TLDEF Needs Your Input: Public Accommodation Discrimination Survey

from TLDEF: Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund is preparing an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. That case raises the question of religious and other exemptions to non-discrimination laws. We are looking for input from our transgender community, and specifically those who have experienced discrimination in places of public accommodation. Your voice will play a vital role in helping to stand up for the rights of trans individuals in this country.

Here’s the survey. 

Eve Screenings: Atlanta, San Diego, Sydney, Carmel

If you know anyone who is involved with any film festivals, please do let them know about And Then There Was Eve.

September 30 – October 1, 2017 • 11 AM
Sydney Transgender International Film Festival

Sydney, Austraila (time TBA)
http://cinewest.org/welcome/?p=10168

October 1, 2017 • 11 AM
Out on Film / Atlanta’s LGBT Film Festival
Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, 931 Monroe Drive, Atlanta GA 30308
http://www.outonfilm.org/andthentherewaseve

October 7, 2017 • 3:30 PM
San Diego International Film Festival
Regal Theater Horton Plaza, San Diego, CA
https://secure.sdiff.com/e/passes-2017/preview
October 8, 2017 • 2:30 PM
San Diego International Film Festival
ArcLight Cinemas/UTC, San Diego, CA
https://secure.sdiff.com/e/passes-2017/preview
October 18-22, 2017 • Time TBA

Carmel International Film Festival

Carmel, CA
http://carmelfilmfest.com/films/#tab-1-tab

RIP Jessi Zazu of Those Darlins

Goodbye Jessi Zazu. 28. Fuck. Waaaaay too young for such a talent.

The first time I saw them, the plaintive notes of this song were the first thing they played, and the room was astonished in the best of ways.

I asked her for an interview & she asked me what I did, and when I said “gender studies” she said “oh, so you get it, i’m so sick of these perverted old men who want to ask about our sex lives.”

Yeah. I regret that I never made it happen but I went out of my way to see them a few times and she was always up for a chat. They did “White Light White Heat” in Madison the night that Lou died, and I am still grateful for that. And now she’s gone too.

rockerggrrrl, thank you. Your voice and your attitude brought this old lady a fuckton of joy.

Who Was There

For Ariela

I’ve been living outside of NYC for the past 8 years and this year I’m here today and watching FB posts by people who were here and by people who were not.

For those of you who were not there: we don’t need to be reminded not to forget. We also are still angry that anyone used an attack on the most diverse, open-armed, immigrant-loving, ‘of course no human is illegal’ city as an excuse for xenophobia and a shitty war. Today we are a little too still, a little too quiet, red-eyed and weep so easily. Today we ask each other how we are, what we’re doing, how we are dealing this year. 16 years in and we check in with each other – those who you knew at the time, those you’ve come to know since. I hate to say it but it takes me a second, when the subject comes up in conversation, to know who was there and who wasn’t by how they respond. Talk about triggers.

Especially in the midwest, which has no huge fondness for NYC anyway, it’s as if it’s impolite to mention it, to mark it as anything but patriotic jingoistic bullshit, which is one of the reasons I’m not there today. But some of my fellow NYers and DC area folks are, so let me ask: if you weren’t there, take it easy on us today. Don’t ask. Don’t try to relate. Just give us some space and quiet and respect.

What’s beautiful to me is how many people who were there post happy photos of those iconic Towers. One friend had a photo of her first arrival to NYC and there they are in the background. We don’t post the photos of billowing smoke; we don’t post the conspiracy theory. We just remember, without trying to, that acrid smell for months and the fliers and the candles and the plume, that goddamned endless plume in the sky.

So for those of you who weren’t there, maybe follow our lead. Today, to me, should be a national holiday honoring the Best City on Earth and honoring all it stands for: cheek by jowl tolerance, a government that stands up for Dreamers, that honors African American labor and Jewish food and Irish storytelling and Puerto Rican music and where even the most uneducated bozo knows that their Muslim friends are really hungry at dusk after fasting. In some ways my city has always been my image of the US even though they have almost nothing to do with each other. Because my New York is artsy and decadent, exquisitely dirty and complicated and busy and fast. It’s $2 falafels and $2k in rent. It is all the extremes all the time, all the faiths, all the creeds, all the everything.

