Friday, April 25, 2014

Evon Young Finally Gets Justice

I've been keeping track of the Evon Young case and the five people, Victor Stewart, Ashanti Mcalister, Billy R. Griffin, Ron Joseph Allen, and Devin L. Seaberry who were arrested and charged with the murder of the 22 year old transmasculine rapper.   

It took a while for the five people accused of his murder and their cases to work their way through the justice system in Wisconsin, but it has finally happened.  

It won't bring 'Yung LT' back, but justice has been served in this case.  And now, here's the final judicial scorecard and update of what happened to all the people involved.

Devin Seaberry, Ron Allen, Victor Stewart, Billy Griffin, Ashanti Mcalister

23 year old Devin Seaberry pled guilty to a lesser charge of second degree reckless homicide on July 2 in return for his testimony against Griffin, Mcalister and Allen.   Seaberry was sentenced to eight years in prison and seven years of extended supervision..

27 year old Victor Stewart pled guilty June 5 to second degree reckless homicide in exchange for his testimony against Griffin, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison and seven years of extended supervision.
     
19 year old Ashanti Mcalister was found guilty of first degree intentional homicide on June 27, and was sentenced on September 12 to life imprisonment.   He'll be eligible for parole in 2066.  

38 year old Ron Allen was found guilty of one count of first degree intentional homicide and sentenced April 14 to life imprisonment without the eligibility of extended supervision. 

26 year old Billy Griffin, whose first trial ended in a hung jury on June 17, was arraigned on first degree intentional homicide charges,  Just before Griffin's retrial was set to start, he plead guilty February 17 to amended charges and was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison and an additional six years and two months of extended supervision.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Time For Trans College Students To Run For SGA Seats

I know you trans students matriculating on our nation's college campuses have a lot to deal with not only managing your personal lives, but handling your academic business with finals coming up.  

Best of luck to all of you.  But when that's over and you destress from dealing with finals, Moni has something else she wants y'all to think about during the summer and consider doing so when you come back to your campuses in the fall

Own your power and run for your SGA's.

So what's an SGA?   It's the student government association.   They are the liaison between the students, faculty and university administrations.  They provide appointments to a variety of internal SGA and university committees, task forces and boards that establish or influence a wide range of policies, procedures and the general direction of academic and nonacademic programs and services offered on your various college campuses. 

And they have a national organization in the American Student Government Association that supports them..

It occurs to me after watching the drama that transpired in the UH SGA over the Josephine Tittsworth Act and the attempt of the XULA SGA to sneak this blatantly transphobic ballot question on the Xavier student body, it is past time for trans students on every college campus they matriculate on in the United States to starting next school year, seriously consider running for and winning seats on their SGA's.

I say that because we trans folks can't always count on having trans allies in SGA's to eloquently articulate our issues as Yesenia Chavez, James Lee, Guillermo Lopez and UH SGA President Charles Haston did recently at the University of Houston or the other college campuses like LSU and Sam Houston State in which pro trans legislation passed and is headed up the administrative leadership chain.  

In some campus SGA's we will have people in them who are future trans oppressors, proud of it, and  who harbor enough transphobic animus to pen anti-trans legislation.   We will have cisgender SGA members with enough ignorance concerning our issues to let slide stuff like the transphobic ballot initiative that L'lerret Ailith is battling as I write this on her XULA campus. 

We need to have trans peeps in SGA's to talk about our trans lives and break down that ignorance.  Most importantly, we need trans SGA members in them not only proposing campus legislation, but in position to kill the bad stuff before it gets going.

And if you are in an SGA, consider running for a leadership position in it or serving on the leadership of a committee to hone your leadership skills before running for the presidency of it where you are in an even more powerful position to strike down bad legislation with your veto pen or propose good ones.

I've always said that transpeople need to be at the table helping write legislation, not begging to be included in it.  The events of the Spring 2014 semester have convinced me that yes, that needs to be expanded to sitting at SGA tables as well.
 

Retired OKC Trans Cop Running For OK State Legislative Seat

Back in the 2010 election cycle, the world's eyes were focused on Oklahoma as Brittany Novotny unsuccessfully tried to unseat homobigoted state Rep. Sally Kern (R). 

Now another Oklahoma transwoman is attempting to become the first transperson elected to its state legislature and the first elected nationally since Althea Garrison was elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1992.

Paula Sophia, a Desert Storm veteran and 22 year veteran of the Oklahoma City Police Department announced she would run in House District 88, the same one she patrolled as an OKC police officer until she retired on April 7. 

“I was a community oriented police officer, now I’m going to be a community oriented legislator,” says Sophia in a KFOR-TV interview.  

Sophia was the first transgender officer in Oklahoma City PD history and won numerous awards during her career including the OKC Exchange Club's Police Officer of the Year award and an FBI Community Leadership Award.

The District 88 seat was held by state Rep. Kay Floyd (D), the first openly lesbian representative in Oklahoma history who was elected in 2012.   Floyd announced in February her intention to run for the Oklahoma Senate District 46 seat being vacated by openly gay state Sen. Al McAffrey, who was the first ever LGBT member of the Oklahoma legislature and is running for Congress in this cycle for the 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by Rep James Lankford (R). 

Sophia says she wants to focus on a number of issues should she be successful in winning that historic seat in Oklahoma's legislature.. “I have a deep concern about peace and justice, about respecting the dignity of every human being and I still deeply believe in those issues.”

She first has to get out of the June 24 Oklahoma Democratic primary election.  If she does become the second transperson since Amanda Simpson accomplished the political feat in Arizona in 2004 to win a primary, she'd move on to the November general election.   

Best of luck, Paula and hope you make some more Oklahoma and transgender history in the process..

