Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why Barack Obama Will Be An Outstanding President

If you readers wonder why I and other African-Americans have this rock solid faith that President Barack Obama will be an outstanding one, I'm about to let you in on a little cultural secret.

Over the last 400 years of African-descended people residing in the Americas, ugly stereotypes have been created and propagated about us that still persist to the present day. So in order to overcome the stereotypes that we are less intelligent, lazy, unpatriotic (well you get the drift), every African-American kid has had it drilled into us by our parents and elders that because of America's original (and continuing) sin of racism, it would never be enough for us to just meet expectations, we have to exceed them. We were taught that we have to be quicker, faster, better, smarter and more prepared than non-Blacks. We were also taught that if and when we get a job, we have to get it done right the first time.

That pressure only increased if you were the 'first Black' in a position. You not only had to excel for yourself, but were cognizant of the fact that the hopes and dreams of an entire people rested on your shoulders.

You were also aware that, rightly or wrongly, our people would be judged in some cases based on your behavior and performance. If you didn't do the job right, there might not be a second, third, fourth or 100th African-American following you and it might make it harder for other minorities to catch a break as well.

This shared cultural value is what we Black peeps zeroed in on as we examined Barack Obama's background and history. It's why as we learned more about the man, we enthusiastically warmed up to him as the primaries and eventually the 2008 campaign resulted in his historic election on November 4.

The last 43 occupants of the White House didn't enter it with that kind of pressure. He does.

When he took the oath of office January 20, he knew that he didn't have wiggle room to mess up, especially in light of the jacked up country his predecessor left him. He had to not only hit the ground running, but have an administration chock full of the best and brightest minds to help him. Thanks to the slimy, amoral and secretive way the last administration was run, it had to have people of high moral and ethical character as part of it.

The Obama administration has the equivalent of an electron microscope up its collective butt. In addition to dealing with white anxiety about what the Obama family living in the White House means for them, it's taking office during one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression.

It will have the nattering negativity of Faux News chirping away over every perceived misstep. It cannot afford to have scandals, inefficiency, waste or unethical behavior. It will be held to a much higher standards than the previous grossly inept one.

But to his credit, he wants and has said repeatedly he wishes to be held accountable for his performance while he's there for the next four to eight years. He has the temperament, the education, the political skills, the intelligence and the communications skills to be a great president.

Note I didn't say 'potentially'. I have the confidence to say that he WILL be a great president. If we were going to have a first Black president I like my African descended brothers and sisters wanted him or her to be the best and brightest member of our community.

Hopefully at the end of his second term, the nation will be lamenting the fact that we couldn't elect him to a third term.

2009 State Of The Black Union-LA

Been watching the 10th Anniversary edition of the State of the Black Union live from Los Angeles. I enjoy watching Black thought leaders engaged in thoughtful conversations across an entire day on various subjects and the conversation being televised on C-SPAN.

Well, Round Two is about to start, and this panel will have two of my fave peeps, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Julianne Malveaux on it.

Turkish Transwoman Running For Public Office

Ever since New Zealand's Georgina Beyer became the first transwoman to be elected to a national legislative body in 1999, we've had an increasing number of transgender people all over the world seeking elective office on various levels of government.

Transwoman Belgin Celik is seeking to make history in Turkey. She is running as a candidate in upcoming March 29 local elections in a district that has never had a female district representative candidate, much less ever had a woman serve in the position.

"As a transsexual woman, I believe I will be able to secularly fulfill my duties. I plan to determine the problems present and solve them with the public. There are two men also up for this position, but I believe I am going to win."

Celik is a human rights activist who has worked for the UN Refugee High Committee and International Amnesty and is one of the founders of the homosexual initiative, Lambda in Istanbul. She's running in the neighborhood where she's lived for 30 years. "I know everyone here and have acquaintances and friendships with everyone."

While some people are projecting her election as a sure thing, as anyone who has ever run for public office can tell you, there are no sure things in politics.

Hopefully on March 29 Celik will add her name to the list of transgender people who are elected officials.

