Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hateraid From A WBT

One of the things that's part of being an activist, especially one who has writing talents and an ever increasing media profile is critcism.

I'm a big girl and I expect it, nor do I presume that 'errbody' agrees with what I have to say. I welcome constructive criticism if it is done in a loving way that helps me become a better person and a better activist.

But this is what was sitting in my e-mail inbox when I checked it early on the morning of January 25 after doing 15 hours at work.

From: "Sue Robins"
Subject: I owe you thanks
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2008 14:35:25 -0800


I wanted to thank you for showing your true colors up on Bilerico today. You really should stick to what you know best and keep out of the bigger picture. What you and others are demonstrating is the inability of the transgender community to function in a polite environment without saying disrespectful thing. I have heard it from more then a few of my post-transition friends that you and your ilk are making a mockery of the transgender rights cause. This is the very reason people have been leaving the TG movement in droves.

You don’t seem to understand you have to work with straight middle class men and women if you want to insure progress in transgender rights. You have to play the game by their rules not Barney Frank’s. One of those rules is there is only two sexes Men and Women fortunately a large part of the transgender community understands that. You just keep posting your disrespectful comments you are showing the world that transgenders are nothing more then freaks to be seen on Jerry Springer; thankfully my transgender friends don’t act that way.

Have a nice day

Sue Robins


(Cue Papi Boulevardez laugh)

FYI TransGriot readers. I didn't put my first post on the Bilerico Project blog until 6:48 PM Friday evening. So at the time I read this e-mail I didn't know what the hell she was talking about.

I've since discovered that Sue Robins is one of those white transsexual separatists that I've been tangling with in various online transgender groups since the late 90's.

Before I start the fun and festivities taking this e-mail apart and rebutting her WBT azz (and in this case the WBT stands for weak-minded belligerent transsexual) enjoy this music video from Jill Scott for her hit song 'Hate on Me'.

I wanted to thank you for showing your true colors up on Bilerico today. You really should stick to what you know best and keep out of the bigger picture.

Why? What is it about lil old me that 'scurrs' you and your ilk so much? And as for keeping out of the bigger picture, too late. While you were cowering in your closet, I was lobbying congressmembers in 1998. I was sitting at a table at Task Force HQ in DC back in 2000 during their National Transgender Policy meeting. I've been in this effort for ten years now and I ain't going away.

What you and others are demonstrating is the inability of the transgender community to function in a polite environment without saying disrespectful thing.

There you go again with that BS 'horizontal hostility' crap. The interesting thing is that every time this shade gets thrown by nekulturny people like you, y'all jump off crap, then you wanna whine and holler 'horizontal hostility' when people call you on it.

I have heard it from more then a few of my post-transition friends that you and your ilk are making a mockery of the transgender rights cause. This is the very reason people have been leaving the TG movement in droves.

Oh really? The one thing that's making a mockery of the transgender rights cause is the inept way that it's been handled for the last ten years by some peeps that share your ethnic background.

As for your assertion that people are leaving the movement in droves, got any facts to back that statement up? Methinks you're just counting your whiny clueless 'WBT' peeps who have repeatedly demonstrated breathtaking ignorance on a vast array of subjects and the inability to work and play well with others.

You don’t seem to understand you have to work with straight middle class men and women if you want to insure progress in transgender rights. You have to play the game by their rules not Barney Frank’s.

This is priceless. White male privilege in action, folks. You are not only discounting and disrespecting my intelligence and abilities, but have the nerve to try to lecture me about how to pass rights legislation when I've been to Capitol Hill, two state legislatures, and recently the Jefferson County school board to do precisely that.

One of those rules is there is only two sexes Men and Women fortunately a large part of the transgender community understands that.

Umm, medical science and biology says otherwise. I think our intersex friends would have a bone to pick with you about your narrow assessment as well. Fortunately a larger section of the transgender community and our allies understand that gender is a continuum, and everybody fits somewhere along that line. The only peeps that share your gender=genitalia dogma besides some of your WBT friends are the Religious Right, the Catholic Church and Barney Frank.

You just keep posting your disrespectful comments you are showing the world that transgenders are nothing more then freaks to be seen on Jerry Springer; thankfully my transgender friends don’t act that way.

FYI, Jerry Springer's peeps called me and asked me to come on their show in 1997. I told them hell no and lose my phone number.

Funny, media professionals over the years seem to like my comments enough to continue to ask me to do interviews such as my local newspaper or the Colorlines magazine one I just did. Go pick it up at a bookseller near you.

The 600 hits per day I get on this blog seems to indicate that peeps like what I have to say. I wrote a newspaper column in a GLBT paper for three years and co-hosted a radio show for two.

So what have you done to uplift transgender peeps today or over the last ten years besides sit behind your computer all day and rant?

By the way Sue, I have a fresh batch of Hater tots prepared for you that y'all can munch on to go with that Vanilla Ice flavored Hateraid you and your friends are drinking by the 55 gallon drum.

You have a blessed day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Congressional Black Congress Split Evenly Between Backers of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
By: Associated Press and

In the race for endorsements in a tightening presidential primary season, the 42-member Congressional Black Caucus is evenly split between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in its members' support.

Both Obama and Clinton have 17 backers among the CBC's ranks. Three CBC members are supporting Edwards, and five have not committed to any candidate yet.

California Rep. Maxine Waters, who announced her support for Clinton Tuesday, offered the most recent endorsement.

"At a time when the economy continues to worsen and so many of my constituents are losing their homes and their jobs, we need someone with the leadership and experience who can step in on day one to tackle the economic challenges our country is facing," Waters said. "Hillary understands the daily challenges that people are facing and she will fight for them everyday she is in the White House."

Issues of race and gender have come to the forefront of the campaign, pitting Clinton, who hopes to be the first female president, against Obama, seeking to become the first black to hold the job.

Among those endorsing Clinton are Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas; Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio; Kendrick Meek, Corrine Brown and Alcee Hastings of Florida; Yvette Clarke, Charles Rangel, Gregory Meeks and Edolphus Towns of New York; Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri; Dianne Watson and Laura Richardson of California; David Scott and John Lewis of Georgia and Donna Christian-Christensen (V.I.).

