Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Essence Transgender Article

As a longtime Essence reader I was pleasantly surprised to see a feature article about Los Angeles transwoman Cookie Fields in the November 2006 issue. It also didn't hurt that I got to read about Sanaa Lathan in the process ;)

One of the things that bugged me growing up was the lack of positive articles about transpeople who shared my ethnic heritage. With the only examples of transgender women of color being illusionists or street walkers, it was one of the factors that delayed my transition. It was a few years after I began my transition in 1994 that I started to run into African-American transpeople with professional backgrounds.

That's why having this article published in such an iconic magazine as Essence is so important. It emphatically says to our mainstream African-American community that yes, we do exist. It educates our people by helping to dispell misconceptions that have arisen about us due to the lack of media coverage, lack of information and not enough of us willing to tell our stories. It's one of the major reasons I agreed to do the Courier-Journal article that's posted to the blog.

I enjoyed reading Cookie's story. She's featured in the documentary movie called 'The Cookie Project' and was an LAPD officer and a Marine. But hers is just one of the fascinating stories that all African-American transpeople have to tell.

I hope this is just the beginning of a flood of positive articles on transpeople in our media outlets as time passes. I would love to see stories that expound on us running for and winning political races, succeeding in the business and other arenas and taking our rightful place as contributing members of our African-American community.

This was just one step in that process. It is past time for the African-American community to acknowledge and embrace their transgender brothers and sisters. In adddition, I hope that this article and future ones will help foster a dialogue in our community that will ease the apprehensions that many African-American families have about gender issues. Once that occurs, it will make it easier for African-American transkids to come out and live happier, more productive lives.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Shirley Q Liquor: Round 3

During the Thanksgiving weekend Chucky pulled a fast one Saturday night and did a drive by performance of his minstrel show at The Connection. They waited until the last moment to publicize it, so by the time I was alerted it was going to happen we only had 48 hours to attempt to stop it. That task was next to impossible with most of the peeps who would have been front and center in any organized protest out of town dining on turkey.

However, once they did come home and catch up on their e-mails, they were incensed.
In the wake of the performance Louisville's Fairness Campaign organized a community forum on the issue that will take place at noon Saturday December 2 at the Fairness office. They also issued a statement expressing outrage over the performance.

But we have a long way to go in educating the GLBT community about the racist dimension of this show, much less combatting racism within the GLBT community.
This was a post on a Yahoo list I'm on that's had a very spirited discussion on the SQL issue over the last few days.

Whew! My kind of girl! I for one, am sick and tired of this
perpetuation of this cult of "Offensive" speech and actions. And
it's near relative, the cult of "Victimology". I'm sick of hearing
Black people crying about "Racism" when they are merely trying to
draw attention away from their own character flaws. I'm sick of
"Native Americans", telling me how everything is sacred to them and
that every thing has a "spirit". If I break a rock apart, does each
half have a spirit too? What happens when I pound it into sand? Is
a empty beer bottle, discarded by the road, on an Indian reservation,
an artifact? It is according to NAGPRA, the "Save Our History" law
that congress enacted that prevents legitimate archeology on any
land that the Indians owned. OOps "Native American" Hell some of
ancestors have been here since 1634. Am I not a Native? When do I
get "Native" status too? Oh I wanna be a native of my countryso bad!

As with most Americans, I am unequal parts of many ethnicities.
So I identify with my English, German, Dutch and lastly, the late
comers, the Irish. And yes I heard the stories of extreme poverty
that we went through. The hard times, the No Irish Need Apply
The anti-catholicism. The stories about how the early farmers
Black slaves over the Irish because they were worth money and the
Irish weren't. If an Irishman died on you, you only had to wait for
the next boatload. I heard of Olean Isle, in the St Lawrence. The
Auschwitz of the Irish. Huge numbers of Irish were held there in
isolation and huge numbers died there. I heard of the "coffin
that were used to transport them here.I could have very easily
assumed a "victim's" attitude. But it was crap and I knew it.
Victims don't do anything. They wait for someone to do thing to or
for them. Hence they never accomplish anything. I couldn't see
a victim as a way to anything. So I never went there in my
And, I would advise no one else to either.

