Saturday, June 30, 2018

The 2018 BTAC Leadership Institute

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As you TransGriot readers are aware of, I got to come to New Orleans for the first time since 1990, but it wasn't for pleasure.  This was a business trip.   I was in town because the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition came to New Orleans for its first ever Leadership Institute. 

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I was in attendance for this event because I sit on the board of Black Trans Women, Inc., one of the constituent organizations of the Dallas based Black Trans Advocacy Coalition.  The other BTAC orgs are Black Trans Men, Inc., The Black Trans International Pageantry System, the Anchors spousal support group,  and the newest part of the BTAC family, BTXI for gender non conforming individuals.

In addition to  myself, there were 20 people taking part in this training conducted by BTAC Founding President Carter Brown and Director of Programs Esperanza Brown at the Doubletree New Orleans Airport in suburban Kenner, LA. 

And the best part of it for me was I didn't have to wait until April 2019 to see many of these peeps.

We came by air and car from Houston, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, Little Rock, Lawrence and Topeka, KS, Memphis, Asheville, NC and New Orleans eager to not only be in this city, but also handle our BTAC Leadership Institute business.  

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That business started on Friday morning in business attire with breakfast at 8 AM followed by us heading into the hotel's Pontchartrain room at 9 AM for the first day of the BTAC leadership Institute

We discovered during breakfast we were assigned seats for this first day, and found out why moments later.   Inside the BTAC swag bags at our seats were Kindle Fire 7 tables that were assigned to us to take home and be used during this institute and beyond to conduct BTAC business.

After getting a brief history of the organization and why it was created in 2011, we reviewed BTAC policies, the recently concluded conference, and other issues of importance to the organization before breaking for lunch at 12:30.

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Lunch was none other than the New Orleans classics of red bean and rice, a salad, sweet tea and chicken with bread pudding for dessert.

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After lunch we received familiarization training on our new BTAC issued tablets, some training concerning the orgs official communications apps and what we can and can't do with the new tablets before we ended the first day of training at 5 PM.

These training events aren't  all work.   Team building is going on as well in addition to getting an opportunity to see the host city.   After a few hours of rest, off we went to a popular local seafood restaurant where we were met by Syria Synclaire, one of our former BTIPS queens who is on the BTIPS board but couldn't join us for training until Saturday.

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Several of us also ventured into the French Quarter to see our current BTIPS queen Malaysia Black perform in a illusionist show at a local pub on Bourbon Street before calling it a night. 

Day 2 gave us a little extra sleep since we didn't start until 10 AM.   We also got to break out the BTAC Leadership Institute shirts that were in our BTAC swag bag we received the previous day..

This day was dedicated to being in our various BTAC groups and coming up with policy for the 2018-2019 fiscal year that starts July 1.   We broke off into those various constituent groups and spent the next 30 minutes discussing and outlining programs we wished to conduct during this 2019 year, then making presentations to everyone before we broke for lunch.

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Those presentation discussion ran during lunch, after lunch and up until the 3:30 PM cutoff time we had to end Day 2.   We took a few moments to begin a discussion on the 2019 budget we'll continue later before calling it a day and heading to City Park to take some group photos in our new shirts.

We got back to the hotel as we watched a building thunderstorm move toward our location.  We also  continued those discussions about Black trans community and other issues near the pool before we called it a night because many of us have early travel departure times on Sunday morning.

For the most part, this BTAC Leadership Institute for our senior leadership staff was well received.  It helped us get more in sync with each other as leaders and give us a better idea of where our constituent organizations fit into the overall plan for BTAC.

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While there are parts of  this event I can't talk about because of confidentiality agreements I signed, what I can confidently say is that this just concluded Leadership Institute will be a major building block in helping the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition do a better job of serving our community.

And this also comes at a time in our country's history when the Black trans community needs BTAC to lead with love the most.

Picture credits: Rebecca Jackson, Achim Howard 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Jacksonville,You Have A Trans Violence Problem

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Less than a month after the November 2015 repeal of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, Jacksonville was trying to pass the addition of gender identity to their own ERO.

Fresh off their shady victory in Houston, Republican advocates and conservative fundamentalists went to work using the same reprehensible playbook to defeat Jacksonville's attempt to add gender identity to their ERO. 

After a month of nonstop anti-trans rhetoric pimped by now disgraced pedophile pastor Kenneth Adkins and the Klan distributing anti-gay flyers mere days after a contentious public forum, Jacksonville's mayor Lenny Curry (R)  then shut down the attempt to pass the ERO in January. 