Another Day, Another Offensive Transphobic Drag Queen Stunt

HuffPostGay Posts Offensive Video of Drag Queen Shooting Trans WriterThere's been a severe outbreak of transphobia in the white gay male ranks over our outrage in Trans World conserning the slur terms to our community and their use on RuPaul's Drag Race and elsewhere in gay male ranks  

That has led to an ongoing war of words between predominately white gay men and the white trans feminine community of which the volume of it got kicked up another notch when LOGO decided the 't-word' and 'shemale' would no longer be part of the show. 

The trans hatred has flowed ever since, and it didn't get any better when Calpernia Addams and Andrea James wrote inflammatory posts in predominately gay male read online venues defending  RuPaul and the drag community that slammed trans people on the opposite side RuPaul as 'Internet hacktivists'.  

That drew return fire from their trans counterparts who called them sellouts, and those were the nicer anti-Andrea and Calpernia comments I can print and have have this post remain safe for work reading.

Now comes word of a stunt that somebody sent me a link to that has gone too far from the drag queen side. 

2014 Trans 100 honoree Parker Marie Molloy has been at the center of much of the ire of gay men and drag queen community for her blistering no holds barred "I fucking hate RuPaul' commentary when the now pulled offensive RuPaul's Drag Race show was aired that triggered this ongoing G and DQ vs T battle.. 

But when drag performer Alaska Thunderfuck posted a since pulled YouTube video that ends with the controversial trans writer being shot, that's when stuff crossed a dangerous line. 

Not no, but oh hell no do you ever go there when transpeople are getting murdered for simply trying to live their authentic lives and drag queens sometimes find themselves being targeted for anti-trans bigotry that escalates unto them being violently attacked (or murdered) as last summer's pizzeria incident involving drag queen Miles Denardo in Washington DC amply demonstrated.

There has been a lot of shade and angry words hurled by both sides in this kerfluffle.  I didn't like some of the stuff Parker Molloy wrote at times although I've made it clear I'm no fan of RuPaul either.  Neither have I liked the commentary coming from Calpernia and Andrea on this issue, but I will defend to the death as a fellow writer their First Amendment right to say it.

But the bottom line is that is unacceptable and dangerous to advocate for the murder of any person because you disagree with what they say.   It's even more problematic when that person you aimed it at is part of a despised marginalized group and you are a member of a privileged societal group while doing so.

And don't even part your lips to say 'this was satire' or 'a parody'.  That dog won't hunt as we say here in my home state.      

HuffPostGay was also wrong in posting that transphobic ish to their well read site, which they recognized, pulled and apologized for later.

Note: This page originally contained a video by drag artist Alaska Thunderfuck. We believed that the clip was one example of how diverse gender-variant communities are currently engaged in a complicated conversation about important issues regarding language, identity and privilege. However, we now realize that the video is patently offensive to many people and ultimately now feel it goes beyond being useful in this discussion and therefore have removed it from the site. We apologize.

Let me reiterate the money point I'm trying to get across for you to burn into your brain cells one last time. It is unacceptable and dangerous to advocate for the murder of any person simply because you disagree with what they say, and especially when that person is part of a despised marginalized group who is targeted far too often with murderous violence aimed at it.    

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Xavier University LA Is Majoring In Transphobia

While positive trans friendly changes are happening at my alma mater UH and up I-10 at LSU, seems as though the opposite is transpiring at Xavier University in New Orleans.

Was sent this interesting screenshot from L'lerret Ailith of a ballot question that came out today on the XULA campus, and is due tomorrow with this interesting Question 17:  

Article VIII. Elections: Section Two- Eligibility (add Mr Xavier where Miss Xavier appears: Gender requirement)  1. Candidates for Miss Xavier/ Class Miss must be (A) female or (B) born female

In addition to the underhanded and duplicitous way this ballot question was rolled out by the Xavier SGA, L'lerret had much to say about life on the Xavier campus as a girl like us and the shady ballot question.

***

Please share this with the world so that everyone can see how blatantly transphobic Xavier University of Louisiana is.   I have been transitioning in college and as of late have been asking for more trans* amenities so I am lead to feel like this is a response to me living in my truth publicly and proudly.

They have released a ballot for the student body to vote on amendments to the constitution and one of them is to choose whether Miss. Xavier or any class Miss has to be BORN female or not.

They are publicly supporting the fate of persecution, ostracism, and discrimination of gender variant individuals. My human rights is held to a vote and majority rules.
Not only has the school simply tolerated me and not made changes I've requested (I.e gender neutral restrooms, trans* friendly housing policies and health insurance, the ability to form a GSA, etc) they now choose to publicly humiliate and subjugate my community.

I spoke to the SGA president (Javon Bracy) and she told me the word of this had been around campus for a while and so she can't do anything about it so I've opted to get community support and take public action. Help me fight this. Fight for gender equity and trans* inclusion. Fight oppression. Share this! Spread the word!
:

***

Doing that for you right now L'lerret.   This is a concrete example of the ripple effects of the transphobia and anti-trans hate injected into the Catholic Church in 2003 by Dr. Paul McHugh at the Vatican level filtering down to the flock. 

XULA also has the other dynamic coursing through its history of being an HBCU as well.  

File:Xulaseal.pngThe city of New Orleans has had a non-discrimination law that covers gender identity on the books since 1998, but Xavier seems as though it is determined to create a campus environment hostile to trans and gender variant people in a city and region chock full of them.

Xavier says in its mission statement that 'the ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society.   This preparation takes place in a diverse learning and teaching environment that incorporates all relevant educational means, including research and community service.'

Looks like XULA is forgetting along with its SGA that trans and gender variant students are part of that global society in New Orleans, around the world and on the XULA campus.   By running roughshod over their human rights, your alleged diverse learning and teaching environment is failing to take their existence and humanity into account. 