My response to this person and the tgusarights list:

I'm sick of people who discount the legitimate voicing of an opinion
contrary to their own experience as 'whining'.

Blackface is NOT funny. Blackface was and is part of the system of
Jim Crow oppression of Black people and has been around since the
1830's. A cottage industry of 'Darkie' products arose to support
that image.

For those of you who smoke, have you picked up your pack of
Niggerhair cigarettes today?

How many of you dined at 'The Smiling Coon' restaurants lately?

Did you brush your teeth with Darkie toothpaste? In Asia you could get that brand up until the mid-1980s.

There were Japanese department stores that used mannequins until the early 90's that had those ministrel show cartoon impressions of Black people with bulging eyes and exaggerated lips.

We always hear in this country how important it is to remember your
history. Well folks, slavery is a 400 year chunk of history. We're
sick and tired of white folks, especially in the GLBT community who
want to pretend that the last 200 plus years of American history
didn't happen. Slavery's post-traumatic effects STILL impact this
country today. For those of you who deny it, why aren't we talking
about Senator-elect Harold Ford today? One commercial with a white
woman whispering 'Call me Harold' and he goes from a double digit
lead to losing in the span of a week.

Before you try to give the African-American community a lecture about
responsibility and owning up to your deeds, why don't y'all start
with owning up to the slave trade?

I guess when Jewish people talk about the Holocaust that's whining,
too? Tell that bullshyt to somebody who survived Auschwitz and has a
number tattooed on their arm.

Every time I look at my family tree on my father's side and see my
great-great grandmother's name I have to remember the fact that she
was born a slave in Kentucky. Another one of my ancestors on my
mother's side arrived in 1810 at the Port of New Orleans in chains.

So don't you dare try to equate Shirley Q Liquor with a 'free speech'
issue when she is perpetuating and reinforcing racist stereotypes.

I'm gratified to see that the SQL defenders aren't even trying to use the spin line any more that Chuck is honoring the Black women who raised him. If you believe that I have some Louisiana waterfront property along I-10 between Breaux Bridge and Baton Rouge I'd like to sell you at a premium price.

No amount of spinning is going to cover up the facts that this is a minstrel show, Chuck's trying to make a buck off of it, and it is offensive to many groups including African-Americans and our allies.

The sooner some of you GLBT peeps get that through your thick heads, the better.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

'Scuse Me While I Gloat

With all the activity going on in my life lately, I haven't had the chance to sit down and express my thoughts about the November 7 election that resulted in the Democratic takeover of the House and Senate.

I can sum it up in one word: Hallelujah!

The most delicious part of the entire night was not only watching Fox anchors having to choke on the steady drumbeat of bad news but watching Anne Northup finally go down to defeat. For the first time since I moved here in 2001 I will be represented in Congress by a Democrat once again in John Yarmuth. The icing on the cake was watching Rick Santorum go down in PA, George Allen in VA and Conrad Burns in MT.

I was also pleased to see the delicious irony of having Tom DeLay's former House seat in Sugar Land go to Nick Lampson. He was one of the six white Democrats Delaymandered out of their congressional seats over the objection of their constituents in 2003. It would have been nice to see Chris Bell, the man who filed the ethics charges that got DeLay censured take over the Governor's Mansion in Texas, but with four candidates in the race that was not to be.

The GOP and the right wing noise machine can spin it all they want, but this was a massive rebuke of their Christofascist conservatism. Not a single Congressional Democratic legislator who was up for reelection lost their seats. They picked up six Senate seats and 29 House seats to grab the majority. If it weren't for the racist 'Call me' commercial they ran in Tennessee I'd be talking about Senator-elect Harold Ford.

A word of advice to incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Consolidate your gains by passing legislation.

As much as I would like to see Bushie boy be impeached for failing to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution, lying to get us in the Iraq quagmire and totally jacking up the country, I'm not eager to see President Cheney in the Oval Office. I'm also concerned that Senator Joe Lieberman will break his word, switch parties and cause a 50-50 Senate tie that will give the deciding vote on many issues to Dick Cheney.