It was revived and successfully passed in February 2017, but the anti-trans animus stirred up by the Jacksonville hate pastors definitely didn't go away.  The anti-trans animus needlessly stirred up by the hate pastors in their attempt to kill the Jacksonville ERO I assert is one of the reasons that Jacksonville has a trans violence problem.

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In 2018 we have had three trans women, Celine Walker, Antasha English and now Cathalina James killed in this city.  A fourth Black trans woman was shot during a domestic dispute but survived. 

The animus between the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the local trans community doesn't help, either.   The JSO needs to stop being transphobic azzholes and treat the local trans community with dignity and respect. 

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When Celine Walker was killed, she was misgendered by the JSO, and the local media followed their lead.   When they got called on it by the local community and GLAAD, they claimed they had a policy that would not allow them to refer to victims as transgender

This blatant lack of respect from JSO is probably a major reason why these cases have remained unsolved so far and feeds into the anti-trans animus initially stirred up in 2015 .

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According to local advocates, the trans community is more fearful of the JSO than the killer that is lurking about killing them.    That's a situation that must change if they are to get the help necessary from the Jacksonville trans community that will solve this case.

JSO must become culturally competent to make that happen, because trans folks do live in the city of Jacksonville and Duval County itself.

Jacksonville, it's obvious you have a trans violence problem.   What are you going to do to solve it?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Made It To NOLA!

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Finally made it to NOLA in one piece and my hotel near the New Orleans Airport around 7:30 PM CDT.  Looking forward to seeing my BTAC fam, some NOLA peeps while I'm here  and doing this leadership training over the next two days.

Amazed it's LESS humid than Houston right now as I sit around the pool area.

The leadership training starts tomorrow morning, so I do need to make sure I get into bed early enough so I can be all bright eyed and bushy tailed in the AM. 

Once we're done with Day One of the training, looking forward to spending some quality time with and catching up with everyone .

Headed To NOLA!

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Been far too long since I've been to New Orleans.   Despite it being only a five hour drive and an hour's flight away, the last time I was in NOLA was for the 1990 Mardi Gras

I was there for the last weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday, so I got to see not only some West Bank parades while gulping a few 64 oz frozen daiquiris, but watched the Endymion parade in downtown NOLA from a coveted bleacher seat near the reviewing stand.

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Endymion is known for its celebrity grand marshals, and the grand marshal that year was I kid you not, Spuds Mackenzie and the Spudettes. 

This is not only the first time I'm traveling to NOLA in the 21st Century, it's also the first time I've been here since transition, and so looking forward to the trip.

I lived there on the West Bank in Marrero with my family for two years as a toddler when my dad was working for WBOK-AM, so it is somewhat of a long overdue homecoming. 

New Orleans was one of the first non rev trips I took in March 1987 when I put in the month I needed to become pass eligible.

It is a business trip since I'm headed there for a BTAC Leadership retreat and training that starts tomorrow morning at 9 AM and ends Saturday afternoon. 

Image result for spirit airlines sucksThe good news is I get to spend some quality time with my BTAC fam again and didn't have to wait until April 2019 to do so.  The bad news is I have to go to IAH because Dee Dee and I have been booked on (ugh) Spirit Airlines to get there. 

And y'all know how much I despise Spirit.

The good thing about this trip is that it's only 45-50 minutes in the air and I get to stay at a Doubletree Hotel for it upon arrival.

Can you say 'destroyed cookies' people?   Thought you could. 

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Some beignets will be destroyed on this trip as well as soon as I get the opportunity to do so, preferably from Cafe Du Monde.

Moni's Thoughts About Justice Kennedy's Retirement

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US Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy alarmed many people yesterday after a string of depressing from my perspective 5-4 decisions to announce that he was retiring from the SCOTUS.

It's bad news because he was the swing vote on many critical issues like affirmative action, a woman right to choose and gay marriage just to name a few.   I didn't forget that he was a conservative appointed by Ronald Reagan, and in this 2017-18 SCOTUS term he swung far too often to the right for my tastes.

That news from the SCOTUS was being heralded with weeping and gnashing of white liberal progressive teeth, but was met with me and others in Black TBLGQ world with a collective shrug.

Bottom line is we, Hillary Clinton  (and especially this blogger) told y'all what would happen if y'all didn't get over your butthurt Bernie fee fees, look at the big political picture, realize the 2016 election was about the SCOTUS and federal judiciary and vote accordingly.

My humanity as an unapologetic Black trans person was on the ballot, so you damned skippy I was with her.