Another Can We Talk 4 Real Show Appearance Tonight

Can We Talk For RealI get the opportunity to appear on another episode of the award winning Can We Talk For Real show with Ina, Michelle, and Terry Boi for the first time since I got to see them all at CC14.  

Interestingly enough, I'll be on the CWT4R to talk about another conference, the upcoming Black Trans Advocacy one next week in Dallas ,TX April 29-May 4.

Looking forward to discussing this rapidly growing third annual conference and chatting with the CWT4R team .

To be part of the conversation, you can call 347-215-8985 at 10:30 PM Eastern time, 9:30 PM Central time, 8:30 PM Mountain time and at 7:30 PM Pacific time tonight.

UH Tittsworth Act Opponents Still Bitter They Lost


http://1c71hb3in51z3g8k1j1nogrdvsm.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/PRINT-Justin-Tijerina-IMG_5777.jpgIt's been a week and the opponents of the UH Tittsworth Act are still grousing in their not so quiet Internet rooms about their overwhelming defeat.  

The arc of the moral universe bent toward justice for UH trans students last Wednesday night and we are deliriously happy about that win .

Far from taking their defeat and moving on to other subjects of importance to the UH student body, they are still flapping their loud and wrong gums about the Tittsworth Act after parting their lips admonishing us to not 'rub it in their faces' or 'celebrate our win'.

Contrary to what the Daily Cougar article headline stated, as I witnessed at the April 9 town hall and the SGA meeting last Wednesday, the UH student body is not divided on this issue.  

The Tittsworth Act opponents had two months, a town hall and the SGA meeting to express themselves.  They also know like 'errbody' else on the UH campus the SGA office is in UC North. 

So I ask the question I pondered last Wednesday and during the town hall.  Where were all these students the opponents kept citing as their motivation to oppose the bill?  

When the time came for opponents to prove it and this groundswell of faux opposition to stand up and be counted during the town hall and SGA vote on the Tittsworth Act they failed to do so.  

But it's interesting to note immediately after the vote was over, the opposition immediately took to social media to complain about being 'bullied' and their free speech being 'suppressed'. 

That spin line may work in conservaworld, but not in the reality based world the rest of us live in.   I also note at what passed in the LSU SGA Senate unanimously the very night we were having the town hall at UH. 

I still have to chuckle about what SGA Senator Alan Garza, one of the few opponents who had the guts to openly name and claim his loud and wrong opposition to the Tittsworth bill, had to say in the Daily Cougar article. 

"Despite taking every measure to approach the bill in a “reasonable, open-minded way,” Garza expressed his “disappointment” with students assuming he has closed-minded ideologies simply  because he disagrees with the semantics of the bill."


Um Alan, if you and your friends make bigoted ill-informed statements about transpeople, disrespectfully refer to the Tittsworth Act as 'The He/She Bill', deploy long discredited 'bathroom predator' attacks as your main argument to oppose a simple policy change that will benefit a marginalized campus group, make ridiculous claims the bill is 'vague', or that proponents of the Tittsworth Act were 'intolerant' when the evidence overwhelmingly shows y'all threw the first transphobic shade, don't be surprised if members of the trans community and their supporters see you as a bigot or oppressor.

You also suggested during the SGA meeting, Senator Garza, that trans people not be allowed to change their names on university ID unless the state of Texas recognizes it.   As I told you outside SGA chambers last Wednesday, we've been fighting for a law in Texas since 1999 to streamline the name change process.

There are three states, Tennessee, Ohio and Idaho that will not allow transpeople to change birth certificates regardless of the transitioned status of the transperson in question.  So if you're a trans UH student that happens to come from these states, they would be SOL under your proposal     

As I additionally pointed out to you, what 18 year old trans kid after paying for college tuition, fees and books, has a spare $18,000 lying around for genital surgery or the court costs to do a legal name change?  

And I damned sure don't have any sympathy for a white UH Greek system that 45 years ago was loud and wrong in its racist opposition to the election of UH's first African-American homecoming queen in Lynn Eusan.  Your arguments against this policy sounded to my ears like,."OMG, you mean we'll actually have to admit THEM to our ranks?

Naw, you Greeks can still be as self selective as you wanna be and the Tittsworth Act didn't change that.  But frankly, it's your loss if you don't admit transpeople into your Greek ranks because of your narrow minded ignorance.  You'll be missing out on some quality trans human beings who will make any  organization who opens their arms and extends membership to them infinitely better than yours.  

Tier One universities protect all of their students.   They are also charged with creating policies ensuring every student that steps on their campus can feel safe, successfully learn, and grow to be well rounded human beings in loco parentis while earning whatever degree they are pursuing there. 
 
The bottom line is that justice prevailed last Wednesday night for the trans community.   The vote not only said to trans Cougars, you are fellow Cougars and you matter, it the same message beyond the campus to the city of Houston, around the world, to trans alumni and students who are at the middle and high school levels considering where they wish to attend college. 

That policy will do wonders for the University of Houston not only for the trans students matriculating on campus right now, but future Cougars the policy will attract to our Tier One level campus we are exceedingly proud of.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

2014 NBJC Emerging Leaders To Watch Campaign

Needed to post this NBJC news for those of you who are interested in applying for it or you know some young Black TBLG leaders in the 18-30 range that you believe need to be recognized for their work.

Over the ten years that the National Black Justice Coalition has been in operation, one of the things they have been laser focused on besides being unapologetically Black advocates for our BTLG community and the issues that affect us from our perspective is youth leadership development.

Captionless ImageThe NBJC Emerging Leaders Campaign seeks to identify rising Black LGBT leaders ages 18-30 n the Black LGBT movement.   NBJC also seeks to provide a platform and space for these standout leaders to use their voice, build networks, and take action in their communities.

