Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hurricane Deja Vu?

Incredibly, three years after Katrina devastated the New Orleans area it faces another Category 3 storm bearing down on it in Hurricane Gustav. Gustav wreaked major havoc and took 68 lives as it whacked Haiti, Jamaica and the western tip of Cuba enroute to the Louisiana coast.

I lived on the West Bank in Marrero as a toddler for two years. My dad worked for a New Orleans radio station before we moved back to Houston in 1967. We were living there when Hurricane Betsy clobbered the New Orleans area back in 1965, taking a path similar to what Katrina would follow 40 years later. Betsy caused flooding in the New Orleans area when the levees were breached by storm surge.

Gustav is going to make landfall in the Houma-Grand Isle area sometime between 6 AM-12 Noon CDT, which will unfortunately put New Orleans on the 'dirty' or east side of the storm. It's also expected to make landfall around high tide, which will add to the storm surge as well.

With Gustav hitting that area, it means that the Harvey Canal, which is the eastern border of my old neighborhood in Marrero, could possibly get a storm surge that will overwhelm the Harvey Canal flood control gate and flood most of the West Bank like New Orleans got in 2005.

I'm also concerned because I haven't heard anything from my godsister Angela or her family yet. All I can do is pray they are all right and will call us soon.

Gas prices are going to get jacked with because Gustav is running through not only an area with a large concentration of refineries but there are a large concentration of offshore oil rigs in the area as well. One fifth of the United States' oil refining capability is concentrated between Houston and New Orleans.

Another problem is that the pipelines leading from the LOOP (the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port) come onshore in the Houma area.

Interestingly, we have evacuees from New Orleans being housed here in Louisville. As of the time I'm writing this 1500 people have arrived at the Fairgrounds Exposition Center and it has room for 3000 people.

I and others who have family and friends in the area will have some anxious moments over the next several hours until Gustav makes landfall. And hopefully this time, the GOP and Karl Rove will refrain from playing politics with people's lives like they did in 2005.

Eat 'Em Up!

The 2008 college football season kicked off yesterday and I spent the day channel surfing between a host of games. I got to watch the surprising Michigan-Utah game and saw Florida dismantle Hawaii. But the game I was most concerned about was the season opener for my alma mater, the University of Houston.

During the winter UH hired Kevin Sumlin to become the 11th head football coach of our program and the first African-American one. He is also the eighth African-American head football coach in the NCAA and the first to be hired to lead a Division I-Football Bowl Subdivision program in the state of Texas.

While I was there my Coogs not only dominated the old Southwest Conference under Bill Yeoman, it was a Top 20 football program. Our program is building back up to that level after being (deliberately) left out of the Big 12 when the SWC broke up.

Cougar alum Art Briles helped revive the program, leading UH to a C-USA title in 2006 but bolted for Baylor. Hopefully Kevin Sumlin can not only take the program to the next level, but help keep some of our homegrown talent in the area.

I was very happy to find out that Coach Sumlin's debut at UH head football coach went well back in H-town. They beat the Southern University Jaguars from the SWAC in their home opener at Robertson Stadium 55-3. The Jaguars will take out their frustrations on Texas Southern later this year.

Congrats Coach Sumlin. May you have a long and successful career here.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

1000 Posts!

This is my 1000th post on TransGriot!

I didn't expect to hit this milestone so soon. I actually beat my projection for it by three weeks. There's been so much going on this month in terms of the Olympics, the just concluded historic Democratic convention, and various African-American transgender people either achieving milestones or being screwed by the judicial system that I had a lot to write about this month.

I had a few goals in mind when I started this blog on January 1, 2006. At the time I started it there weren't many African-American transgender people blogging about transgender and host of other issues through the eyes of a proud African-American transwoman.

I also wanted to look at things with an international view as well and include news about transpeople of African descent from across the Diaspora in order to broaden the conversation about transgender people. It made no sense to me that there was little or no news from the second largest continent on our planet about transgender issues. I wanted to point out that transgender people are not just concentrated in Europe, Asia, the Pacific islands or the Americas.

As I compose this 1000th post there are as of now four known African-American transgender blogs. I'm beginning to be frequently linked to and quoted in the blogosphere, even by organizations like the Evil Equal Sign one that I've castigated for years for their callous disregard of transgender people.

I've written about how critical ENDA is to us living a quality life. I'm starting to be presented with some speaking opportunities and people on other blogs have begun to ask me to compose guest posts. I'm shocked sometimes when I hear people tell me or put in writing not only how much they admire me, but see me as a role model. I'm humbled that people value my opinion that much to ask, and I feel honored and blessed by the opportunity to do so.

I'm a member of the AfroSphere, my Black Blog Ranking is exponentially climbing toward becoming one of the Top 50 Black Blogs and my Technorati ratings are rising. I've been a contributing writer for The Bilerico Project for almost a year.

I've even gained some wonderful friends here in the States and internationally as a result of starting TransGriot.

Wow, 1000 posts in just a little over three years. And I'm still not done yet.

Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones 1949-2008

I was saddened to hear that trailblazing congressmember Stephanie Tubbs-Jones died suddenly on August 20 of a brain aneurysm.

She was elected to Congress in 1998, representing the 11th Congressional District that was represented previously by Congressman Louis Stokes. She was serving her fifth term, was the first African-American woman to represent Ohio in the House, the first African-American woman in the history of Congress to be elected to the House Ways and Means Committee and was the chairwoman of the House Ethics Committee.

I'm watching on C-SPAN the memorial service that is happening in Cleveland as I write this. It's being attended by over 2,500 people that include the members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, former president Bill Clinton, Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama, vice presidential nominee Joe Biden and a host of local and state officials.

She is definitely going to be missed on the national scene.

US Open 2008

Lost in the avalanche of news concerning the closing ceremonies of the Beijing Games and the Democratic convention news is the start of the US Open for us tennis junkies.

The last major tournament of the year is running through September 7, and my favorite golden tennis playing sisters unbelievably have been stuck on the same side of the women's singles draw.

They aren't playing doubles in this one, and so far Venus and Serena are on track to meet in the quarterfinals.

Big Sis hasn't dropped a set so far in beating Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-3, Rossana De Los Rios 6-0, 6-3 and Alona Bondarenko 6-2, 6-1.

Little Sis has played two matches at the time I'm writing this post, but also hasn't dropped a set in beating Alona's baby sis Kateryna Bondarenko 6-1, 6-4 and Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1. Little Sis has an upcoming third round match later today with Japan's Ai Sugiyama.

