Kumar: Indian Drag Queen in Singapore

Kumar is an Indian drag queen who works & lives in Singapore. A documentary about hir was broadcast in 2006 that’s found its way to YouTube.

and you can see hir do a bit of stand-up that’s also in three parts

but may be harder to understand without subtitles – and as zie points out, zie talks fast, on top of the regional humor about the first family of Singapore, Malaysia, and the Chinese in Singapore, but I think the joke about rooster eggs translates okay.

Alcohol Poisoning

I’ve been drinking.

Sadly, it was a lot of the same old same old: cursory interest in parent, partner, & children. The kids were adorable. The wife was determined. The father was exhausted.

  • Multiple shots and references to surgery, instead.
  • Trans woman discovers surprising, sudden interest in men.
  • Expresses longing to be mother while wife is pregnant.
  • Voiceover talking about wife meeting her husband for the first time “as a woman” post Thailand, even though the husband had been living in female gender role for a year as per SOC.

Atypical trans documentary bits?

  • Added insult to injury for wife, while trans woman wonders – fleetingly – if she’s married her ex-girlriend if she’d have needed to transition. Fleetingly, stressed by Prince, but goddamn do wives of trans women everywhere hate her for that one. Yeah, thanks, it’s our fault you needed to transition. Do you really think we don’t wish, sometimes, that you’d married your ex-girlfriend, too?!
  • Newly female husband going up telephone pole in gear
  • ”  ”  ” mowing lawn with reference to still “wearing the pants”
  • ‘out of the mouths of babes’ testimony that natal female still does all the parenting and housework
  • bee stings lead to discovering of IS condition which justifies transition. (the years of crossdressing certainly don’t count for shit, right?)

So yeah, I’m drunk.You?

They all seem like reasonably nice people. I hate documentaries about teh trans. Hate ’em. I hate the way our lives our distilled into reverse camera angles and earnest questions across kitchen tables. I hate how the beauty of a trans woman admitting that she still sees her wife the way “he” did is degraded by the “sudden interest” in men. I hate the sad, confused, tendentious quality of trans women’s wives who are obviously overwhelmed with the whole business and still in love with their spouses.

* sigh*

Having been someone who has done shite like this, my only excuse is: it was in my contract. Not that that’s much of an excuse, but you do usually have a clause saying that you will in good faith blah blah blah consent to blah blah blah that will help sell the book. I’m not sure there’s any other reason to do these things anymore, but I hope, for Rene’s sake, & the boys’ sake, & the dad’s & Chloe’s, that this one will be forgotten when it’s Sweeps Week next year or in five years. Not because it’s bad, but because it isn’t. There are things I said and wrote at the time of My Husband Betty that embarass me now, as well as plenty that I”m still happy about. But I wrote a book, so when I”m lucky, you can see its brown spine in the LGBT section of bookstores these days. But a show like this is going to be dredged up at 3am for a few years, and every once too often, Rene and Chloe and her boys and dad will be online at the supermarket / drugstore / in the waiting room / at the doctor’s office / showing up for parent teacher night when someone they’ve never met couldn’t sleep and saw them on the TeeVee. And then, well, then is when you wish you could change your name and move to Timbuktu.

My best to all of them. Can we stop making these now?

Singapore Skips a Beat

I saw this clip about Singaporean import Dr. Thio Li-ann on Queerty, and it reminded me that a PM who recently stood up to get the homosexuality laws off the books in Singapore was not reappointed. Some in Singapore feel his not being reappointed had everything to do with his support for LGBT rights, although his support for women’s rights – AWARE is a feminist group – certainly contributed.

Interestingly, he’s also currently involved in a petition to get the residual marriage rape laws taken off the books in Singapore.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Make her viral folks: this image was created by Shepard Fairey, the same person who made that Obama image that became so important in his campaign.

The colors are so beautiful, & appropriately so.

The one thing people forget about Aung San Suu Kyi is how much a child of privilege she could have been. She was from the 1st democratic family of Burma, & could easily be living elsewhere. She could have left Buma, & more than once. Instead she’s under house arrest because she was democratically elected into office even though she has never been allowed to rule.

(via osocio.org, via Andrew Sullivan)

Trans Couples Talk

This is the text of the talk I gave at the Liberty Conference on May 2nd, 2009:

How We Love You: Let Us Count the Ways

There are partners who are male, female, and trans; there are partners who met their trans person before the trans person knew what was going on; there are partners who married crossdressers who had sworn off crossdressing who purged and then dressed and then purged and then dressed again; there are partners who met their husbands crossdressed; there are partners who met their trans person during transition; there are partners who met their trans person long after transition; there are partners who didn’t know their trans person was trans when they met.