It is important because not only is the youth perspective a necessary and critical one in shaping policies in our community, it is critical they become actively involved in order to hone their leadership skills, gain experience working with our season leaders and community elders.  It's also important for us as a Black LGBT community to have them in the leadership pipeline so that our LGBT movement can continue to grow, prosper, remain vibrant and relevant into the foreseeable future.

Nominations are now open for NBJC's 100 Black Emerging Leaders to Watch Campaign that is part of NBJC's commitment to developing our future LGBT leaders.

The compiled NBJC emerging Leaders to Watch List represents a consortium of standout leaders that are ripe with potential and who deserve a greater exposure.

You can nominate someone for consideration to be included on this list that will be revealed at the 2014 OUT on the Hill conference September 24-27 
   
All applicants must submit the following:
1. Completed Online Application (below)
2. Current Resume (send by e-mail or mail)
3. (1) Letter of Recommendation (send by e-mail or mail)

Applicants should e-mail submission materials to 100toWatch@nbjc.org. Please make sure to include your name in the subject line. Your letter of recommendation MUST BE signed. A scanned copy of the signed letter is permitted. If e-mail is not possible, applicants may send submission materials to:

National Black Justice Coalition
ATTN: 100toWatch
Post Office Box 71395
Washington, DC 20024

Applications are due May 30, 2014. Applications and materials submitted after the deadline will not be processed. If mailing submission components, please be sure that materials arrive to the address on or before the deadline. Packages postmarked on May 30, but received after the due date, will not be processed.

We encourage anyone interested in applying to become familiar with the National Black Justice Coalition and the Emerging Leaders Initiative. For further questions, comments or concerns, please contact Je-Shawna Wholley, NBJC's Program Manager for the Emerging Leaders Initiative and Special Projects, via email at jwholley@nbjc.org or (202) 319-1552 ext. 102.

Deoni Jones Update-Postponed Trial Set To Start October 6

It has been over two years since girl like us Deoni Jones was killed back in February 2, 2012 as she sat at a bus stop in NE Washington DC.  Her alleged killer Gary Niles Montgomery was arrested on February 10 and charged with first degree murder.

But the wheels of justice have moved at a glacial pace since that February 2012 day to the frustration of Jones' family.   That frustration over the fact it has been two years since Deoni was killed with no resolution of the case spilled out during another mental competency hearing on February 8 to determine if Montgomery was fit to stand trial.   

Montgomery was initially found competent to stand trial in March 2012, but the case was not allowed to proceed due to the failure of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia to obtain an indictment until November 2012.   Montgomery switched defense lawyers, further delaying the court proceedings set to begin July 10, 2013 as the new attorney aggressively contested the results of the March 2012 competency hearing.   The 30 day mental competency observation didn't take place until October, and Judge Robert Morin after receiving the report in November 2013 found Montgomery not fit to stand trial.

Another mental competency observation was set for January 2014 with the hearing set for February 8, pushing the tentative trial date back to April 14, 2014.   

Jones’s father Alvin Bethea, stood up and interrupted the February hearing to express his discontent with the prosecution.  "There has been a great deal of disrespect and lack of sympathy and empathy,” said Mr. Bethea of the prosecutors’ treatment of him and his wife, “We are suffering more than enough.”

Montgomery was found competent to stand trial, with the scheduled date of the trial set for October 6. 

Let's hope and pray for the sake of Deoni's family, friends and all who loved her this date finally sticks and the far too long delayed trial of Gary Niles Montgomery finally happens.

  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Now The H-Town Fight For Equal Rights Begins

We Houston activists, public officials and TBLG leaders have been anxiously awaiting the release of the language in the proposed Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

The Mayor's Office finally released the initial draft of the Equal Rights Ordinance at 2:30 PM followed by a press conference in which Mayor Annise Parker answered questions about it.

http://www.houstontx.gov/ordinancefeedback/equalrights_ordinance.pdf

Got people analyzing it now. but on first glance the ERO prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.    It covers city and private employment, housing and has the public accommodations language the trans community wants in it.

Now comes the fight to pass it.   It will take nine city council votes to pass in and finally add Houston to the long list of over 180 cities that have already done so.   If we are successful in accomplishing that task, out job then becomes pivoting to successfully defending our hard won ERO from the misguided people on the wrong side of the moral arc of the universe.  

We have every confidence in H-town that we can and we will build the broad based coalition necessary to accomplish both tasks.   

Houston is a world class city.   It's way past time our human rights laws reflected that.   The fight to make that happen begins today.

TransGriot Update:  The City of Houston's Quality of Life Committee chaired by Councilmember Ellen Cohen, will be meeting on Wednesday, April 30th, at 2:00 PM in Council Chambers at City Hall (901 Bagby St).  There will be discussion on the City's Equal Rights Ordinance, and public comments are accepted.

Don't Buy Where You Aren't Hired


One of the things we have been trying to grapple with in the African-American trans community is what is the best way to deal with the crushing 26% unemployment rate that ails our community .

While passing non discrimination ordinances is one way of doing it, there are just some areas of the country that isn't going to happen for them until a federal ENDA is passed or businesses start feeling the sting of adverse EEOC rulings or federal lawsuits for their anti-trans bigotry.

So what can we trans peeps do in the interim to get companies to do the right thing and hire trans workers? 

Borrow a page from the tried and true tactics of the Civil Rights movement.   Hit 'em in the wallet.

There is this false belief in the trans community that we don't have much economic power.   Not true.   If we use it collectively and efficiently target it, we do have economic leverage.   