While I'm not happy about the draw, I'll be rooting for whichever Williams sister survives their quarterfinal clash

2008 Presidential Debates

For those of y'all wondering when and where the fall campaign presidential debates will take place, here's the schedule according to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Friday, September 26, 2008
First Presidential Debate
University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS
Moderator- Jim Lehrer
Focus- domestic policy

Thursday, October 2, 2008:
Vice Presidential Debate
Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Moderator- Gwen Ifill
Focus- foreign and domestic policy topics

Tuesday, October 7, 2008:
Second Presidential Debate
Belmont University, Nashville, TN
Moderator-Tom Brokaw
Town hall meeting format with citizen questions to candidates

Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Third Presidential Debate
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Moderator-Bob Schieffer
Focus- foreign policy

All four debates will begin at 9pm ET and last for 90 minutes.

During the first and third presidential debates and the vice presidential debate, the time will be divided into eight ten-minute segments. The moderator will introduce each segment with an issue on which each candidate will comment, after which the moderator will facilitate further discussion of the issue, including direct exchange between the candidates for the balance of that segment.

Both campaigns agreed to accept the Commission on Public Debates participation rules for third-party candidate participation.

The participants in the town meeting will pose their questions to the candidates after reviewing their questions with the moderator for the sole purpose of avoiding duplication. The participants will be chosen by the Gallup Organization and will be undecided voters from the Nashville, Tenn. standard metropolitan statistical area. During the town meeting, the moderator has discretion to use questions submitted by Internet.

The two backup sites are Centre College in Danville, KY and Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Hometown!

Happy 172nd birthday to my hometown! On this date Houston was founded in 1836 by New York real estate entrepreneurs John K. and Augustus Allen.

The city has grown since then to become the fourth largest city in the United States with over 2 million residents and the largest in Texas.

It wouldn't be a Houston post without me doing a little bragging. (hey, I AM a Texan) These are just some of the African-American peeps born and raised in Houston as well.

Phylicia Rashad
Debbie Allen
Darrell Green
Yolanda Adams
Jennifer Holliday
Texas Battle
Terry Ellis
Roland Martin
Zina Garrison
Vince Young
Barbara Jordan
Mickey Leland
Beyonce Knowles
Solange Knowles

Open Letter To Anita Price Mills

Dear Ms. Mills,
I happened to be watching CNN the night you made these comments. I understand your pain and disappointment that Hillary didn't win the Democratic nomination. But we had the blessings of having two outstanding candidates dueling for our party's nomination and Sen Barack Obama won.

The reality is that Hillary lost. She got beaten in the primary despite the efforts of you and the army of women and others who supported her efforts. It's also sad but true the reason Senator Clinton was speaking on Tuesday night in Denver instead of Thursday is because her campaign team did it to themselves.

Those of us who supported Sen. Obama worked just as hard for our candidate. He put together an organizational team and a campaign staff that outhustled and outflanked Sen. Clinton's at every turn. Don't forget that Sen Obama won 23 contests and garnered the most delegates and votes.

The reason she isn't the VP is because of the negative way her campaign was run over the last three months that pissed off many African-American Obama supporters like myself. Unfortunately, with Senator Obama taking the nomination, it almost dictated that he was going to have to have a white male beside him just to get elected.

You can take comfort in the fact there will be other women that get the opportunity to become president. I can't say with certainty there will be another African-American with his combination of skills and talents who gets this chance. It was the deciding factor along with other reasons why I've been supporting Sen. Obama since January. I also understand that African-American women like yourself were torn between loyalty to our people and seeing another woman advance to the highest office in the land.

And contrary to what you said in this video, Sen. Obama not only is qualified to be president, he has looked presidential since his first speech at the 2004 DNC convention. As he has campaigned you can see the growth in him and the battle with Sen. Clinton served to prepare him for the fall campaign.

The point is that as a loyal Democrat, the onus is on you to work as hard for Senator Obama as you and other Hillary supporters would have expected me and other Obama supporters to work to get Hillary elected had the script been flipped.

As Barack said in his acceptance speech, it isn't about him. Hillary said the same thing in hers. It's about taking this country back from 8 years of Republican misrule of this country. It's about the Supreme Court. It's about realigning government so it works for everybody, not just the rich and powerful. It's about universal health care. It's about having a Democrat standing up on January 20 to take the oath of office. It's about electing progressive people to enact progressive policies, and this is an all hands on deck operation from now until November 4.

But then again, you were sitting in the Pepsi Center as a delegate, so I don't have to tell you that. I hope that after you've had a few days of prayerful consideration to think about it and work through the sense of loss you feel, that you will find the time and energy to help get Sen. Obama elected.

God bless you,
Monica Roberts
The TransGriot

Happy Birthday, Michael!

Today is Michael Jackson's 50th Birthday!

It kind of blows me away that the shy kid I met at a Houston hotel when my dad's station was sponsoring a 'Meet the Jackson 5' contest' is now a few years from qualifying for senior discounts.

He's had a long, innovative and ground breaking career and will go down in history as one of our legendary artists.

Difficult Days Ahead

Like many African-Americans I was literally crying tears of joy last night as I saw a major political party nominate someone of my ethnic heritage for the highest office in the land. The fact that it was my party, one that I have supported since my late teens and it occurred on the 45th anniversary of Dr. King's 1963 March on Washington 'I have a dream' speech made the moment even more special.

But what triggered my tears was thinking about my late Grandmother Tama at the moment Sen. Obama recited the magic words accepting the Democratic party nomination. My grandmother was a poll worker in her precinct for several years.

As y'all probably noted, I'm a serious political junkie. I love politics along with 'errbody' else in my family. My grandmother and I talked about local, state and national politics regularly when I'd spend my off days hanging out with her in her Sunnyside area home. I'd get us a couple of fish baskets from a fish market around the corner from her house and listen to her expound on all the history she'd witnessed over her 82 years and talk about the issues of the day.

I remember how happy and proud she was along with all African-American Houstonians when we finally got Lee P. Brown elected as our mayor in 1997. He also made Houston history as our first African-American police chief and his picture went up on her wall next to the ones she had of Dr. Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.

Unfortunately my grandmother passed away in February 2002 before she had a chance to witness former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk unsuccessfully make a historic run for the US Senate seat John Cornyn narrowly won in the Lone Star State.

Hopefully Rick Noriega can take back the Texas senate seat this fall that Lyndon B. Johnson once occupied.