So in the meantime, do something different. Govern pragmatically. Go back to old-school Democratic principles. Enact legislation that expands the middle class. Raise the minimum wage. Toughen the ethics rules. Cut middle and lower class taxes while rolling back those sweetheart tax cuts that Bush gave the Paris Hilton's of the world. Make college affordable again. And finally, let us join the rest of the industrialized world and offer universal health care to our citizens.

Most of that wish list I just expounded on probably won't get past Junior's lame duck veto pen, but the momentum and demographics are on the Democrats side.
The GOP has pissed off African-Americans over the bungled 2005 handling of Hurricane Katrina and Latinos over the immigration issue. The Iraq war has cost us over 2000 lives and counting with no end in sight. The erosion of civil liberties in the name of fighting 'terriss' has alarmed many people, including conservatives such as Bob Barr.

The GOP has been reduced to clutching the South and their fundie base tightly to its bosom. Their long time advantage in the Rocky Mountain states is being eroded.
Even in my birth state of Texas they lost six seats in the Texas House and it’s just a matter of time before the Lone Star State returns to its progressive roots.

So come on 2008. It's gonna be a heck of a party on January 20, 2009 if we can get the White House and expanded majorities in the House and Senate.

I couldn't think of a better birthday present for my niece.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

God, is it Thanksgiving already? It caught me off guard this year.

I've had a hard time getting in the holiday spirit because I'll have to spend a few hours (4-12 midnight) at work. It feels like a turkey of a day for me.

Hey, I know I should be happy that I have a job, but it really sucks that I'll be spending a major portion of Thanksgiving day at work instead of sitting at the table enjoying the Thanksgiving dinner that my roommate Dawn cooked. (yes, she can cook. Her bird is the bomb along with her dressing balls).

AC and Susan are up I-65 north in Bloomington eating dinner with her family. I'm 1000 miles away from home, although the Lone Star homesickness got mitigated somewhat by making that trip to Dallas two weeks ago for my cousin's wedding.

I need to accentuate the positive. I do have a lot to be thankful for this year. I still have my health and a roof over my head. I have dropped 15 pounds so far, got reconnected with my Dallas relatives and now have a cousin in Cleveland that I can and do plan to visit. I have wheels again. There are two talented peeps in Sharron and Jessica who have expressed their interest in wanting to do the graphics work for my soon to be published novel 'On The Wings of Love'.

I received a Trinity Award earlier this year in Philly. After I started this blog January 1 it quickly got linked to Jasmyne Cannick's and Pam Spaulding's 'Pam's House Blend' blogs. Not bad for a newbie to this world. One day my blog will be at that level.

I had a newspaper article written about me (and Dawn) in the C-J that I'm still getting positive feedback on a month later. I'm also gratified that the majority of the positive comments I'm receiving are coming from other African-Americans.

That's a lot of positive things to celebrate. Even if am spending several hours of it at work.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

2006 TDOR Names List

People we have lost since the 2005 TDOR as a result of anti-transgender hatred or prejudice

Location: Calcutta, India
Cause of death: Blunt force trauma
Date of death: November 20, 2005
Rani, a young hijra from north Calcutta, had been left to live
separate from her family, and usually slept on the pavement. Her
killers found her asleep, dropped a heavy stone on her head, and left
her to die. She died from injuries from this blow.

Vanessa Facen
Location: San Diego, California, U.S.A.
Date of death: November 21, 2005
Cause of death: Stopped breathing during a melee with sheriff's deputies
Facen, 35, was in the custody of San Diego police after being found
naked and bleeding inside her neighbor's home on November 17th. While
it is unclear as to why Facen became violent while in police custody,
signs indicate that it was her treatment by officers -- who insisted
on treating her as male while in custody -- that contributed to her

Unknown person wearing womens' clothing
Location: Northridge, California, U.S.A.
Cause of death: Beat to death with a garden hoe by John Freeman
Date of death: November 27, 2005
The victim, 31, was at Freeman's house when neighbors reported
hearing a heated argument. She was allegedly attacked by John
Freeman, who struck her with his fists, feet, and a hoe. Freeman had
a casual relationship with the victim prior to the murder.