And many of you failed to do so in enough numbers, especially in several critical swing states for Trump to shockingly win.

So what do we do now?   Exhale, and prepare to fight tooth and nail to mitigate this disaster by firing everything with an 'R' behind their name on the ballot in November.

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This is not a surprise to me because Kennedy is 81 years old.   As I have been pointing out since 2012 there were a potential four SCOTUS nominations that would potentially come open either in Barack Obama's second term of the term of the 45th president. 

So while some peeps are trying to rehash the 2016 election, the bottom line is that 2016 election ship has sailed.   As usual I and every Black person in America, despite us trying to warn you white liberal progressives of the danger of a Trump presidency, unfortunately still have to deal with the fallout from liberal progressive lack of political vision and massive failure to pay attention to the big political picture.

What's that big political picture?  Every election matters.  The federal judiciary matters, especially to marginalized and non white Americans.   Control of Congress and the White House matters.

Trust Black women 

Seeing the big political picture means that some of y'all on the left need to stop hating on the Democrats and realizing that they are the only political party big enough and in the position to stop the slide toward authoritarianism.

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Translation:  That means your puny third parties aren't big enough or organized enough to take on the massive job of stopping this country's slide toward conservative authoritarianism.  It also means your azzes are going to have to do what George Will and others have asked you to do and vote for Democrats up and down the ballot this November.

I don't want to hear jack about the Democrats didn't do this or that, left wing ideological purity or 'I voted my conscience'.   The only people that have a credible claim toward voting their conscience are the 65, 843,063 Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton to become the 45th POTUS.   

Focus.  Everything and every policy we value as liberal progressive is in danger of political extinction.   It's past time you far left peeps fight the Republicans who are the major cause of the political drama you hate as hard as you do the Democrats.

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Black and other POC Americans have been in fighting mode because we have to be.  Would be nice for the rest of y'all to get in formation and join us in firing the GOP this November at the ballot box and in every election cycle for the next 20 years.

Because your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews are counting on you to do so.


   

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Jazz Is Having Her GRS!

On a day filled with bad news from the SCOTUS to the White House, some good news to report.

One of our favorite trans teens is finally having her gender confirmation surgery today!

We've not only had the pleasure of watching her grow up, but thanks to the I Am Jazz reality TV show share some of her adventures, advocacy and family life.

Best of luck to Jazz Jennings as she undergoes surgery.   May she come through it without any complications, and she be blessed with speedy healing and recovery after it. 

Number 13- Rest In Power and Peace Cathalina Christina James

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We have lost our thirteenth person to anti-trans violence, and for the third time this year it happened in Jacksonville, FL.

She is 24 year old Cathalina Christina James.  She is originally from Sumter, SC, but according to her Facebook page was in the process of moving to New York. 

After the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office responded to a 1 PM EDT call Sunday at the Quality Inn located in the 8300 block of Dix Ellis Trail, James was found deceased from a gunshot wound in her third floor motel room by emergency responders.

The hotel was ironically located across the street from the JSO District 3 substation.

The only information so far concerning a possible suspect in this murder case is that a male was spotted driving a beige vehicle.

Cathalina is not only the 13th person killed this year and the third in Jacksonville alone, she is the seventh African American trans and GNC person we have lost to anti trans violence this year.

And what continues to sadden and infuriate me is that she was under 30 years of age.

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The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is looking for any information that will help solve this case.  I you saw something, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477) or JSO's non-emergency line at (904) 630-0500.

If you saw something, no matter how minor you think it is, call JSO so we can bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice.   As of yet no word on a vigil or memorial service for Cathalina, but will pass that info also as I receive it.

There will be a Trans Lives Matter event sponsored by local activists at the Duval County Courthouse tomorrow at 7 PM EDT.   Hope those of you in the Jacksonville area will consider attending it.

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Rest in power and peace Cathalina.   You barely got a chance to enjoy your life before it was taken from you.  Your trans and GNC siblings will not only continue to remind people that your Black trans life mattered, we won't rest until your killer is behind bars

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Breanna Sinclaire Sings The National Anthem At Another MLB Game

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As an Astros fan, I'm enjoying the 2018 Major League Baseball season almost as much as I enjoyed last year's 2017 World Series championship run.

One other thing I'm enjoying is hearing about my talented opera singing sis getting the opportunity to sing the national anthem at another Bay Area baseball game.

She first did so three years ago on June 18, 2015 at an Oakland Athletics game.  By doing so, Sinclaire made some trans history became the first out trans person to perform the national anthem before a Mator League Baseball game.

