Five Questions With… Mariette Pathy Allen

Mariette Pathy Allen is the award-winning photographer and author of the books Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them and The Gender Frontier. She has been photographing the trans community for 25 years now, and is unofficially referred to as the “official photographer of the transgendered.”mariette pathy allen Transformations was personally an important book for me (the only one about CDs that included wives’ words) and The Gender Frontier won this year’s Lambda Lit Award in the Transgender category, and she also took the cover photo of Jamison Green’s Becoming a Visible Man (which was a Lammy finalist as well). We had the great pleasure of being photographed by her last year at Fantasia Fair, and it was lovely to get to “catch up” with her. Her most recent news, which came down the pike after this interview took place, is that she will soon be the proud grandmother of twins!
< I took this photo of Mariette Pathy Allen with her camera at the 2004 IFGE Conference. And yes, that is Virginia Prince in the background.
1. You won the Lambda Literary Award for best TG book this year – how does that feel?
I wasn’t expecting to win-in fact, I thought I had it all figured out: the odds were so unlikely that I didn’t even have a speech ready. When I heard “The Gender Frontier” announced as the winner, I thought I would faint! Getting to the stage seemed to take forever: I was in the middle of the row, near the back of the auditorium. When I finally got to the stage, I realized that I was thrilled, and that this was as close to getting an Academy Award as I am likely to get!
Last year, Bailey’s book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen” was a finalist. It caused a furor among tg activists, and controversy at Lambda, finally leading to its removal from the list. This year, the selection of books in the transgender/genderqueer category was excellent-any one of the five deserved to win, and there was no drama.
I had the feeling that most of the audience had no idea what “The Gender Frontier” was about and that this was the time to tell them. I mentioned that it was a long time in the making because it chronicled events and people over the past decade, that my intention was to represent the range and variety of people who need to live fulltime as the gender in which they identify. and that the book divides into sections on youth, political activism, portraits, and stories. I can’t remember what else I said, but I know my last word was “gender variant”, and I hope the audience understood.
Out of all the LGBT prizes offered, it is odd that there’s only one for the “transgender/genderqueer” category. We have illustrated books, memoires, essay collections, science, and science fiction, enough books to be included in the range of GLB awards, or to add to our own category. I think we need at least three categories next year: “transgender/genderqueer fiction, non-fiction, and illustrated books”.

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Five Questions With… Rosalyne Blumenstein

Rosalyne Blumenstein is the formerRosalyne Blumenstein directer of the Gender Identity Project at the GLBT Center in Manhattan, and is the author of Branded T.
1. You emphasize the non-inclusion of bisexual and transpeople in your book Branded T by writing it “GLbt.” Do you think this still holds true – are bisexuals and Ts still left out of the majority of “gay activism”?
I currently live in LA. In June they have their Pride Weekend. It is called Gay Pride, need I say more? …Well I will anyway.
I think we have gone backwards just like the larger system. I believe there to be a parallel process going on with the way in which government is running things and the way in which our social movements are following. Here’s the deal and my swing on it. (Not that I know anything… opinions are like assholes – everyone has one, well mostly everyone has one).
Again this is only my opinion.
I believe everyone should be able to live they way they want, experience some semblance of freedom, love, be loved, feel fulfilled, dream, and be on a journey. However, within the gay agenda it is all about mimicking a Christian heterosexist mentality. Mind you, take this apart there is nothing wrong with Christian…having a certain belief system and having faith which is grand and extremely helpful in life…
And as far as Heterosexuality is concerned, there is nothing wrong with someone who identifies as male loving someone who identifies as female. I for one would love to be in another relationship with a man. Right now I would love to be in a relationship with someone breathing let alone what damn gender they identify as.
But from my understanding of a sexual minority movement it‘s about many different kinds of loves, not just the sanctity of marriage. It’s about not buying into just the white picket fence and the 2.3 kids.
So the Gay Agenda has become about wanting the same things everybody else wants which is not a bad thing but is not the voice of the whole queer movement. In fact most voices that are silenced within the movement are those

  • that are either getting their ass kicked on the streets because they don’t blend
  • or those with little power within the political system
  • or those that care less about identity politics, they just want to be, live, have great sex, explore, be.

So the gay agenda doesn’t give voice to all concerned. Well maybe these groupings get some quality TV time during Pride since that is what media wants to show and that is what the larger gay movement does want to be viewed as. I think it is all about oppression and many times the oppressed (gay community) become the oppressors (the rest of us that don’t identify as gay).
So in answer to your question my dear I think B and T folk within the gay movement have the opportunity to participate within the movement but in the larger scheme of things and what is portrayed to the Universe is Gay= LGBT.
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Five Questions With… Damian McNicholl