Dawn's Fencing In The A-T-L

Dawn bounced down to Atlanta with Polar for a veterans tournament that will be taking place in a few hours at the Georgia World Congress Center. Normally I'd be along for the ride since y'all know I like road trips, but had to work yesterday.

She also bounced yesterday to get her equipment checked prior to the tournament, get a little rest from the six hour drive down there from Louisville and because it starts around 8 AM.

I'm sure when she gets back she'll have some entertaining stories to tell about the latest round of competition between the 'Senior Mama's (the women's 50 fencers) and the Baby Vets (the women's 40 fencers)

Friday, February 27, 2009

The FLOTUS Official Portrait

FLOTUS stands for First Lady Of The United States, and First Lady Michelle Obama's official portrait has finally been released. Sistah girl looks so good it's making me want to swear off the Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream.

Well, after this weekend, since I just bought two half pints of it on sale and I'm tearing into one of them as I write.

One of the things I ironically found funny in the photo was this. Peep the presidential portrait that's hanging on the wall over the First Lady's right shoulder.

That's Thomas Jefferson, and he had a taste for 'Brown Sugar'. Word was back in the day (1802) that Sally Hemings was his mistress and he fathered six children with her. Never mind the fact that slavery was in full effect in the States at the time, so it's questionable whether the relationship between them was consensual.

Even though he was getting his freak on with her, he still held the typical attitude of the day that she was less than human. In his 1814 book Notes on the State of Virginia he advanced his suspicion that black people were inferior to white people "in the endowments both of body and mind.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright alluded to that during Inauguration Weekend when he parted his lips and made the comment that "Michelle Obama is the first African American sleeping in the White House legally."

Looks like the First Lady had the last laugh on both of them.

Women Come In All Shapes And Sizes

One transition lesson that took the longest time to sink in but finally did thanks to Dr. Cole, my biofemale friends and personal observations was that women come in all shapes, sizes and body types.

It was one of the things that bugged me, especially after my last growth spurt pushed me to my 6'2" height and I first began seriously contemplating transition in my late teens.

One of my BT (before transition) concerns was if I could convincingly pull off being a statuesque plus 6 foot tall woman. Fortunately I grew up in the late 70's, and there were plenty of examples of tall beautiful sisters around me from 5'10" Jayne Kennedy, 6'1" Phyllis Hyman, and 6'2" model-actress Tamara Dobson.

As I finally hit the gender wall, transitioned and made mind and body match up I had more examples with supermodel Tyra Banks, various women around me in my life and the women of the WNBA.

Even with all that evidence smacking me in the face, I was not immune to the same body image concerns that plague my biosisters. In some cases, I'd argue that those body image issues impact transwomen even harder because of the importance we place on presentation. Being seen as convincingly female can be the difference between life and death in some cases.

Even though I know I shouldn't be comparing myself to a supermodel or the JET Beauty of the Week, stuff happens. Even after 15 years of relatively happy life on the femme side of the gender continuum, there are still days when I feel 'unpretty'.

Some of it results from the negativity that Black transwomen get whacked with on a daily basis. We get shame and guilt heaped on us concerning our transgender status combined with the drama of being Black, and the societal meme that Black women are 'less pretty' than others.

The zero to evolving female nature of a gender transition has me feeling sometimes like I'm trying to play catch up with the women of my generation and younger who have the advantage of having gender ID and body match up from birth. With transwomen transitioning in their teens, it adds another layer of 'that could have been me' angst.

But what expeditiously brings me back to reality is the fact that there are biowomen in society who do match up to the so-called conventional wisdom bandied about concerning how to spot a transwoman. Since you get genetic material from mommy and daddy, there are biowomen who wear double digit sized pumps, have big hands, have to regularly do electrolysis and have facial and body builds considered 'masculine'.

At the same time there are transwomen who you wouldn't guess weren't born on the male end of the gender continuum with petite curvy bodies, feminine facial structure, minimal to zero facial hair who are happily shopping for size 7 pumps.

It's also interesting to read various blogs and hear from my biosisters that they have from time to time the same body image issues and feelings I'm articulating here.

