Tonight Betty and I did a presentation on trans/GLBT issues for an emerging lefty think-tank. It was formed just after the last presidential election, formed out of frustration, anger, and a sense of outrage – not just at who won, but at how the right had stolen words like “morality” (by which they really mean heteronormativity), “family” (again, only heteronormativite families need apply) and “family values” (when they meant, keep those freaks out of my neighborhood).
A lot of the conversation was just trans 101, which Betty and I rushed into and interrupted each other and circled around and back and forth. (The poor guy keeping notes gave up at some point, I think.) We got some of the basic points across, and of course the group got to meet Betty – not your average tranny, but who is?
One of the pertinent questions asked – and this is a smart group – was Where are the Surveys? Where’s the equivalent of the Kinsey Report on trans stuff? and, in a more tactical sense, How many are you, and how do we count you?
There weren’t any good answers for these good questions. Aside from Lynn Conway’s numbers on the prevalance of transsexualism, which doesn’t include crossdressers or drag kings or any of the rest of the gender-variant community, I don’t have any. How many of us are there? More importantly, how many of us are there who will stand up and be counted? What are our issues? Who will lead us? Who are our allies, and to what other (non-trans) causes can we lend our weight?
These are only some of the questions currently being discussed on the message boards, of which I’m very proud.
Come join the dialogue.

Ladies' Room?

There are many meaningful things said about the gender divide vis a vis bathrooms, but I didn’t expect to be blogging about it. Still, a couple of recent articles – one in The New York Times, and the other in The NY Post – have brought up all the usual issues and complaints.
If we allow crossdressed men to go into a ladies room, the end of civilization is upon us. Pedophilia will occur at mind-boggling rates. Women will no longer feel safe.

    A few things have occurred to me.
    1) The reason women already go to the bathroom in pairs (other than a chance to gossip) is safety. So it’s apparent they already don’t feel safe going alone to the ladies’ room, trannies or not.
    2) One of our loyal bloggers actually did some research on the incidence of men crossdressing in order to assault children in bathrooms, and after an evening of making himself heartsick with horrible stories, found only one incidence – which turned out, after all, to be a mistake.
    3) It strikes me that the easy answer to this problem is to legislate that new buildings need to include one single-occupancy bathroom. Period. So that the transperson, or woman-raised-female, or child-and-parent (fathers take their kids to the bathroom, too) can use a room that is lockable and private. Other buildings could be required over a period of time to retrofit their own bathrooms for similar use.
    4) I wonder often at the people who spew such fear and hatred of strangers, or the unknown. I wonder how they ever feel safe in their worlds.
    5) The first time I shared a ladies’ room with a drag queen the only thing that upset me was that she’d remembered to stop at a mirror to freshen her lipstick and I hadn’t.

Not to make light of the situation: women are vulnerable to unprotected spaces, and getting stuck behind a locked door. But I don’t think crossdressers are the men who are going to be assaulting them, and I don’t think the average sex assailant would be willing to emasculate himself to that degree in order to assault women. Transpeople are usually just as scared as women are of assault from men.
Since stalls create the privacy, why aren’t ladies’ room doors transparent? I don’t have a problem with someone watching me put on lipstick or make sure there’s no toilet paper stuck on my shoe (and maybe the clear doors would shame more people into washing their hands – like they’re supposed to). Extra eyes help cut down on violence.
So the real issue is: why don’t women feel safe in restrooms?
My guess is that it’s because we don’t take crimes against women seriously enough – no matter who perpetrates them. They say you can judge a society by how well it treats its women and children, and by those standards, we’re not getting a passing grade. ABC reports an increase in child abuse that’s ‘epidemic’ and the stats on violence against women stay the same year after year. If women don’t feel safe in their own homes, why on earth would they feel safe in a public bathroom? And while you might say these are two different issues, the late Andrea Dworkin said:

By the time we are women, fear is as familiar to us as air; it is our element. We live in it, we inhale it, we exhale it, and most of the time we do not even notice it. Instead of “I am afraid,” we say, “I don’t want to,” or “I don’t know how,” or “I can’t.”