Obama’s supporters include Bobby Scott of Virginia; Danny K. Davis, Bobby Rush and Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois; Barbara Lee of California; Artur Davis of Alabama; Gwen Moore of Wisconsin; William Lacy Clay of Missouri; Elijah Cummings of Maryland; Sanford Bishop and Hank Johnson of Georgia; John Conyers of Michigan; Keith Ellison of Minnesota; Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania and Al Green of Texas.

In Waters, Clinton has won the backing of a lawmaker whose support the New York senator's campaign is hoping will help blunt charges of efforts to create racial polarization in the South Carolina primary. Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, appointed Waters' husband, former NFL player Sidney Williams, ambassador to the Bahamas in the 1990s.

"They are all professional politicians, and the first thing professional politicians learn is to try to be where they think it is more politically advantageous to be," Davis, an Obama supporter, told Politico. "Many people will go with that which is projected, as opposed to going where there is no path and helping to blaze a trail."

Lacy Clay, another Obama backer, told Politico some African-Americans in Congress had miscalculated the presidential race. "Some of our colleagues misread the tea leaves of politics and thought it was a slam-dunk for Hillary, and it’s not," he said.

Clinton and Obama collide next week in a coast-to-coast competition for delegates across 22 states.

Several CBC members, including Jackson Lee, Tubbs Jones, Meeks and Lewis, have been surrogates for the Clinton campaign in television interviews conducted during primary season, both before and after tough state contests.

"Sen. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate with the perfect blend of leadership, talent and intellect to lead our nation in a new direction. It is my honor to endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton to be our next president," Meek said in a statement.

Meek appeared in cable news networks Tuesday to discuss the Florida primary and defend Clinton's decision to conduct a rally in the state, despite the DNC having stripped the state of its delegates.

"In politics, we all understand that the only thing you have is your word," Tubbs Jones said in an interview with The New York Times. "You make a commitment to a person, and you stick with them through thick and thin. My commitment is thick, and I’m in there for the long run."

Many blacks have held Bill Clinton in high esteem since his days in the Oval Office, a sentiment that carries on to his wife. Sen. Clinton has said that if she is elected president, she would make her husband a roaming ambassador to the world, using his skills to repair the nation's tattered image abroad.

"I can't think of a better cheerleader for America than Bill Clinton, can you?" Clinton said. "He has said he would do anything I asked him to do. I would put him to work."

Nonetheless, many young black Americans -- like half the CBC membership -- are supporting Obama.

"Students told me they never were involved, never cared about politics, never thought anybody cared about them until they heard Sen. Obama’s message," said Jotaka Eaddy, 29, a South Carolina native who took a leave of absence from her job to help get out the vote at her alma mater, the University of South Carolina.

"When you look at his campaign, it was very effective. He went into communities and engage the communities that want and are demanding change," Eaddy told

Eaddy took a leave from her job for U.S. Action and the U.S. Action Education Foundation, managing community awareness in five states on such issues as taxes and budgets, ending the war in Iraq and expanding health care. She said that Obama’s stand on those issues were in sync with hers.

"Every day I go to work, working to expand health care, ending the war in Iraq, excpanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), advocating on behalf of others, and Sen. Obama is advocating for those very core values," Eaddy said."That inspires me."

Eaddy, who was the first black student body president at the University of South Carolina, said she was heading back to her job in Washington, D.C., but would look for opportunities to "help in whatever capacity I can to foster young voter turnout" for Obama.

"I consider myself somewhat of a young adult, and he gives me hope for the future -- and I haven’t had that before. He gives me hope that he’s going to make America for his children and for the children I hope to have, and he’s working to make it better for everyone."

Young voter turnout rose in the 2004 and 2006 elections. In the 2004 presidential election, about 20.1 million young people, ages 18 to 29, voted. The turnout rate was 49 percent, up 9 percentage points from 2000. The turnout rate in 2006, a non-presidential year, was 25 percent, up 3 percentage points from 2002.

In the 2004 presidential election, voter turnout increased among all groups of young people, not just college students. This group of young voters is more racially and ethnically diverse than their older adult counterparts. And nearly 44 million 18- to 29-year-olds will be eligible to vote in this year's presidential election, representing a fifth, or 21 percent, of the eligible voting population.

"There’s a change in the air," said Betty Baye, a columnist at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.

Baye told that Kentucky, which has been a Republican stronghold for many years, is becoming more Democratic.

"We just turned out our Republican governor," Baye said. "Barack has been here, and he has been warmly received."

"I think he’s transformative," Baye said. "And it’s interesting how much Obama strikes people, oddly enough, as 'Clintonesque' … I’ve heard people say he made you feel like he was really hearing you. That’s what (Bill) Clinton had, and to some degree Obama has it. But people say that with Obama, they don’t feel like they’re having their pockets picked."

After the salvos fired by the Clinton campaign against Obama and the ensuing verbal skirmishes, it appears that Obama emerged the beneficiary.

"Several people have said to me that they didn’t like the Clintons’ presumption that they own the black vote," Baye said. "I think the Clintons have done themselves some damage in the black community."

Heading into Super Tuesday on Feb. 5, according to several polls, Clinton leads Obama 41 percent to 28 percent in California.

Clinton's lead is largest among women, Latinos, lower income voters, non-college graduates, and seniors. Conversely, Obama is preferred among blacks, college graduates, and Democratic primary voters with household incomes of $80,000 or more. Clinton and Obama run about even among men, liberals, and white non-Hispanics.

Baye pointed out that this isn’t the first time a black person has run for president, or even a woman. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, both black and female, was a candidate in 1972. What white candidates -- and their African-American supporters -- fail to see, Baye said, is not that black people see a viable black presidential candidate as novel, but, rather, as overdue.

"What I think people miss is how long it has been, how long this struggle has been going on," Baye said. "Andy Young and all those people (from the civil rights movement) look ancient. John McCain looks ancient. I think it’s a different America."

Toni Morrison Endorses Obama for President

Monday, January 28, 2008
Nedra Pickler, Associated Press

WASHINGTON - (AP) The woman who famously labeled Bill Clinton as the "first black president" is backing Barack Obama to be the second.