The conservatives were not only drinking Republican red Hateraid from 55 gallon drums on Faux News last night and all week, their prayers to Conservagod for rain weren't heard since the weather was clear and cool last night. In fact the weather in Denver all week was nearly perfect save for the tornado that dropped in the 'burbs on Sunday.

The one thing that I've noted is that the echoes of history and its imprint were all over this particular DNC convention. I wrote about the efforts of Denver area African-Americans a century ago who jump started the debate about whether to pursue our people's interests in a Democratic Party that was then hostile to us or stay in a Republican one that was increasingly ignoring us.

Our African-American ancestors who conducted that spirited debate 100 years ago in Denver and elsewhere in the country would have been pleased and proud to witness last night's events. They would have been amazed to see the television camera pan the stadium and see the rainbow of humanity that is the Democratic Party. I can guarantee that what you'll see in the Twin Cities won't even approach that and will be overwhelmingly monoracial and predominately male.

24% of the delegates at this just concluded Democratic National Convention were African-American, the highest percentage ever. One of those delegates was a transwoman who shares my heritage. There were 44 congressmembers of African-American descent who are also wielding historic levels of power as well as being members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Oh yeah, there was a CBC member US senator who just got nominated for president.

I thought about how pleased and proud my grandmother would have been to witness not only last night's slammin' acceptance speech, but the campaign he ran just to get to this historic point

But to paraphrase Dr. King, we have some difficult days ahead of us in order to make this particular dream of a President Obama become a reality. The Republican Attack Machine and their Status Quo donors will throw everything but the kitchen sink at him. The nut jobs like the ones caught during the convention will redouble their effort to gain with the bullet what they've failed to accomplish so far at the ballot box.

We have recalcitrant people in our own party still miffed that their candidate who was also on a historic quest on behalf of women lost. All I have to say to you right now is that if Cindy McCain's own half-sister isn't voting for McCain, why should you?

The next sixty days are going to be a historic date with destiny. While I'm exceedingly proud that for the first time in my life, we'll have a Democratic candidate that not only reflects my values by my ancestry as well, I'm still anxious about the outcome on November 4.

I'm damned sure going to do my part to help give my niece a wonderful birthday present on January 20. I want my niece to wake up on her ninth birthday to the historic sight of an African-American being inaugurated for president.

Crossposted from The Bilerico Project

Barack's Acceptance Speech

Here's the YouTube video of Barack's historic Democratic presidential nomination acceptance speech in Denver last night at Mile High Stadium.

I'm signed up for his YouTube group, and if you'd like to check it out, here's the link.

Isis' America's Next Top Model Interview

Here's the YouTube video of the interview Isis did for America's Next Top Model.

The Cycle 11 shows start on Wednesday, so good luck, sis.

The Second Most Beautiful Girl in New York

Looking for love but finding lust in the city of men

by Spencer Morgan
August 26, 2008
The New York Observer

A while back, a friend of mine boasted that he was spending time with a hot transsexual. Now, my friend—let’s call him Ryan—is quite the ladies’ man. Despite his perplexing androgynous style—tight jeans, guy-liner, the occasional wig—Ryan always shows up with a gorgeous young woman on his arm.

Now he was dating a tranny, and talking about it as casually as if he’d recently begun incorporating onions in his scrambled eggs. He went on and on about how she was “totally fucking hot, man. Probably one of the hottest transsexuals in the world; it’s probably between her and some Thai boy.”

On a recent evening, I met the woman in question, the beautiful Jamie Clayton, at a bar in the Lower East Side. She is 5-foot-10, has long, wavy red hair, porcelain skin and big blue eyes. She sat upright in her stool, long bare legs draped on top of each other exposing upper reaches of thigh under a gray cloth miniskirt.

Now 30 and a makeup artist, she grew up as a boy in San Diego. Her father, Howard, who recently passed away, was a criminal defense attorney. Her mother, Shelley, is an event planner. Jamie always knew she was different. She used to stare at the hideous beast between her legs and wish it gone. She hardly ever touched it; never once out of pleasure.

I asked her if she was gay in high school.

“I guess,” she said. “I was gay by default. I was always just so feminine. I don’t think anyone who ever met me would describe me as a man.”

In junior high, she won the top awards for math and science, but the prospect of high school terrified her. She wound up at a magnet school for kids who’d been thrown out of other schools. She said that while her father might not have understood her, they got on well because she never got in trouble and brought home excellent grades. She wanted to be a makeup artist. Shortly after high school, it dawned on her that she should move to New York.

“I just woke up and something just clicked in my brain,” she said. “And I was like, ‘I need to be in New York; New York is fabulous.’”

It wasn’t until she got to New York that she realized a sex change was an option. She would go to Limelight and other kids would ask her if she had started taking hormones.

“I was like, ‘What’s that?!’ And that was that.”

The day she got health insurance, she began cold-calling doctors and asking them if they had experience working with transgender patients. No, no, no, no. Finally a doctor on the Upper West Side said yes. But it took another five years before she could save the money. All along she was taking the hormones.

“There was an almost instant calming effect that sort of like washed over me,” she said. “After being on them for a couple of months, they made me incredibly emotional at times. I’d find myself acting a little cuckoo, and then I’d realize, ‘Oh, my body’s sort of going through a change right now.’”

After a subtle boob job, Jamie was soon attracting the men she was looking for: What she would call straight men who have a taste for transsexuals and choose to ignore the extra baggage.

She met a photographer at a club; they dated for two and a half years. He said he loved her; they gave it a real go. He finally said he couldn’t deal. Now he’s married, has kids.

Then came a magazine writer. They had been dating a couple months, just having fun, so Jamie thought. Then one day out of nowhere:

“I’ll never forget it; I was 23 or 24,” she said. “I remember a very specific moment when we were literally in the middle of having sex and he asked me if I was in love with him. I had just broken up with [the photographer] shortly before, and I was like, ‘Why are you asking me that right now?’ And he said he knew that I liked him a lot, and that we got along really well, and he thought I was falling in love with him. So I said to him, ‘Are you in love with me?’ And his response was, ‘I can’t be in love with you.’ And I literally got up and put my clothes on and left and never spoke to him again.

“It was in that moment that I learned that I would never put myself in a situation, or that I would try incredibly hard to avoid situations where—because I thought that was really incredibly shitty for someone to say something like that: ‘Oh, I can’t be in love with you.’ Why? Because I’m different, because I’m a freak? Because your parents wouldn’t like it, because your friends wouldn’t like it? It hurt a lot. It sucked.”

