Speaking of Goodwill

There’s an article in the SF Gate about the new Goodwill Industries’ store in SF which has hired 7 trans women to staff the place – out of only 9 employees.

It found that despite being twice as likely to hold college degrees as state residents as a whole, the respondents also were twice as likely to be unemployed. Seventy percent of those surveyed reported having been discriminated against or harassed on the job.

which means there are a ton of over-qualified trans people out there who can’t get work. Oh, if capitalism only worked!

The end of the article broke my heart — and yet, what a cool person:

While she mostly welcomes her new role as a community “ambassador” who enlarges the image of transgender people “by being competent,” being a thrift store trailblazer is not without challenges. When she was learning the ropes at another store, a few co-workers made the mistake of calling Scanlon “sir” or “him.” Tourists have pulled out their cameras and tried to snap her picture.

She tries to sound professional when she refuses to pose.

“I tell them, ‘I’m not a joke. This is my life. Thanks for shopping at Goodwill.'”

Grace under fire. I hope she gets the kind of job she deserves in time. I know I’d hire her to do customer service if she can keep that cool.

Busy Holiday Season

So for the first time in my life, I’m facing a huge holiday with no family and no old friends anywhere nearby, and it sucks.

First I’d like to apologize to anyone I’ve ever been around who wasn’t spending holidays with family when I was, as this week I’ve been awash in people telling me all about their plans – where they’re going, who’s coming in from how far away, what they’re eating, all of it. I’m sure I’ve done it myself because I was entirely clueless to what this is like. I’ve had many gracious invitations to join various festivities, too, but it doesn’t make being in a new place without my partner or any other family here any easier, really.

If you know anyone who doesn’t have anyone around, DO make plans with them around the holidays even if it’s not on the holiday itself. Ask them how they are. Let them talk. You won’t replace who they miss, but you might keep them sane, or even alive. All of us in the LGBT communities know family holidays are especially brutal – for many of us, the holidays are a reminder that our birth families don’t get it, or don’t accept us, or just don’t want our confusing identities & relationships getting in the way of their less complicated lives.

This year, then, I’m very thankful for a family who accepts me and her for who we are, because it’s easier to know I’m alone due to geography, not a lack of love, and I’m thankful too for the various new friends who have gone out of their way to find me something to do / somewhere to be this week.

For those of you who are without anyone, hold tight. Seasons change. But she’s got way better advice than I do…

… and she makes me thankful, even, for kind-hearted poets. If there’s anyone out there who would feel a lot better getting an email from me, let me know, & I’ll send one.

From NCTE: What transgender people need to know about TSA’s procedures

From NCTE:

As transgender people and our families prepare to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, many have expressed concern about the various new invasive equipment and procedures at the airport announced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

NCTE opposes the routine use of full-body scanners and the new invasive patdown procedures. We have and will continue to work with the TSA to minimize privacy intrusions and ensure respectful treatment of transgender travelers.

We want all of our members and friends to have safe and uneventful travel this season; here are some ideas and information to help you do that.

First, it is important that you KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. Even if TSA personnel are not always familiar with travelers’ rights, such as the right to decline a full-body scan, you should know them. You may need to politely inform the officer of your rights and choices.

Second, calmly and clearly expressing your choices is very important. This makes it easier for the TSA agents to understand what your needs are and may help you get through the checkpoint more quickly.


Continue reading “From NCTE: What transgender people need to know about TSA’s procedures”

Two Tune Tuesday: Gang of Four

In honor of their return, which you can get an earful of care of NPR, I thought it was time for Gang of Four. No, not the Chinese political faction of the Cultural Revolution, but the post punk band. They were always especial favorites for me because the bass player, Dave Allen, went on to be the spine for Shriekback, that lovely post punk funk weirdness of a band (whose lead, Barry Andrews, came from the original XTC lineup).

“To Hell with Poverty” seems about as well-timed this year as it was when they released it, but this time on these shores.

This TDOR: Why Not “Tranny”?

& To close this year’s Trasngender Day of Remembrance, a note from Mara Keisling of NCTE on what the day means, why not “tranny,” and what next:

The Day of Remembrance, which we commemorate tomorrow, is a time of mourning for transgender people, a time to honor the lives tragically cut short by another person’s hatred or fears. It is also a time to look at how we can have fewer and fewer deaths to commemorate on this day in years to come.

Each year as I look at the names and faces of those we have lost, they touch me profoundly and they also call me to a renewed commitment to the work ahead of us. We have to use every tool available to us to stem the tide; one of those tools is federal law.

A full year has passed since the passage of the first federal law to offer protections to transgender people-the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. While the law certainly won’t end the problem of hate crimes, it does provide new avenues to address violence when it occurs. For the very first time, the Department of Justice and federal law enforcement officials have been authorized to take action to address the violence that transgender people face. And, while it’s easy to be cynical about the government, there are people in law enforcement who are truly and deeply dedicated to working with us to address the violence.