Author Toni Morrison said her endorsement of the Democratic presidential candidate has little to do with Obama's race -- he is the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas -- but rather his personal gifts.

Writing with the touch of a poet in a letter to the Illinois senator, Morrison explained why she chose Obama over Hillary Rodham Clinton for her first public presidential endorsement.

Morrison, whose acclaimed novels usually concentrate of the lives of black women, said she has admired Clinton for years because of her knowledge and mastery of politics, but then dismissed that experience in favor of Obama's vision.

"In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates," Morrison wrote. "That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it.

"Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace -- that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom," Morrison wrote.

In 1998, Morrison wrote a column for the New Yorker magazine in which she wrote of Bill Clinton: "White skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children's lifetime. After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald's-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas."

Obama responded to Morrison's endorsement with a written statement: "Toni Morrison has touched a nation with the grace and beauty of her words, and I was deeply moved and honored by the letter she wrote and the support she is giving our campaign."

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

'Ejumacation' of the African-American Community

We wish to plead our own case. For too long others have spoken about us, but our virtues go unnoticed.

That 1822 comment by John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish was spoken over 180 years ago about African-Americans, but it could easily be applied to 21st century African American transpeople as well.

I remembered the quote after reading some unflattering comments on various gay blogs in the wake of the passage of Barney's transgender-free ENDA. Over 150 years ago the Supreme Court told Dred Scott that we African-Americans had no rights a white man was bound to respect, and sometimes I wonder if they still operate in the world under that premise.

It's bad enough when I hear white gay males, a gay US congressman, some conservative pundits and bigoted alleged 'christians' spout this bull. But when I hear like I did during our recent JCPS battle a longtime African-American civil rights warrior in Louisville say those same negative things along with a Black conservative pundit, it's time to say enough.

Time for the TransGriot to school my own peeps about their African-American transgender brothers and sisters.

There are 35 million African-Americans in the United States. It's estimated that transpeople make up about 3% of the population, so you're looking at about roughly 1.1 million transpeeps that share your heritage. Like you, we are concentrated population wise in the South, Midwest, Northeast, the West and many major cities.

We share those same cultural bonds that connect us back to the Mother Continent of Africa and are proud of that heritage as well.

We vote, too. According to the Black Pride Survey taken in 2000 at nine Black pride events in Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Oakland and Atlanta, we African-American transpeople participate in politics at much higher rates than our SGL brothers and sisters. The SGL community as a whole participates in politics at a higher rate than our bio brothers and sisters.

The only difference between you and transgender African-Americans is we had a medical condition that forces us to alter our bodies to match the gender imprint on our brains. Gender is between your ears, not your legs, and that fact is fundamental to understanding what we go through.

And what do we go through? Hell.

We face a double portion of discrimination based on uor race and being transgender. We battle faith-based scorn, disinformation and ridicule, massive ignorance and violence simply because we have the courage to be honest with ourselves and take the steps to openly be who we are.

All we're asking for as your transgender brothers and sisters is to be accepted and unconditonally loved as fellow African-Americans. Help us pass the civil rights and employment protections that amend us into the 'We The People' preamble of the Constitution and give us a chance to earn a living. Finally, give us the opportunity to not only take our place at the African-American family table, but do our part to uplift the race.

Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Barack Obama adminstered an electoral beatdown in yesterday's South Carolina primary.

In a South Carolina primary in which an astounding 530,000 voters participated, Sen. Obama earned more than twice the vote that rival Sen. Hillary Clinton did, 55 percent to 27 percent. Obama got 295,091 votes (55%), Hillary Clinton 141,128 votes (27%) and John Edwards finished third with 93,552 (18%).

As expected, he garnered the lion's share of African-American primary voters, but Obama also did well in other demographic groups as well, a fact he noted in his victory speech.

"We have the most votes, the most delegates and the most diverse coalition of Americans we've seen in a long, long time."

Obama beat Clinton in every bracket except voters 65 and older, and overall garnered 58 percent of the vote among 18 to 64-year-olds while 23 percent of those voters picked Clinton.

Obama also said the election "is not about black versus white." Emphasizing his platform for bringing change to Washington, he said "this election is about the past versus the future."

I've been fortunate to not only see some great political orators in my life such as the late Ann Richards and the late Barbara Jordan but have them as my congressmember and my governor. Barack is quickly moving up into those lofty ranks in my eyes as a speaker.

Some CNN analysis of what happened in South Carolina by another of my favorite Houstonians, Roland Martin.

He has momentum going into Mega Tuesday, but is trailing in delegate-rich California as of right now. If he does well on Mega Tuesday, a conversation I had with my sis back in December may actually come to pass with the March 4 Texas primary deciding it.

Caroline Kennedy Endorses Barack Obama

A President Like My Father
Published: January 27, 2008
From the New York Times

OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Caroline Kennedy is the author of “A Patriot’s Handbook: Songs, Poems, Stories and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love.”

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Happy 50th Birthday Anita Baker

Today is singer Anita Baker's birthday. 50 years ago she was born on this date in Toledo, OH.

I mentioned her in a December 2007 TransGriot post when I talked about a song of hers called 'No More Tears' I joking call the Houston Drag Queen National Anthem.

But don't get it twisted, I have much love for Ms. Baker and her music. I hope I look as good as her if i'm blessed to reach my big 5-0 birthday as well.

Judging by my mom and sis, who look far younger than their actual ages, I don't think I have too much to worry about in that department. ;)

South Carolina Primary

Today South Carolina Democrats head to the polls to choose who they would like to see as our party's nominee for president.

South Carolina is not only the first primary election in a Southern state, it is also the first state that has a primary in which African-Americans voters will have a major say in who wins it. African-Americans are 30% of South Carolina's population and make up approximately 50% of Democratic primary voters.

That's why you have seen the fierce and at times contentious battle among Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama and former Sen. Edwards for those votes. South Carolina tends to set the tone for the rest of the African-Ameeican electorate and with Mega Tuesday looming two weeks from now, the three leading contenders are looking for a win here to build momentum heading into February 5. We saw those tensions flare up during the recent Congressional Black Caucus Foundation sponsored Democratic debate in Myrtle Beach.