April 16, 2003, is another day she’ll never forget. Dr. Toby Meltzer of Scottsdale, Ariz., is known across the globe as the man with the steady hand. A mere six hours on the operating table and Jamie was finally the woman she’d always wanted to be. For a cool $16,000, the good doctor had worked his magic, so that what’s left looks pretty good and works. She says she can even have vaginal orgasms. “Dr. Meltzer is known for that, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to go to him. That’s why he’s so expensive,” she said.

Now she exercises four times a week, drinks an insane amount of water, washes her hair only twice a week, avoids the sun like the plague, always wears heels and plucks her full, caterpillarlike eyebrows twice weekly, but warns “don’t overpluck!” But she says men seem most attracted to her inner self-confidence. She says that her surgery, which with tweaking and touch-ups has cost her roughly $50,000, has gone a long way toward getting her to the place she’s in now.

“I love who I am,” she said, adding that she gets hit on or asked out about five times a week.

Professionally, she’s branching out into special-effects makeup: She recently worked on a team that created the blood and guts for indie flick Cottonmouth. In part, she says she has this fair city to thank.

“Transitioning in New York is like paradise,” she said. “Yes, you deal with bullshit. You deal with people making comments”—that’s called getting “spooked”—“but I can’t imagine living anywhere else going through what I went through. Because I’d say for every person that would make a nasty comment, there are 10 people that will tell you that you’re gorgeous and that they love you and that you’re fierce.”

Dating can be risky. She’s heard the horror stories, like the story about the transsexual who went back to a hotel room with a guy she met at a club and she didn’t tell him and was like, “Oh, I thought he knew,” and he pulled a gun on her.

Jamie always tells guys on the first date. “I was not born a woman,” is the line she’s settled on.

She’s noticed a funny thing since making her transformation. Because of her looks—she calls herself a “top-shelf” transsexual—she gets hit on by all sorts, not just tranny-chasers.

She has a type—she likes confident, sexy, creative guys. But she’s found that these men, more so even than the men she dated pre-op, are frequently unable to live up to the swaggering open-mindedness they claim to possess.

“If I have a connection with someone, I’d like to think that they’d be able to respect that connection enough and respect themselves enough to not care about my past—that they would want to see what happens between us,” she said. “But I have had plenty of instances where guys don’t even give it a chance, or maybe they do give it a bit of a chance, and then they sort of drop off the face of the earth because it freaks them out.”

She counts her nine-month fling with my friend Ryan as her most meaningful post-op relationship.

“We had chemistry right away. She was mysterious,” Ryan said. “Then a friend of a friend hipped me to what her situation was. And I thought, well, she was so hot that it didn’t deter me in the least. It excited me, it intrigued me. Mostly I thought, ‘Wow, I respect this person.’ Usually when you’re attracted to a girl, you don’t necessarily respect her. But when I found out that she had done that and gone through it, and looks amazing, I immediately thought, ‘Wow, this sounds like someone who’s really fucking cool and worth knowing, in addition to being really hot.’”

He noted that he falls into a certain category of New York guy. “I think it goes back to the 1970s, to David Bowie. It’s kind of like a glam kind of idea,” he said. “You have these artists that are these kind of sexy guys, but they’re really identified as straight. They tend to be artists or nightlife people who kind of flourish in the sexually ambiguous New York underground. Guys who wear guy-liner and tight clothing and are aesthetically minded. They hang out at parties like Trash and NC-17, which is the basement of Lit on Thursdays.”

Sexually speaking, he said, Jamie “rocked my world. She was just like any other hot chick, man.”

For her part, Jamie said the relationship didn’t last because Ryan was emotionally unavailable. Ryan texted me the other night that these days he is “fucking a married cougar.”

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What A Historical Night

It was a night I thought I'd never see in my lifetime. I saw an African-American accept the nomination of my party for president. I saw a beautiful African-American family standing on that stage at Mile High Stadium last night. I saw a rainbow sea of 83,000 people packed in a stadium to hear his historic nomination speech.

But we are two months from the election. We've come a long way folks, but the hard work is just beginning.

Katrina Third Anniversary

Today is the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastating landfall in the New Orleans-Mississippi Gulf Coast area. It's interesting that as I write this Tropical Storm Gustav whacked Haiti as a Category 1 hurricane, is building in the Caribbean and is headed toward Kingston, Jamaica. Unfortunately the storm's projected track is pointing it toward the Louisiana-Mississippi Gulf Coast area.

The possibility that Gustav may be making landfall in New Orleans, where I spent two years of my childhood on the West Bank has me concerned. Mu godsister, her hubby and kids moved back to the area after temporarily hanging out with my family in Houston, I have yet to visit New Orleans post-Katrina.

Three years after the landfall and the devastation it wreaked on the area, it's still negatively affecting many people's lives.

'I Have A Dream'

As you all know, have heard during this week's Democratic National Convention and seen me write a few times on TransGriot, today is the 45th anniversary of the 1963 March On Washington.

Here is the video of Dr. Martin Luther King's speech. Think about this one as you listen to Sen. Obama make more history later tonight at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium tonight and accepts the nomination for president of the United States.

Thank You Again Brother Bill

This was the speech I and many others who are Obama supporters wanted and needed to hear from President Clinton back in June, but better late than never.

As you can see, he's starting to earn his 'Black like Me' cool points back, but he's still on probation.

Now we need Brother Bill, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Chelsea and the entire Democratic family to go on the campaign trail and kick some GOP azz over the next 59 days so we can see this eminently qualified brother and Sen Joe Biden take the oath of office on January 20.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Now It's Bill's Turn

Hillary spoke last night, now it's Bill's turn and Sen. Joe Biden's.

I'll be at work when the speeches come on, but will be glued to the set to watch the replays of them.

But I'll be most interested in what Bill has to say. He lost the 'Brother' part after the South Carolina primary and he has to earn that back.

Clinton has always been able to give a speech and as competitive as he is he will try to top his wife. If he does, it will be an interesting night.

Anyone Asked Obama Supporters Why We're Pissed At Hillary?

I watched Sen Clinton's convention speech when I arrived home from work last night. She nailed it and I loved it.

As you long time TransGriot readers know, I'm a huge Obama supporter. I not only voted for him when I got my chance to cast my ballot during the Kentucky primary last May, he's been my candidate since January 1 of this year.

