on Janice Raymond's infamous book The Transsexual Empire. I'm also aware that many African-American and other women of color have major beefs with the feminist movement as well.

My question to those African-American women who call themselves feminists (or womanists) is what are your thoughts and beliefs in regards to your transgender sisters? Do you share the same negativity toward us as some white radical feminists do, or do you lean more toward the historical philosophy that we are all Black first, everything else second?

From what I've been able to read from some Black feminist writings, at first glance we share some similarities. Transsistahs share the experience of evolving, becoming and being Black women in a society that denigrates women of African descent. We also share as Black people the history and legacy of struggle that causes us to view issues through an African-American lens. We transwomen also share like you do the frustrations of being marginalized in a larger, white-dominated movement that doesn't speak to or is indifferent about our issues and historic agenda as African descended people in America.

In addition to that, Black transwomen are all too aware that the second we transition, we become moving targets for sexual assault and violence. You only need to look at the Remembering our Dead list and note that 70% of the people memorialized on that list are people of color to see that common thread.

But I also noted that transgender issues and their place in feminist thought are contentious issues in both camps. One of the things I find abhorrent is the recent trend by some white post-operative transwomen to appropriate radical feminist language (the WBT's) and then fashion it into a rhetorical club to beat down other transpeople who don't share their narrow, classist, borderline racist, misguided, genitalia-centered and non-reality based agenda.

We have also grown up observing our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters and female friends being raised to not only have pride in themselves, but be socialized as independent, self-reliant and resourceful people.

We have grown up in homes in which parents shared responsibilities or if it was a single parent one, mom raising children and sacrificing her needs for her kids. We have seen African-American women as leaders from the neighborhood associations to the halls of Congress. That is the model of womanhood that many African-American transwomen grew up with. It is the template some of us use for our own evolution into the Black women we were born to be.

This inquiring mind wants to know and is curious to hear what Black feminists have to say regarding their transsistahs.

Power of US Conference 2008

I'm a little bummed that I couldn't go to this event that's concluding in Baltimore today. I had the pleasure of being introduced to National Black Justice Coalition CEO H. Alexander Robinson at an event in Louisville a few years ago by Mandy Carter.

The Power of US conference in Baltimore combined their Black Church Summit event (the previous two were held in Atlanta and Philadelphia), a Health and Wellness Summit, and a leadership Development & Mobilization Summit.

I definitely wanted to be there for the leadership part of the conference. In addition to the folks I would have been met there through various networking opportunities, it's always nice to learn some new strategies, skills and tactics for passing progressive legislation. The bonus on this one is I would have gotten to meet fellow GLBT African-Americans from all over the country as well.

It would have also been nice to witness the Black Church Summit as well and see which sellout megachurch ministers (if any) showed up. Bishop Harry Jackson attended the Philly event, but less than 24 hours after he left Jackson was on conservative websites blasting it.

It also would have been interesting to check out the Health and Wellness part of it to see if they addressed health issues of concern to transgender peeps. Unlike a certain organization on Rhode Island Ave, the NJBC is part of United ENDA and is definitely worth donating some cash to if you feel inclined to do so.

Unfortunately my work schedule wouldn't allow me to attend this conference and I sincerely hope the NJBC is planning another one for next year.

Note To World- Black Transpeople Exist

"I never considered it to be a disadvantage to be a Black woman. I never wanted to be anything else. We have brains. We are beautiful. We can be anything we set our minds to." Diana Ross, ESSENCE magazine, October 1989

One of the reasons I don't like many radical feminists, and I'm saying it in the spirit of Kingian love and understanding, is because of the anti-transgender sentiments that were injected into the movement back in the 70's and early 80's by Janice Raymond, Germaine Greer and their acolytes.

In addition to that, most feminist theorizing doesn't take into account the way and the conditions that Black women and other women of color interact with the parent society.

So I wasn't surprised nor shocked when some feminist made the devoid of logic assumptions about Black transwomen or presumed that all we did was sex work for a living. Anybody who's read TransGriot or just opens their eyes can tell you otherwise. Even my transbrothers are beginning to get their well-deserved face time as well in print and film.

News flash: transpeople don't just come in vanilla only. They also come in chocolate, caramel and other flavors as well. And if you didn't notice, this blog is a FUBU production of an out and proud phenomenal African-American transwoman.

While we discuss and hear far more frequently about transpeople in Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas, it's illogical to ignore the reality that transpeople inhabit the second largest continent on this planet or aren't represented in the African Diaspora. In many parts of the African continent, unless they live in South Africa, transpeople struggle mightily just to have their basic human rights respected before they can even get to the point where they can deal with their gender identity issues.

Yes, Punk and 'errbody' else that doesn't get the point by now, Black transpeople do exist. You don't see us because for the most part we don't get the media face time that our white counterparts do. When we do get it, most of the time it beats to death the tired story of transwomen of color and prostitution.

Most of my transsisters are not only gainfully employed, but if fundamentalists weren't pushing their jacked up 'hate the trannies' agenda, in my opinion even more of us would be out and proud. Because of the negativity that we get even in our own community, and increasingly some of that negativity is coming from Black megachurches that have been infected with white fundamentalist 'christian' doctrine, many of my sisters and brothers are stealth.

For those of us who do come out and try to change the situation by speaking out, writing about the issues we face, working within the political system and the GLBT movement to pass laws so that it's easier for my transsistahs and transbrothers to live authentic lives and make legit paper, our efforts are belittled, our intelligence is denigrated and our voices ignored. If we express ideas or opinions that don't neatly line up with 'mainstream' thought, we are derided as 'racist'.