Simone Walton
Location: Oak Cliff, Texas, U.S.A.
Cause of death: Shot to death
Date of death: December 4, 2005
Walton, a forty year old, died shortly after midnight in the 3200
block of Linfield Road in east Oak Cliff.

Roberta Oliveira
Location: Milan, Italy
Cause of death: Stuck by a car
Date of death: December 8, 2005
Oliveira was a twenty eight year old Brazilian transgender woman
living in Italy. She was deliberately struck by a vehicle.

Paulina (Juan Pablo Méndez Cartagena)
Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Cause of death: Shot to death
Date of death: December 18, 2005
Paulina worked for Integral Sexuality AIDS Support Organisation
(OASIS). She was in Guatemala city with a second transwoman when
four men on motorbikes, wearing police uniforms, ordered them to stop
-- then shot both of them. Paulina was shot twice in the head, and
died minutes later. Sulma, the other victim, survived three gunshot

Alexis (Brandon) L. King
Location: Nicetown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Cause of death: Shot to death
Date of death: February 3, 2006
King, 21, was shot to death in the pre-dawn hours of February 2nd by
Terron Oates who was found by police at the scene. Oates confessed to
the murder.

Tiffany Berry
Location: Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Cause of death: Shot 3 times
Date of death: February 9, 2006
Twenty one year old Tiffany Berry, identified as a pre-operative
transsexual, was shot and killed at the Camelot Manor Apartments in
South Memphis. While investigators have said this was a robbery
homicide, Berry's purse was wound, intact, with her body. Police
claim that Berry's transgender status had nothing at all to do with
the murder, while others outside of law enforcement disagree. Anyone
with information in this case is asked to call Memphis Police
Homicide at 545-5300.

Yardena Marsh
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Cause of death: Shot to death
Date of death: February 15, 2006
Yardena Marsh, the first known Israeli to have genital reassignment
surgery, was found dead by her sister in Marsh's Tel Aviv apartment.
Her confessed killer, Ze'ev Bisso, initially claimed that his gun had
accidently fired and struck Marsh.

Gisberta Salce Junior
Location: Porto, Portugal
Cause of death: Beaten and stoned to death
Date of Death: February 22, 2006
Gisberta was a homeless transgender woman who had been living in a
shelter for many months. Her death was a violent one, lasting for
several days as she was repeatedly beaten, sodomized with sticks,
burned, kicked, stabbed, and stoned by a group of up to fourteen
teenagers. After she expired, they dumped her into a ditch.

Melissa "Mo" Green
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.
Cause of death: Shot to death
Date of death: March 21, 2006
Twenty-two year old Melissa Green was shot from behind, by a single
bullet, in what seems like a planned killing. She bled to death from
her injuries before paramedics arrived on scene. Anyone with
information in this case is asked to call Phoenix police at (602)
262-6141, or Silent Witness at 1-800-343-TIPS. There is a $2,000
reward being offered for information leading to an arrest of
indictment of the murderer.

Rupesh Mandal
Location: Mahotari district, Nepal
Cause of death: Suffocated
Date of death: March 30, 2006
Rupesh was a thirteen year old transgender girl living in the
Mahotari district of Nepal. Rupesh's father, Tapeshore Mandal, had
banished her after discovering that she was going to meetings of the
Blue Diamond Society, the only organization in Nepal for sexual
minorities. While she did rejoin the family after promising to stop
going to the BDS, her father continued to abuse and neglect her, and
said that he would kill her unless she stopped presenting herself as
female. Her mother found her body. The father claimed that she had
poisoned herself, but a most-mortem indicated that she died of
suffocation, not poisoning.

Alfred Dibble
Location: Stockton, California, U.S.A.
Cause of death: Beaten to death
Date of death: May 20, 2006
Dibble was a 34 year old nurse. was severely beaten and left to die
on the corner of Miner Avenue and Sierra Nevada Street in Stockton,
California. Dibble died from injuries sustained in the beating while
at a stockton hospital. Anyone with information in this case is asked
to call either Detective Robert MacDonald or Detective Ed Rodriguez
of the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8323

Sudha, aka Lakshmi
Location: Tiruchy, India
Cause of death: Throat slit; also multiple stab wounds to the genitals
Date of death: May 26, 2006
Sudha was a transgender sex worker in India. She was picked up at the
Central Bus Stand on May 25, and her and a male, likely her murderer,
checked in at a private lodge. She was found there, in a pool of
blood, after her throat was slit, and after several cuts to the
genitals. Police suspect that Pandian of Taranallur was her killer.