So why are women afraid of transfolks in restrooms? Because women are afraid. While they may not understand that transpeople are not the ones who will assault them, they don’t expect their boyfriends and husbands to assault them, either. And they do. They do. And as usual, what can be feared (because it is unknown, sometimes unknowable, and new) will be feared instead. Their fear is legitimate. Transpeople’s need for accomodation is legitimate. But once again, we’ve got this tiny sliver of pie, and no one’s getting enough to eat. The issue again is male violence – male violence against gay men, transpeople, and women. When we all realize that we’re in this together, maybe, maybe, we’ll take back the night.
Resources: The NY Post and NY Times articles can be found on the MHB Boards, and there’s some sensible legal consideration given to the issue by Michael C. Dore of


This may seem obvious to the rest of you, but I’ve had a major revelation tonight.
I’ve been reading Judith Halberstam’s Female Masculinity – just started it, in fact – and I’ve been looking forward to reading it since I was given it – so much so I hurried through the end of another book (yes, about gender too) I’d been reading.
And then I came to this, on page 28:
Because female masculinity seems to be at its most threatening when coupled with lesbian desire, in this book I concentrate on queer female masculinity almost to the exclusion of heterosexual female masculinity.
My enthusiasm dropped like a lead balloon, then, but I read on:
I have no doubt that heterosexual female masculinity menaces gender conformity in its own way, but all too often it represents an acceptable degree of female masculinity as compared to the excessive masculinity of the dyke.
And there you go: not only is she not talking about masculinity in heterosexual women, but she managed to get a dig in about how “acceptable” my masculinity is. (Tell that to all the boys who wouldn’t date me, and all the kids who called me dyke over the years, Prof. Halberstam!) So not only did I not find validation, but found its opposite.
I’m sure for a lot of you, finding stuff about drag queens (or even crossdresser erotica that ends with the CD being sexual with a man, or the stories about how most MTF transsexuals end up dating/marrying men, etc) had the same effect, the same kind of let-down, the hope of finally reading something about yourself only to find, in fact, the author is precisely not talking about you.
What I realized is that in some ways, this is my connection to crossdressers: of being gender variant in a heterosexual context. In fact, one young TG just came on our boards trying to figure out where to meet girls who might like his gender mix; I spent most of my teens and early 20s trying to find a guy who liked women who weren’t models of prototypical femininity, and let’s just say: I found a lot of friends, and not a lot of dates. (I did get asked out by women an awful lot, though.)
Although I probably knew this at some level before now, the actual experience of opening this book with expectation – that I might learn something about who I am and how I fit in – came to an abrupt and unsatisfying halt: oh cool this is about – well maybe it is – no she doesn’t seem to be – oh, it’s not about me at all… like the judges on The Muppet Show.
After writing damn in the margin, I kept reading, and found out that the clitoris was officially discovered in 1559 when two Italian anatomists . . . gave the organ a name and ascribed it a function (p. 60). So far, aside from the academic writing style (which makes me want to take out a red pen) it’s chock full of goodies like that one, despite the fact that I won’t find any answers to my own questions in it.
In solidarity,