You, the individuals who are in love, were in love, who are seeking companionship and partnership and occasionally a good spanking, are said to be like snowflakes. Flawless Mother Sabrina told me that one night at the now defunct Ina’s Silver Swan, and she was right. Each of your stories is unique, even when there are similarities; each of you realizes your transness, as I like to call it, in a different way: some crossdress, others do drag, others transition. Some do all three, and others – none of these, but you express your genders in some other way. But you have your stories, your characters in movies, even if and when they are comically or tragically or unfairly drawn, but those you love have – well, we’ve got a machete and a spot on the edge of the wood we mean to get through.

Continue reading “Trans Couples Talk”

Two Tune Tuesday: MIA & Annabella

This week maybe an odd mix, but maybe not: MIA is Tamil, Annabella’s Burmese. How often do women of southeast Asian descent show up in the pop charts?

There were so many Bow Wow Wow tracks to choose from, but I couldn’t resist this one. There’s so much about Annabella’s early appearances as BWW’s front that are – erm, problematic, as a feminist. Manipulations by svengali McLaren that got her to pose naked for a BWW album cover, naked, at age 15, among them. & Yet. & Yet: there was something about Annabelle that said something to me when I was 15 about being cool & tough & sex-positive. With a mohawk.

Get a playlist!


I’m honestly a little surprised the US news media is reporting these terrorist bombings in India, because usually, they don’t. Most Americans have no idea how many bombings have gone on there in past years; all these years we’ve been worrying, since 2001, they’ve had regular bombings with regular fatalities.

Our condolences to all the people whose lives were lost or injured by these hateful acts.

Not a Goomba*

I was just bitching on the MHB boards that nearly all the only portrayals of Italian-Americans is mafia related, and people pointed out a few others – like did you know Elaine on Seinfeld was supposed to be Catholic? Nice try, but she wasn’t. Other than Ray Romano, Fonzi and Al from Happy Days, there seems to be a real dearth of the rest of us that isn’t Sopranos-esque.

* Goomba, or goombah, is a term used to describe a stereotypical Italian-American, & in a few dictionaries, implies a connection to the mob. & Yes, it’s also the name of one of the bad guys in Super Mario.

I didn’t have any goodfellas in my own Italian family, and we’re even Sicilian / Calabrian. I tend to describe my dad as “the other kind of Italian” because he is – more Joe DiMaggio than Godfather. Mostly if it’s not mafia it’s about food, or more likely, it’s about both. But honestly, is there a culture where the food isn’t important? My Big Fat Greek Wedding got closer to my experience of being Italian-American than any of those goomba movies.

& These days, in New York, there’s about three blocks left of Little Italy; Chinatown has been encroaching for years, and Italians left the city – for everywhere. (Though the midwest could use a few more, because finding inexpensive, good Italian food in Wisconsin leaves you at Pizza Hut. ugh.) But at least now there’ll be a museum of the whole Italian-American experience, located where Little Italy used to be.

(Thanks to Nettie, Caprice, VM, & Donna, all of whom put in their two cents.)


Katha Pollitt’s recent column in The Nation, “Lipstick on a Wing Nut,” proposes that we skip all the Sarah Palin family saga & simply ask her a dozen questions instead:

  1. Suppose your 14-year-old daughter Willow is brutally raped in her bedroom by an intruder. She becomes pregnant and wants an abortion. Could you tell the parents of America why you think your child and their children should be forced by law to have their rapists’ babies?
  2. You say you don’t believe global warming is man-made. Could you tell us what scientists you’ve spoken with or read who have led you to that conclusion? What do you think the 2,500 scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are getting wrong?
  3. If you didn’t try to fire Wasilla librarian Mary Ellen Baker over her refusal to consider censoring books, why did you try to fire her?
  4. What is the European Union, and how does it function?
  5. Forty-seven million Americans lack health insurance. John Goodman, who has advised McCain on healthcare, has proposed redefining them as covered because, he says, anyone can get care at an ER. Do you agree with him?
  6. What is the function of the Federal Reserve?
  7. Cindy and John McCain say you have experience in foreign affairs because Alaska is next to Russia. When did you last speak with Prime Minister Putin, and what did you talk about?
  8. Approximately how old is the earth? Five thousand years? 10,000? 5 billion?
  9. You are a big fan of President Bush, so why didn’t you mention him even once in your convention speech?
  10. McCain says cutting earmarks and waste will make up for revenues lost by making the tax cuts permanent. Experts say that won’t wash. Balancing the Bush tax cuts plus new ones proposed by McCain would most likely mean cutting Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Which would you cut?
  11. You’re suing the federal government to have polar bears removed from the endangered species list, even as Alaska’s northern coastal ice is melting and falling into the sea. Can you explain the science behind your decision?
  12. You’ve suggested that God approves of the Iraq War and the Alaska pipeline. How do you know?

