Month: August 2005

Katrina

Posted by – August 31, 2005

First a letter from one RenaRF to the President which was also posted on Daily Kos. It sums up how I’m feeling, too.

RenaRF also provided a list of organizations that are focusing their efforts on the Gulf.

Also, here’s a good article on the funding issue, & why the region wasn’t prepared.

& Another one that appeared in Salon

There is *no reason* that in this country, with our resources and technology, the poor folks of the South were left to evacuate by their own means, except for the short fall of empathy.

And God bless that man who had to let go of his wife’s hand.

Gwen Araujo Trial Update

Posted by – August 31, 2005

Jury deliberations have begun in the Gwen Araujo trial. Let’s hope this one gets it right.

For a crop of current articles about this trial, check the MHB message boards. Much thanks to Caprice for keeping us all up to date.

Southern Decadence Cancelled

Posted by – August 31, 2005

As expected, Southern Decadence, which was supposed to start tomorrow in New Orleans, has been cancelled.

Five Questions With… Rosalyne Blumenstein

Posted by – August 31, 2005

Rosalyne Blumenstein is the formerRosalyne Blumenstein directer of the Gender Identity Project at the GLBT Center in Manhattan, and is the author of Branded T.

1. You emphasize the non-inclusion of bisexual and transpeople in your book Branded T by writing it “GLbt.” Do you think this still holds true – are bisexuals and Ts still left out of the majority of “gay activism”?

I currently live in LA. In June they have their Pride Weekend. It is called Gay Pride, need I say more? …Well I will anyway.

I think we have gone backwards just like the larger system. I believe there to be a parallel process going on with the way in which government is running things and the way in which our social movements are following. Here’s the deal and my swing on it. (Not that I know anything… opinions are like assholes – everyone has one, well mostly everyone has one).

Again this is only my opinion.

I believe everyone should be able to live they way they want, experience some semblance of freedom, love, be loved, feel fulfilled, dream, and be on a journey. However, within the gay agenda it is all about mimicking a Christian heterosexist mentality. Mind you, take this apart there is nothing wrong with Christian…having a certain belief system and having faith which is grand and extremely helpful in life…

And as far as Heterosexuality is concerned, there is nothing wrong with someone who identifies as male loving someone who identifies as female. I for one would love to be in another relationship with a man. Right now I would love to be in a relationship with someone breathing let alone what damn gender they identify as.

But from my understanding of a sexual minority movement it‘s about many different kinds of loves, not just the sanctity of marriage. It’s about not buying into just the white picket fence and the 2.3 kids.

So the Gay Agenda has become about wanting the same things everybody else wants which is not a bad thing but is not the voice of the whole queer movement. In fact most voices that are silenced within the movement are those

  • that are either getting their ass kicked on the streets because they don’t blend
  • or those with little power within the political system
  • or those that care less about identity politics, they just want to be, live, have great sex, explore, be.

So the gay agenda doesn’t give voice to all concerned. Well maybe these groupings get some quality TV time during Pride since that is what media wants to show and that is what the larger gay movement does want to be viewed as. I think it is all about oppression and many times the oppressed (gay community) become the oppressors (the rest of us that don’t identify as gay).

So in answer to your question my dear I think B and T folk within the gay movement have the opportunity to participate within the movement but in the larger scheme of things and what is portrayed to the Universe is Gay= LGBT.

More

So Sorry

Posted by – August 30, 2005

The more coverage we see of Katrina, the more our hearts go out to the folks down south who are going through this.

My guess is that Southern Decadence is cancelled, but I haven’t heard/seen anything official about that.

Two Year Anniversary

Posted by – August 30, 2005

Hey folks! Today is the 2nd Anniversary of my blog, and I wanted to take a minute to thank you all for reading, for recommending the site to others, and for linking from your own.

It means a lot to me.

That “In the Life” Show

Posted by – August 29, 2005

For those of you who never got to see our episode of In the Life, which was called Mergers & Acquisitions, it’s now available for viewing online!