Despite going through all the introspection I take myself through from time to time, I'm happy with the shape and size of every square millimeter of this fabulously feminine 6'2" body. But the most important lesson is that when I look into the mirror, I love Monica and the person she's gracefully evolving to be.

Shut Up Fool! Awards-End Of the Month Edition

The shortest month of the year is drawing to a close tomorrow signaling the end of the observance of Black History Month. But we celebrate Black history every month here at TransGriot, so if I run across something interesting, you know dear readers it will pop up in a post or two.

Still trying to decide what the topic is going to be for the first of the discussion panels featuring our biosisters and transwomen discussing various topics on this blog.

It's Friday, and y'all know what that means. I know you're all waiting in breathless anticipation after that boring Oscar show to pity the fool (or fools) who made the most asinine statement of the week.

So here are this week's nominees.

Fool Number 1 is Las Alamitos, CA mayor Dean Grose, who sent a racist e-mail with a picture of a watermelon patch growing on the south lawn of the White House to local African-American businesswoman and city volunteer Keyanus Price, then claimed he was unaware of the stereotype that my peeps like watermelon. (FYI, I hate it)

"Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn’t see this in the same light that she did. I’m sorry. It wasn’t sent to offend her personally—or anyone—from the standpoint of the African-American race.”

Fool Number 2 is Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, who the Repugnicans are trying to pimp as their rising star in 2012. In his rebuttal speech he makes the ludicrous case of using Hurricane Katrina as a concrete example of why you should not trust government. Hello dummy, YOUR party was running thangs in 2005 and it's the reason we have massive Dem majorities in the House, Senate and an African American First Family in the White House. Then he accused the prez of wanting to impose 'government-run' healthcare, which is a lie, and mocked funding for volcano monitoring. Hello, if you live next to or fly airplanes near Mount St. Helens, Kilauea, or any Alaskan volcano I think you'd want to know if they're gonna blow.

Fool number 3 is Rush Limbaugh, who's perplexed at why women hate him and wants to convene a summit to understand why. Hello, when you call women femi-Nazis, welfare queens, and all the other derogatory terms that you've used over the years on your radio show, it should be crystal clear to your OxyContin pill popping behind why.

And this week's winner is....Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal, shut up fool!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mexico's Muxe Video

You'll remember that in December I posted a fascinating New York Times article on the Muxe of Mexico. There's now You Tube video that I've found on them that I hope you'll enjoy.

Balian Buschbaum's New Life

In a December 2007 post I talked about the retirement of junior world record holding German pole vaulter Yvonne Buschbaum from international competition for an interesting reason. His transition from female to male.

He said at the time,"I feel as if I am a man and have to live my life in the body of a woman. I am aware of the fact that transsexuality is a fringe issue, and I do not want to be responsible for it remaining on the fringe."

Well, two years later he is now the very handsome Balian Buschbaum, and in a diary entry on his website stated, "Courage is the road to freedom. I woke up in complete freedom today. The sky is wide open."

Balian chose his new name in January 2008, after the blacksmith in the movie Kingdom of Heaven.

Since taking his first testosterone shot on Christmas Day 2007, Balian has documented the metamorphosis from Yvonne to the handsome guy he is now. He's appeared on a few talk shows and has received support from his former colleagues in the athletics (track and field) world.

He was required to quit pole vaulting under IAAF rules because testosterone, one of the primary drugs used for a female to male gender change is considered a doping substance. Buschbaum won European championship bronze medals in 1998 and 2002 and had a personal best vault of 4.70 meters (15 feet 4.2 inches)

On the other side of the gender fence Balian wore his hair shortly-cropped, but now he has facial hair, growing muscles and a deeper voice to complement his new ID card. He's also endured the initial surgeries to complete his metamorphosis from female to male.

Thanks to his gender transformation, he also has a ringside seat concerning the effects of testosterone because he's living through the effects of the changes. He told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung that "I felt like an over-bred pitbull."

He also noted that he was far more aggressive in training and could jump with poles Yvonne Buschbaum could only dream of using.