I’d really like to hear her answer these.


Our friend Lynne pointed out this interesting article from The American Scholar about the problem of elite schools. I particularly liked this section, since it’s so rare we actually talk about class in this culture:

Elite schools pride themselves on their diversity, but that diversity is almost entirely a matter of ethnicity and race. With respect to class, these schools are largely—indeed increasingly—homogeneous. Visit any elite campus in our great nation and you can thrill to the heartwarming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. At the same time, because these schools tend to cultivate liberal attitudes, they leave their students in the paradoxical position of wanting to advocate on behalf of the working class while being unable to hold a simple conversation with anyone in it.

He goes on to talk about types of smartness, the goal of liberal arts, and the uses of solitude.

Let’s Start with Seven, in Seven

In a week’s time, straight Americans will be standing up for LGBT Rights – here in New York, including Brooklyn, but also in California, Colorado, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, etc. The basic idea is that straight people will attend vigils – and other media-making events – in order to bring attention to the political issues facing LGBT Americans.

This is a damned good idea (and it’s brought to you by Atticus Circle, and Soulforce).

You can get involved by signing up here, and you can email your friends about it, too.

Healthcare Proxy Forms

A couple who’ve been together for 18 years went on vacation, on a cruise, with three of their four children. One of them had a massive stroke as their ship was about to leave port, which meant she received medical care at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, where her partner was told the couple made the mistake of being in “an anti-gay city and state” and refused to let her partner in to see her, but for five minutes, as she was dying.

She died about 18 hours later. Both women were only 39 years old.

This is what DOMA & all this other anti-gay bullshit leads to, but please queer folks, fill out your healthcare proxies. You can find NYS’s here, and here in .pdf format. If people have or find links for these forms in their state, please post them below, or send them to me via email & I can post them.

More instructions and state-specific forms below the break. Continue reading “Healthcare Proxy Forms”

Help the Burmese

Many of you know how much I loved visiting the country of Burma when I got to. Now, after the military junta cracked down on more democracy uprising, there’s been a horrible cyclone that has killed tens of thousands of people.

You can donate directly to the network of Buddhist monks who are doing a great deal of the work in these early days before a lot of international help can get there.

Do donate if you can :https://secure.avaaz.org/en/burma_cyclone/77.php


It’s as if the places I love most have been targets of natural (and unnatural) disasters these past few years. The Washington Post has a beautiful and heart-breaking collection of photos from the cyclone that just devastated Burma.

My only hope is that somehow Mother Nature just accomplished what even Buddhist monks couldn’t: Burmese exposure to the rest of the world.

There is Nothing Like a…

… No, not a dame. (Or a Dane, for those of you who saw Betty’s performance with the Butch McCloud cast).

Rather, there is nothing like a resume for making you aware of what exactly you’ve been doing with your time. There are moments, reviewing and updating mine, that I want to put things in parentheses

  • 2008: survived Wisconsin winter
  • 2002: wrote unpublished novel
  • 2001 – 2008: played Sims for sanity’s sake
  • 1993 – 1997: traveled extensively through SE Asia
  • 1991 – still: worked on novel that I still can’t seem to get right

… stuff like that. It is interesting to see things drop off as time goes by – my job with NYPIRG in the early 90s is gone, as is my time working as an office assistant at CCNY. A long time ago my jobs at RKO Video and at my sister’s bakery disappeared.

Though sometimes, you know, I still want to mention that I was a paperboy: nothing like delivering papers to develop strong thighs and self-motivation. (I know you’re out there, fellow former paperboys! & If there are any female fellow paperboys, say hello!) I did come to suck at it because I developed a healthy fear of dogs. Amazing that I still went on to canvas door to door years later. It’s amazing what you can do to avoid the 9-5 grind.

No job yet.

Goddess Worship

The Times of India ran an interesting story about a crossdressing religious tradition:

They are about to take part in the Kottankulangara Sridevi temple festival. The ancient temple in Chavara, Kerala, has a unique tradition. On the last two days of the festival, regular men, common office-going professionals, dress up as women for the chamayavilakku (chamaya is make-up, vilakku is lamp). Bedecked with flowers, lamps in hand, they wait patiently till the wee hours of dawn for the goddess to bless them.

It’s also become a gathering for “feminine men,” or Kothis – which the article identifies as homosexuals and transvestites.

(Thanks to Veronica for the link.)