The first thing that made me laugh after that day was an Onion headline that said only Rest of Country Temporary Feels Deep Affection for New York and I will forever be grateful to Madison, WI, where the Onion was HQ’d, for that. Because it’s less true right now, it feels like, than it was even then: as a country, we still hate New York, but I always want to remind both Dems and Republicans that it is also the city of mammon, of capitalism, of the uber rich, but it is also a place that protects – or tries to – the most vulnerable.

And that, you know, is the whole fucking idea of the US, isn’t it? Unfettered greed and unfettered justice. We are big enough and rich enough and generous enough not to be mean. At least that’s what I always thought. It’s what I still think today, that the real deal is the Cajun Army and the drag queens hosting bingo to raise money to help whoever needs helping that day, that week, that month. So maybe today instead of waving a flag or whatever other bullshit you’re doing, just love on New York for a hot minute because it is, whether you like it or or not, still the best of who we are as a nation, too.

Why You Don’t Deadname Someone

To my awesome old friend/colleague/relative/acquaintance who just just used my wife’s former name in a private message/conversation/post on FB: Please don’t do that. What you did is called “deadnaming” – basically, using a name that is dead, no longer valid, done, over.

I know you’re on board and cool with her transition and know her to be a woman. I know you are caught up and not transphobic and are happy that she is happy and that we’re happy. I know that you are thrilled for her success and knocked out by her beauty. I know you have read my books but do try to keep in mind they are very, very old now, and that things that were true, language that was okay, are not true or okay anymore.

And I know you care deeply for us both.

Which is why I have to say: please don’t use her old name. It effectively re-genders her into a past self that was an unhappy one for her. It throws me back to a time when my relationship, my marriage, and my expectations were steeped in straight privilege. We have both done a great deal of work to adjust to make our lives into what they are now, so your moment of nostalgia undoes that, emotionally, in a quick second.

That is, you were thinking about you and not, actually, about us.

If you really feel the need to be nostalgic about her old self, perhaps do it with someone else who is not as close to her, or to us; do it with other people who don’t know any trans people at all. That is, if you must do it, which: just don’t.

Any reference to her past self can be done just like that: “I loved working with her before” and “I’m so glad I got to know her then, as much as I love knowing her now”, or, if absolutely necessary, follow my own lead and use “Rachel 1.0” to refer to that person. And please don’t assume it’s “more okay” to do with me than with her: studies have shown that partners of trans people also have to contend with the discrimination our loved ones experience. If it isn’t clear yet, let me say: I take this trans shit seriously every single minute of my life.

So if you must, when you must, except don’t anyway because you really don’t need to. She is and always was Rachel; it just took some effort to make that visible. In my work, I do have to refer to her past self because I write and teach about the process that is a marriage’s transition. But most of the time I find it just isn’t necessary: my wife has always been a woman, and although you thought you knew someone you thought of as a man, that was not the real her. It never was. I have come to understand that more deeply than you can probably ever understand, so I have to ask you to trust me on this: it hurts to hear or read that name.

With much love and respect,
Helen

Serano on Free Speech and the Limits of Tolerance

As ever, Julia Serano with a remarkably clear-eyed piece on the limits of tolerance and the underlying power structures and cultural context.

I loved this especially:

“But what about the suppression of my speech as a young trans person? Back then, trans people had some allies, to be sure, but they (like us) constituted a tiny minority of the population. And I can tell you first hand that the “more speech” strategy actually does far more harm than good when greater numbers of people hate your minority group than accept you. In such cases, calls for “more speech” simply enable and promote hate speech against you, rather than mitigating it.”

Which is a point I have had to make over and over again, as one of that “tiny minority” – at any given point in time, there is a person who can defend a said group or idea against another 10,000 who condemn it and an additional 10,000 who agree with the ideas but can’t argue them effectively. This has been the case for trans rights for decades now — so much so that I’m often happily surprised now when I see other cis people who are able and willing to make these points so I don’t have to anymore.

Adieu Holly Boswell, Beautiful Soul

One of the gentlest, most loving, most fierce souls I have known died this past weekend at the age of 66. I don’t know what of; I only know that for 66 short years, the world was a better place and still will be as a result of who she was and how she was.