He changed his mind about retiring from the sport, and is staying in shape by continuing to vault in preparation for his new role as a coach for the USC Mainz club in central Germany.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Japan's Transgender Community

Japan is a giant in terms of its economic, technological, industrial, and medical prowess, but when it comes to treating transgender people lagged behind the rest of the world. The first sex reassignment surgery in Japan (for an F to M) didn't take place until 1998 and was followed up by the first M to F surgery a year later.

If you're an anime fan there are numerous titles that have transgender characters such as my fave series You're Under Arrest which features transgender Tokyo police officer Aoi Futaba. But unfortunately real life transgender people in Japan have been reluctantly hiding in the shadows in a culture that prizes conformity.

Things are changing in Japan as it make moves to grant more personal freedom to its citizens, and the Japanese transgender community is a beneficiary of this openness.

It's estimated that there are 7,000 to 10,000 transgender people in Japan, and while it seems that the ascension of Japanese transpeople has been meteoric, much of what has happened was the result of years of behind the scenes work.

In 2003 Aya Kamikawa became the first (and so far only) transgender person elected to public office in Japan when she won a place on the local assembly for Setagaya, one of Tokyo's biggest local government areas. She has played a key role in lobbying for changes at both the national and local levels, including the 2004 gender change law. Kamikawa has also successfully lobbied to eliminate unnecessary mentions of gender in public documents and was reelected in 2008 to serve a second four year term.

Following on the heels of Kamikawa's historic political victory were groundbreaking legal reforms in 2004 that allowed some transsexuals to change their officially registered sex. Unfortunately the law only allows unmarried, childless applicants to change their official gender. In addition, applicants also must have had SRS and been diagnosed by two doctors as having gender identity disorder.

That has resulted in only 151 people officially changing their gender codes between July 2004, when the law took effect, and the end of March 2005, according to Japan's Justice Ministry.

Despite the victories, there's still some stigma attached to being transgender in Japan, although that is slowly being overcome. "As long as we keep silent, nothing is going to change," said Kamikawa. "We need the courage to make a society which respects diversity."

President Obama's Joint Congressional Speech

"While our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this. We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States will emerge stronger than before." President Barack Obama

Excerpts from the speech:

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

We have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.

The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we’re taking to revive our economy in the short-term. But the only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.

In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we have come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or laundry lists of programs. I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America – as a blueprint for our future.

My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.

Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.

But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.

Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we’re starting with the biggest lines. We have already identified two trillion dollars in savings over the next decade.

In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary.

I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ''I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."

I think about Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community – how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. "The tragedy was terrible," said one of the men who helped them rebuild. "But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity."

And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters.

It's great to have the 'A' students back in charge of running this country again. Here's the speech if you missed it.

Tavis Smiley's 10th Anniversary State Of The Black Union Symposium in LA Saturday

Tavis Smiley's annual State of the Black Union Symposium is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Saturday, February 28, and this year's event will take place in the place where it was born in Los Angeles.

The SOBU will take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center and will be televised on C-SPAN with the theme of Making America As Good As Its Promise. There will also be conversations about issues important to high school and college students taking place on Friday, February 27 at the University of Southern California and several high schools in the Los Angeles area.

The conversations will be moderated by attorney Raymond Brown and Tavis Smiley with the first session kicking off from 8 AM-11 AM PST (11 AM-2 PM EST). The second session will run from 1 PM PST-4 PM PST (4 PM-7 PM EST).

This 2009 SOBU will bring back panelists from the first conversation held on the USC campus such as Danny Glover, Nikki Giovanni, Lani Guinier, Na'im Akbar, Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., Danny Bakewell, Sr., Jawanza Kunjufu, Les Brown, Charles Ogletree, Randall Robinson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Iyanla Vanzant, Dr. Julianna Malveaux, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Earvin 'Magic' Johnson and Cornel West.

Other participants in this year's SOBU conversation are Arlene Holt Baker, CA Rep. Karen Bass, Peter Harvey, Van Jones, Erica Williams, Emile Townes and Marc Morial.