If you don't think the over $12K the trans community donated to the 2008 Obama campaign didn't get their attention or isn't one of the reasons the Obama Administration has been the most trans friendly presidency in US history, you are naive or haven't been paying attention.

Money talks.  Businesses who value our community know that diversity is good for their bottom line.  But there are some for whatever reason don't want us in our establishment of discriminate against our people who simply want to be hired and get a decent paycheck.

So it's time to bring back a tactic from the Civil Rights Movement era and remix it for the 2k10's.on behalf of the trans community. 

Don't spend our T-bills where they won't hire us or treat us with respect and dignity.

We not only use economic boycotts to get companies to hire us, we also partner with organizations to have transpeople run undercover stings.   We do so to test these companies and ensure they are hiring our people.  And if they aren't, publicly embarrass them as was done in New York a few years ago to J. Crew. 

They got busted in 2008 for not hiring transpeople despite having gender identity and expression language in their non-discrimination policy.   We can also use that discrimination data collected in these stings to press the case for adding trans people to non-discrimination laws in those areas without those protections.


So let's consider implementing this policy as soon as possible.   Don't buy or spend your money where they won't hire or respect you.

Kendall Hampton Murder Case Update-Dukes Indicted

Here's the latest news I've been able to find on Kendall Hampton, the 26 year old transwoman who was shot and killed in the Cincinnati metro area suburb of Walnut Hills, OH in August 2012 who was subsequently misgendered by the local media.


Eugene Dukes (Source: CPD)19 year old Eugene Carlos Dukes was arrested in September 2012 and charged with Hampton's murder.   But the wheels of justice have been moving at a glacial pace in this case since Duke's indictment by the Hamilton County grand jury.   

The family observed the one year anniversary of Hampton's slaying with a memorial service on August 18 with justice still not being served in this case.

According to a WCPO-TV report Dukes appeared in court September 4, 2013 and I haven't found any additional stories or information indicating a trial date has been set in this case, has happened or there has been a conviction.

So I'll keep monitoring it and ask my sources in the Cincinnati metro area to pass along any information they discover.  

Tracey Lynn Garner Pumping Case Update

Pebbelz Da ModelWhen I last checked in on the case of Mississippi silicone pumper Tracey Lynn Garner, she was now facing two charges of depraved heart murder for the March 2012 deaths of 37 year old Karima Gordon of Atlanta and the January 2010 death of 23 year old Marilyn Hale of Selma, AL due to silicone butt injections that went horribly wrong..

40 year old Natasha Stewart, an adult entertainer known as 'Pebblez Da Model' went on trial in Jackson, MS January 27 for her part in the death of Karima Gordon.  

She had accepted $200 to refer Gordon to Garner for the silicone pumping procedure and falsely claimed Garner was a nurse.   Stewart herself had been injected 20 times in the last seven years to create the signature pumped 48 inch derriere she possesses courtesy of Garner.

Stewart had been charged with "depraved-heart" murder, which is defined as one committed with a callous disregard for human life.   Depraved heart murder carries a sentence of life imprisonment, but the jury convicted her on January 31 of the lesser charge of culpable negligent manslaughter.

Stewart was facing 20 years, but was sentenced on February 14 by Judge Bill Gowan to 15 years with 8 years suspended on the manslaughter charge and 5 years on the charge of conspiracy with both sentences to run concurrently.    Translation:  She'll be locked up for 7 years and has 8 years suspended.  

As for Garner, her trial was supposed to start after two resets on March 17, but it looks like it has been reset again since I have yet to find any news stories concerning a trial or conviction.

If I discover any new information concerning the Garner case, I'll pass that information along.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter 2014

Happy Easter TransGriot Readers!

As a Christian, I believe this holiest of days in my faith is for us to remember that Jesus Christ stood up to the Roman Empire, was crucified for it on the cross on Good Friday, died and arose and ascended to Heaven for all our sins..

Jesus' victory over death and resurrection not only was payment for our sins, but also proclaimed death does not have the final victory and eternal life awaits those of us who are believers.

That view was also reflected in the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1957 Easter sermon entitled  “Questions that Easter Answers”    In that sermon, Dr. King points out that the message of hope we hear on Easter Sunday is also connected to the necessity to take steps to live a life of love with a commitment to justice.   

I'll take that message a step further.  It  is symbolic for us in our own lives in terms of we must overcome the crosses we bear in our lives here on Earth and defeat those obstacles.in our path that lie in the way of us becoming better human beings.   

Love is the most powerful force in the universe as Dr. King reminds us.   And no more does that message resonate than on this day.

Happy Easter everyone.

Why RuPaul's Drag Race Should Eliminate RuPaul...And Itself

TransGriot Note:  If you think trans people outside the borders of the United States aren't paying attention to Drag Race's use of shemale and the t-word and are fine with it, this guest post by Malaysian activist Yuki Choe will blow that perception up.

She's in her words "a lone transsexual advocate and a vocalist, one who performs without drag."

***


It is now exactly a month since the fateful segment on the reality show Drag Race drew widespread condemnation from the transgender population, and what is deemed as transphobic slurs have since been removed from the show. There are discussions aplenty on where to draw the lines when it comes to terms that are hurtful to transwomen, like “she-male”. Words do count, but not for some who just refuse to understand how much influence words can get, especially specific terms that society usually use to mock transwomen.

Society is too lazy to study Trans 101, and they will eventually pick up information by what they observe along the way. People would look to the idiot box and find RuPaul, a man, in drag. They will reason that transwomen are males who drags like RuPaul. He uses “she-male” like nobody’s business, so there cannot be anything wrong with it. And for RuPaul, all this mash up is no big deal. But, it is. “She-male” is a term that is oft used to shame transwomen into mere sex objects. Such words are meant to demean any womanhood that any transwoman could have. It has all the motivations to humiliate transwomen by reminding them of just how incomplete their lives are with their bodies.

