Film about Angie Zapata

A film made about the life & death of Angie Zapata is premiering this week in Denver:

This local story is told by local filmmakers. Denver company Loco Lane Filmworks, helmed by Director Alan Dominguez, created this 1-hour documentary by speaking to Angie’s family and friends as well as showing photographs of Angie. Scored by Mackenzie Gault (of Flobots fame) and featuring a song by L.A.-based band Ozomatli, the film focuses on Andrade’s life as remembered by her family as well as the trial of her killer.

It’s called Photos of Angie.

Pride Month: Honoring Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman has always been one of my heroes, and that’s despite the fact that she never quite said that famous quote attributed to her about dancing & revolution. Or rather, she didn’t say the t-shirt version. What she said was:

“At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha, a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause. I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business. I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement would not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everybody’s right to beautiful, radiant things.” Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world — prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own closest comrades I would live my beautiful ideal.”

Which doesn’t fit on a t-shirt as readily as “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” (If anyone can make a t-shirt out of what she actually said, I want one!)

It’s from her memoir Living My Life, Pt. 1, page 56. Definitely a book worth reading, and you can read it online, for free, at the Anarchist Archives.

She was, as many know, a pro-choice, family planning advocate (for which she was arrested several times) but what a lot of people don’t know is that she disagreed with the majority of leftist contemporaries in her outspoken support for LGBT people way back when. (She was also a free love advocate, which we might call poly these days.)

Lambda Literary Awards

This year’s Lambda Literary Awards Finalists have been posted. In the Transgender category:

  • 10,000 Dresses, Marcus Ewert & Rex Ray, Seven Stories Press
  • Intersex (For Lack of a Better Word), Thea Hillman, Manic D Press
  • Two Truths and a Lie, Scott Schofield, Homofactus Press
  • Boy with Flowers, Ely Shipley, Barrow Street Press
  • Transgender History, Susan Stryker, Seal Press

I highly recommend the last of these, which I’ll admit is the only one I’ve read this year, but I’m hoping to read Scott Schofield’s soonly.

In LGBT Studies, that Tomboys book is up for an award, & I hope it wins. It is the book I am most looking forward to reading now that I’m not teaching an excessive amount.

Even cooler is to see Diane and Jake Anderson-Minshall’s joint effort Blind Curves in the Lesbian Mystery category, and good luck to them!

(But I still think they need way more categories for transgender – maybe trans studies & trans memoir/other non-fiction to start, for instance. Surely there’s enough out there these days, & for years when there isn’t, they can just ignore the category.)

Soeur Emmanuelle

Here’s a woman who got a heck of a lot less press than Mother Theresa, but who, in my opinion, took the best stands on things like contraception. I’m entirely flummoxed at her descriptions of her own desire & flirtation, all of which she gave up at 21 or 23 years old = young to give up a sex life.

I am fascinated by nuns like this, who practice what they preach in terms of living with the poor and having compassion for all. Truly remarkable, as was Dorothy Day before her (though Day was never a nun).

I’m looking forward to reading her autobiography but can’t find it – not even on If anyone else does, or find the English translation, let me know. (Though I’m thinking it would probably be a good book for me to brush up my French!)

Review: Becoming Drusilla

Nettie, one of our regulars on the MHB Boards, wrote a fantastic review of this book, and I thought more people should see it.

My sister is frustrated, she tells me, because she feels as though she’s the only one struggling with somebody else’s transness. When she goes to her oracles of emotional support (Oprah and Dr Phil), their trans families are in some polished, effortless space where they can say polished, effortless things about their support for their trans relative or friend.

Imagine that: inarticulate struggle doesn’t play well on television. Not a lot of room for “hmm” and squirm and “I don’t really know”.

Now, two weeks spent walking in the rain … there’s a place for a lot of hmming and squirming and “I don’t really know”. Two weeks in which the rain is too loud on the hood of your anorak to hear the other person talk. Two weeks being with somebody, but mostly thinking and reminiscing rather than talking. It’s the antithesis of television.

Becoming Drusilla is as close to the antithesis of television as any book I’ve read. It’s a piece of travel writing, really. Travel writing and a bit of biographic exposition. Because Beard is a very open, clear and entertaining writer the result is a book which is a pleasure to read. Continue reading “Review: Becoming Drusilla

Which Side Are You On?

It IS May Day. If everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, then shouldn’t everyone be a pinko on May Day?

Here are some of my favorite lefty reads:

More as this election season teeters on.