For those of you in the Los Angeles area who wish to attend, the symposium is free but online registration is required at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Korean Transgender Community

When it comes to Asia and the Pacific islands, there is a wide variance in terms of the populace's acceptance level for transgender people.

One of the countries that has made gigantic leaps in terms of acceptance of transgender people is South Korea. Much of the improved perception of transgender people there has been driven by transwoman Lee Kyung-eun, who is better known to Koreans and the rest of the world by her stage name of Harisu.

Harisu was born in 1975, transitioned in her teens, had SRS, then started garnering international attention in 2001 when she appeared in a wildly successful advertising campaign for Dodo Cosmetics.

The multitalented Harisu has authored four books, modeled, acted in movies and television shows, appeared in print and television commercials and recorded several K-pop albums.

On November 29, 2003 she petitioned a Korean district court in Incheon to change her name and gender on her family registry. The petition was granted and on December 13, 2002 she became only the second person in South Korea to legally change their gender. On May 13, 2007 after dating him for two years she married her boyfriend Micky Jung.

Harisu was cognizant of her role as South Korea's first open transgender celebrity and was adamant about always setting a good example. Her successful transition opened the door for other Korean transwomen to walk in her pumps.

A K-pop group called Lady appeared on the scene which tried to capitalize on Harisu's popularity in Korea. After a nationwide talent search, three transwomen were chosen to form the group and a fourth was added later. However, the band received a lukewarm reception and officially disbanded in 2007.

In addition to Harisu being credited for helping to change attitudes about transgender people, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea has been pushing to protect transgender people in Korea as well.

South Korean transpeople are now eligible to serve in the country's military forces and rewrote its military medical examination procedures in order for them to do so.

But the biggest milestones for Korean transsexuals have been in their court system. In June 2006 the Korean Supreme Court ruled that transsexuals who have sex change operations should be able to legally change their gender.

Justice Kim commenting on their decision, said that their decision “is the best choice to alleviate the suffering of transsexual people at a time when any tangible legislative measures to protect their rights is most likely a long time coming.”

And to illustrate just how far Korea has come on transgender issues, a Korean court recently sentenced a man to four years in jail plus community service for raping a transwoman. It's a landmark case there because in 1996 the Korean judiciary rejected a similar case involving the rape of a transwoman.

So once again you have an Asian nation running rings around the self proclaimed leading democracy in the world when it comes to granting basic human rights to transgender people. When are we in the States going to catch up to the rest of the world who long ago recognized that we are human beings?

Zulu Parade Video

Since today is Mardi Gras Day and the party will be going on in New Orleans until midnight, couldn't let it slide by without posting some video of past Krewe of Zulu parades in honor of their 100th anniversary.

2008 Parade

2007 Parade

St Augustine High School Marching 100 Band

2008 Zulu Parade

Zulu forever!

It Ain't Activists Causing Problems In Your WWBT Lives, It's Our Enemies

Y'all know how much disdain I have for the WBT's (women born transsexual) or as I more truthfully label them the WWBT's (white women born transsexual). The reason I don't like them is because they are the kissing cousins to radical feminists.

They are too busy clutching on to privilege like a wino holding his last bottle of MD 20/20 and disrespectfully attacking anyone who disagrees with their attempts to create this bullshit racist hierarchy to separate themselves from the rest of the multicultural transgender masses based on whether or not you have a neovagina.

It came to my attention that a WWBT was pissed because she was disrespectfully asked to leave a Catholic church parish that she'd been faithfully attending for over 20 years.

That's jacked up, but instead of focusing her righteous anger on the Roman Catholic Church who has spread the anti-transgender poison that's now filtering down to the Catholic flock level, who does she blame?

The activists in the community.

One of their frequent rants of the WWBT crowd on transgender message boards is that if we activists wouldn't 'rock the boat' then the haters would leave us alone to live in peace.

Yeah right. I don't know what world you live in, but our enemies have no intention of leaving us alone. It's either stand up and fight for your dignity, self respect and human rights or get run over by fundamentalist fueled tyranny. Sometimes you even have to call out your friends and allies for disrespecting you as well.