Barbara (Geovanny) Calderon
Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Cause of death: Drive-by shooting
Date of death: June 10, 2006
Calderon, a Honduran, was murdered in a drive-by shooting attack,
part of a string of violent acts against sex-workers and transgender
people in Guatemala. Two other transgender women, and one gay male,
were injured in the attack.

Lupita (Juan Carlos Charria)
Location: Gardolo-Trento, Italy
Cause of death: Stabbed multiple times, allegedly by Engjell Ndreca
Date of death: July 29, 2006
Lupita, a twenty nine year old Colombian, was a sex worker in Italy.
A client of her's, Engjell Ndreca, is believed to have stabbed her
five times. When captured by police, he nitially claimed Lupita was
his "boyfriend" and that she was HIV-positive, but several
contradictions have appeared within his story.

Lezlie Anne Field
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Cause of death: Multiple gunshot wounds
Date of death: August 2, 2006
Field, a thirty one yer old transsexual American living and working
in Thailand, was initially believed by police to have committed
suicied in the apartment she shared with a Thai friend. The suicide
note left with her appeared to be a forgery, and was not written by

Mikey Vallejo-Seiber
Location: Riverside, California, U.S.A.
Cause of death: Internal injuries, allegedly by Alex Mendoza
Date of death: August 15, 2006
Vallejo-Seiber was a three year old who was repeatedly called a
"sissy" by his father, Alex Mendoza. Mendoza also often slapped his
son in an effort to "toughen him up," and urged him to beat up on
Vallejo-Seiber's Elmo doll. Mikey Vallejo-Seiber died in a local
hospital from internal injuries sustained from being kicked, punched,
and dropped on his head. He was in Mendoza's care at the time. His
mother Pamela Seiber, pleaded guilty to child endangerment and was
sentences to six years in prison. Mendoza has entered a plea of not

Edgar Cano Camacho
Location: Milan, Italy
Cause of death: Stabbed multiple times
Date of death: October 19, 2006
Camacho was a forty one year old Peruvian living in Italy. She died
in her home after being repeatedly stabbed in the face.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2006

Today is what is called the Transgender Day of Remembrance, or TDOR for short. It's the day that transpeople and our allies remember the peeps worldwide who've lost their lives to anti-transgender violence. Events will take place all over the planet marking the occasion. In addition many GLBT websites (including my Transsistas-Transbrothas group) will symbolically black out their pages for the day.

The TDOR was started in honor of Rita Hester, an African-American transwoman who was brutally murdered in Boston back in November 1998. Rita had been living as a woman for over 20 years but after her death was disrespected by gay and straight media. That incensed the local Boston transgeder community who held a vigil for her.

That Boston vigil inspired San Francisco's Gwen Smith to not only plan one for the Bay Area the next year, but start the Remembering Our Dead web project that lists the people killed by anti transgender violence.

Here in Louisville, the TDOR observance started in 2002 and has been capably hosted by the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. As I've mentioned in a previous post I was honored to be the featured speaker at the first two Louisville TDOR's in 2002 and 2003. Tonight there will be a memorial service for the 19 people we lost this year at the Caldwell Chapel on the LPTS campus. The featured speaker this year will be Brother Joshua Holiday. There will also be a Transgender 101 presentation at 12:30 PM conducted by Beth Harrison-Prado in the Winn Center.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

November 2006 TransGriot Column

Justice? Or Just-Us?
Copyright 2006, THE LETTER

November is a bittersweet month for me. I’ll be taking part along with other transgender community members November 20 in the local Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony. It will happen at the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

What is the TDOR? It’s an event that takes place to memorialize the more than 200 plus people we have lost due to anti-transgender violence. It was started in reaction to the November 28, 1998 murder of Rita Hester, a Boston African-American transwoman. This homicide happened seven weeks after Matthew Shepard’s slaying in Wyoming.

