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?

Brooklyn Queers Say It Gets Better

Oh, the lovely queers in Brooklyn say it gets better, too:

= makes me homesick, yes it does. I miss being in clubs full of crossdressers and drag queens, strippers, sex workers and straight guys. I really do.

This Halloween’s Gender Story

Every year there’s a Halloween gender “problem,” but now, at least, there are moms who tell other moms to “back off.”

I can’t tell you how many people sent me this story, but I know it made plenty of us cry. In the good way.

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.