We’ve been at the table with the FBI and other departments as they’ve worked to update their training programs to include explicit information about gender identity and change the way they record information so we gain vital knowledge about the extent of the problem. I know, paperwork doesn’t seem like it will do anything. There is something very important about seeing the word “transgender” there in the manuals and forms because it means that the federal government is making a record and taking notice of the horrific violence we as a people face. It is information they can use to prosecute a crime and ensure that local law enforcement takes violence against us seriously. It will also help formulate violence prevention programs.

But there’s also something awful about knowing that those forms will record the terror of victims of hate-motivated violence. Law enforcement officers will note down the weapons used, the damage done and the derogatory words that are said to harm a transgender person-someone’s child, or partner, or parent, or loved one.

One of the reasons that we don’t use the word “tranny” at NCTE is because we’ve heard too many stories of violence. We know that when someone hears that word, it often heralds the beginning of an attack. And words matter when we look at hate crimes; the language used is, in fact, part of how we determine if something is a hate crime, because words are one of the weapons used to hurt the target of the violence. Because in a hate crime, damage is done to hearts and spirits as well as to bodies-and sadly, that’s the perpetrator’s point. We hear regularly, especially over the past few weeks, from transgender people who tell us that “tranny” is a word that feels hostile and hurtful to them. We shouldn’t use words that cause pain to others, especially when the word is one that, horrifyingly, transgender people hear as they are being bludgeoned. We have to use our words differently than that.

This week, the Department of Justice brought federal hate crimes charges under the new law for the first time, against white supremists who attacked a developmentally disabled Native American man in New Mexico. Disability was one of the other new categories added to the hate crimes laws, along with gender identity. It is a reminder that violence to any of us hurts all of us.

There are many more cases that are currently in the midst of the legal and investigative processes that have to happen before charges are filed. Each of these cases makes a statement that hate crimes are intolerable and illegal.

But we also have to keep our eye on our goal-ending violence against transgender people. We do this by educating people about the realities of our lives and by asserting our human rights to express who we are and to live in safety. To make this a reality, we have to build a climate of acceptance, free of derogatory words and angry fists, and filled with respect for the differences among us.

TLGB Orgs Unite for TDOR

I’m really pleased to see this group of organizations sign on to the same statement. It’s not every day we see any kind of unity in the trans community.

New York, NY, November 19, 2010 – Today the National Center for Transgender Equality, Transgender Law Center, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, and the Trevor Project released the following statement regarding Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, 2010:

Today we stand together as one community to remember and honor the lives cut short by anti-transgender intimidation and violence including:

– Amanda González-Andujar of New York, NY
– Ashley Santiago of Puerto Rico
– Dana A. “Chanel” Larkin of Milwaukee, WI
– Angie González Oquendo of Puerto Rico
– Sandy Woulard of Chicago, IL
– Victoria Carmen of Newark, NJ
– Stacy Blahnik Lee of Philadelphia, PA

We also call on mainstream and LGBT media to give voice to transgender people and continue to share stories about the lives of transgender people who inspire understanding and acceptance.

On this day when our community remembers those stories and victims of anti-transgender violence, we are reminded about the power of insults and slurs like “tra**y.” We should not use words that cause pain to others; especially words that transgender people too often hear before they are attacked in anti-transgender hate crimes.

Instead, we urge the LGBT community to speak out for transgender people – about their lives and who they are. Transgender people continue to remain largely invisible in our culture and as a result suffer job losses, discrimination and violence. Together, we must stand united as an LGBT community and allies marching towards an America where people are accepted for who they are.

For resources about transgender issues please visit:

Not Brandon’s Nebraska

For this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, I wanted to highlight this story out of Lincoln, NE, and one aspect of it in particular.

For many, the word “transgender” calls to mind the murder of Brandon Teena in Humboldt in 1993, an incident that inspired the 1999 Academy Award-winning film Boys Don’t Cry.

Fast forward almost two decades, however, and services offered at a facility in the same city where Teena was born could have saved his life.

“If Brandon were going through today what he went through back in the early 1990s, he’d still be with us,” says Ryan Sallans, health educator at Lincoln’s Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, 2246 O St. “One of the reasons he left was lack of support in Lincoln.”

The journalist has Jamison Green on record, saying the smart things he is known to say, but honestly, folks: this is progress. This story made me so goddamn happy this year.

Brandon, to you!

Phyllis Frye Becomes Texas’ First Trans Judge

Phyllis Frye has been a long-time advocate on trans and queer issues: this is exciting news!

Phyllis Randolph Frye, longtime legal advocate for the transgender community, was sworn in this morning as the state’s first transgender judge. Frye was appointed by Houston Mayor Annise Parker as an Associate Municipal Judge. The city council unanimously approved her appointment, along with a couple dozen other appointments, with little fanfare and no dissent.