New Orleans

Posted by – August 29, 2005

I hope that hurricane moves on, and quickly. NOLA is one of my all-time favorite cities. Laissez les levies tenez!

Artist Matt Rinard, who owns a business in the French Quarter, holed up on the fifth floor of a Canal Street hotel and watched the storm roll in.

He said pieces of sheet metal and plywood, billboards and pieces of palm trees flew down Canal, which borders the Quarter, as huge gusts of wind blew through the city.

“It’s blustery. You can see the speed of it now, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “The power went out about an hour and a half ago and so now I’m just watching the occasional dumbass walking down Canal Street.”

The Aggressives

Posted by – August 28, 2005

Betty and I got to see a documentary called The Aggressives on Friday night at BAM, which is screening a weekend of the best of NewFest.

“Aggressive” is the term used by women of color, much like the way “butch” is used to describe some lesbian women. (In fact, the only thing the film didn’t do which I would have liked is mention the use of the word, how it came about, how it’s different or perceived as different than butch by the women who use it to describe themselves.) Effectively “aggressive” describes women who are more masculine in both appearance, physique, and attitude. Some of them identify as trans, yet many were also very clear about the fact that they are women and lesbians.

The film told the stories of five different aggressive women over a five-year period. One was Korean, the others of African-American descent. There were interviews with some of their mothers (one of whom seemed hell-bent on insisting her daughter was going through “a phase”); they talked about who they liked to date (lesbians for the most part, though one also dated transwomen, and got fed up with dating them by the film’s end, and wanted a “real girl” for a girlfriend instead); how they experienced their identities, and what it was about them that was masculine, and how they made it work.

Tiffany talked about how, in school, one teacher in particular would ask her nearly every day if she was a boy or a girl, and after Tiffany stated she was a girl, the teacher would continue to say things like, “Tiffany is a funny name for a boy.” Another’s presence in the women’s showers in the military inspired all the women to cover up until she left the room. With the exception of one, most of these women “passed” as male and in most social situations were assumed to be male – and didn’t correct people necessarily – unless it came to “the ladies,” i.e. the women they dated.

Aside from shining a light on a population that’s rarely discussed or even known, the film was moving for both me and Betty. For Betty, of course, because she understood the issues of passing even when you don’t mean to, the sense of being differently gendered. For me, it was difficult to watch sometimes, because my own relationship with my own masculinity still touches on places of pain and rejection. And yet the film was really inspiring – from very young ages, these women talked about realizing they were lesbian and aggressive, and finding the courage to be who they were. (One had a child from the days where she was trying to prove to herself that she was het, so the self-acceptance didn’t come easy, necessarily.) For the most part, they all had difficult lives in terms of family, economics; more than one was abandoned by one parent or the other at a young age, either through departure of the parent or death. Some sold drugs; one was a fashion model and messenger; another went into the military; another came to work in construction – the only female person at her job. I think they all used the phrase “wearing the pants” at one point or another.

What impressed me the most was how their lives – invisible but for this documentary – contained not just the usual problems faced by those gender variant and GLBT, but that they did so along with discrimination, little to no education or opportunity, and uncertain family relationships. Most seemed to find a real home in lesbian spaces and in drag ball culture, instead.

I did talk with the director, Daniel Peddle, afterwards, who said there is a plan to release the film on VHS or DVD; if and when I can get hold of a copy I’ll be happy to make it a “loaner” for people interested in seeing it. If you can find a screening in your area, do go see it.

Thanks

Posted by – August 28, 2005

Thanks so much to all of you who came to the SRLP fundraiser tonight! I’m always especially pleased when there are so many trans-couples who come.

Hopefully I didn’t suck, or if I did, my neckline was an interesting distraction.

But more hopefully, SRLP got a nice influx of funds from the event. Special thanks to Cynthia for organizing the event and rounding up the talent.