Top Ten Trans Reads

Out Magazine recently put together a really asinine list of transgender books for their transgender issue. I haven’t seen the issue, but the list doesn’t really inspire me to go buy it, either, since Myra Breckinridge is on it.

For the past years I’ve always mixed my gender / feminism / trans books, but since that Top 10 of Out‘s is so lame, and the Lammies recently neglected Whipping Girl, which they shouldn’t have, I thought instead I should post my own Top Ten Recommended Trans Reads for LGBTQ readers. There are a few everyone might not need to read – like Virginia Erhardt’s Head Over Heels, which is about the partners of MTFs – or they might want to substitute Minnie Bruce Pratt’s S/he instead – but mostly this list gives a good “big picture” view of the trans community, including a variety of identities.

I might suggest different books for family & friends who are trying to understand transition but who aren’t big readers, & I’ll have to think about that list, too.

Of course now that I’ve written it I have to say I’d add my own books, My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married, too.

& Maybe The Drag Queens of New York as well.

  1. Butch is a Noun – S. Bear Bergman
  2. Gender Outlaw – Kate Bornstein
  3. Crossdressing, Sex & Gender – Bullough & Bullough
  4. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism – Patrick Califia
  5. Head Over Heels: Wives Who Stay with Crossdressers and Transsexuals – Virginia Erhardt
  6. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman – Leslie Feinberg
  7. Becoming a Visible Man – Jamison Green
  8. Mom, I Need to be a Girl – Just Evelyn
  9. Whipping Girl – Julia Serano
  10. Transition & BeyondReid Vanderbergh

You’ll notice none of them is a YETA (Yet Another Transsexual Autobiography), since after you read Jenny Boylan’s She’s Not There (which I assume everyone has) you don’t need to read any others, and hers is the best-written, in my opinion. You can see the list in context on my Transgender Books page, which has reviews or links to reviews and discussions of them all.

Tillie Olsen

I didn’t know she died last year. I’m feeling a bit like a door just hit me in the face. I came to know her through her work at CUNY’s Feminist Press, and it was like a revelation: a working class white woman writer, brilliant and often neglected. Her book Silences was then, & is now, a revelation.

The NYT notes, in her obituary, that when Margaret Atwood reviewed it when it came out, she said:

“It begins with an account, first drafted in 1962, of her own long, circumstantially enforced silence,” Ms. Atwood wrote. “She did not write for a very simple reason: A day has 24 hours. For 20 years she had no time, no energy and none of the money that would have bought both.”

The books she helped bring back – like Life in the Iron Mills and Daughter of Earth (Agnes Smedley’s autobiography) were some of the first reflections of where my people came from I’d ever read.

How frustrating not to have known.

Writer’s Digest

There’s an article in this month’s Writer’s Digest about “Alternative Fare” and specifically the LGBT markets in publishing, and I was interviewed for the T section.

Boyd points out that people of variant sexuality have always appeared in literature. “There is a long line of novel characters who are gender variant, from The Well of Loneliness to Orlando to Middlesex. I like to think of my work as having inherited a great deal from writers like Gertrude Stein or [Virginia] Woolf.”

The bit that was clipped was my clarification that people have always written books about being in love with someone who is gender variant, as in Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and Woolf’s Orlando.

St. Patrick’s Day

Until the AOH figure out they should let gay folks march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, I decided I’d post the biography of an Irish person who happens to be gay on St. Patrick’s Day, instead, because it’s so embarrassing to be both (a little) Irish & Catholic with these numbnuts behaving like it’s the Middle Ages.

So who better to start with than Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, the Irish writer who was the bon vivant & society wit and who was eventually imprisoned for being homosexual. His most famous works are The Ballad of Reading Gaol, The Importance of Being Earnest, and The Picture of Dorian Gray Despite his decline after jail, however, he maintained his sense of humor: just a month before his death he is quoted as saying, “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.”

Confirmed Events

I will have the extreme pleasure and honor of introducing Leslie Feinberg at the State Museum of New York in Albany, this coming February 3rd.

Betty and I will also be attending IFGE 2007, in Philly, where I’ll be presenting both my Trans Sex & Identity workshop (on Friday) and doing an additional workshop on She’s Not the Man I Married (on Saturday).

& That is in addition to my being the keynote speaker for First Event this year and doing an erotic memoir reading for Rachel Kramer Bussel here in NYC.
More to come, no doubt!


As I promised Gracie a while back, the whole issue of women & music has been chafing my ass a lot lately.