When Rita was disrespected in the gay and straight press by being called ‘he’, having her name placed in quotation marks and being called a sex worker despite living 20 years as a woman, local transactivists erupted in outrage. They were already upset over the verdict that was handed down in the May 1997 Chanelle Pickett trial. She was an African-American transwoman killed in her home by William Palmer after being picked up by him at a Boston GLBT club. Palmer was only convicted of assault and battery, given a 2 ½ year jail sentence with six months of it suspended and five years probation.

Rita Hester’s death gave San Francisco activist Gwen Smith the impetus to begin the Remembering our Dead web project. She also helped organize a 1999 San Francisco candlelight vigil that has grown into a worldwide event. The LPTS has sponsored an observance since 2002 and I was honored to be the featured speaker for the inaugural 2002 event and the 2003 one.

How big a problem is anti-trans violence? According to a September 2005 Amnesty International report, over 3068 people worldwide have been killed due to anti-transgender violence over the last 30 years. 92% of those cases are still waiting to be solved.

One distressing aspect of the 11-page AI report is police misconduct and abuse of transgender people. It contained summaries of the testimony of 23 New York City transwomen who described mistreatment at the hands of police officers. Those stories combined with the cavalier way that many police departments handle assaults and crimes committed against transgender people have contributed to a climate of mistrust, loathing and fear of the police in the transgender community.

An example of this is a recent July 10 attack in which transwoman Christina Sforza was attacked by the manager of a New York City McDonalds with a lead pipe for going to the women’s bathroom. The staff allegedly chanted ‘kill the faggot’ during the assault. When the victim’s friend called NYPD, the officers arrested Ms Sforza and charged her with assault.

When she was released from jail, according to TransJustice she attempted to file a complaint at the NYPD Midtown South Precinct against the manager on six separate occasions. In addition to each request being denied, Ms Sforza encountered harassment, extremely long wait periods, and was threatened with arrest for "filing a false report."

Unfortunately that’s the reality that transpeople deal with. It’s never far from our minds that each and every one of us could one day find ourselves in a similar situation facing a potentially violent and possibly fatal confrontation with a transphobe. We bow our heads, say a prayer that it doesn't happen and exhale. When we do hear about cases like Ms Sforza’s we shake our heads and say to ourselves ‘there but for the grace of God go I’.

You have to ask yourself; what about this transwoman so threatened this guy that he assaulted her just for going to the bathroom? And what's up with NYPD not doing their job and investigating the assault or allowing the victim to press charges?

I don't care whether you hate me or not, I do have the constitutional right as an American citizen to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Just because you hate me doesn't give you the right to assault me, kill me or jack with my civil rights to make you feel superior.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Welcome to Minority Status

Transgriot Note: One of my first published articles. I was expressing my frustration at the time (2003) with white transwomen and my perception that despite transitioning to womanhood, they were desperately attempting to hold on to White Male Privilege.)

Congratulations! If no one else has done so, let me be the first person to welcome you to minority status. You are now about to experience firsthand what I and other people of color have seen and grown up with since birth. I know you are a little disoriented trying to adjust to being transgendered, so I will happily help you out by giving you the four-one-one on how to cope with your new station in life.

The first order of business is to get it through your heads that you are no longer part of the white male clique, so quit trying to hang on to white male privilege like a wino clutching his last bottle of MD 20/20. News flash: You gave up your claim to white male privilege the second that you took your first hormones and began developing a feminine body. Your former colleagues now see you as a confused soul who surrendered your membership in the fraternity, and worst of all is getting rid of the Almighty Phallus. You are nothing more than a traitorous queer, excuse the expression, to them and you will be severely punished for your 'crime'.

Get used to the fact that you will be looked upon as 'the enemy'. You are more dangerous to your former gender colleagues because you were once one of them and know their secrets. They are going to do whatever is necessary to ensure that you are NEVER their equal. That includes negative comments, stereotypical statements, disinformation and outright lies told about you by them in the print and broadcast media outlets they control.