Barack Obama has a ten point lead according to polls, but for this race and for the rest of the season, the polls will be useless. As a matter of fact, anytime I hear Barack's poll numbers, I automatically subtract ten points from whatever numbers I hear to get a more accurate snapshot of the electorate. As I mentined in an earlier post, because of the residue of our negative race relations in the States, there's 10 percent of the White electorate that will not vote for a Black candidate no matter how qualified he or she may be.

Then there's the factor of Whites who don't want to appear racist and have a camera or a mic stuck in their face. If they are interviewed, they'll say they're voting for Obama, for example, but their voting booth choices reflect otherwise.

Conversely, African-American voters are not trying to look like we're just automatically voting for the brother, either. We're saying to pollsters and those same reporters we're undecided, we're looking for the best candidate, but when we get in the voting booth we go in the other direction.

We see a historic opportunity that may not come again for a while. A lot of us ar lamenting the fact that we have a chance for two historic outcomes in also having the first female president and are torn by it.

Which way will South Carolina go? We'll find out in a few hours.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Road Warriors

TransGriot Note: The interstate highway pictures are from

The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, aka the Interstate highway system, is comprised of 46,837 miles (75,376 km for you international readers) of limited access high speed divided highways and freeways.

The 50th anniversary of the creation of it was celebrated in 2006. Believe it or not, even Hawaii has interstate highways. They're on the island of Oahu, go from Honolulu to military bases on different parts of the island and are numbered H1, H2 and H3.

It seems like I've traveled on half of it for various reasons at different times in my life.

A few months ago when Dawn, AC and I traveled to Chicago for the Remenyck Open fencing tournament she was competing in, on the way up there I remarked that this was the first opportunity for me to travel on I-65 north of Indianapolis. That triggered a discussion into how much of the interstate system that each of us has traveled over our lives.

A lot of it.

Dawn and AC's interstate travels have been concentrated in the Midwest, the South and Northeastern US. In my case, much of my interstate highway travel has been concentrated in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. Since moving here I've been driving a lot of Midwest and Southeast interstates as well as the interstates that traverse Kentucky and the Louisville area. I've driven across West Virginia a few times en route to DC from here. I've also gotten to travel interstate highways in other states like Florida, California, Oregon and Colorado, the New York-New Jersey corridor, the Los Angeles area, Chicago and the Washington DC area thanks to my time in the airline industry.

When I thought about it, I've done so many road trips that on I-10 for example, which is a transcontinental route, the only section of it I haven't traveled is from the I-59, I-12, I-10 junction near Slidell, LA to its terminus in Jacksonville, FL. On I-65, which runs through Louisville, the only section of it I haven't traveled is from Birmingham, AL to Mobile.

And what are my favorite interstate trips or scenic drives along interstates?

I've mentioned I love the Atchafalaya swamp along I-10 between Lafayette and Baton Rouge. I was visiting a friend in Portland, OR a few years ago. We piled into her car and took a 40 mile ride east to Multnomah Falls and the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River. We had a beautifully scenic drive down I-84 and the Columbia River Gorge that forms part of the border between Washington and Oregon and I-84 runs parallel to the river. Michelle and I were going to do a run up I-5 to Seattle on a subsequent trip I took up there but it didn't happen.

I like I-10 in terms of the contrasts in scenery. You get everything from the cities of Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston and New Orleans to the varied topography you'll traverse. You'll see the deserts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas, cross the Continental Divide in New Mexico, traverse the Edwards Plateau and the limestone cuts of west and central Texas to the Gulf coastal plain and the Atchafalaya swamp in Louisiana. It even runs less than a mile parallel to the Rio Grande for about 100 miles, a fact I discovered during my 1988 trip to help my mom's friend Ms. Helene move.

After we zipped past two Mexicans trying to hitchhike early into our long eastbound run toward Houston we encountered the mandatory US Border Patrol checkpoint near Sierra Blanca, TX for all vehicles before I-10 turns toward the West Texas interior. There's a similar one west of Las Cruces, NM for I-10 westbound motorists and another one north of Las Cruces on I-25.

So for you GOP peeps flapping your gums about border security, Border Patrol was (and still is) handling their business. So chill with the racist rhetoric about it.

I-5 southbound once you get out of The Grapevine at night gives you a spectacular view of the LA basin in all its lit up glory. The same is true when you're descending out of the Rockies toward Denver and the Great Plains. I love I-24 in Tennessee as it descends out of the Monteagle area and winds its way around Lookout Mountain as it approaches Chattanooga.

One of the things that we talked about as well is that we felt sorry for the kids that are having to grow up with the reality of $3 a gallon gas. We all talked about the joys of hopping in our cars at various times, filling up the tank and just driving somewhere.

For me, it may have been a stretch of beach on Galveston Island, a two and a half hour hour run to San Antonio, or a five hour trip to New Orleans. There was another memorable trip I took to Fort Worth in 1982 with my godbrother Brent to visit his girlfriend who was attending school at TCU. AC talked about the drives he made from Louisville down I-65 to the Florida panhandle beaches, his journey to Boston to check out a Red Sox game, the trip to the IFGE convention in Toronto and his adventures when he lived in the Dallas area for a while.

The interstate highway system, in addition to being one of the largest public works project every attempted and completed(?), has impacted American lives in subtle and not so subtle ways. Note all the truck traffic the next time you're on a freeway as a prominent example of it. One of the other ways it impacted our lives is that it cut travel time to various cities in this country to hours instead of days.

Every summer during my teen years we used to drive seven hours from Houston to Jackson, MS to visit my great grandmother. Imagine how long that would have took in the days before interstate highways. And I can't tell you how many times I've hopped interstates to go to ball games, various events, conventions, do lobby trips or just give myself a change of scenery.

I'm looking forward to the next time I jump on an interstate and head somewhere. And it's no surprise that one of the things I have on my travel to do list is drive on Interstates H1, H2 and H3.