Where to begin? What a day, what a conference! The TIC conference (which stands for “Translating Identity” and is pronounced tick) in Burlington, VT was probably the single best conference Betty and I have attended. Aside from the fact that it’s FREE, the workshops were informative and covered a huge range of issues – from intersex activism to partners’ issues to “not feeling trans enough.” They addressed both real world concerns and theory, and the presenters were all inspired, educated, and well-spoken.
Eli Clare did the plenary session on the idea of “translating identity.” Eli is a really engaged person – he speaks about his twin identities as a disabled person and transman as if there were no shame in the world. Aside from being so pleased that he came to my roundtable at the Women’s Center the previous day, I found conversations with him enlightening and funny. He asked hard questions about trans-people and intersex outreach in an intersex forum I went to later in the day, too.
My biggest surprise of the day – which hopefully didn’t show – was that when I walked into the room where I was going to give my “trans-sex and identity” workshop, I discovered a LECTURE HALL full of people: partners, transfolks, allies. TIC tech were on hand to find me a mike, since this is a workshop I usually give to a small group of 15-30 people, and it’s usually interactive. So I had to think on my feet; I had an hour and a half, and normally I ask the group to participate, but with a group that big – that wasn’t a possibility. Luckily I had some friendly faces down front: aside from Betty and David, Myrna and Kyrie (p. 46 of MHB) came down from Montreal, and Cindy – a partner in a yahoo group I belong to – were also there.
I am continually amazed that I can speak to people. It’s like someone else is channeling through me, to be honest. I’m normally so shy – shoot, I used to sit in the back of my graduate classes! – but now I find myself talking without shame about strapping it on in front of a lecture hall full of strangers. Granted, I’ve always liked talking about sex, and since I’ve met Tristan Taormino, the rest of my hesitancy has fallen away. Betty – who is one of the most private people I know – has also come to enjoy and celebrate my being able to talk about these things, and that is indeed a gift. For those of you who are often in audiences, please know that those of you who nod and smile are the single best encouragement a speaker could get.
I explained a little what I was doing there, why I wrote My Husband Betty, and about what our road has been like in exploring our sexuality. When I said, “sometimes trans-people seem to be more gender-constructed than the rest of us,” instead of the usual deer-in-headlights looks, I got a lot of nods. It was a great group to talk to; I felt like I was home. (How and Why Betty and I feel so comfortable in younger groups of transmen and their (mostly) lesbian partners could be the subject of a whole other essay.)
On top of everything else, I sold every book I brought with me, even selling the one I’d intended to give to Leslie Feinberg!
After that, TIC provided a $5 lunch that was delicious. Nothing elaborate – just sandwiches and salads -but it was all very good – and very cheap. Much better than the rubber chicken we have to pay $20 for, usually.
After lunch, I went to a workshop on Intersex issues by IS/TS activist Raven Kaldera. His story is full of pain but also of redemption; his spiritual center is nearly visible. I was touched when he explained that he felt he has to be doing what he’s doing – that it’s his job, according to “the goddess that owns my ass,” as he put it. He really helped clarify, too, the intersections of Intersex and Transness, since he was raised as a girl and identifies as both. When Eli Clare mentioned that as a TS activist he is often asked about IS issues, Raven clarified that as long as TS educators are clear about the different issues and provide accurate information, he’s happy to have us do it, too – since there are not so many IS activists – not enough to go around.
The last workshop slot of the day I was presenting a partners’ caucus with the partner of an FTM named Jill Barkley. Jill is a short-haired, high-heel wearing dyke, and I loved her energy and her concern. She, like me, is tired of the partners’ lists being full of “perpetual cheerleading” and we both wanted to provide a space where partners could talk about how hard this life is sometimes. From the girlfriend who was dying to know what her trans boyfriend’s female name was, to the wife of a CD who was frustrated by the lack of male sexual energy, to the story a partner told about being asked what her partner’s name was (“Steven,” she said, and her questioner said, “but I thought you were a lesbian?” To which she replied, “I am.”), the stories of partners should be required hearing for anyone who is trans. Betty suggested that in some ways, even the language we use is defeating us, and that maybe if the transfolks themselves identified as partners first, and trans second, that our relationships would not always seem to be an afterthought for the transperson.
Alas, we didn’t have enough time, though we did manage to make a list of “issues” and “solutions” that I hope to post here. (To the TIC committee: we want a double session next year!)
Next we were all off to hear the closing remarks, given by the one and only Leslie Feinberg. Wow. I read Stone Butch Blues a long time ago, and I knew Leslie was a powerhouse, but hir speech blew everyone away. At one point, ze asked the 700+ of us in the chapel to shout out our identities: “trans,” “boi,” “femme,” “queer,” “ally” – even “republican” – there must have been a few dozen called out. And then Leslie asked us all to applaud our identities. It was a moving moment.
But hir speech – I’m going to see if I can get a copy – was astounding, drawing parallels with the Women’s Movement, abolition, and social justice movements everywhere. He told a story about how Frederick Douglass was gender- and trans-baited when he stood up for the right of women to vote, having his own gender questioned, and how he stood up to them and affirmed that he was a “woman’s movement man.” Somehow – especially for a mostly younger crowd – Leslie knew exactly how to make all of us feel not so alone, not so brand-new, not so much like we were reinventing the wheel.
Afterwards, Betty and I watched for a while as person after person went up to Leslie tongue-tied and twitterpated. Leslie – aside from being one snappy dresser – is a warm, sympathetic, direct person. As soon as I introduced myself ze apologized for being on the road when I sent hir a copy of MHB (which I didn’t expect ze’d even remember). Ze also apologized for assuming Betty still identified as a CD. It’s that kind of human connection that was so apparent about hir all night, from when we were ordering pizza with the TIC committee later, to hir being in pictures with MTF trannies that were nearly double hir height.
To be honest, I knew I was in the presence of greatness – so humble, so intelligent, so caring. And – good news for the rest of us! – ze just finished hir new novel!
And of course, I have to say too that flirting with transmen is way too much fun. Samuel (who we’d met the day before) had just shaved his head, so I asked if anyone had licked it yet. He said no, and invited me to be the first, so I did. Believe me, I didn’t hold a cigarette for longer than a second before I had a transman with a light a foot away. They really are the coolest guys ever.
Finally – yes, there was more! – our own NYC drag king (Mil)Dred did a great performance. We’d seen Dred before, so took seats at the back, but there was tons of hooting and hollering. Mildred is a powerful force on stage, slipping between genders with a pair of shoes.
TICAnd finally – exhausted and happy – we went back to our hotel and slept.
Thank you to the TIC committee, to Tim Shiner, David Houston, Leslie Feinberg, Jill Barkley, and to all the others who welcomed us and who thanked us for our work. I have never felt such a strong sense of community, inclusiveness, and joy – despite all the shared suffering.
< Here’s a picture of us with CDOD veterans Gary/Kyrie and Myrna.