But to be honest, I can't be too mad at people like Punk. Some of this perception gap is our fault as well. Many Black transpeople look at the situation I described in the previous paragraph and say, 'why bother getting involved?'.

That attitude is even more prevalent among my peeps that have 'good jobs'. For my brothers and sisters who are working jobs paying close to minimum wage, you have to work far more hours at it just to pay the bills. It doesn't leave much time for non-reality based BS, activism, or doing as Dr. King called it, 'hard, solid thinking' about our situations.

But by opting out and going stealth, it leads to a perception vacuum that too easily lends itself to our opponents and ignorance defining us.

If we don't speak up for ourselves, tell the world that we Black transpeople not only exist, but are beautiful, intelligent, creative, talented, proud, successful, have a history, and give the world a wide palette of images and people to judge us by, then who will?

TransGriot Note: the transsistah in the photo is Valerie Spencer. She's speaking at the Los Angeles Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony. The YouTube clip is of a film called Still Black-A Portrait of Black Transmen

Friday, April 25, 2008

Izza Lopez Case Settled

I wrote about the Izza Lopez case back home in which a transwoman had a 2005 job offer rescinded by River Oaks Imaging after they discovered she was a transwoman.

Lopez claimed the job was pulled when the employer found out she is transgender, something that she didn't hide during the application process. River Oaks Imaging said the offer was withdrawn because she presented herself as a woman and that was a lie because she 'really was a man'.

After going through court-ordered mediation, a settlement was reached on Wednesday.

"I can tell you the case has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of both parties," said Lambda Legal spokesman Jason Howe. Lambda Legal (a GLBT organization that HRC could learn from) represented Lopez.

River Oaks Imaging lawyer Howard Dulmage said Thursday that he cannot discuss the settlement but that the parties agreed to mutually resolve their differences.

This case is a prime example of the fact that my hometown needs to step up to the plate and amend city ordinances to protect transgender Houstonians. It's an embarrassment to me as a native Houstonian that H-town doesn't protect transgender peeps rights except for city of Houston employment only, and Dallas and Austin are part of the ever expanding list of 90 cities and municipalities that do.

Hopefully Mayor White and the Houston City Council will do the right thing and take steps to rectify this situation.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Danger Zone

I'm a huge fan of the syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show and listen to it every day. Its combination of news, interviews, humor and insightful commentary from such peeps as Tavis Smiley, Michael Eric Dyson, and 'the Revs' routinely draws an audience of 11 million predominately African-American listeners.

IIf there's anyone who has their finger on the pulse of Black America, it's Tom Joyner.

During yesterday's show he conducted a For Real For Real poll that has me extremely nervous about the 2008 election should Hillary somehow get the nomination.

According to this poll, 54 percent said they'd vote for Clinton if Barack is not the candidate. But a whopping 35 percent said they won't vote at all if Obama isn't in the race.

There are a few things you Hillary fans aren't seeing. Sen. Obama's campaign is bringing in large numbers of people who are either new voters or people haven't been engaged in the political process for a long time. It is also tapping into a shared dream that African-Americans have held since emancipation, seeing one of our own taking the oath of office as president.

It took a while for us to get emotionally invested since we've been down this road twice with Jesse Jackson, Sr. in 1984 and 1988. But this time we have a candidate who may actually make this dream a reality. We're beginning to have the audacity of hope that we may see him on January 20, 2009 standing on the capitol steps taking the oath of office while his lovely wife Michelle holds the Bible.

Now that we can conceive the dream and are tantalizingly close to seeing him secure the nomination, the continued negative race-baiting attacks by the Clinton camp is only suceeding in pissing off a constituency without which no Democratic candidate can win in November.

For me and many African-Americans sitting out the election or voting for John McCain is not an option. Hillary Clinton can't overtake Obama delegate wise even if she swept the remaining contests. That ain't happening because North Carolina is one of those remaining primary states with a significant African-American population that hasn't weighed in yet (By the way Hillary fans, Barack has a nine point lead in North Carolina) and because of proportional allocation rules, he'll continue to accumulate delegates..

But that 35% number scares me. I hope those peeps will take the time to think about the big picture and realize that we and the country cannot afford a McCain presidency.

But the point I'm making is that Democrats cannot afford to piss off your most loyal constituency and expect to win. Barack leads in the delegate count, has won double the amount of states, and him being on the ballot in the fall will continue to bring record numbers of new voters into the mix.

If Hillary pulls this out by using the superdelegates, and that's the only way she can remotely get the nomination at this point, it will be perceived in Black American circles as 'she stole the nomination' and the sitzkrieg will commence. Hillary will not get the historic turnout of African-American voters that Barack Obama's presence on the November ballot would generate. She would also have a frosty reception in terms of getting many of us motivated to come to the polls and support her.

So yeah, while I'm happy I get a chance to vote on May 20 for my candidate, I'm still going to be anxious until Barack finally closes out this nomination.

Crossposted to The Bilerico Project

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Apologize, Shellie

It's taken her a few months, but I finally got a response from Ms. Shellie-Ann Anderson of May Pen, Jamaica a few days ago. Seems like Miss Thang wants me to take her picture off the post I wrote slamming her for her anti-GLBT comments she left on my blog. That post also renews my call for GLBT people and our allies to forgo tourism to Jamaica and boycott all Jamaican products until they mend their GLBT bashing ways.