Do we hate him?

We hate RuPaul not because we have internalized transphobia; we hate what the character RuPaul brings to the front. We hate the imagery he represents because it is a caricature in which society determine how to define a transwomen – a she-male, a drag, a shim, a cross-dresser. He turns us into entertainment. He transforms the lives of transwomen into a Howard Stern styled comedy. Many attacked RuPaul for being transphobic, but I really doubt it. He may not even comprehend what the hell the outcry is about simply because he is not really a transgender. He never knew what that means 20 over years ago, and probably never will.

We are called to accept his drag world as a transgender representative, even by GLAAD’s definition of transgender. But he is not. His approach is one of a gay guy who thinks he is doing us a favour. That is the arrogance we so despise. We also cannot stand the fact that he still does not wish to learn from us. He has been ignoring the needs of the transgender population to be addressed with respect for many years.

Talking past each other

Some of the comments I read from the blogs highlighting this controversy, mention about policing of words. That this is transfacism. It is actually far from it. This is about words created to impact a population. Words come with its own definitions. Would a transwomen want to be described with terms bearing male pronouns like “she-male” and “lady-boy”? Perhaps the reason some insist there is nothing wrong with such derogatory words is obvious, is it not? They want to use the word because they feel nothing, but we feel hurt. Words like “tranny“ are widely used to bully children and verbally abuse transsexuals. People who stand by RuPaul just could not relate to that.

The words are meant to harm, which is why one should avoid using it. It has the power to degrade transwomen. It is easy to say we only give strength to the word if we bother about them. It does not work for transwomen. Because lest we forget, we are only less than 1% of the population. These words determine whether we are fit for the next interview to get a room for rent, or be forced back into the closet at churches. To drags and cross-dressers, it is all about dressing part-time or dressing full-time, the mentality is that transwomen are “really” genetically boys, as opposed to the term “genetic girl” when addressing cisgender women.

The point that transgender activists have been trying to say for the past month, is not only confined to that infamous game segment. It has been echoed for years to even the majority straight population – we are not a show, we are not freaks, so stop using media to turn us into jokes. But all this while, RuPaul sees transwomen as only men in women’s clothing, like him. There is not even one moment from him that shows he truly knows what it feels being born in the wrong sex. He parrots the belief that we are all drag queens in the end, and that some of us just decided to go further into hormones then SRS, which is so painfully far from the truth.

RuPaul’s Ignorance

When RuPaul implied about revolution by citing Orwell’s Animal Farm, he is talking about his own “drag queen” revolution that has very little to do with any revolutions that may or may not take place in transwomen’s world, a world that needs protection from the flurry of abuses that are generated by a vastly transphobic generation, and meant to punish transwomen; RuPaul would accidentally be behind another face of his revolution, one that is directly against transwomen.

He does not realize that in defense of words like “she-male”, he shows little understanding of how much damage it would have on trans women, all the while as he removes his makeup and pumped up dresses after shows to be Andre Charles again, with his package of male privileges. For him, it is his art, jumping into womanhood for a while, after being RuPaul for several hours.

But, for tens of thousands of transwomen, it is not an art. It is not an entertainment or a game. Gender Identity Dysphoria is a real condition that affects lives. Transwomen born with it need to transition. Their body mapping must change to accommodate their brain sex, and the intense distress is painful and lifelong. While he sits in his car out of drag, and heads for home after his show, many transwomen would be struggling to hold on to their jobs, and some may even encounter violence. RuPaul can jump out of his drag. Transwomen cannot jump out of their skin and be non-transgender.

RuPaul would expect us to “toughen up” and be “queen”. But we are tough, only not queens. We are simply women, but women who are tough because we have to endure hundreds of hazardous situations he most likely will not encounter even once in his life. And he is not helping. Until this gets into the thick skull of his and every other sympathizers he has, the discussion will not go anywhere.

Visibility breeds stereotypes

And people assume transwomen are “in-drag”. So people would disparage transwomen, and forcefully consider them men. Religious conservatives always lay claim to a “change” of “gay lifestyle” if transwomen want to. And those with lesser knowledge would just brand transwomen as a life choice, and when difficulties arise, sometimes even life-threatening, it is “really” transwomen’s fault because we “choose to drag”.

As transwomen, we wish we could just say to hell with the world. Unfortunately, as a minority at the mercy of a general public who find transwomen useful for tease and ridicule at best (and we do not wish to be reminded what happens at worst), what society think of us does count; it affects our jobs, our insurance, our education, our relationships, everything. And we already have to bear with misrepresentations from religious fundamentalists painting us all as child predators, rapists and fetishists.

Having RuPaul and his show amplifies even more stereotypes of transwomen. We should go even as far as to say he is abetting bullying of transgender children, and encouraging verbal abuse towards transgender people. After all, words are not sticks and stones, right? NOT.

The bigger questions

This is perhaps an appropriate period for us to ponder, what really is transgender now? Should RuPaul be even considered a transgender? While the American Psychological Association includes drag queens in its definition for transgender, many trans people have started to address themselves as transsexual and not transgender, simply because of the disparity in experiences of people born with gender identity dysphoria, and the rest under the transgender umbrella.

Is it not time to correctly address transsexuals as transsexuals and drag queens as drag queens? If we were to say drag queens are transgender, would we not have to include bio queens as well? Or even some animals in drag? Is it not time to consider a more accurate definition of transgender in GLAAD and other trans resources? Should RuPaul even be associated with the “T” still?