Damian McNicholl is the author of the Lambda finalist A Son Called Gabriel, who I met at a Lammy reading here in NYC. He’s from Northern Ireland, and Gabriel is about a young man growing up in a Catholic community in Northern Ireland. McNicholl’s blog can be found at, and A Son Called Gabriel is in bookstores, and available, of course, through
1) Considering all the scandals here in the US considering priests and pedophilia, how have people responded to your novel?
First Helen, thank you for the opportunity to visit your site and answer your questions.
While the scene where Father Cornelius seduces Gabriel amounts to only one scene in A SON CALLED GABRIEL, nevertheless, its inclusion was something I wondered about because the scandal involving the church had broken and was gaining momentum. I wondered if it would cause anger among the American-Irish community, particularly among those who are fervent practitioners of their Catholic faith. But any reservations I had about including the scene did not last long because, within me, deep within, I knew I had to remain true to Gabriel, and his story, and the truth in this regard had to be presented. The truth is that in real life some priests have taken advantage of young girls and boys. It has happened in the United States. It has happened in Ireland. It has happened throughout the world. And, of course, I did have a counterbalance to reflect how things are in life because not all the priests are warped: Gabriel’s headmaster at the grammar school is strict but proper, and the parish curate is a very kindly man who’s very much in touch with the needs of his parishioners.
And I am very happy to report that my readers are sophisticated enough to realize these terrible crimes have been perpetrated by renegade, if not evil, priests, and those who have commented or asked about it have done so positively. Indeed, I’ve had more questions from readers about the issue of bullying that’s also covered in the novel, as well as the isolation a young person endures growing up gay in a very conservative community.
And, to be absolutely honest, I really didn’t care about what anyone conservative would say or think about my work after they’d read it. I didn’t, because I was pretty sure no conservative person would read the novel. I mean, let’s face it; conservative people are not interested in reading or learning about or dealing with truths like this because it simply does not conform to their views of the real world.
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Five Questions With… Loren Krywanczyk

Loren KrywanczykLoren Krywanczyk is an undergraduate at Yale where he first organized Trans Issues Week in 2004, as a sophomore. The 2nd Annual Trans Issues Week took place in 2005, and Krywanczyk is currently planning the 3rd in the series.
< Loren (left) with his partner Vera
1) What encouraged you to start Trans Issues week at Yale?
I founded Trans Issues Week through my capacity as Special Events Coordinator of the Yale Women’s Center my sophomore year, a job that entailed putting together a speaker series during the spring semester. I was at the time purely woman-identified, and yet for some reason which I am still not entirely sure of I decided that it would be a good idea to devote the week to an exploration of intersections and tensions between feminism and trans/gender issues. I met with Jonathan D. Katz of the Larry Kramer Initiative for some direction in potential speakers, since I had very little knowledge of trans/gender issues or theory, let alone key visible figures in the field. Through contacting speakers and getting closer with the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Yale, I received a one-month crash course in gender while throwing together what became the first annual Trans Issues Week at Yale. The week itself inspired me personally as well as academically, and shortly after the series my sophomore year I began incorporating genderqueerness and fludity into my own everyday life and intellectual pursuits. I guess you could say that a personal interest and activist/education-buildling initiative sparked my organization of the series, but even so I don’t know exactly where that personal interest stemmed from at the time.
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Five Questions With… Interview with Jamison Green

Jamison Green is the author of Becoming A Visible Manjamison green (Vanderbilt U. Press, 2004), which won the CLAGS’ Sylvia Rivera Book Award and was a Lambda Literary Finalist. He writes a monthly column for PlanetOut, and is a trans-activist of unmatched credibility. He is board chair of Gender Advocacy and Education, a board member for the Transgender Law and Policy Institute and the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, and served as the head of FTM International for most of the 1990s*. He is referred to in many other books about trans issues, including Patrick Califia’s Sex Changes, Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein, and Body Alchemy by Loren Cameron.
1. Betty and I often repeat your “there is no right way to be trans” idea, and I was wondering if any one thing contributed to you believing that.
I guess you could boil it down to the desire not to invalidate other people, but that desire has been informed by exposure to a wide variety of transgender and transsexual individuals of many ages, from many cultures, and many walks of life. Some people take it upon themselves to judge other trans people, to say “You’ll never make it as a man” or “as a woman,” or “you’re not trans enough,” “radical enough,” “queer enough,” whatever the case is. But I’ve known people who were told those things who went on to have successful transitions and generally satisfying lives, though they often felt burned enough by “the community” to stay away from it. I think it’s a shame that people cut themselves and/or others off from the potential for community, and I think that if we all truly believed there was room for everyone and we could learn to truly appreciate other’s differences and each person’s intrinsic value as a human being –and if we worked to make that a reality– then we, as collective trans people, might really make a positive difference in the world.
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Five Questions With… Alice Novic

alice novic, richard novicAlice (Richard) Novic is the author of Girl Talk magazine’s “Go Ask Alice” column and also the author of the newly-published Alice in Genderland, a modern (readable!) memoir by a crossdresser. Dr. Richard Novic, Alice’s male self, is a psychiatrist who lives with his wife in the LA area, and his femme self, Alice, has a steady boyfriend.
1) How did being a psychiatrist aid/hinder your self-acceptance?
Well, Helen, I’d have to say it’s good to be a crossdresser and a psychiatrist. As I trained in psychiatry, I came across more people and ideas than I ever would have encountered on my own. That perspective gave me the confidence to shrug off all the conventional negativity about crossdressing, and instead see it as an exuberant and healthy part of human diversity.
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Five Questions With… Gwen Smith

gwen smithGwen Smith, Transmissions columnist and originator of the Remembering Our Dead project, answers five questions. Thanks, Gwen, for being willing.
1) Since you’re famous for having created the TG Day of Remembrance, what do you think is the best thing to come out of this holiday?
When I began the Remembering Our Dead Project, out of which the Transgender Day of Remembrance was born, I did it with the full knowledge that I was but one voice crying out in what seemed to be a wilderness.
I’ve long been pleasantly surprised to have been proven wrong about that, and to see the event has become as big as it has. Last year there were 212 events that I know of. There was an event in the small town I live in, that I had no direct hand in: it sprung up on its own. I simply never expected it to grow like it has.
As such, I’d have to say that the best thing to come out of this is a moment where we are all together, showing our strength, and that our community can truly be as one.
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