It was only 30 years ago that Frye risked arrest every time she entered City Hall. At that time the City of Houston and most American cities had ordinances criminalizing cross dressing. Frye defied the law to fight for it’s repeal, which finally happened in 1980.

It’s kind of hard to believe that it was illegal to crossdress in so many states and cities as recently as 1980, but it’s true. Making crossdressing illegal was, of course, a way to restrict and criminalize members of the LGBT communities – whether those people were butches, queens, or transgender.

CLAGS Lecture: Urvashi Vaid – Tonight

The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies invites you to the 19th annual Kessler Lecture honoring Urvashi Vaid.  Please join us for Urvashi’s lecture, What Can Brown Do For You? Race, Sexuality and the Future of LGBT Politics.

Thursday, November 18th, 6:30 pm
Proshansky Auditorium
CUNY Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York
Free but Donations are always welcome!

Post-lecture fundraiser reception at Asian American Writers Workshop 9:00pm – 11:00pm
112 W. 27th Street, Ste 600
New York, New York
$35 in advance
$25 at the door

Don’t Save Bryan Fischer’s Life

I really just want to stick this guy in a room full of FDNY firefighters and have him explain to them how saving lives is feminine.

Bryan Fischer, the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the conservative Christian group the American Family Association, was unhappy yesterday that President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to a soldier for saving lives. This, Fischer wrote on his blog, shows that the Medal of Honor has been “feminized” because “we now award it only for preventing casualties, not for inflicting them.”

The stupid just continues to spread.

A Boy’s Name?

A girl named Randi was beaten for having a boy’s name.

“They started talking about me like I was a man,” she told local news station WREG. “That I shouldn’t be in this world. And my name was a boy name.” The four girls and a boy surrounded her after a Fellowship of Christian Students meeting, and, she said, kicked her in the rib and leg, hit her in the face, sat on her, pushed her face into the floor, and threw her onto a cafeteria table.

It really makes you wonder what they’re teaching kids in a Fellowship of Christian Students. I guess they didn’t get to the “don’t beat people up” meeting yet.

When I Was a Hipster

I never thought of the label as an insult until later – maybe the 90s – when being a NYC insider somehow earned you the wrath of all the people who come to NYC in order to find/buy/live near cool. I won’t call them arrivistes, like this article does, because that’s just silly.

Both groups, meanwhile, look down on the couch-­surfing, old-clothes-wearing hipsters who seem most authentic but are also often the most socially precarious — the lower-middle-class young, moving up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital. They are the bartenders and boutique clerks who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists. Only on the basis of their cool clothes can they be “superior”: hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility.

It’s a pretty stunning observation, to my eye. Of course my hipsterism pre-dates skinny jeans and big glasses.

Macho Ears

Even the talented Scott Turner Schofield has to go to the supermarket:

and has to ask: I’m sorry, what did you just say about the commercial construction of gender? In the supermarket, you say? No!

Sleep Pretty or Hearos? Pink or blue? Really?! Wouldn’t sizes be more appropriate? Do they block out only masculine or feminine noise?

Let Them Serve Openly

Democrats, grow a pair already & get this done. These men and women want to fight for their country, and no one should bar a citizen from being able to do that. Gays and lesbians have always served: it’s up to us, as citizens, to recognize their service and the diverse life experiences it comes with. Doing anything else is – I’m gonna say it – unpatriotic.

The dog tags also remind him of a fraternity roommate at the University of West Virginia. The young officer, who had recently married, was killed in Korea.

Phillips was a graduate student studying theater when he heard the news. His student status made him exempt from the draft, but, he said, “I thought I should do something.” He enlisted in the Army over the objections of his father back home in Elkins, W.Va. Having known since he was 17 that he was gay, the 22-year-old lied on the enlistment form, just as gays and lesbians still do today.

. . .

The young =sergeant shared sandbag bunkers, tents and Quonset huts with other soldiers, but the lack of privacy “was not a problem.” He kept a photo of a “girlfriend” from college on his footlocker so no one would get suspicious. “I acted all my life,” he said of his pretense at being straight.

Only once did Phillips confide his secret, telling his company commander. “He reached over and took my hand and said, ‘It’s OK, buddy, this is between you and I.” It was a tremendous relief. He was straight, but he was understanding — there were people back then who were.”

. . .

When Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told senators earlier this year that the military’s policy on gays “forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Phillips could relate.

He recalled how when he came down with malaria in Korea, it was a black sergeant who carried him to a Jeep and took him to the hospital. The Korean War marked the first time black troops served alongside whites. For years, opponents of desegregation had argued that blacks would ruin morale and unit cohesion, a line of reasoning often heard now in the debate over gays in the military.

“If somebody’s protecting your back,” whether they are black or gay, Phillips learned in Korea, “who cares?”

More of Garrison Phillips’ story can be found here.