I was at one point in 2007 an enthusiastic Hillary supporter but I had reservations about whether she'd be able to win knowing what the Right Wing Noise Machine is capable of. I was also cognizant of the fact they were salivating at the prospect of attacking Hillary in a fall election campaign if she became the Democratic nominee. The Evil Equal Sign Empire's early endorsement of Sen. Clinton also sent me scrambling to find a transgender-friendly candidate, and I found that in the person of Sen. Obama when he announced his candidacy for the office.

But as an Obama supporter I keep hearing the MSM interview Hillary supporter after Hillary supporter who say they won't vote for him or arrogantly state he needs to come to them to get their vote. They keep citing this mysterious list of grievances which we never hear them articulate as to why they're mad or we only hear in the MSM one side of the story.

I guess since Hillary's supporters are mostly 'working class' white people their words and hurt feelings matter more to the MSM than the hurt feelings of Obama supporters. I rarely see or hear Obama supporters interviewed for their side of the story or media outlets ask this question:

Why are Obama supporters pissed at the Hillary Clinton ones?

Here's why.

The ironic thing about this whole family feud is that there isn't a millimeter's amount of difference in his or Sen. Clinton's positions on the issues I care about. I honestly wouldn't have had a problem if the election results had been flipped. Yeah, I would have been upset because yes, I would dearly like to see someone of my ethnic background before I leave this planet holding the highest political office in the land.

But you can bet that I wouldn't have been acting as nekulturny as some of the Hillary supporters have been. My attitude would've been (and still is) all I care about is that we have a Democrat moving into the White House on January 20, 2009.

I'm supporting Sen. Obama because he's the person I believe is best qualified to be president, but I freely admit for a few months mine was the minority opinion in my immediate family. Then came the South Carolina primary and the infamous remarks of Bill Clinton in that campaign comparing him to the man most white males love to hate, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.

My sister was so turned off she began supporting Obama that day. For my mother, being the historian she is, she dearly wanted to see a woman become president and it took her a little longer to become an Obama supporter.

But as the race baiting continued from the Clinton camp and surrogates like Geraldine Ferraro and others kept making insensitive remarks about Sen. Obama, that incensed the African-American community to the point that by the time the Texas primary happened, Mom was supporting Obama as well.

What has really stoked much of the anger between the two sides is the incessant comments from some Hillary supporters saying that if Obama won, they'd vote for McCain.

Now, as a loyal yellow dog Democrat, that is idiotic heresy to me. As part of the group that has been the most loyal constituency to this party and having to swallow a bitter 1988 loss by Jesse Jackson Sr. 'for the good of the party' in favor of Michael Dukakis, I and many African-American Democrats who poured our hearts and souls into getting Jackson the nomination were just as disappointed as Hillary supporters are today.

I wasn't exactly enthused about Dukakis, but I did what many African-American Democrats did that year. We sucked it up, kept our grousing to ourselves and voted for the nominee of our party.

Now that the script has been flipped, we African-Americans expect you to do the same for us that we did for you 20 years ago and for every Democratic presidential nominee since 1964.

If you are that obtuse (or racist) to vote against your own political or economic interests because it would result in an African-American family living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or you think that if Obama loses it will grease the skids for Hillary in 2012, better rethink that strategy.

If this is a close election, there's no electronic machine chicanery and it's proven that Hillary Democrats staying home or crossing over cost us the White House, don't think Hillary will be off the hook. She will get the blame for it and the fallout will be vicious.

Are you really willing to suffer through another four years of GOP misrule just because you're pissed the primary didn't go your way?

Many African-Americans are deathly afraid that there are enough vindictive short sighted Hillary supporters out there who would not only say yes to that question, but the unhinged elements out there will resort to using bullets to accomplish what they couldn't at the ballot box. If that happens, the resulting insurrections will make the riots in the wake of the King assassination 40 years ago look like church picnics.

And if you really are that selfish, shortsighted, and politically obtuse to fail to see just how much danger this republic and our civil liberties are in if we don't have a President Obama being sworn in on January 20, then I fear that the prediction that W.E.B. DuBois made at the beginning of the 20th century will begin to come true in the 21st.

Either the United States will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.

In the words of another King, Can't we all just get along?

For the good of the party and the country I'm willing to try, but the Hillary folks are gonna have to meet us halfway.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In His Image

Found this interesting video on YouTube from MajorMinerz. While I didn't care about the disrepectful use of wo-men in the extended description of the video, it's still worth a look.

Claudia Charriez Speaks

TransGriot Note: I mentioned Claudia Charriez when I wrote about Isis becoming the first out transgender contestant on America's Next Top Model. Stumbled across this interview with her.

By Christine Champagne

She’s a Lady

Exclusive: Claudia, the transsexual beauty from the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency dishes on Janice, eating (finally!), and her love for Madonna.

By Christine Champagne


So much for Janice Dickinson’s love and support for transsexuals. As we saw on the season finale of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, transsexual model Claudia Charriez was one of several models fired because they weren’t making any money for the agency. “It was so hard for me to let Claudia go… but this is a business, and, unfortunately, there’s no place for her here,” Dickinson opined.

What a lame excuse. Dickinson knew that the 24-year-old Charriez would be a hard sell from the beginning. Obviously, Dickinson hired her to create some buzz for her Oxygen series—not because she planned to put in the time and effort it would take to land Charriez work.

It’s bad enough that Charriez was fired. But she really got beat up on the way out. Troy, one of Dickinson’s lackeys, insisted, “She’s gotta go—she’s a legal disaster waiting to happen.” Really? How so?

And to make matters even worse, Dickinson, clad in a white tank top that read “Gay Friendly,” dared to ask Charriez to pose as a man right before she swung the ax. Charriez seemed stunned, initially replying, “Excuse me?” to Dickinson’s offensive request, then gamely went along with it, clearly hoping she might save herself.

In the end, though, Dickinson ditched Charriez, who tearfully told the camera, “It hurts big time. I’m really trying to hold all this in because I don’t want to be a cry-baby. I just really wanted to work with Janice.”

This isn’t the first time Charriez has lost out because she is a transsexual, by the way. She made it all the way to the semi-finals of UPN’s America’s Next Top Model—then she got kicked off the show for being a transsexual. spoke with Charriez recently, and she said she wouldn’t be taking part in the show if Oxygen renews The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency for a second season (at this point, the network has yet to announce whether the show will be back). But she didn’t actually reveal that she had been fired—it’s likely that contractual obligations kept Charriez from sharing the revelation.