Just to refresh 'errbodys' memory banks, here's what home girl posted to my blog in the comments section of the 'I'm Boycotting Jamaica' post

batty bwoy fi get buss ass fi true.
unnu too raasclaat nasty and friggin fool.

if unnu nuh waan nobody lick unnu dung unnu keep unnu homo self to unnu self and mek peace remain as much as possible.

The sad thing is that she has a great essay featured in an article in the Jamaica Gleaner entitled Internet Use Opportunities and Risks but at the same time chose to post that trifling anti-GLBT crap on my blog.

Now she wants me to pull her picture off my blog.

Not until I get an apology posted for your insulting comment.

I don't know if you thought posting that comment was funny or whatever was going through your teenage mind at the time, but my fellow GLBT peeps being beaten and killed in your country ain't no laughing matter. When your political leadership in Jamaica and various people interviewed about it are unrepentant, dismissive or defensive about it, all it does is piss people off who see the injustice even more.

So you're not liking your picture being plastered on this site and connected with your homophobic comments. How do you think your fellow GLBT Jamaicans feel who are living in exile in the UK, Canada, the US and various other countries and can't come home? Some of you Jamaicans may not see it that way, but for every GLBT person that leaves the island for other nations, we get the benefits of their talents.

Just because people disapprove of their same-gender love or they're transgender doesn't give them the right to verbally abuse, beat or kill somebody.

So roll your eyes, suck your teeth, cuss me out in Patois, whatever. The pictures don't come off this site until I get a sincere apology in the comments section of this post.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We're Trying To Make HRC Better, Not Tear It Down

HRC and its defenders has been on a furious spin offensive in the last several weeks.

They've been trying to paint its numerous critics like myself as 'transgender conspiracy theorists' and other nastier epithets in other corners of the GLBT blogosphere I won't waste bandwith repeating.

For the white transgender community, the dwindling ranks of HRC supporters have been trotting out the new jack spin line of that tired 'horizontal hostility' crap they used to peddle that states we HRC critics are trying to 'tear down HRC'.

Au contraire my HRC Kool-aid drinking friends.

As an African-American who is considered a major transgender leader and has the Trinity to prove it, I see this contentious debate as healthy and normal. I also subscribe to the African-American definition of leadership as set forth by Dr Ron Walters.

The task of Black leadership is to provide the vision, resources, tactics, and strategies that facilitate the achievement of the objectives of Black people.

These objectives have been variously described as freedom, integration, equality, liberation, or defined in the terms of specific public policies. It is a role that often requires disturbing the peace. And we constantly carry on a dialogue about the fitness of various leaders and the qualities they bring to the table to fulfill this mission.

The bottom line is that I not only subscribe to this definition of leadership and try to practice it, it is also one of the litmus tests I use to judge whether an organization is doing what it's supposed to do.

The flack that HRC is catching from me and other transgender leaders is because HRC for a decade has not lived up to their claim as being the leaders of the GLBT community. Their actions have been deceptive, dismissive and disrespectful of my community. They have continued to act in a manner devoid of moral authority and made decisions that are harmful to the transgender community. Their relentless pursuit of money over passing inclusive legislation that benefits all of us has caused major chasms in the GLBT community. What's even more infuriating about it, they are arrogantly unrepentant and alarmingly clueless about it.

Their arrogance in repeating the Republican strategy in regards to African-Americans of trying to create 'acceptable to HRC' transgender leaders, demanding that we only have one organization to negotiate with them, and ignoring the leaders that we have chose is also galling as well.

As an African-American, I have multiple organizations that speak on my behalf. So does the gay and lesbian community. Why would you egotistically demand of the transgender community something that you don't follow yourselves?

You have left us and our supporters no choice but to picket your dinners until some attitudes change at 1640 Rhode Island Ave, NW. We're human beings beyond sick and tired of being treated like bargaining chips in some game of congressional poker. We need legislative protection like yesterday, and if you are the 'leading civil rights organization' that your relentless PR claims it is, show some leadership by passing am inclusive ENDA that's a win-win situation for the entire community, not just wealthy straight-acting Caucasian gay men and women.

Nelson Mandela eloquently stated, 'no true alliance can be built on the shifting sands of evasion. illusions and opportunism.'

That quote describes the decades long history between HRC and the transgender community and the drama that goes back to Stonewall between the GLB and transgender communities. The choice is yours. It's either building a working partnership based on respect that treats us as equals, bust your asses to pass an inclusive ENDA in 2009 while beginning an honest dialogue with your harshest critics, or continue to face a long, hot no justice, no peace spring, summer and fall of protest at every event that has an equal sign attached to it.

Crossposted to the Bilerico project

Rev. Paul Turner Declines HRC ATL Dinner Invite

TransGriot Note: I've had the pleasure of meeting the Rev. Paul Turner at a 2004 SCC. His congregation at Gentle Spirit Christian Church in the ATL is GLBT inclusive, and Whosoever, a ministry he's an integral part of exists to provides a safe and sacred space for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians to reclaim, rekindle and grow their relationship with God. Needless to say Pastor Paul is not happy with HRC's dissing of transgender people in l'affaire ENDA. Here is his open letter declining an invite to Atlanta's upcoming May 3 HRC dinner.

First, the e-mail inviting him to the dinner:

Jason Lowery & Ebonee Bradford Cordially invites you to attend the 21st Annual Human Rights Campaign Dinner. Keynote speaker Kathy Nahjimy, Entertainment the incomprable crystal waters! tickets are still available for may 3, 2008

Awardees: Rev dennis meredith, Tabernacle Baptist Atl.-Dan Bradley Humunitarian Award/ Frank Bragg Metrotainment cafe/leon allen & Winston Johnson Community leadership award. www.boxofficetickets.com or www.atlantahrcdinner.org

Pastor Paul's response:

Thank you for the invitation...However, I will not participate with anything involving HRC until the Transgender Community is really part of the LGBTQI they so often say they represent.