If you'd grown up as a person of color instead of privileged white males you'd know this. Thank God there are far more people that are cognizant of that and not only aren't going to meekly submit to injustice, but are willing to fight it head on.

They should be commended for doing so, not attacked and disparaged as you WWBT's tend to do. You can split hairs all you want and call yourselves sufferers of HBS (Harry Benjamin Syndrome), but to the unwashed Fox News watching masses out there you're still transsexuals or worse. You put your pantyhose on one leg at a time just like a pre-op or non-op does and you are still targets for the same discrimination and violence we face.

The difference between you and me is that we activists here and all over the world are putting our lives on the line in some cases to fight the madness so that future generations don't have to.

It's time for y'all to put the big girl panties on and fight your real enemies. The religious fundamentalists are. The neo-Mattachine anti-inclusion gays and lesbians are. The radical feminists are. These are the people causing the problems in your lives.

The activists are the peeps who are trying to solve them.

Be Part Of The Solution Instead Of Bitching About The Problem

One of the things that gets on my last nerve is when I hear peeps in the African American GLBT community gripe about how mainstream organization in our community aren't inclusive.

One of the organizations that's been in the cross hairs of this crowd is the NAACP. The iconic civil rights organization is now beginning its second century of work after celebrating it's 100th anniversary on February 12. It also has a dynamic young leader in Benjamin T. Jealous.

These peeps will whip out a laundry list of complaints about this organization not being inclusive or that organization being seemingly hostile to our interests, but when you ask them if they are members of that organization or what they've personally done to change it, they'll make excuse after excuse to justify why they aren't.

The point is, you peeps who are complaining about the NAACP for example, need to be part of the solution instead of bitching about the problem.

Have you taken the time out of your busy party or pageant schedule to actually attend a local NAACP meeting to articulate your concerns?

More importantly, have you and a group of like minded friends joined the NAACP?

If your answer is no, then you may want to consider it. That's a more constructive way to tackle the problem of these iconic organizations not being cognizant of our problems, and at the same time they'd appreciate the infusion of new members as well.

If you truly feel that the organization has been less than responsive to African-American SGL and transgender people's issues, then the way to correct that problem is to actually join the organization, do the work and get yourself in a leadership position to help change the policies.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Club White House-Washington's Hottest Music Venue

When I wrote my 'If I Were President' post a year before Election Day 2008, little did I suspect that the thinking exercise I engaged in that day would become reality in the person of Barack Obama a year later.

There are some days when I'm watching the news and listening to some of the policy stuff they've been pushing and I wonder if peeps in the Obama administration read my blog posts.

One of the things I talked about in my presidential daydreaming post was having some slammin' entertainment in the White House, and last night that part of my post came to pass.

While I was watching CNN this morning they reported that Earth, Wind and Fire, one of my (and President Obama's) fave groups during my teen years performed in the East Room for an event honoring US governors in town for the National Governors Association meeting.

It was cool seeing the guys in tuxedos, some of the guests and the president and First Lady jamming to some of my fave EWF songs.

Stevie Wonder is going to be honored with a Gershwin Award presented by President Obama on February 25.

The "Stevie Wonder in Performance at the White House: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize” event will be taped and televised on PBS the following day. This event will take place in the East Room as well and include performances by, Tony Bennett, Diana Krall and many more.

And oh yeah, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours was the official song for the Obama campaign.

So if you're living in the DC area and happen to get one of those coveted invitations to a White House event, clear your calendar and go. For the next four to eight years, 'Club White House', as DJ Tom Joyner calls it is going to have some interesting music groups and artists performing there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gay Media, RuPaul Isn't A Transgender 'Expert', So Stop Trying To Pass Him Off As One

One of the things that's an irritant to many African descended transpeople is not only the lack of media attention we get vis a vis our white brothers and sisters, but the frequent use of people who aren't African-American transpeople as representatives to speak for us.

The gay media has a bad habit of referring to RuPaul as a transgender person when he's not. The fact that he's (allegedly) Black on the outside and has a penchant for dressing up in feminine attire doesn't make him transgender. He's also not highly regarded by many people in the SGL and transgender community for his unwavering support of a certain obese white gay man who does a blackface minstrel show.