Maybe RuPaul is far from transphobic and has the right to use whatever word he wants; but he or any cross-dresser, drag queen, or any men who dresses as women, could and should spare a thought for transwomen afflicted by being born trans.   Unlike them, because any claims of sensitizing society is offset by their own misuse of words that attacks transwomen, the incongruence suffered by transwomen is real.

For transwomen, it is not about dressing, let alone over-the-top with a face buried in tons of makeup and purposely deepening their voices.  We are living our lives.  RuPaul would do well continuing his work, but not at the extent of creating collateral damage on the lives of transwomen everywhere.

Someone should start knocking a hard fact into RuPaul; the difference between a drag queen and a transgender, is that everybody can be a drag queen, even the queen of England. Not everyone can be a transgender, and for those who are unfortunately born transwomen, their lives are problematic enough without being trivialized by RuPaul.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why Y'all 'Scurred' Of Non-White Transpeople Owning Their Power?

Like everyone else, I ;like to change up my photos on my Facebook page every now and then.  

With the rapid approach of the third annual Black Trans Advocacy Conference happening up I-45 from me in Dallas April 29-May 4, last night I decided to put the Black Transwomen, Inc logo up on my Facebook page in honor of that.  Black Transwomen, Inc is the sister organization to Black Transmen, Inc. founded by 2013 Trans 100 honoree Carter Brown, and I wasn't expecting any drama over it.  

But amazingly to me, Jennifer Barge posted this comment on my Facebook page in reaction to that.  . 
  • ??every voice??
  • Monica Roberts It's the sister org to Black Transmen, Inc.
  • Jennifer M. Barge I know what it is- I helped to create it- but I am wondering why- with sooo much work- as a whole community- we [ the trans]are choosing to segregate the transgender community- when at this powerful moment we ALL NEED TO STAND STRONG- and I am not calling you out- just wanting to know why my "white" story is not as good as yours? I mean you went to college- I went to prison- you are educated- I ate out of a dumpster and am HIV +[ and survived by selling my body-] and came from the streets..I just ask when do I get heard?? The gay male privilege community threw me under a bus 17 years ago- {how I wish I was gay back then- as my meds would have been paid for] but NO- I am trans- and the white trans- HIV + -convict story is over looked because "we" do not fit a profile?? Well that is- umm racism- trust me a white convict is just as good [bad] as a black [ oh- sorry person of non specific color] convict Just know- I know my truth...and feel the lack of importance in "my" community.

    Monica Roberts And yeah, Jennifer, yes you did try to step to me on my own page over a logo.

    Seriously? School is now in session.

    Racism is prejudice plus systemic power. That's basic Sociology 101. The reality of American life is that by dint of you being born with white skin, you still have far more societal juice than I ever will have.

    As I wrote in February and it is just as applicable today.:

    ' We warned you that if something wasn't done about trans leadership ranks that resembled a GOP convention and you kept ignoring our pleas to change that and share the responsibility of leading this diverse community, the day was going to happen that we made our own damned tables and we wouldn't care if you liked it or not. "--TransGriot , February 8, 2014 'Why Y'all 'Scurred' Of Black Trans People Owning Their Power?

    That day is here. The Black Trans Renaissance  is happening. All we are doing is what the white trans community has done for the last several decades. We are building community infrastructure while we own our power and deal with the shame, guilt and fear issues among others in our ranks.

    A strong, muscular and powerful Black trans community confidently owning its power and giving itself options shouldn't be seen as a threat by white transpeople.

    And if you do see that as a threat, why?

    The trans community is only as strong as its weakest link, and Black trans people are simply taking the steps to make ourselves a more potent coalition partner and give ourselves options as any free people would intelligently do.
She then retreated to her own Facebook page to write this:. 
We can all try so hard to make "change" happen- and also try to live up to mainstreams perception of a transgender leader - be it a "black-trans-woman,inc" or a poc or a "hall of fame" participant in regard to transgender- but guess what? shockingly we are all the same...not all of us have a blog or choose to hold onto 5,000 friends on FaceBook- but WE have a path and a story- lets not continue to confirm the mainstream idea of celebrity within our community- it is great we have the Laverne Cox - But let us never forget the Holly Boswell- Virginia Prince and Renee Richards along with James Greene-they paved a way to make "us" happen-
My response to the comment she posted on her own Facebook page was the following:. 
And what you just did was erase Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major, Marsha P Johnson, the African-American gender variant kids who executed the Dewey's Lunch Counter Sit-In in Philly in April-May 1965.

Without them, and especially Sylvia Rivera jumping off the Stonewall Riots in 1969, there would be no trans rights movement for Renee Richards, Jamison Green or Holly Boswell to take part in.

Which FYI, I've met two of the three along with the mother of the trans rights movement in Sylvia Rivera in May 2000.
This movement has been centered on white trans voices for six decades, and now that non-white transpeople are finally getting face time, media coverage and recognition, y'all wanna trip.

***

Geena Rocero at a TED talkSo why are you and your fellow white transpeople mad that non-white trans people are getting positive recognition when you've had the spotlight on you ever since Christine Jorgensen stepped off the plane from Denmark and a trans movement predominately centered on your issues for the last six decades? 

It took the formation of the multicultural National Transgender Advocacy Coalition in 1999 ( that yours truly was the Political Director of from 1999-2002) before this community even started saying the words HIV/AIDS and talking about it as part of trans community policy discourse.   One of the seminars at the inaugural Transsistahs-Transbrothas conference we held in Louisville back in 2005 was presented by Miss Major, who discussed the issues incarcerated trans people face.    . 

We happen to be in the spotlight now, but this attention doesn't do justice to the time and hard work we all put in to make it happen.   Laverne Cox has been toiling for almost a decade before getting the breaks that led to her role on Orange Is The New Black and the subsequent well-deserved media attention.

