Month: December 2003

10 Year Anniversary of Brandon Teena’s Death

Posted by – December 31, 2003

I found this article here

Brandon Teena 10 Years Later

(Falls City, Nebraska) While most of the world prepares to celebrate New Year’s Eve this week, transgendered Americans are pausing to remember Brandon Teena on the tenth anniversary of his murder.

The December 31, 1993 killing of the good-looking 21 year old galvanized Falls City, Brandon’s hometown, and for the first time put a national spotlight on the plight of the transgendered. It was the inspiration for the award-winning 1999 film, “Boy’s Don’t Cry” and led to the first civil rights laws for trans citizens.

Teena was a female to male pre-op transsexual and had been living as a male for several years. In December, 1993 he went to County Sheriff Charles Laux and reported he had been raped by two men, John Lotter and Marvin Nissen, after they discovered he had been born female and still had female organs. Teen had been dating a female friend of Lotter’s at the time.

Laux refused to investigate. A week later Teen was murdered by the pair who also killed two people who witnessed the killing.

Lotter and Nissen were eventually charged, tried, and sentenced, but not before the nation became gripped by the brutality of the case and the indifference of authorities.

An appeal by by Lotter was rejected by the Nebraska Court of Appeal earlier this year.

But, in his death, Teena gave birth to transgender militancy. Trans men and women across the country began to organize, forming lobby groups to not only educate the public but to press for civil rights.

Today, 65 municipalities and states have hate crime laws that specifically include transgendered people, according to the Transgender Law Policy Institute. California became the fourth state to adopt such a law earlier this year.

“How many times do you get to see a giant sea change like this in people’s perceptions? But you look at Congress, corporate America, and cities and states … and you see this enormous change in how people are looking at gender as a civil rights issue,” said Riki Wilchins, executive director of the Washington-based Gender Public Advocacy Coalition.

Yet, despite the advances, violence against the transgendered continues. Last year, 17 year old Gwen Araujo was murdered in California by three men who discovered she had been born male. A year ago, Nizah Morris a TG performer was murdered in Philadelphia. In the past 12 months, Remembering Our Dead, an online memorial that tracks bias killing of transgendered people around the world, recorded 17 deaths in the United States.

Buy a Signed Copy

Posted by – December 29, 2003

I have finally figured out how to make signed copies available via this website. Right now I’m only set up to ship to the US, and to receive payments via PayPal, but it’s a start!

Buy a Signed Copy of My Husband Betty

TG Teen in TX

Posted by – December 26, 2003

I hate to report sad news, but I saw this article and felt obliged to post it. This girl’s suicide broke my heart, especially upon reading that laws that would have protected her failed to get passed.

This girl is why we all need to get out there, educate, lobby for the legislation that would protect us.

I’ve reprinted this article with the permission of Texas Triangle.

Transgender Teen�s Suicide Leaves Unanswered Questions
By Steven Morris

On November 18, Christopher Brownlee found his 15-year-old brother Ben hanging from the garage, a thick black rope that he used to walk his animals tied around his neck. Christopher and his mother had long since accepted Ben as Tesia Samara�a girl who, in her own words, was �trapped in a �male� body.� Suddenly the pressure of being different in the small town of Rockdale, Texas, became too much for her.

Like many stories similar to this, it took a long time before anyone really took notice. Even those of us in the GLBT press didn�t hear about until a month after Tesia�s suicide. Only now, when her mother has decided to find out what really happened has it become a �story.�

Tesia�s mom, Karen Johle said Tesia was upbeat on the Tuesday morning of her suicide when she left for school. She had been in counseling for some time and her therapist believed that her thoughts of suicide had lessened in the last few weeks. So it was an even greater shock when Johle came home and could not find Tesia. At first Johle thought Tesia was at the local cemetery where she liked to go to write poetry, listen to music and get away from everything. When she found all of Tesia�s shoes in her closet and her headphones and CDs nearby, Johle knew something was wrong.