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Sinclaire is also featured in the Nicole Opper documentary Mezzo, that chronicles her life.

Now the San Francisco Conservatory of Music grad on Friday has received another opportunity to sing the national anthem on the other side of the Bay.

Sinclaire on Friday sang the national anthem before the San Francisco Giants game at AT&T Stadium against the San Diego Padres.   

Congratulations again Breanna!   Continue to blaze trails and be a possibility model for our trans kids out there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Modern LGBTQIA+ Trailblazers Panel This Thursday

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Since it's Pride, I usually get a chance to do a panel discussion or two during this seminal historic month for the LGBTQIA+ community.

On Thursday I'm one of the participants in a panel discussion presented by the Sharpstown Democrats for their Evening Extra series.

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This one is entitled Modern LGBTQIA+ Trailblazers, and features me along with Fran Watson, Mo Cortez, and Jim Kovach.   The panel is being moderated by Kris Banks and it is scheduled to run from 6:30 -9:30 PM CDT.

Thanks to Erik Manning and the Sharpstown Democrats for putting it together and inviting me to participate in it.

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Location of this discussion is the Bayland Park Community Center at 6400 Bissonnet St in Southwest Houston just past Hillcroft Ave.

Hope to see you there, because it is probably going to be an interesting and informative discussion.
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Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Houston Puts In Bid For 2020 DNC Convention

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Houston City Council voted 15-1 to formally put in a bid to land the 2020 Democratic National Convention after being asked to do so by the Democratic Party.

The last time we hosted a DNC was 1928.  That led to the construction of the Sam Houston Coliseum, which was eventually demolished to make room for the Hobby Center.

Image result for democratic partyHouston was also host city for the 1992 Republican Convention at the Astrodome in which Pat Buchanan made his infamous 'culture war' speech.

Houston joins seven other cities, Atlanta, Birmingham, Denver, Miami Beach, Milwaukee, New York and San Francisco in competing for the coveted convention.

The DNC had previously sent out letters to a longer list of cities to gauge their interest in hosting the event.  Birmingham and New York were considered as host cities in 2016, but were passed over for the eventual winner Charlotte.

The winning city will be announced in January 2019

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Sunny Hostin Makes Conservafools Look Bad On 'The View'

I was one of the peeps calling for Raven Symone to be replaced on The View by a thinking sister, and was happy to hear that former federal prosecutor and legal analyst Sunny Hostin got that chair.

Newt Gingrich and Meghan McCain must have forgotten that part of Sunny's background when they tried to peddle their kill the investigation talking points to the audience of The View and got royally embarrassed by her.

Then again, what Gingrich and McCain did was commit an all too common mistake of the conservative movement.  They misunderestimate the intellect of Black women until it's too late, and end up looking foolish or worse in the process. 



Bet they'll think twice before they try that on another sister again.
  

Monday, June 04, 2018

Number 12- Rest In Power Antash'a English

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I received the news about this while I was in the beginning stages of being waylaid by an illness that kept me miserable all weekend   This is worse than me being sick because we have lost another trans sister.

We have now suffered our 12th murder of the year of a trans person.  For the second time this year it has happened in Jacksonville, FL 

She is 38 year old Antash'a Devine Sherrington English, who is originally from Albany, GA. 

English died of a gunshot wound in a local hospital after being found during the early morning hours on Friday between two abandoned homes in the 1500 block of Ella Street.

English was for nearly ten years a featured performer at the InCahoots nightclub in the city and was known and loved in the community and as a multiple titleholder in the trans pageantry circuit

She had also been living as her unapologetic trans self for over 20 years.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office however, misgendered her when they announced her death,

According to a neighbor who didn't wish to be identified, someone driving by in a grey car and wearing a grey hoodie shot at her multiple times.

In addition to being the 12th person we have lost to anti- trans violence, she is now the SIXTH African-American trans or GNC person we have lost in 2018 .

And as already noted, she was under age 40. 

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office stated her death is an active murder investigation  JSO is looking for any information or tips that will help solve this case.   Call them at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@JaxSheriff.org. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000 for tips that lead to an arrest, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

The local community is having on June 7 a candlelight vigil starting at 7:30 PM EDT to remember Antash'a.   The vigil will be followed by a benefit show at InCahoots starting at 9:30 PM EDT.

All proceeds for the benefit show will go to help English's family defray burial expenses.

Rest in power and peace Antash'a.   It's our job to ensure that the memory of you life never fades from this planet and we don't rest until the person who killed you is caught, punished and doing time for it.