Some models are so dour, but you have such a beautiful smile. When you smile, your whole face lights up.

This guy at the Burger King—I went to the Burger King because now [that the show is done taping] I can eat whatever I want!—was saying how pretty my smile was and how it made his day and how it’s good to smile. So I try to get in a couple good smiles a day.

Well, your smile drew me to you. I don’t know if you ever have a bad day and get bitchy, but if so, we haven’t seen it on the show. You just radiate positive energy.

We models as a whole were so happy to be there. There weren’t attitudes.

Except for Janice’s…

Janice is a very theatrical, outrageous woman.

What kind of reaction have you gotten to being on The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency?

I didn’t expect it to be as much of a hit as it is. The gays love the show. I’ve been getting such a positive response from people from all walks of life. It’s been so inspiring.

How did you get started in modeling?

These past two years have been a journey for me as far as modeling goes. I started the modeling thing when I was 16, 17 years old. Peter Beard—I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him, but he is a pretty famous guy—[photographed me]. Then I did this audition for America’s Next Top Model with Tyra, and she was the one who actually initially got me noticed. She flew me out to L.A., and they had us at the Ritz, and we did that show, and then they really didn’t know what to do with me because they thought it would be unfair if I won, which is bull. I think that they weren’t prepared to have someone like me on the show. So they sent me back out to do “America’s Next Top Transsexual Model” on Tyra’s talk show [The Tyra Banks Show], which honestly I didn’t even really want to do. But Tyra’s just been so supportive of me that I did do it, and I won the silly thing.

Then Janice hired you to work for her agency and be on her show.

Janice, from when [she was a judge on America’s Next Top Model], took a liking to me, which was really, really cool.

Has working for Janice helped you develop as a model?

I’m one of the older ones in the group, and like I said, I’ve been taking pictures since I was 16, 17 years old, so I came in knowing what I was doing. I didn’t need that much coaching. But as far as Janice goes, she is a natural. There are certain people that are naturals in front of the camera, and her age has no importance, no relevance, because she gets in front of the camera, and her poses are like clockwork. She knows what she’s doing, and, of course, I was soaking in all that like a sponge.

You mentioned before that you were hesitant to take part in the “America’s Next Top Transsexual Model” contest on The Tyra Banks Show. Why?

Naturally, I’m going to be a little protective of my identity.

Do you find that you have been able to overcome labels and have people respond to you as Claudia?

I know that the transsexual thing is going to have some shock value. That’s the world we live in. But everyone I meet on a personal level, they don’t look at me like that way. All my friends that I have now that are straight or gay or whatever, the whole transsexual thing after knowing me becomes secondary. It’s not me, or anyone for that matter.

It must have been a fantasy come true to leave your hometown of New York and live it up in L.A.

It was. But it was definitely hard. We didn’t have the America’s Next Top Model budget, so my funds began to disappear very quickly. A lot of time when we were shooting, I thought, “Should I keep on going, or should I just go back home?” But I stuck it through. I’m pretty proud of myself for that.

I know you have some acting auditions coming up. Have you acted before?

My first [acting job] was in the movie 54 [about Studio 54]. I was the little go-go girl, and I must have been about 17 at the time when I did the movie. But it was fun. We did it in my old stomping grounds in New York. It was awesome. That was a good movie.

I wish I had been an adult in the 1970s because I would have loved to live in New York when disco was hot and Studio 54 was the place to go.

I know. New York is awesome, but that was a totally different time. I had a couple of boyfriends who were DJs, so I have always known New York nightlife, but I always wanted to know it back in the day of Donna Summer.

Yes, we missed the heyday of disco and the early 1980s when Madonna was first coming up in New York.

You’re talking to a diehard Madonna fan!

Me, too! Did you see the Confessions tour?

My friends and I go to nearly every concert—no matter how much the tickets are, we’re on Craigslist searching. And we all go as Madonna—my girlfriend will go as Madonna from “Like a Virgin,” my other girlfriend will do “Nothing Really Matters,” and I went one time in a complete latex body suit like Madonna wore in “Human Nature.” Oh, my God. We make it an event. We really have a good time.

Oxygen has yet to announce whether we will see a second season of The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, but if the show is renewed, will you be back on it?

It’s time to move on to a different path now. Everything I’ve done so far has kind of been good at leading me to the next level, so I’m going to hit the agencies very seriously, and, hopefully, with the show and all the stuff that’s going on today, somebody will take a risk. There’s got to be some gay designer out there who will put me in their clothes.

Here’s your chance to make it known what designers you would like to work for.

Roberto Cavalli and Karl Lagerfeld. They just mean everything to me.

Michelle Obama's DNC Speech

Here's the next FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States) speech at the Democratic National Convention last night in Denver.

Shirley Chisholm's 1972 Presidential Announcement

In honor of the 88th anniversary of the day that women first gained the right to vote, here's some YouTube video of Shirley Chisholm (D-NY) the first African-American woman elected to Congress in 1968.

She was also the first African-American and first woman to run as a major party candidate for president and a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1969. She held her Congressional seat until she retired from Congress in 1982 and was succeeded by Major Owens.

Chisholm's campaign inspired a young African-American volunteer by the name of Barbara Lee to remain active in politics and eventually run for and win a congressional seat herself in California.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Barack Needs A Pee Wee Reese To Step Up

TransGriot Note: I posted this to The Bilerico Project and had to share with you TransGriot readers as well.

The Democratic Convention is kicking off in Denver today. (wish I could be there)

Since the Beijing Olympic Games just ended, I'm still in a sports oriented frame of mind. I tend to focus on baseball after the All-Star break but with the Olympics happening, my sporting attention has been devoted to that quadrennial sports festival.

I was watching a forum on C-SPAN this morning sponsored by Politico and The Denver Post which had as participants Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr (D-IL) Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley and former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American elected governor since Reconstruction.

During the commentary, Rep. Jackson said something that Rep. Clyburn cosigned on that I totally agree with.

Barack needs a Pee Wee Reese.

Pee Wee Reese for those of you not familiar with the Jackie Robinson story was his roommate and team captain of the Brooklyn Dodgers when he broke into the major leagues in 1947. Reese refused to sign a petition that would have led to a threatened Dodger player boycott if Robinson joined the team. His friendship with Robinson not only helped ease the transition with his Dodger teammates, but eventually the entire National League. They also became one of the most potent double play combination in the sport during the 40's and 50's.

One of the restrictions that Jackie was under when he became the first African-American major league player was that for three years, he couldn't fight back or lose his temper, no matter what was done or said to him.