Ben grew up In Rockdale, a town of about 4,500 people, 60 miles northeast of Austin, and had lived there all his life. His father left when he was a toddler. When he finally started to dress the way he felt, Tesia emerged. She grew her hair long and started to wear hip-huggers and make-up. Her family accepted her as Tesia, but school was another story.

Johle said Tesia endured the taunts and teasing of her classmates who knew her as a boy for most of her life, but now saw her dressed as a girl on a daily basis. Everyday he was called �gay boy, fag boy, hair girl.�

Tesia had recently seen an episode of Oprah about transgenderism and was determined to begin hormone therapy and have a sex-change operation. She was in contact with one of the guests from that show who was helping guide her in the right direction.

She had even written a letter to one of her teachers, trying to explain her situation and asking for the educator�s help when it came to difficult situations. �I mainly run into sticky situations at school,� she wrote. �For instance, when they separate the females from the females (sic) for the nurse�s scoliosis testing, those kinds of things are hell for me. I wanted you to know this so that maybe you can help me to avoid some the hard and embarrassing times I could have. So if you happen to call me �her� on accident, let�s just say that I wouldn�t be unhappy.�

Tesia was very informed about her situation. She had researched the condition known as gender dysmorphia, which leads to the feeling that a person is in a body of the wrong sex. She knew her options when it came to surgeries to correct the problem and was prepared to undergo the difficult gender reassignment surgery. She had been taking hormones for three months �Spirotone and Premarin� that she bought off the Internet. While she knew she would never really be accepted 100 percent at school, she had the love of her family and a few good friends who understood her situation and accepted her for who she was.

That is why Johle believes something happened after school that day that led to Tesia taking her own life. There are rumors going around school that some classmates had assaulted and urinated on Tesia after school that day. Police have looked into it and believe it is just a rumor, but Johle feels differently.

Despite the fact the Tesia had attempted suicide twice before (though only once that his mother was aware of), Johle still believes Tesia was provoked on November 18. The Principal and teachers had all spoken to Tesia in the weeks leading to her death and felt she was adjusting well and was handling the pressure as best she could. She had been doing well in her counseling sessions at Waterloo Counseling Center and Johle believed Tesia was combating her suicidal thoughts well.

Lt. J.D. Newlin of the Rockdale Police Department investigated the rumor of an attack but could find no evidence to support the suspicions. He interviewed a teacher and several students but came to a dead end.

Johle went to Newlin with a copy of the state�s hate crime law in her hand, but according the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (LGRL), currently, there is no state law to protect students from such harassment in Texas schools.

State Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) tried to change that during the most recent legislative session by authoring the �Dignity for All Students Act,� which would have addressed this type of issue. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Public Education, but Committee Chair Kent Grusendorf refused to give it a hearing.

Students have sought relief from harassment and discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, as well as Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. However, these laws do not specifically protect students from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

�In failing to pass the �Dignity for All Students Act� the leadership of the legislature failed a significant portion of the Texas population,� LGRL Field Coordinator Colin Cunliff said. �And the consequences are deplorable, such as the loss of Tesia Samara�s life.�

Johle has refused to give up and will continue to fight to discover the truth behind Tesia�s death. She had Tesia�s body cremated and while almost 300 people attended the memorial Service in Rockdale, Johle refuses to have Tesia buried there.

�He hated this damn place,� Johle told the Austin-American Statesman. �I sure as hell wasn�t going to bury him in a city he hated so badly.�

_____________________________

The Poetry of Tesia Samara

Thinking Pains

All of the time

I see myself thinking

Thinking all inside

Dreaded thought to thought

Carefully linking

Bringing my death in shapes and size

I�m self-destructing thinking

Submerged to lose

I am sinking

Nest of serpents

My own twisted mind

Creative manner to deal in living

Grown to stern

Ripped at stern

Evil in root

I see myself thinking

All of the time.

Transgenderism

Took a turn too far

To trespass

To know that I am nothing more

Than an error in eternity

Held hands, to keep me here.