Let's touch upon the financial aspect of your new minority status. You are now going to have to work twice as hard for less pay. If you mess up at work, you will not get multiple chances to hang on to that job. In some cases you can compile an exemplary work record and still be terminated. When you begin searching for employment, you will constantly run into the maddening situation of being passed over for jobs that you are eminently qualified for in favor of someone who doesn't have your educational background or experience. The same dynamic will apply when you are employed and get repeatedly passed over for promotions.

I know it's going to be tough on you, and unlike transpeople of color you're not used to being in this situation. Hey, I've never been part of the brotherhood, either. One advantage that I've obtained over you is that I along with many other people of color have been equipped since birth with the coping skills and mental fortitude necessary to operate in this problematic environment. This is the first time in your life that you have had to deal with discrimination, less-than-equal treatment, someone discounting your intelligence, or the realization that someone hates you simply because of who you are.

Speaking of someone hating you for who you are, as a new minority member you must be vigilant about your personal safety. There are some people out there who will read that cultural disapproval of transgendered people as a signal that it is okay for them to do whatever they want to you, up to and including murder, without fear of retribution.

Think I'm kidding?

Ask Chanelle Pickett's family in Boston what her killer was sentenced to. Ask Tyra Hunter's mother in Washington DC what happened to the EMT who stopped treating her after a car accident once he found out that Tyra was transgendered. If you have an Internet connection, check out Gwen Smith's Remembering Our Dead list. It has grown to over two hundred names and counting, so watch your back when you go out.

As a minority an understanding of politics and how it works is now essential to your survival. You can no longer afford to be apathetic to what goes on in City Hall, your county courthouse, your state capitol building, or Capitol Hill because you don't have the influence you once had. You can't ignore the court system, either. If you do, yo do so at your peril. Just ask the transgendered people who have turned to the legal system expecting simple justice and gotten screwed in the process by judges injecting their personal biases in their opinions.

Politics and the law will now be used as a weapon against you. You must concern yourself with electing candidates whose primary mandate is to strengthen civil rights laws in this country, not weaken them. It is vital that you know the difference between your friends and your enemies. You will now have to immediately learn how coalition politics works and how to come together with your partners to fight a common foe. Unfortunately that's something the T-community still hasn't learned how to do, and we're running out of time to get it right.

You will hear in the course of your interaction with other transgendered people the term 'horizontal hostility'. It refers to he vicious cycle of good people putting their necks on the line and offering their talents to help lead this community, and then quitting in frustration. Many times it is because they are tired of defending themselves from the very people that reap the benefits of their hard work, the street trannies and the stealth trannies quivering in their closets. Neirher group is doing anything constructive to help us gain our rights, but excel in posting destructive comments on transgendered Internet lists criticizing the people who are.

The street trannies rail about 'elitist' sellout conservative trannies not caring about the plight of their poor brethren working the streets. When those so-called 'elitist' trannies call their bluff and offer their help, they'll defiantly huff that they don't want their handouts. The stealth trannies want nothing more than to protect their closeted status. They whine that if the activists would just leave well enough alone and stop rocking the boat, everything will be fine and our enemies will move on to other targets.

Hate to tell you this, but it ain't happening. The high yellow passing argument in which this misguided lament is descended from didn't work during the Civil Rights Movement, and this one won't fly either. The Religious Right doesn't have 'godless communism' to pick on anymore. They tried to take on the feminists and have been battled to a standstill. We are now the people that the Pat Robertson's and Jay Sekulow's of the world are gunning for. They are turning transgendered peeps into the bogeyman they need to generate the funds they require to keep their organizations viable. We are the peeps that they are going to use to justify to their money men (once again predominately white males) that they can win for a change and we'd better be ready to oppose them.

Before we can even think about building a community, we T-people must overcome the shame and guilt issues that plague us. We need a new attitude. We should be mature enough to realize that we are not going to be in lockstep agreement on many issues, and we must respect our fellow T-people who express divergent opinions. We need to accept constructive criticism that comes from individuals within the community instead of viciously attacking the messenger.