There are those in our community who think I am being "childish" and "foolish" about this, however, I cannot nor will I stand with an organization which uses a part of our community as a political chess piece.

I cannot nor will I stand silently by while our sisters and brothers in the Transgender community are told they must wait for protection, or "they must understand we are not there yet". Every year I stand at the State Capital to hear more names read of our sisters and brothers who have been slaughtered. Yet, HRC does not see the need to take a stand on their behalf? The HRC really thinks it is OK to have just LGB?

I will once again say:

There is no going forward if everyone is not with us.

This is not Animal Farm where "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal then others"!

HRC has made and continues to make a horrible and tragic miscalculation...a poll of 500 people does not speak for the entire LGBTQ community.

HRC sold it's sisters and brothers down the river for a bill they knew was not going to pass or have a chance in hell of becoming law. So what better time then to take a moral and courageous stand?

Does HRC not understand the Transgender community is in real and serious danger? When a house is on fire you don't stand outside and decide whom you are going to rescue, the attempt is made for all.

Of course what HRC has forgotten is it was these folks who started the whole “gay rights” movement we know today when they stood toe to high heal with the New York City police department at Stonewall.

HRC confidently forgets the Trans community has been with us every step of this bloody fight for our rights, our self worth and our very souls.

HRC forgets or ignores that each day when a trans person gets out of bed and steps into the world it may in fact be their last day.

If the hypocrites in congress don't want transgender people in a bill of protection for LGBTQI folks, then there should be no bill for consideration...not have HRC bargaining and agreeing that a part of our community is expendable and could simply wait for another day.

By not including Transgender people in any bill sent to the floor of congress y'all send a clear message to everyone concerned that the transgender community is somehow not on equal footing with the rest of the community.

This is wrong and HRC knows it. Pastorally speaking HRC has chosen to be the Esther who didn't bother to go before the King (Esther 4 New International Version).

Shame on you. I wonder how many Transgender people will die because even HRC does not think they are worthy of protection? This was and is a time for leadership, guts and courage.

It has been said a bill couldn't get through with Trans as apart of it, that it would be defeated...well my friends you may have won the battle with the US Congress but HRC has made themselves hypocrites in the truest sense of the word.

"The Human Rights Campaign is the nations largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality" Just where does the needs of the transgender community meet HRC's definition of civil rights if not within ENDA?

I know this doesn't mean a hell of lot to you, as I am not one of the high profile pastor's for which HRC has fooled into believing they care about the total community. Yet, how does one deal with a statement from your Executive Director which as it turns out was a flat out lie?


This statement was made in front of a room full of Transgender folks. So did your Executive Director mis-speak? Although I thought his statement was pretty clear. Are we to pretend this statement of support was just to say something nice to the trans community?

I cannot express how sad and disappointed I am in this organization. HRC should know that God's people are not expendable at any price!

The recent attempts to "explain" to "sooth", to "justify". to "spin" this despicable act on the part of HRC is arrogant, shameful and not worthy of a people who want our money so they can "fight for our rights"

I am no longer a supporter of HRC, I will not honor their name or pass on their e-mails with their weekly calls for money.

They will not again receive one dime of my money or the church's and I will certainly encourage folks to find other organizations to support with their hard earned money other then HRC. I do believe there are organizations out there that still understand the meaning of community and that without all the hard work of the Trans community we would be nothing.

There is talk of a calling for a boycott of the HRC dinner in Atlanta as well as any other HRC events in this city that seek our hard earned money. I am inclined to agree with boycotting the dinner and HRC in general. It is an appropriate way to send a message from Atlanta, the cradle of the civil rights movement that if we are not all protected by the law then none of us has protection.

No, I will not be going to this dinner and I would encourage anyone who has a basic sense of fairness, compassion and a sense of community to not go either.

I would encourage Rev. Dennis Meredith not to attend and accept an award from a group of people who are not willing to stand by all who are apart of the community.

Reverend Paul M. Turner
Sr. Pastor

Monday, April 21, 2008

Without a Doubt, President Obama Will Take This Nation to School on the ‘Flava’ Factor

Monday, April 21, 2008
Deborah Mathis, BlackAmericaWeb.com

If, after having weathered the drama and combat of a long, contentious primary season and what could be a nasty general election campaign, Barack Obama wins the presidency, non-black Americans are in for an extra adventure.

Many have proven their proclivity for shock and awe already, having suffered whiplash from the revelation that black churches provide ventilation for as well as feeding of the soul; that we can practice patriotism even if we don’t have a suit of clothes, let alone a lapel on which to place a flag pin; and that black folks can live with, hang with, love and sympathize with other black folks who are angry, conspiratorial and militant and be cheerful and hopeful at the same time.

The habit of misreading black people is as old as the hills. Some of the stereotypes that survive today were logged by Thomas Jefferson in his “Notes on the State of Virginia,” two and a quarter centuries ago. As in Jefferson’s day, rank ignorance and indifference about our experiences -- especially the sour and tragic ones -- continue to provoke a jump to conclusions, based on often very different, if not opposite, experience.

Back then, Jefferson was confounded by black people, whom he said, showed a childlike delight in simple pleasures and a stoicism in the face of tragedy. You would have thought a man of his learning and curiosity might have made the connection between the glee and the fact that there was so little to be happy about; and the stone faces in the wake of redundant sorrows, pain, indignities and injustice.