When we met, just glanced at each other across the room, it was one of those kismet moments of “i get you” and we talked. And talked and talked and talked; Holly and I talked whenever we saw each other, nearly couldn’t stop. I don’t know that I was so extraordinarily special in that, because she was so open and so welcoming and so goddamned beautiful I’m sure a lot of people found themselves wanting to be known when they were in her presence. She could see you, see you for your pain, for your fear, for your beauty. As my wife put it, “She was the first trans woman I met who was utterly confident in her skin and her example has fed my soul from now to the end of days.”

When I first started going to trans conferences, the lingo was all CDs this and TSs that, FTM and MTF, binaries upon binaries, “real” transsexuals vs. I don’t know what. It was at a time when trans women would tell my wife she wasn’t a woman if she expected to stay with me after transition, that “real” trans women didn’t do that. We didn’t feel we fit in well as our queer artsy selves because there was so much prescription to being trans then, so much, with exclusive camps that left anyone who wanted to express a gender without changing their genitals with nowhere to be.

But where you could be was with Holly, and her company more than made up for the folks for whom you were too non-doctrinaire. If you think it was controversial to be “non op” now, it was a million times more then, but she held her ground with grace and a knowing smile.

She invented the trans symbol because she was too much and too many things to be restricted to one gender. She wanted all of her many selves present all the time. She was the first person I knew who embraced a non binary identity. She wrote The Trangender Alternative in 1991. Here’s an interview I did with her back in 2006.

I adored her. I will miss her. I will value how much she made us welcome and how much she validated any emotion, any gender, any pain; she took it all in and transformed it, light in her eyes and an impish smile all surrounded by that beautiful, beautiful hair.

Faerie child, I will miss you. I think, I hope, I told you how much you meant to me, but I’m sure you knew it even if I didn’t. Because you were that good.

New to Antifa? Let Me Explain.

So there’s a lot out there about antifa right now and the first time people see a group of them there’s often a little fear… as there was Sunday night at a rally I helped organize. They wear black. Sometimes they cover their faces.

Here’s the thing: the antifa are an organized group, much like FOI or the Panthers, that came out of radical politics with an understanding, especially, that the police work for the state and not for the most marginalized and certainly not for anyone who is challenging the status quo. In Charlottesville, for instance, Cornel West has reported that the police stood back and let white nationalists attack the counter protestors, even the clergy assembled, and what kept them safe – kept them from being “crushed like cockroaches” was a line of antifa who got between them and the Nazi shitheads. BLM activists formed a second line protecting the rest of the counter protesters.

And as much as we all decry violence, we all (should) know by now who is bringing the fight. It’s not the “alt left” as the (p)Resident said, but the Nazis. Rachel Maddow made it clear last night exactly what it meant for him to say what he said.

Antifa came to exist specifically because Hitler managed to divide the organized Left from itself. So instead of identifying as socialists or anarchists or whatever specific version of the Left, whoever was still around after Hitler decimated Europe opted instead to create an inclusive Left where people could be, simply, against fascism.

As we all should be. You know, the world went to war to stop Nazis and Fascists already, and that we’re even having this conversation or dealing with this again is disgusting.

But we are. The current version of the antifa returned because of the rise of white nationalist politics in Europe (National Front, esp) and White Nationalist/Supremacist groups in the US. We met them at punk shows in the 70s and 80s first, where they often showed up to threaten the most marginalized in those queer, working class spaces: black people, queers, drag queens, etc. I once saw an anarchist punch a fascist shithead for feeling up a woman in a mosh pit, no kidding. Same as now, the fascists came to cause violence, and the antifa were there to protect people who sometimes didn’t even know they were under attack.

So yeah. Don’t be down on antifa. They’re the good guys. If you haven’t been paying attention, the bigots have been attacking an awful lot of us when they get the chance, which is why antifa has become necessary again.

 

Paisley Currah on the WH’s Rescinding of LGBTQ Protections

from Paisley Currah, in response to the news that the WH is looking to remove LGBTQ protections from healthcare:

“Don’t believe everything you read about the Trump’s administration’s inability to govern. In the regulatory arena, Trump is really getting things done–look what’s happening at the EPA. There’s also Sessions’ stated intention of ending the Justice Department’s oversight of post-Ferguson reforms regarding excessive fines and fees. When it comes to trans people, they are viciously efficient. They’ve rescinded the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance on trans students. Trump tweeted that the Defense Department’s policy on trans service members would be reversed. And now they’re planning to get rid of rules–of critical importance to trans people–that ban discrimination based on gender identity under the Affordable Health Care Act. The Justice Department is also deciding whether or not to support Obama-era rules that used the Prison Rape Elimination Act to protect transgender prisoners from violence. And there’s still a bunch more policy changes out there awaiting the eye of Sauron. Trump/Pence have 3.5 more years to do a lot of damage.’

