This Week’s Action – 4/26/04

Lobby Days: NTAC & GPAC

This week, two groups representing transgendered people are lobbying DC about our issues.

NTAC (National Transgender Advocacy Coalition) describes its mission as follows:

NTAC’s 2004 lobbying event will take place from April 28th through April 30th in Washington, DC. Wednesday the 28th will be used for training and final preparations. The day’s events will include a press conference at which families of hate crimes victims and surviors of hate crimes can tell their stories. Thursday and Friday, the 29th and 30th, will include visits to YOUR members of Congress to educate them and their staffs on the need for transgender-inclusive Employee Nondiscrimination and Local Law Enforcement Enhancement Act (Hate Crimes) legislation.

This year’s effort will also press Congress to drop the sudden fixation on denial of equal marriage rights in order to take action on the serious, longtime employment and hate violence issues that have yet face the transgender community.

GPAC (Gender Public Advocacy Coalition) explain their efforts:

Parents, activists, and youth from all over the country come to the nation’s capital for a 3-day conference to work together to end discrimination and violence caused by gender stereotypes.

The conference beings with the 9th annual Gender Lobby Day, when activists from across the country descend on Capitol Hill to educate their Congress Members. Last year 1500 activists convened over 3 days! Following lobby day, attendees will return to the hotel for two intense and exciting days of workshops, plenaries, and Kimberle Crenshaw’s keynote address.

PLEASE donate to one or both of these groups to support their efforts!
Donate to NTAC
Donate to GPAC

Transgender Veterans March

Transgendered people have served proudly in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard during war and peace time.

It is time to show how proud you are to have served in the US Armed Forces and how proud you are to be transgendered.

Come join the Transgendered Veterans March to the Wall.

Find out more at the TG Veterans website

“The Opposite Sex” – Showtime documentary

From The Advocate, May 11, 2004

The Opposite Sex, a two-part Showtime documentary, begins with the gripping journey of trans man Rene Pena, a God-fearing, married truck driver

By Christopher Lisotta

The Opposite Sex: Rene’s Story opens with documentary subject Rene Pena jogging through the countryside. Handsome, muscled, and driven, he’s a prime example of masculinity. That only grows more obvious when the traditional, God-fearing Pena, a truck driver, interacts with his pretty wife of 11 years, Wona, and their two young sons. But appearances can be deceptive – although everything about Pena’s mind and heart shows he is a man, his body still forces him to face the fact that, at least biologically, he is a woman.

Films and documentaries exploring the transgender experience have become all the rage thanks to the success of Boys Don’t Cry, Southern Comfort, and Soldier’s Girl. But Bruce Hensel, MD, a heterosexual practicing physician and emergency room director who has been a medical reporter on Los Angeles’s KNBC-TV for more than 15 years, wanted to make a powerful film that presents the process of transition from start to finish.

The result is The Opposite Sex, a documentary in two parts, with each part telling the story of a different individual. The first part, Rene’s Story, airs May 3 at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on Showtime. Jamie’s Story, which follows a male-to-female transition, will debut in June. After each segment, Hensel moderates a panel in which trans men and women talk about their own experiences.

“I was so fascinated that so many people are so prejudiced about what they don’t understand,” Hensel explains. “I also knew that I could show the medical side. No movie has ever shown the full journey.” Pena wasn’t Hensel’s ideal choice for the female-to-male segment. Since the now-33-year-old was so masculine, Hensel feared that the audience wouldn’t believe Pena was a biological woman, and he felt the medical journey he was hoping to capture on film would be too short. But after a meeting with the couple – and with prodding from his business partner, out reality TV producer Stuart Krasnow – Hensel changed his mind.

“When we interviewed Rene and Wona, [the decision] was a no-brainer,” he explains. What was initially a liability became an asset once Hensel heard Pena’s personal story. Pena tells The Advocate, “I told my mom when I was 3 years old that God was going to make me a boy, and I never turned back from that statement, not one day of my life.” He refused to wear dresses and fought attempts by his family to make him act or appear feminine. At 11, Pena decided to live his life as a boy. “I just happened to have the strength to be what I wanted to be,” he says, noting that other transgendered people often wait decades before taking that step. “I may be different, but I’m not special.”