But, as the old folks say, book sense ain’t common sense.

For sure, it’s hard to turn a tide. Consider the young black defendant, in shirt and tie, standing before judge and jury to learn his punishment, an inscrutable look on his face. We may know the expressionless face to be hiding fear and remorse. Those who don’t get it read it as cocky and unrepentant.

Or take the case of my son and his friends many years ago on a school bus ride home. The young boys, about nine or 10 years old, were “jonin’” on each other, having a good time. The white driver made a U-turn for the school and tore into the principal’s office to tattle that the little black boys were about to engage in gang warfare. It took a batch of us parents to educate the educators about the tradition of playing the dozens and spare our kids a turn in detention.

Feature writers are bound to have a field day with a President Obama, breathlessly reporting his GQ flair, his dance steps and his friendships with the generals of hip-hop.

But they will need new fact-checkers and interpreters to get an accurate reading on things like his cool stroll, those self-assured winks; his game on the basketball court; his mellow moves with his wife; and, last week, the Jay-Z brush-off the day after the ABC News boys pelted him with inanities.

May he take the country to school on a little thing we call “flava.”

Sunday, April 20, 2008

An LFC Party At EKU

Once again I found myself behind the wheel driving at warp speed in the direction of Richmond, KY and the EKU campus for the USFA's Kentucky Division Derby Open Sectional tournament

It was being hosted by the Bluegrass Fencers Club once again, but most of the folks taking home medals were from Da Ville and the Louisville Fencing Center. Bluegrass grabbed their share of them as well.

This was a qualifying tournament for the Summer Nationals being held in San Jose, CA July 1-10. Dawn already qualified for that one, so she was competing in this tournament as part of her Summer Nationals training runup. In addition, we were also on the road early because as a dibision officer, she was going to help set up the Weaver Gym for the tournament.

I'd dropped her off at work that morning so I could get the fluids checked out in Wildcat, my nickname for her blue Volvo. After I spent a few hours that morning accomplishing that task, I crawled into bed to get some sleep for the hour run to Richmond, which is just south of Lexington on I-75.

After battling evening rush hour traffic on Shelbyville Rd and Hurstbourne Pkwy to go pick her up, we got rolling around 6:30 PM EDT. I made our obligatory cheap gas shop in Waddy, KY ($3.45) 50 miles east of Da Ville. I was mildly pissed when I arrived in Richmond an hour later and noted it was selling there for $3.39 a gallon.

We arrive at the gym at 8 PM to discover that it was locked, lights dimmed and the fencing strips had already been set up. We werr hungry, so we headed to the hotel on the other side of I-75 near the campus, checked into our rooms and went foraging for food.

In addition to being a nationally ranked Veteran's Division fencer, she's the board secretary for the KY division. There was a division board meeeting scheduled to start after the tournnament was over, so I knew Saturday was going to be a long day. After watching the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica while she got in contact with fellow board members to talk business, I crashed.

The next morning we're there at Weaver Gym bright and early. She was helping check in contestants for the epee competition since sabre wasn't starting until 11 AM. I grabbed a notepad and started jotting down some notes and ideas for future posts and reviewed my speech once again for the upcoming Trans Pride march while I waited for her competition to start. Her training partner Johann Gorr arrived a few minutes before the check in deadline for the sabre competiton.

As I've mentioned before, Dawn is no joke in the fencing community. She's ranked tenth in the nation and has been a a hot streak lately. She just finished winning the Knight of Swords club championship tourney, and after going through her pool boots at the Derby Open ended up seeded number two and with a first round bye because she lost to Johann in pools.

They did meet again in the champiuonship match, but only after Dawn survived a stiff challenge from a brother fencer and med student fencing for UK. Frederick had beaten her in a previous tournament and gave her all she wanted in this match. She eventually pulled out 15-13 after switching tactics on him and getting three straight touches to close it out.

Dawn and Johann's match looked like a Johann blowout at first. He was up 8-3 at the break and eventually galloped out to an 11-5 lead before Dawn started a finishing spurt that almost garnered her the victory. She closed to 12-10 before Johann regained his composure and won 15-10. She did finish first in Women's sabre and second overall in the Derby Open sabre competition.

The LFC fencers cleaned up at this tournament along with their hosts from Bluegrass Fencers Club. Some of the UK fencers also qualified for Summer Nationals as well. We also saw the emergence of another Kiefer family fencer, Alexandra and Lee's little brother. He's already a medal winning terror and he's just 13.

She's has another tournament she's competing in at LFC this coming weekend, and I'll probably be there for that one as well.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gone Fencing

I'm not, but Dawn is.

Dawn's fencing in a sectional tournament that starts tomorrow in Richmond, KY on the Eastern Kentucky University campus. She wants me to tag along, it's time for another road trip, so I'll tell y'all how she did when I get back.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mariah's New CD E=MC2

I've always loved Mariah Carey's five octave voice and music ever since her self-titled debut CD dropped in 1990, and many of them grace my CD collection.

No, I don't own an iPod. I'm still old school about my music and I still DJ, and as of yet DJ equipment hasn't been created that you simply plug an iPod into.

But back to the post. Even though it seems like she's been through more drama than Erica Kane on All My Children, she's survived it and now is thriving career wise again.

Her eleventh CD titled E=MC2 is out and is starting to get rave reviews. Unlike Albert Einstein's famous physics equation, the E=MC2 in this case stands for Emancipation=Mariah Carey to the second power. The lead single 'Touch My Body'is a slamming track with a sexy video to boot.