Third Gender (Muxe) in Mexico
The Third Gender
Photo by Julie Pecheur
In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, some children are born neither boys nor girls.They are muxe.
Under the still fiery rays of the late afternoon sun, two dozen ox-carts decorated with flowers, palms, and multicolored banners parade down the center of Juchit�n. The convite, the traditional procession announcing a special mass, brings together the whole neighborhood. In one cart, sit erect dignified old men
in white shirts and straw hats; in another, motionless boys in blue shiny costumes with their palms joined in prayer; and in a third one, little made-up girls in regional embroidered dresses throw plastic cups and plates as gifts to the enthusiastic crowd.
As the procession moves forward, standing on the upper part of another cart, two children energetically ward off the branches of the surrounding trees to protect the cart�s adornments. They are about 12 years old, with narrow bodies and loose hair down to their round naked shoulders. One wears a pair of blue jeans and a short white top that reveals a flat belly and no waist. They both look like boys, but they could be mistaken for girls. Here in Juchit�n, on the pacific
coast of the Tehuantepec Isthmus, Mexico�s narrowest land near Guatemala, they are neither girls nor boys. They are muxe (pronounced Mooshey).
In striking opposition to Mexico�s dominant mestizo culture, which is racially mixed and where machismo prevails, the population of Juchit�n is predominantly
Zapotec and does not condemn or reject effeminate male homosexuals. On the contrary. Here muxe (the word comes from the Zapotec adaptation of the Spanish word for woman, mujer) are generally regarded as part and parcel of society, a third element or gender, combining the assets of both the female and male, and sometimes equipped with special intellectual and artistic gifts.
No one knows how many muxe live in this city of 80,000. Around the shaded plaza at the center of town near the market, one often spots them: slightly
effeminate older men, young transvestites (vestidas), and men dressed in shirt and trousers but wearing make-up (pintadas). The majority of the muxe live in
the two popular neighborhoods where most fishermen and peasants reside. Those in the upper classes however, still tend to stay en closet, in the closet.
�In Juchit�n, nearly all families have a great-uncle, a son, or a bother who is a muxe,� says Adolfina Pineda Esteva, a 47 year-old primary school teacher
whose younger brother, now known as Am�rica, is a muxe. �Not all parents accept them, but they are not rejected,� she explains while her husband Andr�s nods in agreement. �They have their space in the society. They teach dance, sew, head beauty salons, make adornments� Muxe are very active and creative.�
�Here one is born a muxe. One does not become one,� says Ulises Toledo Santiago, a thirty-year-old muxe, echoing the general opinion. Ulises, who dresses as a man but whose face expressions and voice are somewhat
effeminate, has a license in law and works for the city family planning agency. In an article published in 1995, anthropologist Beverly Chi�as confirms that: �The idea of choosing gender or of sexual orientation�the two of which are not distinguished by the Isthmus Zapotecs�is as ludicrous as suggesting that one can choose one�s skin color.�
Much to the annoyance of the 16th century Spanish conquerors, male homosexuality was widespread and tolerated in many North American indigenous societies, such as the Isthmus Zapotecs and the Yucatan Mayas. The Spaniards highly valued �manliness� and �assertive� behavior and placed a stigma on
�submissive� attitudes. Their chronicles never failed to mention the Indians� �corrupt� behavior, which they labeled as �sodomy� after the biblical town of Sodom, destroyed by God because of the sinful mores of its inhabitants. While systematically destroying all statues and frescoes representing male-male sexual
encounters, the Spaniards found in the natives� different approach to sexuality yet another theological justification to annihilate their culture and convert them to Catholicism.
The people of the Isthmus however have always fiercely defended their identity against conquering powers, whether Aztec, Spanish, or later French. Nowadays in
the region, contrary to the national mestizo pattern where men prevail in every strata of the society, women have more outlets for social participation and