First Musings At The Project

Hey TransGriot readers,
I finally published my first two posts today as a contributor for The Bilerico Project. Hope you'll check them out when you have the opportunity to do so and let me know what you think.

First Musings

My Sistahs Can Do More Than Just Shows

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Transgender Don't Mean Punk

TransGriot note: Just in case you're wondering who the transwoman is with the boxing gloves on, that's Thai kickboxer Nong Tum, whose story was told in the film Beautiful Boxer.

One of the things our enemies and potential assailants presume to their detriment is that if a transperson is placed in a confrontational situation, we're just gonna acquiesce to the verbal beatdown (or worse) that you want to inflict on us.

Au contraire, my misguided friend.

I still chuckle about an incident that happened while I was out and about in Montrose one night. I was hanging out with one of my transwoman girlfriends outside an iconic Black gay nightclub then called Studio 13. Three white males rolled up in a truck and blocked the club's parking lot exit access to Westheimer Road. Two of them got out of the truck and started uttering anti-gay and anti-Black epithets.

Two female illusionists literally got in their faces and read them like cheap novels to the point where we were laughing at them. The 'macho' men took a swing at one of the illusionists, who not only ducked the incoming punch, but proceeded to administer a beatdown that these boys will never forget. It only ended when security pulled them away from the silly boys. They left bruised, battered and anxious to scurry back to their truck and run back to wherever they came from.

But the point I want to make to those peeps who think it's cute to throw eggs at transpeople on the street or pick fights with us, better chill with that. One of these days you are gonna mess with the wrong transsistah, or pick on someone who's already had a bad day and they are gonna go Matrix on you.

I'd also like to warn you up front that you are jacking with someone who has a little more strength than the average female and on top of that is on estrogen as well.

And if you think you can get into a dozens playing match with us, try again.

I was on a TARC bus one day a few years ago and ended up having to defend myself against a Black teenaged male trying to show off in front of his girlfriend and his buddies.

I used to play the dozens for fun in junior high and still keep my skillz sharp jousting with Dawn and others. When I retorted that "It's not every day I meet someone whose brain size and penis size match," idiot azz was so dumb his homeboy had to translate for him the fact I was not only calling him stupid, but insulting the size of his male organ as well.

After his homie pointed that out, his girlfriend and the whole bus started laughing at him. Embarrassed, he jumped up from his seat in the back of the bus and called himself ready to trade blows with me until I got up out of my seat. Then his Mini-Me sized behind discovered I was a very pissed off 6'2". I gave him a lethal look and told him to go sit his prepubescent azz down before I made change.

Don't start none, won't be none.

Hey people, all we transpeeps want when we're out and about in the world, especially when we're having a bad day is to be left alone to live our lives in peace. We are not looking to be the butt of your tired jokes, insults, or picked on to make you feel more like a 'man' or a 'woman'.

If you disturb that peace, be prepared to face the consequences for doing so.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Debbi's Back on AMC!

One of my favorite soaps besides the Young and the Restless hands down is All My Children. In Houston the soaps come on at 11 AM CST and noon CST (for AMC) on their respective network stations, so fans of both soaps can easily schedule their lunch hours to watch one or both.

Ironically I used to put Walt Willey (who plays Jackson Montgomery) and Michael Knight (Tad 'The Cad' Martin) on flights out of Houston enroute to New York. There was one night Madame On Time Departure had to put the jetway back up on the last LGA bound airplane she'd pulled five minutes early so Walt could get to New York to tape the show the next morning.

Back in 1982 we AMC fans got intoduced to Emmy Award winning actress Debbi Morgan's character Angela Baxter. During that summer of 1982 and the ensuing fall we watched her fall in love and eventually marry Jesse Hubbard over the objections of her father Les Baxter, who was played by Antonio 'Huggy Bear' Fargas.

She and Darnell Williams, who played Jesse became the first African-American soap supercouple. Combined with the Jenny Gardner and Greg Nelson supercouple as friends and the over the top antics of Erica Kane, it made AMC the number one soap during the 80's. Like most of my college classmates, I built my college schedule around those two shows back in the day.

Since the AMC transgender storyline I haven't been keeping up with the exploits of the denizens of Pine Valley as often as I used to.

A lot of it was the fact that many of the African-American characters drifted out of Pine Valley, PA while the folks in Genoa City, WI (the fictional home of Y&R) was suddenly getting a whole lot of flava with Victoria Rowell, Tonya Lee Williams, Kristoff St. John and Shemar Moore joining the cast along with Veronica Redd. I don't get to watch Y&R as much here in Louisville because it comes on at 4 PM EST.

But now that Dr. Angela Baxter Hubbard (and Jesse Hubbard as well), are back on AMC and Mario Van Peebles is playing US District Attorney and US Senate candidate Samuel Woods on the show, I'm gonna have to hit the ABC Daytime website and get the scoop on what else is happening on my fave show.

I also need to find out who Erica Kane is married to or dating now.

Monday, January 21, 2008

HRC's Not Even Close To The MLK Legacy

”The Human Rights Campaign salutes the enduring legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His courageous leadership continues to inspire us in our work to fully realize his vision of fairness and justice for all people.

This weekend, the GLBT community joins the rest of the world in remembering the great work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose life helped move our country closer to realizing the true meaning of “equality for all”.

As we remember Dr. King, let's reflect upon our solidarity with the continued fight for civil rights and equal opportunity for all Americans.”

That was a statement from HRC's Joe Solmonese about King Day.

The last organization that needs to part their lips and try to lay claim to the MLK legacy is the Human Rights Campaign. When it comes to transgender Americans, their actions are more akin to segregationists such as George Wallace and Strom Thurmond than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You have tried for a decade to select our leaders and suppress voices in our community critical of your political policies. You have arrogantly tried to thwart transgender people's attempts to speak to our federal legislators about the lack of civil rights coverage. You have fostered the 'illusion of inclusion' in order to inject the tranquilizing drug of incrementalism into a situation that requires immediate and comprehensive legislative remedies.