During his first road trip to play the Cincinnati Reds, the fans there taunted him unmercifully with racist slurs during pre game warmups. Pee Wee walked up to him, engaged Robinson in conversation and put his arm around his shoulder, a gesture that silenced the ignorant fans. During that difficult three years as their friendship grew, Reese helped keep Robinson's spirits up as Jackie's brilliant play on the field began to speak for him.

As a matter of fact, outside Louisville Slugger Field, the minor league ballpark here, there's a bronze statue of Robinson and the Louisville native at the entrance to the stadium capturing that moment.

What we are witnessing right now is a remix of the Jackie Robinson situation played out in this presidential political campaign, but substitute Sen. Barack Obama for Jackie Robinson.

He is trying to break the color line at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He's capable of running a negative campaign, but has to run a positive one because an 'angry' Black man won't get elected president. He also has to walk a political tightrope that John McCain doesn't. He can't appear to be 'too Black' for the white and Latino/a electorate or 'too White' to the African-American community. He can't make too many mistakes because as a 'First Black' he gets judged far more harshly than a white person in the same position. He also doesn't get the luxury of responding angrily to obviously stupid, racist or asinine questions.

We have already heard the idiocy expressed by some disgruntled Hillary supporters that they will vote for McCain since Hillary wasn't the primary winner or chosen as his running mate. We haven't even begun to see the worst of the racist rhetoric that will be thrown at him by the right wing and the GOP even though they're already slinging their code worded racist slogans courtesy of Faux News and the Right Wing Noise Machine.

'Presumptuous', 'Arrogant' or 'elitist' (think 'uppity n****r)
'Not ready to lead' (the same coded rap on our intelligence they used to say about African-American quarterbacks, coaches, managers or CEO's )
'Lacks experience' (so did the resident-in- thief, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter before they won the presidency)

What is needed at this juncture is a Pee Wee Reese to step up in the Democratic Party, put their arm around Barack's (and Michelle's) shoulders and say emphatically this man is alright and he'll make an excellent president. That alone will help allay the fears of all the (mostly white) people who want to do the right thing and vote for Obama but need that reassurance.and validation from another white person that this man is okay.

It's probably one of the reasons why Sen. Joe Biden is now the VP nominee instead of Sen. Clinton or some other Democratic woman like Governor Sebelius. Sen. Biden can do what Barack can't in this campaign, be the attack dog trashing the so-called 'maverick' at every opportunity.

But Sen. Biden can't be the only one. If the Democratic Party is serious about having the Obama family move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, then we will need multiple Pee Wee Reese's to step up. The bottom line is that as an African-American, I'd like to remind you that we are the most loyal constituency in the Democratic party over the last 40 years. We have voted for Democrats of all ethnicities during that time period, even for people we weren't all that enthused about.

And as part of that loyal constituency, we expect the same or greater level of reciprocal support for Sen. Obama from you as white Democrats that we African-American Democrats have shown for Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry.

I not only see the big picture in terms of Supreme Court judges, whether a Democrat or Republican is sitting in the most powerful office in the country directly affects the quality of my life and how much cash is in my wallet

It also speaks to something I've said for quite some time now. If you want progressive policies, you have to elect progressive politicians to enact those policies.

John McCain is NOT a 'maverick', he's a committed conservative. Anybody that thinks he'll change or is friendly to GLBT issues is making the same mistake they did eight years ago by allowing themselves to be hoodwinked by George W. Bush and his compassionate conservatism' snake oil.

There's no doubt that Barack Obama has the education, the talent, the judgment, charisma and the temperament to lead this country. He is already respected by many world leaders and would do much to restore our tarnished standing in the world.

He is one of our best as African-Americans and the best candidate we've set forth as a party for the office in probably a generation. I'd hate to think that Sen. Obama could possibly lose because of petty jealousies, lack of vision or people still hung up on harboring centuries old prejudices against African-Americans and not get to chance to show like Jackie Robinson did a half century earlier, he's got the talent to excel in the presidential game.

Shooter Of Trans Woman Convicted Of Voluntary Manslaughter

TransGriot Note: Here we go again. Another murderer put on trial for killing a transwoman of color, another one who gets off. It's depressingly consistent whether the trial happens in Memphis, TN or London, England.

By Timothy Cwiek
PGN Writer-at-Large
Philadelphia Gay News, PA, USA

A Philadelphia judge has acquitted the killer of a trans woman of murder charges, despite an impassioned plea by the prosecutor that malice was behind the shooting.

At the end of a three-hour bench trial on Aug. 18, Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey P. Minehart convicted Terron Oates of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Alexis King.

Oates, 20, of the Olney section, faces a minimum of five years in prison when he is sentenced next month, but could be released within the next 30 months because of credit for time served.

Police arrested Oates after the February 2006 incident and he has been incarcerated since then.

Minehart didn't explain his ruling, but it appears he accepted the defense's position that Oates acted in the heat of passion after he picked up King for sex in February 2006, then shot her twice after realizing she was a biological male.

Assistant D.A. MK Feeney argued for a first-degree murder conviction or, as an alternative, a third-degree- murder conviction. She said the evidence indicated that Oates targeted King because of her transgender status.

But defense attorney Brian McMonagle stressed the youth and naiveté of his client when he went out looking for sex about 5 a.m. Feb. 1, 2006, at Broad and Spring Garden streets.

He said Oates wasn't aware that transgender sex workers frequented the area. He didn't know King was a biological male until she became sexually aggressive inside Oates' car and indicated that she had a penis. Then, Oates went into a frenzy and shot her twice in the heat of passion, McMonagle said.

Feeney scoffed at that defense.

"Mr. Oates isn't so naïve that he can't find a gun," she said. "He has an illegal gun in his car, he's out at five o'clock in the morning on a school night and he's going to a strip club when he's underage. He's sophisticated enough to be doing those things. Yet the defense portrayed him as an innocent, naïve little boy."

Oates told police he didn't realize King's biological status until King grabbed Oates' hand and placed it on King's penis, inside the car.

Oates did not testify during the trial but his early statements to police were read for the record.

However, Sgt. Daniel Dutch, who's worked undercover as a "john" in the area, testified that he's never heard of — nor experienced — such behavior by a transgender sex worker.

To the contrary, transgender sex workers normally go out of their way to avoid having the johns touch their penises, Dutch said.