Today’s Events

Posted by – August 27, 2005

Today: Wigstock and an SRLP Fundraiser

Sacco and Vanzetti

Posted by – August 26, 2005

Turns out I missed the anniversary of the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti this year, a date which I usually mark. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed on August 23rd, 1927, at the end of a notorious trial during which it’s said their own judge referred to them as wops (or dagoes, I forget which right now, but it was one of the two). Fair trial, my ass.

Whether or not they were guilty is still hotly debated by people who care about such things. They were, in a sense, the Rosenbergs long before the Rosenbergs – radicals put to death mostly for being radicals, and without the kind of definitive evidence you’d expect in a death penalty case.

They had the misfortune of not just being anarchists (the political philosophy doesn’t immediately imply violence, by the way) but being Italians in 1920s Boston. Sacco made shoes. Vanzetti sold fish. They were working-class men who some say were Syndicalists, others outright criminals, and still others, idealists and revolutionaries.

It’s still a case I read about, when I find new things to read. For those interested in the death penalty, famous trials, Italian-American culture, anarchism, radical politics, prejudice – or anyone who just wants to read one hell of a story – there are some decent sites on the topic, and plenty of good books (the best of which are, unfortunately) out of print.

U Penn site
Court TV’s site
a Michigan State U site
The Wiki entry

and Court TV’s bibliography. In the out of print books, you’ll see both Frankfurther’s The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti, which is by *that* Frankfurter. Joughin and Morgan’s The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti is, in my opinion, still the seminal work on the case, including cultural references. You can track down either at reasonably old libraries or through rare bookstores. Vanzetti’s letters are stunning and beautiful and highly recommended.

What does this have to do with gender? Not a damn thing.

Sacco and Vanzetti were officially declared innocent of their crimes on the 50th anniversary of their executions by then Governor of Massachusetts, Michael Dukakis.

Happy Friday!

Posted by – August 26, 2005

Tomorrow: Wigstock and the SRLP Benefit @ Starlight!

endymion

^ And in the meantime, Endymion looking far more serious than he is.

A Day in the Life of HB: Part One

Posted by – August 25, 2005

I thought this might amuse some of you, for whatever reason it would.

Wake up, slightly bemused at having dreamt I grew up with Sting living two houses away from me.

Put on tea water, weigh self (don’t ask!), turn on computer, light cigarette, say hello to Aeneas (who always greets me when I wake up), apologize to Endymion (who continues to sleep at my feet no matter how many times I kick him when I’m sleeping).

Go online, curse dial-up, delete pounds of spam. Do I really need to see ads for “young girls jerking you off” when I first wake up? No, I don’t. Do I even have a penis for these young sluts TO jerk off? No, I don’t.

Open the Animal Rescue site, tab to MHB, check stats, amazon sales rank, message boards. Tell someone to get bent and someone else to quit picking the same fights, already. Split threads, move threads, delete bitchy posts. Proceed to the Breast Cancer site, the Child Health site, the Hunger site, the Literacy site, the Rainforest site, which I let load in a background tab while I check out the boards.

IM Betty, who tells me about my email before most of it downloads. (We get cc:’d a lot of the same info.)

When the tea water whistles, if I hear it, pour tea; while tea is steeping, prepare a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios. Yes, I’m addicted. In a still-sleepy daze, wonder if I should let the Cheerios go soggy while I finish smoking the cigarette I lit, or put out the cigarette to eat the Cheerios. (It’s about 50/50, as far as I can tell.)

Bug Betty via IM about the eight things we’re supposed be doing, who she’s supposed to be calling, what events we’ve been invited to that she hasn’t gotten back to me about, which reminds me to open my calendar, and see that I’m supposed to work, so I speed up my tea drinking and emailing.

Answer ten emails in succession: one to a friend from my pre-tranny life, five to trannies currently emailing me regularly, two queries from people about info/resources, and one to someone I promised some bit of writing to. The tenth I forward to Betty about tech stuff on the site/boards.