We must also stress personal responsibility. Like it or not, you must conduct yourself as a role model. My behavior in society reflects on you as a transgendered person, and what you do reflects on me. What we both do impacts the entire transgendered community, and we need to be sensitive to that. That 'rugged individualist' John Wayne mentality no longer applies. You are now a minority and you must be better than the society at large that we interact with.

We must be proud of being transgendered human beings. There is an old African-American saying: Nothing you know is worth anything if you don't know how to be proud of yourself. In terms of expressing that pride, we must not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Too many of us are content to hide in the closet. Thanks to the Littleton and Gardiner cases and the Religious Right retraining their targets on us, that will not be a viable option much longer.

If the Right is going to come after me, I'd rather be in a fighting stance battling tooth and nail for my constitutional rights than in a kneeling position submitting to whatever evil they have planned for us. I hope you feel the same way, too. Your life depends on it!

Welcome to minority status.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bulls**t! Your Vote DOES Count!

I get so sick of people using the tired spin line 'my vote doesn't count' as an excuse to shirk participating in elections, then bitch about the policies they don't like.

It's s time to change your way of thinking about voting and elections. The best part about this post is that I'm not going to beat you over the head with our well-documented tortured history with the process to do it either.

Don't look at your vote as if it doen't count. Look at it as the fact that you voted your conscience and for the best candidate. It's just that other folks didn't see it that way this time. One day you will cast the vote for the winning side.

The first election in which I was eligible to cast a ballot in was the 1980
presidential contest between Reagan and Jimmy Carter. It wasn't until 1992 that I finally cast a ballot for the winning presidential candidate. (Bill Clinton)

In the first Texas governor's race I was eligible to participate in back in 1982 I was more successful. Right out the box I voted for the eventual winner Mark White. I also proudly voted for Ann Richards in 1990 and 1994.

I've had a more successful run in Houston area politics. Since 1981 I'd voted for the eventual winner in every mayoral election except one. The one exception in which I was on the losing side was 1991. That year state rep Sylvester Turner was defeated in his bid to become Houston's first African-American mayor by Bob Lanier.

My most important vote cast so far (outside of tomorrow's midterm election) was in 1997. I joined other Houstonians and a 7-1 African-American tidal wave of opposition in helping beat back Ward Connerly's attempts to clone his Prop 209 anti-affirmative action crap into our city charter. It effectively stopped cold his attempts to do so in other areas around the country. (he's trying it again in Michigan)

It was the first time he'd attempted to pass one of his odious anti-affirmative action amendments in an area with more than a 10% African-American population. Florida sent him packing a year later. Every time I voted to pass HISD school bonds I considered it an important vote.

The most historic ones? Got a few that stand out. Electing Kathy Whitmire the first woman mayor in Houston's history in 1981. Electing Lee Brown in 1997 as Houston's first African-American mayor. Helping Ann Richards become the first woman governor of Texas since 1921. Casting the ballot that helped Annise Parker become the first openly gay person elected to a citywide Houston City Council seat. Annise is now the city controller, the path that Kathy Whitmire used on her way to the mayor's office.

See, your vote does count. It's all in the way you look at it.

T-Minus 24 Hours and Counting

Only 24 hours to go until a midterm election that will not only determine which party has control of congress, but the direction of our country.

Many Americans (including myself) feel that under GOP rule this country has slid backwards on a lot of fronts. The sad part is the slide has been so glaringly obvious in comparison to the Clinton admionistration.

After generating record surpluses, we are now in debt. We spent a decade at peace. Now we are embroiled in a quagmire in Iraq. People feel their votes don't count after two questionable elections. We have lost the respect of the world on many fronts and our country is getting more fearful, selfish and mean-spirited by the day.

The polls are giving me hope that people are finally waking up to what a disaster this administration has been. They are projecting that the Democrats will get the House and get close to taking the Senate. The C-J not only has endorsed John Yarmuth but the polls show he has a five point lead.

Is it really gonna happen? Anne Northup finally gets beat? I'll believe it when I see it.

I'm gonna do my part. I'm getting up bright and early tomorrow to cast my vote. We'll see how it turns out after the polls close at 6 PM.