But that hand slipped,

Clover discolored,

Misintended as I was blighted;

We never meant to be this.

Mariette Pathy Allen

Posted by – December 21, 2003

I am pleased as punch that I just got this wonderful review from Mariette Pathy Allen:

“Helen Boyd’s book is extraordinary! Ms. Boyd manages to combine intensely personal stories, in particular her relationship with Betty, with a great deal of up-to-date, useful, and fascinating information. Her account of (primarily) heterosexual crossdressers and their wives or partners, is both thorough and sophisticated in exploring the range of emotions and daily complications that make up the lives of men who need to wear women’s clothes some of the time, and the women who are part of their lives. Helen and Betty are young, smart, and attractive. They offer an exciting model of a crossdresser-couple; future-directed, uncompromising in the search for truth in all aspects of their relationship, in relating to others in the community, and to the world at large. My Husband Betty covers every aspect of crossdressing that could be of interest to anyone whether or not they’re part of the community, and does it in the eloquent, graceful language of an artist.”

- Mariette Pathy Allen, Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them

gay marriage poll

Posted by – December 18, 2003

There’s a group called the American Family Association currently running a poll about gay marriage. As per usual, “Family” is code for “heterosexual.”

Since what they want is “proof” that Americans are against gay marriage, let’s give them what for! Balance out their stats so they don’t have any kind of “majority” to show Congress.

You can find the poll here

Love is love, and it should be celebrated & legalized wherever it’s found.

MHB in bookstores

Posted by – December 13, 2003

I’ve just gotten the first report that someone bought the book in a bookstore! Specifically, in a Border’s somewhere in the MD area.

I’d love to hear from others if you’re finding it, & specifically I’d like to know in what section of the bookstore it’s being shelved. Sexuality? Relationships? Sociology? GLBT?

If any of you are in local bookstores, & want to do some sleuthing & report back, I’d love to hear about it.

Book News: It’s Shipping!

Posted by – December 8, 2003

My good friend Marti contacted me today to tell me that she received an email from Amazon.com saying that My Husband Betty is now shipping!

So if you want to order the book, no more waiting!

Buy the book!

Trans-Academics Survey

Posted by – December 4, 2003

Community Needs Assessment Survey – We need your input!
Click on the “research projects” button

We all know there is very little reliable statistical data about trans and gender variant identified persons – here is a great opportunity to help change that! Sponsored by the NTAC (National Transgender Advocacy Coalition) and under the supervision of Claremont Graduate University, Elizabeth Green is running an online survey to collect statistical data about gender variant persons and their experiences. This study is available to anyone residing in the United States, with a particular focus on collecting demographic and experiential information about
gender variant identified persons living in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino, CA counties. We are looking to have at least 200-300 respondents from the SoCal area and over 1500 responses from the greater US.

In order to participate you must be at least eighteen years old and self identify as a part of the gender variant community (including but not limited to transgender, transsexual, intersex, genderqueer, cross-dresser, etc.) The survey is comprised of 75 questions and should take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Surveys are 100% confidential and your participation is most appreciated.

Also, if you would be so kind as to forward this message to anyone you think might be interested, including list-serves and organizations – that would be extraordinarily helpful to our cause. We are more than willing to arrange for on-site paper surveys for individuals or groups in SoCal if that is more convenient. Any questions, please contact
Elizabeth Green [elizabeth@trans-academics.org].

Thank You!!!

Elizabeth R. Green
elizabeth@trans-academics.org
MAWS – Claremont Graduate University
Program Coordinator, UCR – LGBTRC
NTAC Research Committee

http://www.trans-academics.org

Gidget

Posted by – December 2, 2003

I received the sad news today that one of the women I interviewed for the book – one half of one of the couples profiled in Chapter 4 – died recently. I’ve been sad and stunned since getting the news. I only ever knew her as Gidget, and her emails were always a joy to receive – full of enthusiasm & capriciousness, common sense & humor. She taught Special Ed. She was a lovely, magnanimous, generous person. It’s killing me that she never got to hold a final copy of the book in her hands.