It's so cool to see someone who has had drama overcome it and reclaim the lofty heights thy were once at in the business. Mariah's setting records in the music business now that have her approaching Elvis and Beatles territory in terms of sales. 'Touch My Body' is now Mariah's 18th Billboard Hot 100 single, tying her with Elvis and putting her just two behind the Beatles with 21.

Judging by that lead track, I'll be rushing to the store next payday to get it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How We See Each Other

by Jerry Large
Seattle Times staff columnist
Monday, April 14, 2008 - Page updated at 12:00 AM
from the Seattle Times

Seems like everyone belongs to a group with a cause.

And whether they recognize it or not, many causes share a common desire to be accepted.If they'd start by accepting each other, we might get somewhere.

I thought about that Thursday, when I had the chance to hear three people talk about life from a transgender perspective. The three transgender, black people were on a panel put on by the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas.

What they had to say was more interesting than their physical details.

The panel was the forum's second discussion of gender identity in the African-American community.

One of the panelists, Dean Jackson, a Seattle native who does organizing work on gender issues in communities of color, said he once thought changing genders was something only white people did.

He learned otherwise, and has made his own transition from woman to man. Along the way, he discovered that "it wasn't so much that my body didn't fit." It was more that he didn't fit into a binary system of gender classification.

Why should people have to choose blue or red, when they might feel purple or violet?

Another panelist, Vanessa Grandberry, said the physical change dominated her early experience.

At the end of the day, "I was so tired from posing, making sure my hands were held the right way. ... "

She wouldn't go out without proper makeup and a wig, but that changed.

Now, "if someone says 'sir,' I go with that." she said. "However you see me has nothing to do with how I see myself."

But it's how others see transgender people that can hurt. Grandberry's own mother rejected her when she came out.

The quest for transgender acceptance transcends individual encounters. And it's about more than gender. It's about whether we all can recognize that there is more than one way of being an OK person. That gender, race, class, weight, etc., shouldn't be all we see of anyone.

The third panelist, Imani Henry, an activist from New York, said, "I identify as a social-justice activist who happens to be a trans person."

Progressive movements are full of people who are gay, lesbian or transgender, he said. His message: Working toward a more just society should trump anyone's particular identity.

That's not always easy.

Grandberry said that if she goes to a mostly white support group in Seattle, "It's all right for me to talk about my trans issues, but don't bring up race."

There are challenges with other black people, who sometimes practice the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Americans are hooked on either-or's: black or white, right or wrong. But approaching each person as an individual requires more thinking than most people want to do.

Of course, none of us wants to be the one being pigeonholed.

Seems like a good reason to argue less and cooperate more.

We'd all benefit from nurturing a culture in which we put more latitude — and less judgment — into how we see each other.

Jerry Large's column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

Monday, April 14, 2008

Has National HRC Become The Community's BULLY? The B-HRC?

TransGriot Note: The Phyllabuster I received on Sunday

After a night's sleep and looking at the photos that I sent you (separately and in two packages so as not to overload some of your older model computers), and after reading many responses from some of you, I need to put forth this question:

Has National HRC become the BULLY of the previously united LGBT community?

Is National HRC now to be called the B-HRC?

Consider: Why did National HRC call the Houston Police about a political protest from GLBT "family" folks?

Now, National HRC will tell you it is their standard policy to notify police in the event of a protest threat.

Yes, I can understand that some so-called religious groups and social bigots have been problematic in the past. Right on, if dealing with skinheads or the Klan or a Neo-nazi group. Absolutely! Good policy in those situations

But we are "family."

Or at least we were "family."

We were a united GLBT community family until National HRC divided us last fall over an ENDA bill that would never be signed by Bush and that would protect only those GLBs who expressed gender in a socially accepted manner. Who don't break the sex-stereotype mold.

What did National HRC expect?


Anything other than possibly some political high-jinx that hotel security could have easily handled?


In the history of protesting National HRC fundraisers that began in 1995 over transgenders then being deliberately omitted from the ENDA of that decade (and as we learned, that omission was at the direction and insistence of the National HRC), has there been even one instance of a GLBT "family" protester pushing or shoving or otherwise harming an HRC fundraiser guest or forcing literature or a lapel sticker onto a HRC fundraiser guest who made it plain they did not want any?

Rack my brain (someone may know of an instance), I know of no such instance in our 12 year struggle with National HRC over the full inclusion of "sexual orientation or gender identity or expression" in the ENDA bill.

We were there last night in Houston, to let HRC attendees know that transgenders and gender variant GLBs had been abandoned by National HRC and that we wanted to speak with and educate HRC attendees as to the issues.

We were there TO EDUCATE with lapel stickers to give to supporters of a Unified ENDA who were in attendance and to generate discussion.

The community's Bully -- National HRC -- sicced the cops on us.


Not because we were a physical threat, but to intimidate our allies and to diminish our protesting ranks.

I hope the Houston Police Department sends National HRC a bill since National HRC clearly set of a false alarm.

An alarm no less false than if they had deliberately set off a fire alarm which would have brought trained fire personnel and expensive fire equipment to fight a non-existent blaze.

And so my friends in New Orleans and in Phoenix and in other cities who are about to deal with the National Bully HRC -- or should we all begin to write, the B-HRC -- be of good cheer.

The B-HRC will alert the police in your city of your "family" protest.

But the B-HRC will not tell the police that it will be peaceful and of their own making.

The police will show up in riot gear with barricades and horse mounted officers.