And medic William Murphy, who administered emergency care to King after she was shot, testified that King's penis was "tucked" between her legs, held in place by her panties, when he got to her.

The shooting happened in the Nicetown section, near the intersection of Bott and Kerbaugh streets. King was shot twice, from the side and rear, according to the medical examiner's report.

Her body was found about 120 feet from Oates' car, where she collapsed in a pool of blood, evidently trying to run for safety, said Feeney.

McMonagle said the shooting happened during "pandemonium" in Oates' car, after he felt King's penis, tussled with her for Oates' pistol, then King moved toward him.

But Feeney refuted that scenario.

"At no time was she ever coming toward him when he shot her, because she was shot from the side and rear," Feeney said. "That tells you right there that the defendant is lying. If you're coming toward someone, your front would get shot."

She said Oates' actions after the shooting also contradict a heat-of-passion defense.

"He immediately got rid of the weapon," Feeney continued. "If you can't think straight, you're not going to do that. Then he calls 911, does this act on the phone about a robbery and unknown gunman and lies to the responding officer and detectives. To me, that shows a pretty good presence of mind, don't you think?"

She said Oates tried to flee the scene but was stymied because his car wouldn't start. "But for the fact that his car wouldn't start and he was stuck at the scene, we'd probably never even know who killed Alexis King," Feeney said.

Minehart scheduled sentencing for 10 a.m. Sept. 29 in Courtroom 602 of the Criminal Justice Center, 1315 Filbert St.

Timothy Cwiek can be reached at (215) 625-8501 ext. 208

© 2008 Philadelphia Gay News

2008 Democratic Comvention

I'd hoped to be sitting in Denver right now as part of the army of bloggers credentialed for the 2008 Democratic Convention in Denver, but unfortunately that fell through when The Bilerico Project wasn't selected as one of the credentialed blogs.

Bil and Jerame are there covering the event for The Bilerico Project anyway, but I've committed my vacation time for something else and couldn't go.

The convention starts in a few hours and here's the link to the official convention website. In addition to the Project covering the DNC, Pam's House Blend will be doing so as well along with several other blogs.

At the Avalon Farmblog you'll have Dr. Marisa Richmond, our first African-American transgender delegate commenting on the historic happenings from her spot in the Tennessee delegation. My homegirl Vanessa Edawrds Foster is a Texas delegate and will be blogging about her experiences in her Trans Political blog.

And of course, just because I'm not in the Mile High city doesn't mean that the TransGriot won't have any opinions about the various speeches, GOP bullshyt spin, network coverage and other political activity going on.

But I'd rather be there pontificating about it than in Louisville.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Passing the Torch To London

We all wondered what the organizers of the Beijing Games would do after providing us with a breathtaking opening ceremony for the ages.

Well, as we expected, they finished off these Games in spectacular fashion. After 16 days of thrills, chills, heartbreak, drama and the athletes from 204 nations living up to the Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius (Swifter, Higher, Stronger) The Games of the 28th Olympiad in Beijing came to a close. The host nation cleaned up in the gold medal count with 51 medals and 100 medals overall. It was the most gold medals collected by any nation since the old Soviet Union cleaned up in 1988. Team USA is taking home 38 gold medals and 110 medals overall, the most we've piled up at a non US hosted Games.

It was also cool to note that 78 countries won medals, so it wasn't all concentrated among the sports superpowers.

The standout athletes who will forever be synonymous with these games are Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps. Usain Bolt not only solidified his claim as the world's fastest man, he did so with record breaking ease. Michael Phelps record eight medals include one memorable relay race and outtouching Bernard Cavic by a fingernail.

Bolt, Phelps and images of the Water Cube and the Bird's Nest Stadium will be the signature Olympic moments and images for for this generation just as watching Mark Spitz, Carl Lewis, Nadia Comaneci, Olga Korbut, the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team, the 1992 Dream Team and Florence Griffith Joyner was for mine.

The performances at these Games will serve as an inspiration for kids and the adults that were glued to the television. You have no excuse for not getting in shape when you see a 41 year old mom and former Olympian come out of retirement to earn a silver medal or a 33 year old German competitor executing a vault while competing against people that are old enough to be her daughter.

Hopefully one of those kids who was inspired to become an Olympian in a future Games was a transgender one. I pray that I'm granted enough time on Planet Earth to see that transgender athlete, wherever they are from receive that medal.

The reasons I love the Olympics are multifaceted ones. Yeah, I'm a sports fan who loves to see my country do well in any international competition, as I documented with the various Olympic posts. But the Olympics aren't just any sports competition. It's special. It's summed up in the motto of these Beijing Games, One World One Dream.

The one dream that any kid who plays a sport shares no matter where they grew up on this planet is to stand on the top step of the Olympic podium with a gold medal around your neck. You've just executed the best sporting performance of your life against top flight competition and you're hearing your country's national anthem played as you see your nation's flag raised to the rafters of an arena or the top of a flagpole.

But the beauty of the Olympics is that for two weeks, all 6 billion of us on Planet Earth forget about the usual rivalries, national borders, political drama and even our own problems to cheer for the youth (and sometimes people like 41 year old Dara Torres) of the world competing at the highest levels for Olympic immortality.

And sometimes, as you get reminded, it's not always about winning a medal. Sometimes it's just being there to compete. You also see that no matter how hard you've trained for that moment, one mistake can cost you a medal.

The Olympics are a microcosm of life. It's not about how you fare when you're on top, but how quickly you bounce back from adversity. Sometimes your best efforts aren't good enough to get you the big prize on that particular day, so it will interesting to watch and see if the folks that failed to medal here in Beijing show up in London and stand on the medal platform four years from now.

So the torch has been extinguished at the top of the Bird's Nest, the Antwerp Olympic flag has been passed to the mayor of London and we wait until 2012 for the start of the Games of the 30th Olympiad. Our British cousins are plugging away as I write this building the venues and making plans for their own turn on the Olympic stage.

Beijing raised the bar in terms of hosting a Games, but I have no doubts that our British friends will rise to the occasion and put their own unique stamp on Olympic history.

They already have a head start on making history. They will become the first city to host the Olympics three times when the Olympic torch gets lit there on August 29, 2012. London also hosted the Games in 1908 and 1948.

There are four cities who will be anxiously awaiting an October 2009 IOC meeting in Copenhagen that will determine who will be the mayor receiving the Antwerp flag from the mayor of London when they have the closing ceremonies of those 30th Games.

But take heart Olympic fans, the Winter Games in Vancouver are only two years away.