And don't make me laugh when it comes to courageous leadership. While 300 other organizations encompassing a rainbow of diversity in the GLBT community stood with their transgender brothers and sisters to say that cutting us out of legislation we needed was wrong, HRC waffled, dithered and then bucked the rest of the community to support Barney's gay-only ENDA. You responded with silence when Barney Frank attacked our community from the floor of the US House.

Fairness and justice for all people includes transgender Americans as well. It's a lesson that you exclusionary peeps in HRC continuously fail to not only learn, but practice as well.

So do me, other African-American transpeeps, and transpeople in general a favor. Until you show us through your ACTIONS that you truly understand the King legacy and start working to pass legislation that will benefit people other than your narrow segment of the population, please refrain from trying to lay any claim to the legacy of the greatest American we African-Americans ever produced.

Historians Fear MLK's Legacy Being Lost

By DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press Writer
46 minutes ago

NEW YORK - Nearly 40 years after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., some say his legacy is being frozen in a moment in time that ignores the full complexity of the man and his message.

"Everyone knows — even the smallest kid knows about Martin Luther King — can say his most famous moment was that 'I have a dream' speech," said Henry Louis Taylor Jr., professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Buffalo. "No one can go further than one sentence. All we know is that this guy had a dream. We don't know what that dream was."

King was working on anti-poverty and anti-war issues at the time of his death. He had spoken out against the Vietnam War and was in Memphis when he was killed in April 1968 in support of striking sanitation workers.

King had come a long way from the crowds who cheered him at the 1963 March on Washington, when he was introduced as "the moral leader of our nation" — and when he pronounced "I have a dream" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

By taking on issues outside segregation, he had lost the support of many newspapers and magazines, and his relationship with the White House had suffered, said Harvard Sitkoff, a professor of history at the University of New Hampshire who has written a recently published book on King.

"He was considered by many to be a pariah," Sitkoff said.

But he took on issues of poverty and militarism because he considered them vital "to make equality something real and not just racial brotherhood but equality in fact," Sitkoff said.

Scholarly study of King hasn't translated into the popular perception of him and the civil rights movement, said Richard Greenwald, professor of history at Drew University.

"We're living increasingly in a culture of top 10 lists, of celebrity biopics which simplify the past as entertainment or mythology," he said. "We lose a view on what real leadership is by compressing him down to one window."

That does a disservice to both King and society, said Melissa Harris-Lacewell, professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University.

By freezing him at that point, by putting him on a pedestal of perfection that doesn't acknowledge his complex views, "it makes it impossible both for us to find new leaders and for us to aspire to leadership," Harris-Lacewell said.

She believes it's important for Americans in 2008 to remember how disliked King was before his death in April 1968.

"If we forget that, then it seems like the only people we can get behind must be popular," Harris-Lacewell said. "Following King meant following the unpopular road, not the popular one."

In becoming an icon, King's legacy has been used by people all over the political spectrum, said Glenn McNair, associate professor of history at Kenyon College.

He's been part of the 2008 presidential race, in which Barack Obama could be the country's first black president. Obama has invoked King, and Sen. John Kerry endorsed Obama by saying "Martin Luther King said that the time is always right to do what is right."

Not all the references have been received well. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton came under fire when she was quoted as saying King's dream of racial equality was realized only when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

King has "slipped into the realm of symbol that people use and manipulate for their own purposes," McNair said.

Harris-Lacewell said that is something people need to push back against.

"It's not OK to slip into flat memory of who Dr. King was, it does no justice to us and makes him too easy to appropriate," she said. "Every time he gets appropriated, we have to come out and say that's not OK. We do have the ability to speak back."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Happy King Day Y'all!

Happy King Day TransGriot readers!

Today as many of you know is the federal holiday celebrating the life of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

While I love any holiday, this is one I approach differently. I treat it like Memorial Day or Veteran's Day. I usually spend King Day in quiet reflection of the life of a remarkable man. I wholeheartedly agree with Tavis Smiley's comment that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the greatest American that we ever produced.

That reflection takes many forms. Sometimes I head straight to my bookshelf, pick up a book I own called A Testament of Hope-The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr (edited by James M. Washington) that has compiled his speeches, essays and other writings and reread them. I may surf the Net and watch video of various speeches. Sometimes I brainstorm with other progressive peeps and imagine how dramatically different the United States would be if he hadn't been cut down by an assassin's bullet at age 39.

When I was back home, I'd go downtown and check out the King Day parade, then do many of the things I talked about in the previous paragraph. And oh yeah, sometimes I let my inner Texan out and grab some barbecue and strawberry soda.

But honestly, this really isn't (or shouldn't be) a day to party. This should be for those of us who believe in progressive principles more like a day to memorialize him, find ways to serve others, strategize, and rededicate ourselves to doing the hard work it's going to take to make 'The Dream' a reality.

Because it seems that in the early 21st century, the Forces of Intolerance are not only more zealous than the Children of Light, they are working twice as hard to keep 'The Dream' from ever happening.

Moving Day

TransGriot Note: photos of I-10 at Texas-New Mexico border and I-5 sign from

I spent most of this cold, clear and sunny day helping a transgender girlfriend move.

On the drive up and back to Louisville on I-64 I reflected on the fact that this has been a recurring thing for me with people, be they transgender or non-transgender. While my T-girlfriend was happy to be getting out of Frankfort and moving to Da Ville, my own move in 2001 was a reluctant one. I started crying when the U-Haul I was riding in that was barreling eastbound on I-10 crossed the Sabine River into Louisiana.

Both our moves, despite being separated by several years, resulted from similar circumstances. Inability to find life sustaining gainful employment that we're qualified (or overqualified for) due to the prejudices and hatred of others. Toss in sustained unemployment, blacklisting, collusion by fundamentalist haters and transphobes to keep it that way and dwindling funds to that mix and it eventually forces relocation to areas that have transgender protective laws on the books.

So now you know another reason why transpeople went nuclear when we were cut out of ENDA last September.

While it didn't involve gender issues, the moving thang happened to me on the other side of the gender fence as well. I still talk about one that happened in the mid 80's that involves my cousin Karen and her hubby. They moved into a west Houston house that has an UPSTAIRS utility room. It was Hades shoving a washer and dryer up that stairwell. After that was done hours later I wanted to find the architect who designed that house, beat them down, and ask what were they smoking when they drew up those plans for it?