#defendcville

these white men, these fascists, these nazis and white supremacists

so many snowflakes with their pitchforks and fire chanting blood and soil

you embarrass yourselves.

what you are is obvious to the rest of us: insecure cowards who don’t have anything to them, invisible pricks of arrogance and revulsion.

white people of any decency need to speak up, act up, get angry, and yell these little shits back into their neanderthal caves. we need them back on their leashes, muzzled and harmless. this is our fight, white folks, our newest civil war. these are people we know, bold enough to go unmasked because they know being a white supremacist is not going to cost them their jobs or their families or anything at all.

there have to be consequences.

i know black people are not surprised, but maybe, just maybe, the white folks who didn’t understand how deeply entrenched racism is in this country get it now.

i’m so sorry it’s come to this. we fought a war against this bullshit at least once if not a dozen times, and yet here we are again.

those students who held their ground around that statue are the heroes of the hour.

 

Laverne Cox Narrates Trans Struggle #ACLU

“Resistance is our birthright.”

Found here.

Rachel, SAG, and a Request

Hey all

As you know, my wife got her first part in a movie last summer, which premiered a month or so again at Los Angeles Film Festival, where it also won its category.

She is right now in Las Vegas at work on her second film.

That’s where you all come in: she needs to join SAG, the actors’ union because she’s now gotten two movies (and those in addition to when she was on All My Children back in the day). It’s a $3000 fee to join the first time, and frankly, after many months of her working sporadically, we just don’t have that kind of cash around. If you can donate, please do, and thank you so much to everyone who already has, and to Darya, who started the fundraiser.

Corden’s Sweet, Kind Song

There is something so gentle and sweet about this it’s making everyone cry today. Things like this, you just can’t imagine how much they mean.

Trans Soldiers

There is nothing more inspiring and heart-breaking than someone who is willing to put their life on the line for a democratic ideal that has yet to recognize them as full and equal citizens, whether those citizens are black, native, female, queer, or trans.

Thank you all for your service.

(If anyone would like their photo added, please feel free to send it to me.)

No Matter What He Tweets

I wish everyone else was reading my Facebook feed today: thoughtful statements by young folks, calls out for the voices of trans military vets by advocates, queer partners of trans people refusing to stand down, unapologetic statements of solidarity by gay men, anger and fear for us by straight lefties.

The world changed. He can’t change it back. We will not have it.

That’s why I’m crying in-between mumblings of motherfucker: trans folks, you have won the argument. I swear you have.

In the meantime, please support trans orgs that are doing good work, like TLDEF and NCTE.

(In)Visible: Rachel in the LA Times

I love this so much.

Rache was interviewed in the LA Times to talk about Eve – and to talk about trans visibility, especially vis a vis Bomer being cast as a trans woman. Here are my favorite bits:

She’d wrestled with the idea of transitioning, changing her gender presentation to align with her internal sense of gender identity, but she realized that opportunities for trans actors were, essentially, nonexistent.

“I figured I could either play a dead hooker that the cops made a ‘meat and potatoes’ joke about, or I could play a live hooker that the cops made a ‘meat and potatoes’ joke about,” Crowl said. “And there really was nothing else.”

and

Crowl even resembles Eve (or, perhaps, Eve resembles Crowl) in the most cursory of ways: in acerbic one-liners; off-beat, lanky swagger; and a warmth that she exudes, even toward strangers, as one might an old friend. (Crowl often opts for an introductory hug rather than a handshake because, she says, “Life’s too short.”)

and

From the get-go, Bloch — as well as the rest of her production team — was intent on finding an actress who, like Eve, was “a woman of transgender experience” (as Crowl and her friends like to say — woman first; transgender second, like an auxiliary modifier).

And yes, there’s a bit about her “thoughtful, incisive non fiction” writer of a wife, too.