Her words appear in various parts of the book, but I did profile her & her husband, so I wanted to put her “In Her Own Words” section up here, in her memory:

I think the bottom line is that you must both be in love to come across and meet the other person half way—as you give up part of what you wanted, for part of him, and he does the same for you—I wasn’t the one hundred percent accepting person that he wanted, but he loves me and accepted less from me—also, I did the same for him, as I got myself to take a risk and see and view him as a female—it freaked me out when I first saw it about 20 years ago, but now—it took him being very slow about showing things to me—he first wore a black cotton dress to bed with me, and I imagined this as a black cotton t-shirt and thought “this isn’t too bad!!”—then he wore panty hose, which felt funny to me and I kept getting these lesbian dreams from those things—LOL!!—anyways, it took time—

Pretty soon, he progressed with one more item—I call this “taking baby steps” and that is how I learned to accept everything even now—it had to be done very slowly and at my comfort zone—after all, as I explained to him, he had many years of getting up to this level, and I had no years seeing this kind of thing—he had to go slowly for me to go there with him—

Also, I told him to imagine me without makeup (HORRORS!!!) and with my hair cut in a crew cut style—(I would look awful for sure!!)—and then smoking a cigar and wearing a western cowboy look—and then I asked him if he could picture me like that and I told him I needed him to have sex with me like that, what would he think?? He was honest and replied he wouldn’t like me that way—so I asked him, �Why not? I’m still the same girl underneath,� as he used to say to me the same thing—he would always wear his femme outfits and tell me, �Why don’t you just love me? I’m still the same guy underneath.� Hee-hee—that took care of that!!! He finally saw how I was viewing things—you have to spell it out for them—they think just because they accept themselves dressed as females, that we shouldn’t have problems with it, as they see it as no big deal—

However, they do know that MOST women would have problems looking at a man dressed that way—and that is why they hide it from us—they know what the reaction would be–

Another thing, you asked what quality I have that helped me? I have to say, I think having a sense of humor—I laugh at this at times, and he does too—and we both can feel at ease that way—-if you take it too seriously, you get depressed—

Also, he helped me accept him as he was as I could see that he came to bed the first few times looking forlorn and depressed and ashamed very badly—and I felt sorry for him—and knew that he had told me he wanted someone his whole life to accept him as he was, but didn’t get it—and I knew he meant it, so I wanted to please him as he was trying to please me by doing things I wanted him to do—such as the dishes, wash the floors, etc.—and that made me want to give up something for him as well—-

I know that if he had told me the truth back then, I would have hightailed it out of dodge for sure—I certainly wasn’t raised to have sex with a kink in it—and I associated this as something very forbidden, weird, and bad—

Anyways, my husband and I are very much in love now, we don’t fight anymore, and we reconnected to each other in just two months with the marriage counselor—we always were best of friends, but got a little sidetracked, I believe, due to the crossdressing issues—first of all, I did not understand when I was younger how important this issue was to my husband—and he did not understand that he needed to negotiate and teach me how to tolerate him this way—now he understands my side, and I understand his—and we respect each other on this issue—.)

Gidget, the world will miss you – I have no doubt. Wherever you are, thank you for your kindess & help, your thoughtfulness and humor.

To Gidget’s husband: she ROCKED. My condolences to you on your loss of such a fantastic woman, wife, and mother.

Anyone who knew her who visits here is welcome to leave a comment.

Yahoo! group

Posted by – December 1, 2003

I thought perhaps some of you might prefer a mailing list instead of message boards, like myself, so I set up a Yahoo! group

Join the mailing list here!

My idea is that the group will be focused on issues and ideas I bring up in the book, but mostly it’ll be moderated as a serious discussion group – not for makeup tips or a dating service. Before the book is out, I’ll use it as a way of communicating updates, etc.