MHB in the Village Voice

Tristan Taormino wrote this cool article about us in the Village Voice

I’ve also posted it in the forums section, here

Tristan’s website is PuckerUp.com

KFAI (Minneapolis) Radio Interview

For those of you in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, I’ll be interviewed on a talk show tonight on KFAI radio. The show is called “Fresh Fruit” and it focuses on the issues that arise for GLBT families. I’ll be on around 8:00 – 8:20 PM.

Tune in if you can!

1/29/04: If you have RealPlayer, you can listen to the audio here.

Entertainment Weekly

In the January 23/30 edition of Entertainment Weekly, right under the Best-Sellers list, you’ll find a box titled “Opening Acts.”

In that box appears an excerpt from My Husband Betty .

Our first national coverage!

Men in Skirts: Art & Activism

It seems someone got the big idea that men who wear skirts should all show up en masse at the “Men in Skirts” exhibit currently showing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They’re asking you all to show up either Feb 7th or 8th, to raise visibility for men’s sartorial freedom. Below is the letter I received which includes more information and websites that are promoting the event. Seems like a cool idea to me!

When tyranny rules freedom starts with taking the first step. Although the first step may seem insignificant and it may not meet all your requirements, it is necessary to achieve complete freedom We all wish we could have complete freedom of dress, however currently within our society, it is not possible for men in spite of the fact that women enjoy this freedom. I realize that we all want our freedom this very moment, however society thrives on conformity and to accomplish change from within it takes time. It took women several decades to achieve complete freedom of dress. At first they wore pants styled for women with zippers in the back and on the side. Eventually the zipper moved to the front and equality was achieved. In order for men to achieve freedom of dress we need to capitalize on their achievements and begin with the basics. On February 7 & 8, 2004 we are asking every man who desires freedom of dress to join us at the Metropolitan Museum to attend the special exhibit “Bravehearts: Men In Skirts”. During the weekend several activities are planned during which we can express our concerns and show a united front for freedom of dress for men.

We would like this event to have a first step appearance. What we mean by this is to have as many men as possible attend in skirts as men without expressing other qualities that are considered feminine by our society. In other words, before society will accept you dressed as women we have to overcome the stereotype associated with wearing a skirt. Although you may not agree with our mission statement our goal is the same, freedom of dress. Therefore it doesn’t matter if you are a crossdresser, transvestite, or post-op transsexual, our first step as well as our ultimate goal is the same, freedom.

The number of men who attend is proportional to the rate at which we achieve our individual goals. In other words if several thousand men attend society will accept this more quickly. However if only a few men attend it will take much longer to achieve our freedom. Once this initial freedom is achieved an individual can expand it to where they feel comfortable with it.

Please attend, we need your support.

Although there are several sites dedicated to this movement the following provide the most comprehensive coverage. These web sites also have links to other sites regarding these issues.

The Bravehearts’ Kilt Forum

Tom’s Cafe

10 Year Anniversary of Brandon Teena’s Death

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.

TG Teen in TX

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

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

MHB in bookstores

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.

Smaller Video

Hey all, I managed to cut the file size in half of the promo video and it seems to be streaming now, which is a good thing. So, for those who didn’t get a chance to see it (and my lovely wife) check it out!

Anna Quindlen on Jennifer Finney Boylan

Outside the Bright Lines
by Anna Quindlen
Newsweek, Aug. 11 issue

The most dispiriting moment in Jenny Boylan�s book is when she realizes that talking like a girl means sounding uncertain about your own name, like this: �Hello? I�m Jenny Boylan?�

THE FUNNIEST MOMENT is when her doctor tells her that gay men and lesbians don�t really have much in common with transsexuals. �Yeah,� Boylan replies, �except for the fact that we get beaten up by the same people.�

And one of the most telling moments in the book is when she goes to the credit union to have the name on her account changed from James Finney Boylan to Jennifer Finney Boylan. �You were named James?� the manager asks.

�I used to be a boy. Now I�m female. I had my name changed,� Boylan tells the manager.

�Huh,� she replies. �Okay, well this is simple enough. We�ll just change your name in the data field here.�

Boylan�s new book, “She�s Not There,” is a very funny memoir of growing up confused and a very smart consideration of what it means to be a woman. (Yeah, hormones make a difference.) It�s also the story of a writer and college professor who winds up married, living in Maine with two kids, all the while knowing that his true gender doesn�t match his body. It�s about becoming who you really are, which in this case meant becoming a woman.