enjoy the resulting powers. Typically, Juchitecan men work the fields and go fishing, participate in politics, and shape intellectual and artistic life. Women, on the other hand, do the housework, but also organize the fiestas and take part in various important commercial activities. In Juchit�n for instance, they control the vital daily market, reigning over piles of mangos and dried fish, their full-size bodies wrapped in long black skirts and huipiles, the short dark traditional blouses embroidered with large bright flowers.
Juchitecan women thus enjoy unusual financial autonomy and prestige, which has led many observers, chiefly foreigners, to mistakenly define Juchit�n as a
matriarchal society, a designation which overlooks the male equally crucial, and sometimes domineering, roles. Nevertheless, women and female activities are
not considered secondary, which may partly explain why muxe, who assume effeminate manners and participate in both female and male economic activities, are usually not discriminated against.
When a son prefers dolls to pistols, female cousins to male ones, and dresses to trousers, many mothers rejoice, even if the majority of fathers merely resign
themselves. For women, raising a muxe implies that strong arms will take care of their house while they go out to work and that someone will look after them
as they grow older. (Men have a tendency to prefer younger women and leave the household, even in Juchit�n.) �Parents with a muxe know that he will
always take care of them because he will never get married and leave the house,� says Ulises, who lives with his mother. �Our society is very tolerant because the muxe work hard and support their families.�
Traditionally, muxe are expected to cook, clean, look after the children, take care of the elders, and bring home an additional income. In recent years, muxe, like women, have started to gain access to higher education and careers such as lawyers and doctors.
Moreover, they play a key role in preparing the countless fiestas, essential to the identity of the community. This is not a light task: Juchit�n celebrates at least 20 in-town velas, the round of parties in honor of patron saints or particular events. During virtually the entire month of May, for instance, the streets are filled with parades, music, and flowers. Then, there are 20 or so obligatory national holidays, about 30 unmissable velas in neighborhood communities, plus the frequent weddings, birthdays, graduations. For all these celebrations, muxe design, embroider and sew traditional female outfits, make garlands and paper chains, fix hairstyles and make-up, and set family and church altars.
Less visible however, is the sexual role the muxe play in the Juchitecan society. Although classical heterosexual rigid classifications hardly hold when it comes to homosexual preferences, it is generally true that muxe don�t have sexual relations with other muxe. They see themselves as women and want men. And the men they sleep with, called mayate, are not considered homosexuals because they play the �active� part. �Because a woman�s virginity before marriage is still very important in our society, many young boys are initiated by the muxe,� says Yudith L�pez Saynes, the director of Gunaxhii Guendanabani, an association dedicated to AIDS prevention. �It is widely accepted, but with AIDS now, people are more cautious.� Andr�s L�pez, a thirty-year old pintada nurse who heads a medical service, explains laughing, �You go in the street and the boys play tough with their friends, but then they flirt with you.� His friend Felina
Santiago Vadivieso, a 36-year-old fake blond muxe who heads a beauty salon, confirms that younger boys keep on asking her advice on how to please their
girlfriends. She prefers older men however, although she can�t kiss them or hold their hands in the street. �A lot of Juchitecan men marry women from other towns like Puebla. They are very conservative and more homophobic,� she explains, before adding in a laugh: �But their sons get caught in the local movement, and their husbands never leave it!�
For almost thirty years, muxe have had their own velas in Juchit�n. Ulises for instance, organizes his club�s December 28th vela, baile con migo, or Dance With Me. The first muxe vela, the vela de las aut�nticas intrepidas buscadoras del peligro, or the vela of the Authentic Intrepids in Search of Danger, took place in
1976. The organizer, Oscar Cazorla Pineda, a fifty-four-year old muxe, is the owner of a famous dance hall in the center of Juchit�n and the leader of the Intrepidas club. With large features and figure but feminine movements, he is also a successful and respected businessmuxe, who sells the traditional and
ubiquitous gold jewelry, which he himself puts on to party.