Thanks to the journalist for not just seeing the “compare/contrast essay” here but in seeing that my wife’s amazing work and story were a great way to tell it.

Dire Predictions

I’ve been sitting on this article for a day or two because it honestly depressed the shit out of me, so if you’re feeling especially overwhelmed by the grief and dread of the political landscape right now, you might want to put this aside for when you’ve got more fight in you.

Briefly, it’s an argument that the appointment of Gorsuch – and the likeliness that Kennedy or Ginsberg will retire – and what a Gorsuch Court (ugh, those words) will mean for LGBTQ rights.

In a nutshell: an ongoing onslaught of cases that will interpret any big wins for gay rights in the narrowest ways as possible – such as what just happened in Texas – with a simultaneous liberal (by which I mean generous) interpretation of the RFRA which will keep states, employers, and cities from enforcing non discrimination rulings because a religious person’s right to discriminate – against women who get abortions or go on birth control, against gay people, trans people, etc. – will be upheld instead.

It’s all depressing AF.

But that, combined with Jamelle Bouie’s recent piece on how this wished-for impeachment will do us little good, tells us something slightly less pessimistic: we are going to fight on every small stage we can. It will change the look and the landscape of LGBTQ politics, and women’s politics, as the intended result of current Republican rule is to disappear both national identity and so called “big government”.

So the one thing I have to ask myself, and ask others who are like me, is that we have got to snap the fuck out of it. I’ve been walking around in a haze for months, feeling like I’m in a dreadful and unsought alternate reality. Honestly, I’ve even been watching Star Trek because they always seem to find a way out of theirs. But this new reality is not going away. People aren’t going to eventually just “be okay” with gay people and trans people or with women’s rights.

White capitalist supremacist patriarchy is baring its teeth all over the country in small and violent ways, and we know it is.

We are going to have to demand that our good liberal friends radicalize, and fast. We are going to need people who are made of steel to help create safe places and welcoming communities in small ways all over this country.

Ultimately, there is this: we have not entirely undone all the cultural work that was done. People are still far more accepting of LGBTQ lives than they were before Obama’s presidency, and far far more than they were before Clinton’s. That is, for those who have lived through it, this will not be worse. It will be what we already knew and what we fought hard to change.

But for younger people, who dream of a new and different world where everyone has autonomy and respect from others, this is going to be challenging. What I need to say to them – and what we need to keep saying – is that we have done this before and we can do it again. We had joy and beauty and celebration the whole time. But we have got to stop blaming millennials for everything, and we have to get the Boomers to care as much as they did before they had houses and 401k plans. (Gen X will keep doing what we’ve always been doing, sighing and slogging through.) We need to find ways to work together.

I have not yet decided where to direct my own efforts but I do know that I am done feeling sad and angry and now I just want to get to work. Join me.

 

RIP Aleshia Brevard

She transitioned in 1958 at the age of 21 and went on to be a Playboy bunny and appear in 8 movies, did numerous TV appearances, and was otherwise a glamorous, beautiful woman.

Here’s a cool interview with her.

Eve Review

There have been a few reviews of And Then There Was Eve, but this one, in particular, by Reggie Peralta, gets it right when it says:

Crowl, on the other hand, portrays Eve as remarkably well-adjusted after being so coldly rejected by her wife in what is a surprising but welcome departure from most transgender dramas. Whereas most such movies zero in on problems directly arising from their characters’ struggles to transition, Eve is unique in that she seems to have transitioned perfectly fine and is in a position to help Alyssa overcome her illness. This is a far cry from the guilty liberal idea so deeply entrenched in much of cinema (and that I described in my review of They Will Have To Kill us First) that transgender people, like other minority groups, are eternal victims of eternal problems and that there is not much one can really do besides patronize and pity them. In a cultural milieu where the word “empowering” is tossed like confetti at the smallest achievement, Crowl’s Eve genuinely is.

To be honest, I’m very proud of this from a kind of selfish point of view, precisely because I did consult on the script and because the writers listened – and, to be fair, had a holistic view of the transition from the get-go.

She seems to have transitioned perfectly fine. It’s her wife who hasn’t.

We Remember You

A year ago these 49 people – most of them Hispanic – lost their lives for being in a gay dance club in Orlando.

We remember you and celebrate your lives.

(courtesy Our Lives magazine out of Madison, WI)