But it is also about how good people can be. Because Boylan�s book is not about being shunned by her colleagues, losing her job, having her family ditch her. A good bit of it is merely about changing the data field. Even the woman who married Jim and wound up with Jenny responded with love, leavened with anger and pain, too. (�I want what I had,� she says at one point.) Boylan�s sons decided to call her �Maddy,� merging the titles of Mommy and Daddy. Her students still loved her��damn, girl, you look good!� one writes�and her colleagues rolled with it, the professors at Colby and the musicians with whom she plays in a bar band. (Although her friend Curly was chagrined when he asked what it was like to have breasts and she responded that the world doesn�t revolve around breasts. �I wish you could hear yourself,� he sighed sadly.) �As far as I�m concerned, you�re you, no matter what,� one friend said.

Tolerance is the rice pudding of modern behavior; it tastes sweeter than bigotry, but no one would confuse it with a parfait. What Boylan�s book represents is something deeper and more important than tolerance. The way in which people insisted on valuing her on the basis of who she was and not their confusion about what she had done represents the best of human behavior.

Doing that is hard. The old bright lines used to make things so simple. White was different from black. Male was different from female. Straight was better than gay. Gay was bad. So was sex, unless it had been sanctified by Alencon lace and a catering hall. Sanctified by God, some would say, or �natural moral law,� which is what the Vatican cited in its statement last week against gay marriage, the theological version of �because I said so.�

The God who suggested we love one another seemed strangely absent from all this. Look at the bright lines in the new movie �The Magdalene Sisters.� It�s a devastating drama based on the true story of unmarried Roman Catholic girls who got pregnant and were essentially imprisoned in Irish laundries called the Magdalene Asylums, sent there by their own parents for no crime other than sexuality. Who cares about compassion when you can have never-darken-my-doorstep certainty?

In his afterword to Boylan�s book her best friend, the writer Richard Russo, refers to a line in �The Great Gatsby�: he says his first reaction was to want �the world to be �uniform and at a sort of moral attention�.� That�s natural when the unexpected barrels around the corner. But for many years that feeling was the bedrock of a morality that was essentially immoral because it reduced human interaction to mathematics, without understanding or empathy. To have learned to think �you�re you, no matter what� about those we love and even those we don�t know has alleviated an enormous amount of unnecessary pain.

As for Jenny, she�s now the woman outside that she always felt she was within. The same salesman who tried to sell Jim a car and focused on the spark plugs tried to sell her one for $1,000 more and talked about the cup holders. She started ordering diet soda and salads, a cave to cultural stereotypes that made her nuts. She was cool about the demands her situation made on others: �If you�ve read this far in this note, it�s quite possible that you feel that the top of your head is about to blow off,� she wrote in a letter to colleagues explaining it all. One night at dinner her mother raised her glass and said, �I am so proud of my beautiful daughter.� Maybe there are those who feel she should disapprove, or hide it from her friends, or cut off contact with her own kid. After all, that�s what people did in the old days, to a pregnant daughter, to a gay son, to anyone outside the bright lines. But that�s just wrong.

Girl Talk magazine

HB & Gina LanceThere is a GREAT, full color, glossy magazines for MTF TG people that I love – called Girl Talk . It’s not a ‘support’ type magazine but rather just upbeat & positive & features great professional photos of people who look amazing. The range is CD to TS – and has features on beauty (of course), interviews (with people like Eddie Izzard), advice, etc. Basically, a ‘lifestyle’ magazine for the TG crowd.

Anyway, I highly recommend it. You can check out a preview online.

Eddie Izzard

You *have* all heard of Eddie Izzard by now, haven’t you?

He’s a comedian & actor who happens to be a transvestite, and who performs – as he did last night here in New York – in heels, skirt, & makeup. He’s done a couple of routines about being a transvestite as well – the famous one about “executive transvestites” and “weirdo transvestites” is a favorite of mine, but last night he did a whole routine based on how much superheroes & transvestites have in common:

“Both superheroes and tranvestites have to change before they help…” but then mimed a whole scene where a kid gets hurt and the tranvestite takes so long to get there (because it takes him 20 min to put on his makeup) he only arrives in time to trace the body outline with his lipliner!

He’s brilliantly funny about this stuff, a kind of comedic ambassador for transvestites everywhere!! (He’s also an incredibly talented actor, as well).

Anyway find out if he’s touring near you, and about his other adventures, at his official website, www.eddieizzard.com

and here’s the NY Times review of his show.

NYC: Trans Theatre Festival

for those of you in the NYC area, there is a trans theatre festival going on in two spaces in the east village, through Saturday, September 13th:

check here for more details:
Stages 2003