Thursday, June 11, 2009

40 Trans Heroes? You're Kidding, Right?

One of the reasons I became a trans activist a decade ago was because of my pissivity over a relatively melanin free IFGE list of out and proud transpeople.

To pour gasoline on it, they not only neglected two future IFGE Trinity winners in Dr. Marisa Richmond and Dawn Wilson who were doing thangs at the time, the only two African descended people on it were RuPaul and Dennis Rodman, who have publicly stated they aren't and didn't want to be.

Well, history repeats itself.

The International Court System in conjunction with The Task Force put together a list of 40 Trans Heroes to in their words, 'highlight the importance of the transgender and gender-nonconforming community as an equal and important part of the broader LGBT community.'

The “40 Trans Heroes” were solicited and selected from hundreds of nominations by a special committee of the International Court Council.

And this is the final list they came up with.

Sylvia Rivera
Shannon Price Minter
Mara Keisling
Jose Julio Sarria
Ru Paul
Marsha Botzer
Nicole Murray-Ramirez
Norma Kristie
Masen Davis
Melissa Sklarz

Lady Bunny
Leslie Feinberg
Gunner Scott
Lynn Conway
Chi Chi LaRue
Marsha P. Johnson
Riki Wilchins
Barbra Casbar Siperstein
Yosenio Lewis
Robin Tyler

Coco LaChine
Valerie Spencer
Jim Flynn
Nancy Nangeroni
Lady Chablis
Rosalinda dela Luna
Cecilia Chung
Loren Cameron
Maria Roman
Theresa Sparks

Karina Samala
Grace Sterling Stowell
Donna Sachet
Shirley Bushnell
Cole Thaler
Jamison Green
Sister Roma
Billy deFrank
Frank Marino

"This is by no means a complete list or a ‘best of’ or ‘top 10’ list. It is merely a beginning tribute to the thousands of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals that have made our modern-day movement possible," says Thom Hansen, president of the International Court Council.

“This momentous tribute to the transgender community is a long time coming. The International Court System is honored to partner with the Task Force. Together, we pay tribute to those whose lives and works have impacted each and every one of us."

“On the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, let's remember the legacy of those who started our struggle for equality and liberation," says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

"Recognizing 40 of the many transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals who have worked tirelessly and passionately in favor of full LGBT equality throughout these four decades is a reminder of the determination and persistence of the transgender community and of the human spirit. Let's continue to honor these important contributions toward a more just and equal society for all of us.”

The International Court System will present a commemorative plaque inscribed with the names of these outstanding individuals on June 25 to be placed at the Stonewall Inn.

If the joint Task Force-International Court compiled list was intended to honor transpeople, it is not having the desired effect.

Transgender historian, scholar and attorney Kat Rose minced no words after seeing the list.

"Did NGLTF actually have anything to do with this list? Or is it a counterfeit list made up by that Stampp Corbin guy to make his claim on Bilerico the other day (that HRC 'put the T in LGBT') seem believable?

"Darcell? No offense, but who or what is a Darcell? Chi Chi LaRue? I guess I should have gone to porn school instead of law school. And Robin Tyler? Based on her stance on ENDA in 2007, she should be on John Aravosis's top-40 list instead of this one.

On a personal level, I have no love lost for Phyllis (Frye) - but in objective terms, I would have to say she rates higher than most of these people, and significantly higher than some.

And Cole Thaler, eh? Easy to make it onto the list when you get to be in the position to be on the list because you're a young FTM and the organization you work for won't hire 40 year old MTFs.

Oh well - I'm off to read some more imaginary history books written by that imaginary transsexual woman, Susan Stryker.

2005 IFGE Trinity Award winner, NTAC founder and Trans Political blog author Vanessa Edwards Foster stated:

"RuPaul? As one of the 40 top trans people? And Robin Tyler (if it's the lesbian activist) has never to my knowledge voiced that she's trans (and used to have some less-than-inclusive thoughts on us to boot!) Well, being from the Imperial Court ... I can believe it. Way to endorse, NGLTF!

There's a bunch of folks on here I've never heard of ... and note the pro-NCTE slant of their choices! No NTAC folks (besides Yo), no Phyllis Frye, no Alyson Meiselman, no Kat, no Randi Barnabee, no Ethan or anyone from IFGE (or other competing orgs), no Jessi Xavier or Joanna Keatley, no Andre Wilson or Dawn Wilson, no Julie Johnson, no Calpernia (Addams) (strangely enough for them!) and on and on! Ca-LUE-less!

Then again, maybe they meant the 40 top Drag heroes!"

I'm channeling my inner Maya Wilkes and saying a hearty, "Oh, Hell No!" to this list.

First, the list doesn't have the 'Godmother of the Transgender Rights Movement' in Phyllis Frye. No Vanessa Edwards Foster, no Kat Rose, no Dr. Susan Stryker, no Monica Helms, a 2003 IFGE Trinity Award winner who co-founded with Angela Brightfeather the Transgender American Veterans Association.

It's predominately East and West Coast centric. It ignores the major contributions to the transgender movement of people who live in 'flyover country'.

And as usual, out of the four African-Americans on this list, two are entertainers. I like the Lady Chablis, own an autographed copy of her Hiding My Candy autobiography and have met her, but I haven't seen her lobbying on Capitol Hill.

Get this through your heads gay people. RuPaul has stated he isn't and doesn't want to be trans. I'm beyond sick and tired of vanilla flavored privileged people holding him up as an example of an African-American transperson.

How the hell did you forget (or conveniently did so) the only three African-American IFGE Trinity Award winners in Dawn Wilson, Dr. Marisa Richmond and some award winning blogger who happens to be one of the founding members of NTAC, helped create the first standalone African-American oriented transgender conventions in 2005-06 and oh by the way, won the 2006 IFGE Trinity Award in the process?

Dr. Richmond in addition to winning the 2002 Trinity Award, was the first African-American transgender delegate to a major political convention and runs the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition.

Dawn helped pass transgender rights bills in Louisville and Lexington, KY in 1998 and was the first African-American Trinity winner in 2000.

Hell, at least they did recognize Marsha P. Johnson and Valerie Spencer, but you left off Lorrainne Sade Baskerville, who happens to be a 2000 inductee of the Chicago GLBT Hall of Fame. Dionne Stallworth is not on this list, who is a founder of GenderPac, and neither is Cydne Kimbrough.

But Robin Tyler? Please, she's regarded by some peeps in the trans community with the same distaste I have for Ward Connerly, Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas and Condoleezza Rice.

Don't even get me started ranting about the long list of trans leaders around the planet who aren't US based.

But this speaks once again to an issue that I constantly harp on, along with Kat and Dr, Stryker. Know your history, claim it, own it and zealously defend it from all attempts at whitewashing it.

Because if you don't, others will write it for you, and you may not like the resulting portrait they paint of you when they're finished.

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