I thought about the times back in my Air Marshal days (the nickname Dawn and AC gave me when I worked for CAL) I non-revved to help my transgender girlfriends and other peeps pack their stuff and move to another location.

There was a time when I helped AC move out of the home he'd grown up in that had to be sold off to help pay his mother's mounting medical bills.

There were some moves I was part of that involved helping people come back to or leave Houston.

In 1988 my mom's friend Helene had been living in Vallejo for three years. She liked it, but was weary of the California cost of living issues and ready to move back home. She secured a teaching job back here for the approaching 1988-89 school year, but I was the only person she knew that had a flexible enough work schedule, (I had three consecutive days off at the time) and the ability to get to the West Coast and help her drive the 1920 miles back home. Mom knows I like road trips, so she enlisted me to get her best friend back to the Lone Star State.

I hopped a flight to San Francisco, helped Ms. Helene pack the rest of her condo in the backseat and trunk of a Taurus, and at 6 PM PDT Monday off we rolled to Houston via I-5 south to hook up with I-10 in Los Angeles. I enjoyed the conversation and the entertaining nighttime run through The Grapevine we had on that cross country trip. But the worst part for me was that I had to be at IAH at 7 AM CDT Thursday and I didn't get back home until 8 PM CDT Wednesday night.

The delayed reaction from the compressed drive schedule (Vallejo to Banning, 5 hours of sleep, a Banning, CA to El Paso, TX leg arriving in El Paso at midnight MDT, another 5 hours of sleep, then the 700 mile run to Houston) kicked my butt. Fortunately it was only a part time shift, I got off at noon and crashed when I got home. I also swore to myself when I got home from that waltz across Texas (and California, Arizona and New Mexico) that I never wanted to see I-10 WEST of San Antonio again.

Four years later in October 1992 I was burning vacation days heading westbound on I-10 to help my cousin Karen (on my dad's side of the family) move to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of a music career. Karen's more like my sister than my cousin and I didn't want her driving 1500 miles by herself.

I enjoyed the trip, (except for the monotonously boring drive through West Texas) the conversation and the two hour pit stop at a Casa Grande, AZ outlet mall. I flew back to Houston after hanging out for a day of R&R with my friend Seni. In 1998 I was back in LA doing what else, helping Seni pack to move to Detroit so that she could help her mother take care of her ailing father.

So it seems like helping someone move is a recurring event in my life. Every time I say this is the last one, I suddenly find myself taking the time out of my day to do precisely that. I do it because I remember what it was like to be in that situation myself.

And in this case, it gave me something to write about. :)

Phi Slama Jama

Well, since UCLA declined to schedule UH for a game commemorating today's 40th anniversary of 'The Game of The Century', I'm going to give props to another historic Cougar team that's celebrating a bittersweet anniversary, Phi Slama Jama.

25 years ago, the brothers of Texas' Tallest Fraternity slam-dunked their way through NCAA competition during the 1982-83 season all the way to a return trip to the Final Four. We Cougar fans (and the city of Houston as well) were fired up over the possibility that this team may finally break the championship jinx that Houston sports teams on the college and professional level were laboring under.

They were a homegrown bunch, Everyone with the exception of Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon and Benny Anders were either from Houston or the 713 area code.

They were an entertaining team to watch as well. Think the collegiate version of the LA Lakers 'Showtime' team. They'd run you to death, play trapping, smothering defense, and heaven help you if they blocked your shot or stole the ball from you. The fast break would quickly go the other way and end with a basket as they dunked around, over and through you.

The last team to beat them before they started their monster run through the NCAA was a Dwayne 'Pearl' Washington led Syracuse one at the Carrier Dome in December. The Coogs swept undefeated through the Southwest Conference, finished the regular season ranked number one in the AP poll, won the SWC tournament title, and secured the number one seed in the 1983 NCAA tournament.

They defeated Maryland (at the Summit), Memphis State and Villanova enroute to Albuquerque and a high-flying showdown with the 'Doctors of Dunk' from Louisville. I remember we were extremely nervous on campus that week about facing the number 2 nationally ranked Cards. After that dunk filled 94-81 victory we felt good about our chances to take home the title after NC State knocked off a Georgia team that featured Dominique Wilkins.

I felt good about it as well. The campus electricity was fired up and so was the city. A local club DJ named Captain Jack did a rap song about the Coogs that was in heavy rotation on Majic 102, Love 94, KYOK and KCOH. In our campus bookstore that Monday the Phi Slama Jama t-shirts were already being stacked and prepared to press the words 'National Champions' on them.

One of the girls who worked back there was from North Carolina and a major Tar Heel fan. I was teasing her about Georgia knocking off North Carolina, and told her I'd be back tomorrow morning to pick up my championship shirt.

Well, everybody knows what happened to my boys that night. I still get sick to my stomach every time I see the replay of that damned Lorenzo Charles dunk and how agonizingly close Benny Anders came to stealing the ball and going the other way for an uncontested dunk.

I had to pick up a novel for an English class and was trying to get in and out before my NC friend got there. She was lying in wait for me as she asked, "You still want your championship shirt?"

Walking around campus that somber Tuesday was like being at a funeral. Even the pep rally that was held at Robertson Stadium for the team later that day was an anti-climactic disappointment. We students were even more upset after we found out that had the Coogs won the game, the administration was going to cancel classes that day.

But I did finally get to see Hakeem and Clyde win a title in a Houston uniform. It was as members of my beloved Houston Rockets, not the Houston Cougars. While I reveled in the joyous city wide celebration of that second Rockets title, I dearly would have loved to experience that feeling of having a team you root for win a title in 1983, not 1994.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The TransGriot's On Bilerico!

During my recent New Year's Day Internet radio interview with Ethan St. Pierre, he congratulated me for becoming a contributing poster to The Bilerico Project blog.

At the time I hadn't been notified by Bil or anyone connected with it that I was being considered, but that changed on Thursday afternoon.

Say congrats to the newest contributor to The Bilerico Project.