Pena’s reason for doing the project was clear: He wanted to get his lower surgery paid for and performed by a world-class doctor. In his early 20s Pena had a double mastectomy, but he’d never had a medical procedure to alter his vagina. Although the film’s producers refused to pay for any surgery, Pete Raphael, MD, a Texas surgeon who performs an innovative procedure that transforms a clitoris into a penis, did the work for free. One of the distinctive elements of the film is its graphic medical footage, which shows exactly what Pena went through to become a man.

Aside from Pena’s unswerving determination, Hensel was fascinated by his relationship with Wona (the couple are in the process of adopting the two boys who live with them). Intensely loyal to one another, the former high school sweethearts were reeling from being shunned by their church after Pena’s transgender status was revealed. “They have so many layers,” Hensel says. “They really love each other in the deepest way possible.” The Penas gave Hensel complete access to their lives, which play out with intense emotion on the screen as one revelation after another comes out into the open.

Both Pena and Hensel insist that the film does not exaggerate. “The pain you see is the pain that’s really there,” Hensel explains. “And triumph, the triumph is really there.”

This Week’s Action – 4/19/04

Day of Silence: 4/21/04

En Femme Getaway

Betty & I will be at the En Femme Getaway for the next six days. I’ll be back with more news and a report on our trip after 4/27!

In case you don’t know about it, here’s a link to info about the Getaway. This will be our 2nd trip there, & we are really looking forward to it.

Helen & Betty

Me, giving the Banquet Speech:
Getaway Banquet Speech

Betty, being Betty (photo by Becca):
Betty at the Getaway

TG Kickboxer – “Beautiful Boxer”

Film Tells of Kickboxer Who Had Sex Change
Fri Apr 16, 7:54 AM

SINGAPORE – A film about a real-life champion Thai kickboxer who hung up his gloves to undergo a sex change operation has meant more than box-office receipts to its subject – it’s given her peace of mind.

The recent Thai release of “Beautiful Boxer,” a dramatic film about her life as a transvestite and transsexual, has helped people understand the tough choices she’s made in her life, former prizefighter Parinya Charoenphol said at a news conference Wednesday.

“After the movie came out, it seemed like people could now understand the reasons why I made certain decisions,” Parinya said through a Thai translator, referring to the sex change operation she underwent in 1999.

“They have given me a lot of encouragement,” said Parinya, decked out in a white satin blouse, floral skirt and sharp-toed boots.

Parinya has been offered several acting roles and has accepted parts in four Thai television soap operas and an action movie.

“Beautiful Boxer” opens in Singapore on April 29.

13-year-old Australian FTM

A series of 5 articles related to a recent Australian court decision permitting a 13-year old ftm transsexual to take medication to slow the effects of puberty, and to take testosterone when he is older. The third article is of more general interest, since it discusses some ongoing research into possible genetic causes of transsexualism. The last article, though purportedly neutral, actually comes from the “anti-trans” perspective (it’s a mental illness, etc.); the source is a news service that supplies articles to the right-wing and fundamentalist press. It gives prominent place to the views of one person who went from male to female and then back again — and apparently believes that because he was mistaken, so is everyone else who thinks they’re transsexual.

From the Courier-Mail, an Australian paper.

From, an online UK gay magazine.

From the Sydney Morning Herald (this is the third article as reference above)

Another from the Courier Mail

And the last from, a conservative online magazine.

(and again, thanks to Donna for finding all this great TG news online!)

TG News: Miami legislation

An article about TG identity within the GLBT, and fights to get protective legislation, in Miami, published in the Sun Sentinel

TG News from Houston

One article about NTAC’s upcoming lobbying efforts on behalf of the TG Community in Washington DC.

Another about TG prostitutes and efforts to keep them safe and get them off the street.

And a third about the TG women who were murdered in Houston in 2003, and whose cases remain unsolved.

Updates on Gwen Araujo Case

From the Advocate

From the San Diego Union Tribune


Chris Kahrl, TG sportswriter

From the Washington Blade


Throwing a curveball Chris Kahrl, the transgendered co-author of the annual Baseball Prospectus, is finding life outside the closet rewarding.