I was insulted along with the Dallas transgender community when their local gay newspaper, the Dallas Voice ran to him to defend their use of the word 'tranny' in news stories they write.

The Dallas transgender community has been calling out the Voice recently about their penchant for repeatedly using the word in their news stories, but they aren't the only gay media outlets that are guilty of this.

Once again it's a simple principle. You don't get to make the call about what does or doesn't offend me or my community, we do. Common sense would dictate that if you don't belong to the transgender community and we tell you that 'tranny' is an offensive term, then don't use it.

By the way, if you need to find actual transgender women of African descent to comment on an issue, how about calling the National Black Justice Coalition, GLAAD, your local transgender organizations for references or shoot me an e-mail?

So please stop calling on him as an 'expert' on what the Black transgender community or our community in general is thinking because there are others who are far more qualified to do so than this serial apologist for Chuck Knipp.

Pecah Lobang

Pecah Lobang is a documentary by 24 year old filmmaker Poh Si Teng about Muslim transgender sex workers.

Pecah lobang means 'busted', and Malaysian transwomen because of Sharia law increasingly find themselves harassed by fundamentalist adherents to the faith and negative attitudes from Christians as well.

One of the reasons is that crossdressing became a crime under Sharia law with severe penalties to match, but that wasn't always the case.

Teng's award winning documentary not only focuses on Natasha's struggle to honestly live her life, but explores why Malaysian society has turned repressive on transwomen through interview with a religious scholar, a physician who conducted sex change surgeries, a sociologist, three attorneys and an outreach worker.

It's also another reminder for transgender people all over the world that no matter what part of the planet we inhabit, we still fight the same battle for acceptance.

She Thought She Was Safe

South Africa is considered a safe haven on the African continent for other GLBT people persecuted in their homelands and because its constitution specifically bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Most of the time, that's the case, but here's the tragic story of Daisy, a transwoman who escaped Zimbabwe with her accepting mother only to die a violent death in South Africa simply for daring to be herself.

Black Ice

Some hockey fans are familiar with the story of Willie O'Ree, who was the first Black player to break the color line in the NHL when he was called up by the Boston Bruins in January 18, 1958 and played his first game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Sadly, O'Ree played only two NHL games that season and 43 more in the 1961 one with the Bruins because he was hit in the right eye with a puck and lost sight in it. He still managed to play 21 seasons of professional hockey, become an ambassador for the game of hockey and runs the NHL diversity effort entitled Hockey Is For Everyone.

But thanks to Canadian historians George and Darril Fosty's book Black Ice, it talks about a little known piece of our sporting history. The Black legacy in hockey can be traced back to the early 1870s and is also intertwined with the history of the Black Loyalists as well.

Many of these players were descendants of the Black Loyalists, and the book also delves into the fascinating history of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes. The league was formed in 1895, was headquartered in Halifax, NS and lasted until the 1920s.

The Fosty's reveal in this book that the Colored League players were so talented, they were frozen out of the predominately white run competition for the Stanley Cup, which commenced in 1893. They also point out that many of hockey's innovations such as the slap shot, the offensive style of goaltending, sitting completely down to the ice to stop the puck, and half time shows at games were creations of Black players.

The Black players in the modern NHL such as Jarome Iginla, Mike Grier, Georges Laraque, Anson Carter and Kevin Weekes all are building on Willie O'Ree's legacy and the legacy of Hall of Fame players like goaltender Grant Fuhr.

But they are also playing for the turn of the 20th century players such as Henry Sylvester Williams, James Johnston and James Kinney who have yet to see their stories enshrined in hockey history as well.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Brazilian Transgender Sambistas

In addition to New Orleans celebrating Mardi Gras, the other famous celebration takes place in Brazil. Carnival kicked off on the 18th and the samba schools (or sambistas) have been gearing up for their two day competition at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro.

And some of our peeps are part of the celebrations. Here's some video of two transwomen doing their thang at a sambista practice for Carnival.