I’ve been a musichead all my life. I love music, I love bands, I love seeing live shows. I’ve been to more concerts than I can count; the list I kept when I was a teenager blows even my mind, these days, as I rarely get out to see a show anymore (since Betty isn’t big on concerts, sadly).

Moreso, I love aggro rock, & always have. I’m a punk at heart, and while I have my love of New Wave and Caberet, there’s nothing like a good garage band as far as I’m concerned. Loud, out of tune, I don’t care. Just bring it on, and with major cock attitude, too.

So I watched when Betty found a “100 Best Hard Rock Bands” show in VH-1 the other day, because I was curious about how they’d mix metal and grunge and punk and glam. I’ve never been a metalhead but I’ve had friends who are, but grunge and punk and glam – well, HELL YES.

What puzzled me not at all was that Carmen Electra was the host, even though that doesn’t make any sense at all, since she’s famous, of course, for being one of Prince’s finds, and has otherwise become a professional Pretty Face. What was weirder is that all the voiceovers – you know, the smart bits about the bands – were done by a guy. I’m sure she has talent, I just don’t know what in. Anyway, she was wearing a leather minidress and reading blandly from the teleprompter – there’s nothing quite as ridiculous as someone delivering the phrase “Rock On!” with no passion whatsoever – and I got more and more aggravated by her presence.

Because they were interviewing people like Lita Ford and Penelope Spheeris (director of the Decline of Western Civilization movies, amongst other things; in other words, a woman with real rock n roll bona fides). I couldn’t understand why Carmen as host, when there’s all these cool rock women around, and then it hit me: oh, Carmen is there for the audience. You know, the guys who like rock. You know, cause it’s only guys who like rock. You know, cause women like me don’t exist. Neither does the woman I met in St. Louis who told me every cigarette she couldn’t have caused her to turn up her Black Sabbath that much louder on her headphones.

Women in music are scantily-clad Rolling Stone covers (please notice the paucity of women on the covers, & the paucity of their clothes when they are), pretty girls in leather minidresses that can’t deliver a “Rock on!” with any conviction whatsoever. They’re the ones who sleep with the bands, with the roadies. They don’t actually know anything about music; they’re only in it for the boys.

Anyway, Carmen Electra tires me. It’s not her fault. It’s a million years of rock & roll history. No matter how many Jordans, or Poly Styrenes, or Chrissie Hyndes or Wendy O. Williamses or Joan Jetts, aggro rock will always be the domain of the boys. And you know, FUCK THAT.

A Queer Sunday

Reading John Waters’ article about Tennesee Williams – and in The New York Times Book Review, no less! – was a treat. I love them both, for being queer, for their art, for their humor and sarcasm and truth.

These are my people, and always have been.

But it made me think about the books I had to “steal” as a kid, or read secretly. For me, it was Joe Orton’s biography, Prick Up Your Ears, first and foremost. I heard about him reading interviews with Adam Ant, who simultaneously introduced me to Marc Bolan, the erotic art of Allen Jones, Derek Jarman, and Tom of Finland. Around the same time I discovered Soft Cell and Marc Almond, who in turn turned my head toward the likes of Jacques Brel and Jean Genet. (And I wonder why I turned out the way I am, reading about rough trade and anonymous bathroom sex when I was 15.)

They were all great “bad” influences, their books and art I hid from my mother. They told me there was another world out there, just as Tennesee Williams told John Waters there was.

So who were yours?

Paris Review?!

Oh, the sobbing and wailing and gnashing of teeth! Literary hoaxsters awash on The Strand… except that that’s not the way it goes, is it? Instead, James Frey gets more time on Oprah and wait, is that Laura Albert on the cover of Paris Review? Oh, it is! It is!

You want queer memoirists, real ones? Here’s a short list, literary world. I can pretty much guarandamntee that none of these books got the publicity they should have while you were frothing about JT LeRoy (the person Laura Albert pretended to be).

There’s Max Wolf Valerio’s memoir of transition, The Testosterone Files, and Jamison Green’s Becoming a Visible Man, and Matt Kailey’s Just Add Hormones. S. Bear Bergman’s Butch is a Noun is a great memoir of life in the butch lane.

There’s life as a queer girl from Michelle Tea in Rent Girl, Alison Smith’s Name All the Animals, and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

Then there’s just about anything by Patrick Califia.

Shoot, you want MTF memoirs? Take She’s Not There, or, for the more sexual side of things, Richard Novic’s tale of his part-time life as a woman, Alice in Genderland.

(Oh, right. There’s me, too.)