Friday, April 09, 2004

FOR MORE THAN A decade, Chris Kahrl has turned a love of baseball into a successful career in sports publishing, working with a long-standing team of
authors to write, edit, and publish the annual Baseball Prospectus. The definitive guide, feverishly updated each winter and published a full month before Major League baseball’s opening day, which was last week, analyzes statistics on each player in the profession. It reaches 60,000 readers annually. Noting that other attempts to chronicle anything can be as ‘dull as paste,’ Kahrl and colleagues pepper the ‘Prospectus’ with intelligent humor and thoughtful
commentary, successfully turning a reference guide into a legitimate coffee table book for even the most casual fan to enjoy.

Reflecting that humor and charm, Kahrl, a lifetime athlete and baseball fanatic, publicly discussed the book and baseball last Thursday for nearly three hours
at Politics and Prose bookstore in Northwest D.C. The Baseball Prospectus may be different because of its hip, fresh approach to one of America’s favorite
pastimes. But it’s also unique for another reason: Its co-author Chris Kahrl has been living openly as a transgendered woman for the past six months.

COMING OUT STORIES have a certain arc to them and can almost write themselves today. But Kahrl, 36, offers a rare perspective about the torturous layers involved in coming out as a transgendered person that few others, including gay men and lesbians, have experienced. “For me, the process of coming out is effectively unzipping your head for everyone’s benefit,” she says.
“I was scared to death when I took my boss out for drinks. But when I told him, he said, ‘Well, Chris, I’m your friend, you’re a great author, and we’re going to make this work.'”

That might seem unbelievably enlightened for a boss, but Kahrl of Virginia has known him and all of her colleagues for more than 10 years. “I’ve had good fortune with all of my friends, even my family,” she says. “I gave being a guy my best shot, and it didn’t work out and that’s OK.”

STILL, MOST OF her work with Major League Baseball is researched over the phone and Internet, not in the locker room. At Politics and Prose, it was standing room only when she appeared last week. Kahrl said it couldn’t have gone better.
“People blinked for a minute, but as I kept rolling along, talking about baseball, gender issues disappeared from everyone’s radar as it became clear everyone was going to get what they came for baseball,” she says. Her relatively painless transition says something about the strength of her character. Her colleagues, further still, attribute it to her comportment and professionalism.
“Sure, there is gossip out there,” says Gary Gillette, co-author of Baseball Encyclopedia, a publication similar to the Baseball Prospectus. “But these days, everyone is either enlightened enough to deal with it or wise enough to keep their mouths shut. Chris is very well-respected, well-liked, in this industry,” he says, “and that will certainly continue.”

Kahrl sees no inherent disconnect between the masculine world of baseball and her identity and, in fact, says that a love of the former eases the awkwardness of the latter. “Baseball is something I could relate to with my great-grandfather – with all people,” she says. “Sports give us all something in common to talk about that is essentially inoffensive.” Still, she expects the stares, the puzzled faces, and the common inquiries, and views them as an easy tradeoff for being able to live openly. Her story should inspire anyone in agony over crossing bridges or taking risks.

Gender- bender teen shot in B’klyn

Gender- bender teen shot in B’klyn


A 20-year-old Brooklyn man shot a teenage transvestite four times – capping their illicit pre-dawn encounter with gunfire after discovering the youth was a boy, cops said yesterday. Jamel Stevens was tracked down Wednesday by detectives in Bedford-Stuyvesant and charged with attempted murder, assault and menacing
in the attack, authorities said. Stevens shot the 14-year-old twice in the left arm and twice in the left thigh just after 3 a.m. on Feb. 21 in the Marcy Houses playground on Nostrand Ave., police said. The young victim’s wounds were not life-threatening. He was treated and released from Kings County Hospital, police said. The teenage transvestite was wearing lip gloss and tight pants, and had long hair and painted nails, the source said. Still, there is no mistaking him for a girl, said Rafeal Hernandez, 17, a neighbor of the victim.
“It’s just noticeable that he’s a guy,” Hernandez said. Crystal Gonzalez, 19, said she had warned the teen to stop stuffing his shirt and dressing like a girl. “But he didn’t listen to me,” she said. “There are a lot of crazy people in this world who don’t accept gay people.” At Marcy Houses, Stevens’ family was stunned by his arrest. “Jamel has never been in trouble a day in his life,” said his grandmother, Patricia Fleming, 62. “I never had to go to the police station for him.” Fleming said Stevens, a construction worker, was living in Florida but moved back to Brooklyn this year after his sick mother lapsed into a coma. Fleming said she visited Stevens’ mother in the hospital yesterday. “I told her, ‘We need you. I can’t do this alone,'” she said.