Ignore the phone until I stop saying fuck under my breath when it rings.

Stop doing everything to give Aeneas his morning love-down.

Wonder if I have time to work out before I dress and bathe.

Answer five more emails: two responses that have already come back from the previous set, a third from a partner who’s freaking out, forward two other invites to Betty so she can not get back to me about whether or not she wants to go.

Read the new posts on the boards again, making sure whatever fights started have been dropped, then pick one myself about something feminist.

Remember to take my Zyrtec when I realize I’m itchy all over from the Aeneas love-down.

IM Betty about how she slept, say hello, only to notice a “brb” about five lines up.

Wait for Betty to get back so I don’t forget whatever it is. Drink tea, play with Endymion. Take out yoga mat. Check answering machine for previous night’s messages because I didn’t want to answer the phone. Get back to find 10 lines of IM from Betty that end with another ‘brb.’ Completely forget what I was supposed to IM Betty about.

Check my to-do list, cross one thing off and add another.

Make a few phonecalls.

Finally, Betty gets back from lunch and tells me she has no idea if she wants to go to anything I’ve mentioned to her. I resolve just to tell her what we’re going to and quit asking her, then forward her a few more emails about events in the next half-hour after I’ve made the resolution.

IM Betty to tell her I’m working out. Work out. (Okay, so this doesn’t happen everyday.)

Take a quick bath, dress, check the boards one last time, IM Betty that I’m going to work. Smoke another cigarette. Wonder how long it will take someone to write their own version of this blog post on the boards.

Why I Left Long Island

Posted by – August 24, 2005

An article in Sunday’s New York Times is about what teenaged Long Islanders do for fun.

Most were from white neighborhoods with safe schools and nice homes in bedroom communities. But this was not their fault. Manhattan was only a 45-minute car or train ride away, but it might as well have been a foreign country. No one spoke of heading in there for an evening.

For the record, the kids they talk about in this article were the ones who liked to throw stuff at me and call me ‘freak’ and alternately decide I was the coolest person in the world and buddy up to me.

This was like a bad flashback with no acid involved.

Emerging Cartoonist

Posted by – August 24, 2005

Okay, this cartoon made me laugh out loud, probably because I’m one of them liberal, atheist, feminazi gay treehuggers. Or maybe it was just the use of the word strategeryists.

Five Questions With… Damian McNicholl

Posted by – August 24, 2005

Damian McNicholl is the author of the Lambda finalist A Son Called Gabriel, who I met at a Lammy reading here in NYC. He’s from Northern Ireland, and Gabriel is about a young man growing up in a Catholic community in Northern Ireland. McNicholl’s blog can be found at http://damianm.blogspot.com, and A Son Called Gabriel is in bookstores, and available, of course, through amazon.com.

1) Considering all the scandals here in the US considering priests and pedophilia, how have people responded to your novel?

First Helen, thank you for the opportunity to visit your site and answer your questions.

While the scene where Father Cornelius seduces Gabriel amounts to only one scene in A SON CALLED GABRIEL, nevertheless, its inclusion was something I wondered about because the scandal involving the church had broken and was gaining momentum. I wondered if it would cause anger among the American-Irish community, particularly among those who are fervent practitioners of their Catholic faith. But any reservations I had about including the scene did not last long because, within me, deep within, I knew I had to remain true to Gabriel, and his story, and the truth in this regard had to be presented. The truth is that in real life some priests have taken advantage of young girls and boys. It has happened in the United States. It has happened in Ireland. It has happened throughout the world. And, of course, I did have a counterbalance to reflect how things are in life because not all the priests are warped: Gabriel’s headmaster at the grammar school is strict but proper, and the parish curate is a very kindly man who’s very much in touch with the needs of his parishioners.