If your city's police are professional, you should have no problem.

During our entire outside protesting event last night alongside the Houston Police, only twice did HPD officers get a bit verbally testy. In both cases when I reported those HPD officers to their OIC (Officer In Charge), the HPD OIC quickly jerked those errant police officers back into compliance with the law. No one was injured. No one was arrested.

It is all a B-HRC contrived intimidation gambit at taxpayer expense to keep the B-HRC cash-cow alive.

So protest.

Carry your signs.

Be festive.

Ask to enter and distribute literature or lapel stickers.

Take pictures and video record things.

Write it up and tell the story of what B-HRC did in your town.

Submit a Freedom of Information Request to your city controller or auditor or treasurer to get the official taxpayer price tag for the B-HRC false alarm and send that information out as well.

Finally -- Please pass this on.

Transgender Conspiracy Theory? Yeah, Right

In the wake of the Houston HRC dinner protest HRC has been furiously trying to spin (translation: lie) its way out of a problem that they caused.

Their latest spin line is that this was a 'conspiracy theory'

Yeah, right. I'm supposed to disbelieve ten years of evidence, history and personal experience that tell me the Homosexual Rights Campaign is a bunch of morally bankrupt liars, but transgender people are 'conspiracy theorists' according to the words of an unnamed HRC staffer?

Personally, I don't believe in conspiracy theories and don't peddle them. I'm a 'just the facts' girl who is blessed with an encyclopedic knowledge of history.

Being a minority also gives me some insight on some things as well. That combination of experiences, history and knowledge of previous Forces of Oppression hijinks tells me not to cavalierly dismiss someone who expresses concerns that may seem outlandish at first, but upon further review are later proven right.

When Rep. Maxine Waters was vilified by the Right for saying that the Feds were facilitating the flooding of Los Angeles and other large urban cities with crack cocaine and using the profits to fund the Nicaraguan contras, she was derisively called 'Mad Maxine' until a scandal called Iran-Contra broke out and Pulitzer prize winning investigative reporter Gary Webb verified the story.

When Marti Abernathey, NTAC, I and others revealed what we discovered during our May 2007 lobby day that we weren't covered in ENDA, we were called 'crazy' and liars' until October.

So when I post that a Houston dinner protest is coming, read my Phyllabuster and see that she has a meeting with HPD, I have to ask the questions why were the Po-Po's called in the first place, what did national HRC say during that initial phone call to make HPD call Phyllis Frye and resulted in the massive show of police force (and waste of Houston taxpayer dollars) Saturday for a protest that turned out 11 transgender people?

I also know that the HRC modus operandi over the last decade has been to find more pliant transgender leaders, subvert organizations that don't have a master-slave subservient view of our now severely strained relationship or acquiesce to the gays first-trannies someday 'incremental progress' strategy they espouse concerning LGBT civil rights.

The transgender community resumed picketing these dinners in October 2007 and I wouldn't be surprised if more creative anti-HRC demonstrations are in the planning stages. Transpeople are that angry over the betrayal. We are beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired about being tossed aside like an empty beer can, disrespectfully being told to 'wait our turn' or being used as legislative bargaining chips.

This time, the efforts of HRC apologists and Vichy transgender organizations will not stop this campaign. The only thing that will end it is HRC making a public apology for lying to us at our signature convention about our inclusion in ENDA, and busting their asses in 2009 and beyond in conjunction with United ENDA to make it happen.

When future historians finally tackle the subject of the GLBT rights movement, it will note the appalling actions of a so-called civil rights organization directed at an allied group which needed the civil rights protections worse than they did. They will probably comment that HRC was more concerned with their own selfish interests than passing broad legislation that covered the entire GLBT community.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Houston HRC Protest

TransGriot Note: Aww is big, bad HRC 'scurred' of the ittle bitty transgender protest of their dinner? Yes. This is Phyllis Frye's 'Phyllabuster' report about yesterday's protest.

Phyllabuster: HRC goes petty: directs security to escort educators out

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) just got more petty and immature in responding to protests of its actions last fall that clearly divided a once united GLBT community.

As we arrived at the site for the Houston protest of the HRC fundraiser this Saturday, April 12th afternoon (reposts below for those new to this saga), we were told by hotel security that HRC had changed its mind about our attempts to educate.

We would be allowed to enter (without signs or banners, which we had never planned to bring inside). If we went directly to the event located on the second floor, we could hand out our lapel stickers that read, "GLBT & ENDA: United, Not Divided: I Support FULL Transgender Inclusion." And we could engage in conversation and educate those people who wanted to listen and learn.

So we walked around, outside the hotel for over an hour, carrying signs and visiting with each other. It was very festive.

The Houston Police gave us NO trouble. There were two very minor incidents where officers got a bit testy, but when I called their OIC, those officers were told they were wrong and to stop being testy with us. The rest of the force were very polite to us.

We joked amongst ourselves that we hardly warranted the riot barricades or the eight, horse-mounted officers or the other preparations and personnel. But the police felt it was better to be prepared than not.

The hotel had a guard at each door and along several parts of the sidewalk. They had placed traffic cones everywhere.

It was surreal -- all that effort for just little ole, inoffensive us.

After we had watched a lot of folks enter for the HRC event and it approached the planned 6 PM beginning, three of us entered the hotel, prepared to chat and educate for the hour before the 7 PM dinner, using our stack of 3 x 2 lapel stickers to initiate conversation.