Originally published on April 16, 2004

NBC poll on crossdressing

NBC is running a poll as to whether a person being a crossdresser would affect your vote – & right now, the people who wouldn’t vote for a CD are winning!

C’mon, folks, let’s turn this around!

Vote NO!

Trans-Partners forum at GLBT Center/NY

Tuesday, June 8
7 – 9 pm

The Center’s Public Policy Committee, Center Kids, and the Gender Identity Project present a forum on the challgnes facing individuals who are, or have been, or seek to be in relationships or partnerships with transgender, gender-different and gender questioning people. Experts and community members will explore some of the social, legal, medical and personal issues facing partners of trans, gender-different and gender question people, including:

Who are we? What do we call ourselves?

We are often in “community limbo” – where do we fit? Is there space for us in the “gay” community? Should there be? If not, where can we find or create community?

How does our hidden, and sometimes invisible, communite gets its needs met?

Are our concerns sometimes overshadowed by the issues of our trans-identified partners?

How do we maintain our identity when our partners’ identies may be in transition?

How can we create community in the face of these daunting matters?

How can we get our medical needs met by providers who often seem ignorant of our needs and identities?

Some of us are openly attracted to trans-people – why is it so difficult to find space for us too?

For more information, call 212 620 7310, or visit

This Week’s Action – 4/5/04

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported on Tuesday photographs of candidate Sam Walls dressed in women’s clothes have circulated among political leaders in Johnson County, south of Fort Worth. Local Republican leaders confirmed separately that they had seen the photographs of Walls in a wig, dress and high heels.

The story is on the Reuters newswire, and so is being picked up by other papers – Newsday, the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, etc. Find one of these papers – or write to Reuters directly – explaining that a man’s crossdressing by no means affects his ability to do his job! If you are a CD, explain who you are (engineer, teacher, tech, etc).

This is your opportunity, closeted CDs! Stand up for one of your fellow CDs. Mr. Walls is, some stories mention, a member of a chapter of Tri-Ess.

Of course, his being a CD is not a good reason to vote for him, either – unless of course his crossdressing encourages him to vote for trans-friendly legislation.

11 Stories about Crossdressing

An online magazine called The Morning News has a great set of stories up about crossdressing, by a writer named Kevin Fanning. Do check them out.

(thanks, gazingo!)


Lady Boys in Singapore


a South Dakota politican who is transitioning


the jury selection process in the Gwen Araujo case

Doug Wright wins Pulitzer

I think the headlines all should have read, Gay Playwright Wins Pulitzer for Play about Transvestite

Doug Wright, who wrote the play, “I Am My Own Wife,” won the Pulitzer a couple of days ago. (There goes my chance of interviewing him.) If you haven’t gone to see the play yet, and you’re TG, you should be ashamed of yourself! It’s a wonderful, sympathetic-but-realistic portrait of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, who lived through the Nazis and the Communists.

Read more about the play and order tickets

It’s worth checking out Charlotte’s book, I Am My Own Woman, as well as the documentary of the same name.

Betty onstage!

Betty is making her stage debut en femme, and it’d be lovely to see some of you there!

For more info

Join the IFGE

We just came back from the 2004 IFGE Conference, and we absolutely loved it! Lots of smart folks on hand to ask questions of (Richard Docter, Vern Bullough), activists to get inspired by (Hawk Stone, Holly Boswell, Angela Brightfeather), amazing artists (Kate Bornstein, Mariette Pathy Allen), people with medical information (Dr. Ousterhout, Dr. Shrang, Dr. Ostad), advocates (Wally Bacon, Debra Weil), counsellors (Virginia Erhardt, Arlene Istar Lev, Sandra Cole, Judith DiPerna), and presenters on everything from make-up to succeeding as a CD (Lacey Leigh, Susie Paris). The workshops were incredible. The entertainment was amazing. The community was inspiring.


Subscribe to Transgender Tapestry. Become an IFGE member and go to their next conference, to take place in ’05 in Austin, TX!

Betty with Kate Bornstein:
Betty and Kate Bornstein

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Prince? (Helen with VP)

Helen with Vern Bullough (author of Crossdressing, Sex, and Gender):
Helen and Vern Bullough

Mariette Pathy Allen and her hard-working camera, with Virginia Prince in the background:
Mariette & VP