And I am very happy to report that my readers are sophisticated enough to realize these terrible crimes have been perpetrated by renegade, if not evil, priests, and those who have commented or asked about it have done so positively. Indeed, I’ve had more questions from readers about the issue of bullying that’s also covered in the novel, as well as the isolation a young person endures growing up gay in a very conservative community.

And, to be absolutely honest, I really didn’t care about what anyone conservative would say or think about my work after they’d read it. I didn’t, because I was pretty sure no conservative person would read the novel. I mean, let’s face it; conservative people are not interested in reading or learning about or dealing with truths like this because it simply does not conform to their views of the real world.

More

Privacy and the Boards

Posted by – August 23, 2005

Due to the email harassment of someone who posts on our boards, Betty & I have had to change the access to the forums. From here on in, *anyone* who wants to read the forums has to register in order to do so. Only the ‘Technical Difficulties’ forum will be open to all, mostly because we needed a place to post this announcement so that people (esp our non-registered readers) would not be totally baffled.

It’s really unfortunate that we’ve had to do this, but the threat was serious enough that we feel we have no choice.

In terms of the harassment: someone has threatened to send various posts on these boards to the person’s employer: quite serious, indeed.

Again, apologies for this inconvenience. Believe me, once we confirm the harasser, their full name & address & photo will be posted here. We have no tolerance for this behavior.

Personally, I’m furious. Spending the time building a community like the MHB message boards takes a lot of time, effort, and work. And for one little bitter fuck to come along and ruin it for everyone really pisses me off. What it does, effectively, is make it possible for those who are already dealing with transness, at some level, to do so, but it prevents those who are more intrepid from getting any help, or being able to read the experiences of others. And that group includes the closeted CDs, stealth TSs, and especially partners, who are probably our most significant unregistered readership. Whoever sent that email (via anonymous remailer) is on my shitlist for taking much-needed resources from the people who need it most.

To those intrepid readers: I hope some of you will find the courage to register, to read or post or both.

If you are reading this, you anonymous, bitter shit, be forewarned that Betty & I have dealt with the likes of you before. We will find your local paper, we will find your name & address, & don’t be surprised when we use all three in combination.

Helen & Betty

Terribly Worried

Posted by – August 22, 2005

Actually, I’m not terribly worried about this. I mean, one hopes that the Iraqis protect women’s social rights as much as possible. It certainly seems clear that in protecting the political rights, there’s no discussion of women not having the right to vote. I think it’s important to remember that in the year 1900, for example, in the United States, it was a democracy then. In 1900, women did not have the right to vote. If Iraqis could develop a democracy that resembled America in the 1900s, I think we’d all be thrilled. I mean, women’s social rights are not critical to the evolution of democracy. We hope they’re there. I think they will be there. But I think we need to put this into perspective.

(italics mine)

This choice little quote comes from yesterday’s Meet the Press, as spoken by Reuel Marc Gerecht, Director of the Middle East Initiative for Project for the New American Century.

Women had more rights under Hussein than they’re going to have after the US “liberation”? Um, how does that work? And what on earth does the word democracy possibly mean if women’s social rights don’t matter? 1900?

I’m flabbergasted.

Thanks to Betty for blogging this one; you can find links to other bloggers on the same topic in her post.

The Reality of Transition

Posted by – August 22, 2005

On the MHB Boards, Emilia posted a link to an essay by trans educator Raven Kaldera that I thought more people should see. It’s called A Letter to Would-Be Transsexuals, and points up twenty areas of change that will impact your life if you transition. I thought it was accurate and not sugar-coated – the kind of essay I like best.

More of Raven Kaldera’s writing on trans issues can be found on his website: www.cauldronfarm.com.

He’ll also be presenting at Dark Odyssey, where Rahne Alexander, me, Joe Samson, and other transpeople who will be talking about the many aspects of trans sexuality. (Dark Odyssey is not a trans conference, but an all-kink inclusive sex conference.)

The essay is also being discussed on the MHB Boards.