Janet Mock was earning her masters degree and busting her behind as a People.com editor before coming out as trans and writing her New York Times bestselling book Redefining Realness.  Same with Geena Rocero, who was a fashion model before coming out as trans to conduct her well received TED talk and form her international organization Gender Proud.   Dr. Kortney R. Ziegler is a filmmaker, blogger and the creative genius behind Trans*H4CK.  Isis King's movie Hello Forever will be playing soon at a film festival near you and Tona Brown will soon be performing on the hallowed Carnegie Hall stage.  .

Same with Ruby Corado, BTMI founder Carter Brown, Bamby Salcedo, Cecilia Chung, Maria Roman, Arianna Lint, Tiq Milan, Kye Allums, Kylar Broadus and the multitalented MMA fighter Fallon Fox.

We trans peeps of color all put the work in, paid our dues, got little to no recognition for a while and are now receiving the rewards from doing so.   You can dismiss it as 'confirming the mainstream idea of celebrity' all you want, I and the trans community of color see it as 'getting the long overdue recognition we deserve'. 

We've been erased from a 60 year vanillacentric trans narrative that barely mentioned the existence of trans people of color in a positive light unless we were talked about in 'tragic transsexual' terms if and when we did get the media coverage.  


And yeah, since you went there trying to throw shade at unapologetically Black blogging me, I've been part of this movement for 16 years and counting as my 2006 IFGE Trinity Award and being a inaugural Trans 100 honoree emphatically underscores.  

I've been busting my behind for the last eight years building TransGriot to be the internationally read and GLAAD award nominated platform it is now and voice for the African-American and other communities who get to guest post here. 

I'm proud of founding a popular blog that is unapologetically Afrocentric, focuses on transpeople of African descent, has highlighted much of our history,  and is widely read around the planet.   While I talk about a wide variety of trans and non trans issues, some of you whine about the heightened positive attention we trans POC's are receiving and you stage intramural arguments egged on by white gay men savaging each other about whether shemale and the t-word are slurs.

Yeah, they are.   End of story.    And I'd be willing to bet that Carter and Esperanza Brown aren't apologizing for founding BTMI, BTWI or starting the Black Trans Advocacy Conference either.   
 
The reason organizations like the TransLatin@ Coalition and BTMI/BTWI exist along with the Black Trans Advocacy Conference is because contrary to your assertion, we transpeople of color aren't 'just trans'.  We exist with multiple intersections in our trans bodies and don't have the luxury as you and other white transpeople do of going about our daily lives separating our ethnicity from our trans status.  

We trans POC's have to deal with the reality that racism exists in microaggressive and macroaggressive ways and deleteriously affects us inside and outside trans and SGL spaces. We are deeply aware of the fact we trans people of color are judged by our skin color first.   We are seen as Latin@, Black and Asian-Pacific Islanders first, and have to grapple with racism and the other issues that impact our communities before we can even begin to tackle the trans specific ones.   

There are issues unique to our communities that these organizations are better suited to address.  Trans Latinas and trans Asian-Pacific islanders are dealing with immigration issues along with the common ones like racism, the crushing unemployment-underemployment, HIV/AIDS, dealing with shame, fear and guilt, erasure from the trans narrative and accurate documentation.  

And as we are reminded every TDOR, the name lists we read have an unacceptably high number of Black and Latina transpeople. 

We also have as trans persons of color the task of trying to educate our socially conservative leaning communities about trans issues.  We have the unique know how, expertise and talking points that will best facilitate this ongoing mission.   And it can only help the trans community as a whole to have trans people of color talking to other cis people of color about these issues.

Janet's best selling book and Laverne's award winning work have probably done more in the last two years to speed up trans awareness and acceptance in the African-American community than the last 60 years of activism.. 

So I ask the question again.  What is wrong with non-white transpeople doing the same thing white transpeople have done for several decades in terms of building community amongst ourselves?  Why are you so 'scurred' of non-white transpeople owning their power?   Why are you jealous of us getting media attention after being erased from the trans narrative for the last six decades?

Non-white transpeople closing ranks in order to become a stronger, more cohesive part of the greater trans society is a long overdue and necessary step.   Having possibility models that we can proudly point to like Janet, Laverne, Kortney and countless others not only says to our transkids of color we exist, but sends the same message to our communities of color. 

And if you Jennifer and the people who share your narrow, vanillacentric privileged opinion can't see the benefits to you and the entire trans community of non-white transpeople owning their power, then that's an issue you and your friends will have to do some serious soul searching about.

You and your fellow white trans peeps grousing in your not so quiet Internet rooms about all the attention POC transpeople are getting now can #bemad and #staymad about that.  

And there are even more amazing trans activists of color in our wake who will exceed even what we're doing now that you can be jealous about like Cherno Biko, Parker T. Hurley, Tye West, Reina Gossett, Morgan Robyn Collado and Angelica Ross just to name a few. .   

As this country becomes more diverse and speeds toward the 2040 day in which non-white people will be a majority of the United States population, it was inevitable the trans community would also reflect that demographic shift since we are a microcosm of the parent society.

We need as a trans community to adjust to that looming reality and train a multicultural cadre of trans leaders.   It is also past time that some of the leaders of this community and the people sitting at trans community policy tables reflect the ethnic diversity of the trans community at large.

And if you don't want us sitting at yours, we'll do what our parents, grandparents and great grandparents did and make our own damned tables.    We will also as free trans people of color decide as we own our power what groups we wish to ally ourselves with.   Bottom line is get used to the fact we are no longer powerless junior partners, but people who do have growing circles of influence we can use to not only uplift our communities of color, but the trans community as well.     

So choose wisely.   You can either embrace what's going on or be 'scurred' of it   But either way it is going to continue regardless of what you and your friends think pro or con.