We were met at the top of the escalator by an HRC official wearing a cream colored business skirt and coat. I asked if this was the HRC event area, and she said yes. So I offered someone a lapel sticker. I was immediately corrected, "No, not here, but here (she was indicating a place 18 inches away on the other side of a rope). Hotel security was poised nearby.

So we walked along the rope to an opening and around to the other side of the rope. I then offered another lapel sticker. An HRC man with a pink tie, a pink vest and dyed blonde hair (clearly who would be discriminated against on the basis of "gender expression") said, "No, not hear, but here (pointing us back to the initial place that we had just left).

I pulled out my cell phone. Immediately, the HRC guy told the hotel security to escort us out of the hotel. An event photographer took a photo as the hotel security closed and asked us to leave. There was no hustle. The security was polite. But we had to leave at HRC's direction and insistence!

So we did our gig outside until 7 PM. The weather was beautiful. During this part of our gig when we had planned to be inside educating, some friends drove up and lowering their window, asked how it was going. I told them about being escorted out at the direction of HRC when I began to offer lapel stickers. Our friends took a stack of lapel stickers and said, "They won't ask us to leave!"

As our group was packed up and leaving, I got a phone call that HRC had finally agreed to allow us to come in now -- after 7 PM, when all the cocktail chatty and education time was finished and folks would be sitting down to eat and hear a program. Or we could come back at 10 PM to offer folks our stickers as they left the event.

After being jerked around by HRC for the past hour, we were not about to submit ourselves to another trick or lie. We left to refresh and reflect at the nearby eatery.

NOTE: Protests against HRC are being planned for New Orleans and Phoenix. I will send info when I get it

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Thunder Over Louisville

Later on tonight I get to pull up a chair and watch Thunder Over Louisville.

Thunder is the kickoff event for the Kentucky Derby Festival here in Da Ville. For the next two and a half weeks we'll have a blizzard of derby parties fancy and not-so-fancy, pageants, 10-K runs, special events and parades all leading up to the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2. Even the local GLBT community gets into the spirit by aving several events including a party of Derby day.

Thunder itself is a massive choreographed fireworks show that's so huge from a distance, the fireworks going off sound like distant thunder, hence the name. The Clark Memorial Bridge has been shut down to set up for it.

Since I moved here I haven't yet braved the weather or the crowds to see it live. The cloudy and cold weather today is guaranteeing that I ave no desire to break that tradition this year either. I made sure that any errands I had to run involving travel through the downtown area were done this morning.

I live about two miles from the general aviation airport ere called Bowman Field. I'm hearing the noise off and on of all the military jets revving engines and ta0king off for the airshow that's going on as well along the riverfront. Speaking of the airshow, that's a contentious part of Thunder every year with the local peace activists.

On that note, let me go grab some wings and get ready to check out the show.

Friday, April 11, 2008



Okay, now that I've let my inner Texan out, congratulations to Miss USA 2008 and my Houston area homegirl Crystle Stewart.

She not only becomes the fifth African-American to wear the Miss USA crown, she's the ninth Texan to do so as well. Miss USA history was also made because this was the first time that African-American women have won back-to-back Miss USA titles.

She'll get the trip to Vietnam in July and attempt to become the first Miss USA since Hawaii's Brook Lee accomplished the feat in 1997 to win Miss Universe.

HRC Calls Police To Stop Dinner Protest

As I noted in a TransGriot blog post, it's my Houston homeboys' and homegirls' turn to protest an HRC dinner.

The HRC Dinner is being held at the convention center hotel across the street from the George R. Brown Convention Center on April 12. The protest is being coordinated by the distinguished stateswoman of the Houston transgender community Phyllis Frye and veteran leaders Vanessa Edwards Foster and Josephine Tittsworth.

But it seems as though HRC has a problem with the Houston transgender community exercising their First Amendment rights. The National HRC office called the Houston Police Department in an attempt to shut down the protest.

Phyllis just concluded a meeting with the HPD, and this is a just released statement courtesy of Phyllis' Phyllabuster e-mail newsletter:

It seems that in response to my national Phyllabuster about our protest, ...... GET THIS ...... the National HRC called the Houston Police.

HPD and I had a very nice meeting. I do not foresee any problems. HPD was so courteous that I was given a "Demonstration Guide" that they published in 2003 to assist citizens in expressing their 1st Amendment rights will not violating any laws. I told HPD that I would scan it and attach to my list. It is attached herein as good general information.

During the chat with HPD, I was also informed that HRC has also instructed the hotel security to ask us to leave if we attempt to pass out any written information or ask folks to wear our stickers.

I always thought that HRC was big on education and discussion.

Well, we will be there (read reposting below).
and we will be peaceful,
and we will be within the law,
and we will be protected by HPD,
and we will attempt to hand out our lapel stickers.

Yeah, the Homosexual Rights Corporation is a friend of the transgender community. If you still believe that fairy tale, I have some waterfront property along I-10 in the Atchafalaya Swamp between Breaux Bridge and Baton Rouge I'd like to sell you.

The series of HRC dinner protests initiated by the transgender community not long after our ENDA betrayal in October 2007 has been conservatively estimated to have cost HRC $1 million dollars in lost donation revenue.

So I understand why they wanted to sic HPD on the trannies. That rent is expensive on that headquarters building in DC, isn't it?

So if you're in or are reasonably close to the Houston area and want to make your voice heard, the H-town transgender community would love to have you there. The fun will start at around 4:30 CDT. Just head to the corner of Polk Street and Avenida de las Americas. You'll see Phyllis', Vanessa's and Josephine's smiling faces there.

Give 'em hell H-town!

Crossposted from The Bilerico Project