It's a huge honor. It's invitation only and they only add a certain number of new bloggers to their roster every year, so I'm thrilled to get the call since I'm a Bilerico Project fan as well.

It's a diverse crowd. I'm happy to be associated with some of the folks who post there such as Pam Spaulding (Pam's House Blend), Terrence Heath (Republic of T), fellow transgender bloggers like Rebecca Juro and Marti Abernathey, and other people I've come to admire like Rev. Irene Monroe and Nadine Smith. I'm looking forward to getting to know them better as the year moves along.

One of my resolutions this year was to focus more of my creative energy into my writing and my novels, and two weeks into 2008 it looks like that's already starting to pay some dividends for me.

I'm going to write original pieces for The Project on African-American transgender issues, and we'll see what transpires from there.

Friday, January 18, 2008

How Low Will They Go?

That rap song was playing in the back of my mind when I saw the video report about a crossdressed man allegedly walking into the women's changing room of a Gaithersburg health club.

The Bushies like to brag that they create their own reality. Sounds like the Forces of Intolerance in Montgomery County, MD borrowed a page from their slimy playbook.

Faced with the fact they've only collected 5,000 signatures and a looming February 4 deadline to gather 25,000 signatures of Montgomery County residents in order to force a repeal referendum on the recently passed transgender protections, Citizens for a Responsible Government, the local representatives of the White Citizens Council (oops, Family Research Council) and the Concerned Men (Women) of America decided in the absence of such incidents to back up their lies by creating one of their own.

One of the things our opponents consistently underestimate the transgender community about is our political savviness, our intelligence and our PR skills. The last thing any Montgomery County area transperson would want to do is create an incident during this time period, when the law doesn't even take effect until February 20, that these bigots could seize on, beat us over the head with and jeopardize the law.

As far as the 'crossdressed men invading women's locker rooms to molest and rape you' feces laden drivel they've been pushing as a scare tactic, let me school you on something. If a man wants to go into a women's locker room to commit that type of crime, he isn't gonna waste time dressing in drag to do so. He'll just barge in and do the foul deed.

I just hope the sleazy tactic fails and the wiser citizens of Montgomery County will see through it.

New Zealand Transgender Report Demands Law Change

Transgender Report Demands Law Change

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By News Staff
18th January 2008

The Human Rights Commission is calling for a simple amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act that would allow trans people to obtain birth certificates and passports that reflect their gender identity and sex.

The Commission's Transgender Inquiry report entitled To Be Who I Am - released this week - recommends that an amendment to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act 1995 would make it clear that a person who had taken "decisive steps to live fully and permanently in the gender identity of the nominated sex" could be issued a document that accurately recorded their sex.

The extensive and thought to be world-first inquiry into the lives of transgender New Zealanders found that the majority of trans people are unable to assert their citizenship by changing the sex on their birth certificate and passport so it reflects their gender identity. This added to the burden of discrimination many transgender people faced.

Joy Liddicoat, the lead commissioner on the Transgender Inquiry said, "We consider it quite possible to change the criteria for changing sex details without creating concerns about the continued integrity of state-issued documents like birth certificates and passports."

Four out of five submissions to the Inquiry described examples of serious discrimination from harassment at work to assault and sexual abuse.

"Transgender people face enormous barriers to safely doing things that many other New Zealanders take for granted," she said.

The Transgender Report highlights four areas for immediate attention:
increasing participation of trans people in decisions that affect them, strengthening the legal protections making discrimination against trans people unlawful, improving access to health services, including gender reassignment services, and simplifying requirements for change of sex on a birth certificate, passport and other documents.

The safety and rights of young transgender New Zealanders at school was another concern brought up by the inquiry. Many schools refuse to acknowledge a change of name, ignored bullying and got into conflicts with youths about what they wore to school.

And because the Inquiry heard from many intersex New Zealanders, the Inquiry further recommends that the human rights issues experienced by intersex people merit urgent attention.

The Transgender Inquiry has looked at three key areas: personal experiences of discrimination; difficulties accessing health services; and the barriers transgender people face when trying to have their gender status legally recognised on documents like birth certificates and passports.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said, "We have come to respect the courage of transgender people who despite significant hurdles have been successful in leading lives of dignity throughout the country."

The HRC's full report can be downloaded as a PDF from their official website - link below.

Related Links:

Transgender Inquiry report

(c) Copyright 1997 - 2008

http://www.gaynz. com/articles/ publish/2/ article_5479. php

Massachusetts Considering Transgender Protections

TransGriot Note: Here's hoping that the Massachusetts legislature joins the thirteen other states that have codified transgender protections into law.

Sciortino Transgender Bill Testimony Heard

Thu Jan 17, 2008, 11:11 AM EST
from the Somerville Journal, MA,

Boston - Soon after he started to transition between genders in 2003, Ethan St. Pierre was fired from his job as a security manager for a protection services company. Since then, St. Pierre, 46, of Haverhill, has been between jobs, which he says are hard to come by because the company keeps providing bad references for him. "I'm constantly out," he said. "My field is closed off to me. They think there's something wrong with me."

St. Pierre and others are hoping Beacon Hill can do something about job discrimination against transgender people, pushing legislation (H1722) that amends anti-discrimination laws.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Carl Sciortino (D-Medford) and 22 co-sponsors, also includes language amending hate crime laws to include transgender individuals.

The word "transgender" is an umbrella term for people who are transitioning from their sex at birth to the gender they see themselves as, according to gay and lesbian activists. While the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has already said state law protects all individuals, including transgender people, from
discrimination, activists say they want to codify the protections into law.

The issue has emerged as a top priority for gay, lesbian and transgender advocates, fresh off their victory in defeating an anti-gay marriage amendment. Activists held a briefing Wednesday for lawmakers and their aides on the legislation.

Sen. Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) attended, as did several bill sponsors, and aides to Sen. Anthony Galluccio (D-Cambridge) , Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford), and Sen. Steven Panagiotakos (D-Lowell). Manning the information table outside, Shea Spencer Hardy, a 22-year-old who goes to the Berklee College of Music for music therapy, said, "I would feel a lot safer living here if there were those protections. "

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