Each year in November, after a special catholic mass held in its honor, the Intrepids� vela gathers all the city�s muxe along with fifteen hundred men,
women�grandparents and young adults�and children. The blast, which now gets national attention, requires a full year of preparation and costs around $10,000
dollars. Oscar and the Intrepidas cover some of the expenses, but most are now paid by others, including the town�s elected officials. In fact, the Intrepidas are partisans of the PRI, the political party in power in Juchit�n, and they regularly participate in political meetings and demonstrations. Conversely, during the vela, it is the city officeholder who crowns the Intrepid beauty queen.
Nowadays during fiestas, many muxe wear traditional women�s dresses or drag queen outfits. An increasing number, and virtually the entire new generation, also dress like women in every day life. To Filiberto Cruz, who, at 89 is the oldest Intrepid, this new tendency is rather shocking. In his time, nobody would do it,
although he confesses with a shy smile that he himself would sometimes wear gold buttons and discreet bracelets.
This new transvestite tendency has created dilemma and friction in the society as well. In schools, for instance, some teachers, often from other parts of the
country, do not tolerate the new trend and children, as mischievous as anywhere else, make fun of it. Many Juchitecan women also twitch at the sight of their
traditional dresses on muxe.
�This transvestite process is rather new,� says Amaranta G�mez Regalado, a 26 year-old beautiful muxe who wears traditional huipiles and became famous last
year when she ran for congressional in the Oaxaca state elections. �It started about twenty years ago and I think it has to do with the advent of marketing
and television.� In her low caressing voice, she says she understands the debate about traditional clothing, but states, �It is part of our culture, and I consider
myself a vehicle of that culture too.�
Vicki Santiago Lu�s, a twenty-year-old muxe who was born Jorge and came to Oaxaca because she found Juchit�n intolerant towards gays, decided to wear
women�s clothing when she was 13, against the advise of a muxe her age who thought it could be dangerous. She received the support of her mom, grandfather, and a couple of girlfriends who helped her define her style�western and sexy. But to these days, her grandmother has refused to accept it. Next December nonetheless, Vicki will wear to the vela club baile con migo the regional dress her uncle bought for her to receive the 2004 beauty queen crown. �I am so happy to be the queen,� she confesses with a soft, but rasping voice, her ecstatic eyes twinkling. �I have admired the transvestite muxe since I was a very little boy.�
�The new generation is only interested in dressing up like women and looking beautiful. They don�t think at all about their future,� argues Felina who herself
wears a knee-long blue jeans skirt. �We follow the examples of the older muxe: we work and take care of our parents. My motivation is my parents. I live alone
and it is my duty to help them.�
The new generation’s attitude is not limited to clothing. A few muxe have also started considering using hormones, breast implants or aesthetic surgery to narrow their noses. Only one so far is said to be thinking about getting an operation to remove his genitals.
For Amaranta, who was able to travel around the world as an anti-AIDS activist and is considering furthering her education in social studies, muxe ought to create different roles for themselves within the Juchitecan society. �When I was 13 or 14, it was impossible for a muxe to enter politics, to write articles, to be an
activist, an opinion maker. We had to embroider and create adornments,� she says. �Now the muxe who wants to should be able to open up intellectual spaces for herself.� With her charming ironic smile she adds: �It has not been easy for me. My mom wanted me to learn a traditional muxe job. Between two conferences she would tell me, �at least bake a cake or something.�� When asked if marriage is part of the agenda, the vast majority of muxe seem perplexed, as if they had never thought of it. �People get married, and then they
divorce,� says Felina. �I don�t want that. I want my relationships to last the time they should last and that�s it. And I want to enjoy all the men I want.�
�In Juchit�n marriage is not a necessity,� says Ulises. �It is an issue that you find in other societies, where homosexuals are discriminated against. Here we don�t need a political movement or the creation of special space in society. We already
have it.�

This Week's Action – 3/7/04

The TG Community has got to increase visibility. Crossdressers, t-girls, transgendered people, transsexuals, = all of us = have got to keep the media aware that we want to see positive portrayals, and have got to insist that the law does not discriminate against us.
In that spirit, I am going to post a weekly “action.”
This week’s action:
Email CBS ( to thank them for covering TG/TS issues on last week’s “48 Hours.” Here’s my letter, which you can use as a template to send them, or write your own.
To the producers of “48 Hours”:
I am the wife of a TG person, and I wanted to thank you for the recent “48 Hours” show, “Trapped.” Your coverage was sensitive and accurate.
That said, it would be fantastic if you would cover more of the TG community, and not just transsexual lives. Crossdressers, drag kings, transbois – all of us who are TG – live lives that are invisible and little understood. More public awareness would be a great relief to many lives.
Again, thank you. Keep up the good work.
Helen Boyd
Brooklyn, NY

Take My Breasts Away event

February 7, 7:00-10:00 pm
Gala fundraiser to raise money for FTM Evan Schwartz’s chest surgery. The incredible line up includes: Emcee Tristan Taormino; The Cast of Butch McCloud with Episode 7, Honey I Shrunk The Lesbians!; Helen Boyd, author of My Husband Betty; Drag performer extraordinaire Johnny Kat; clips from Transparents, a film about FTMs and their children; plus postcards to send to your congress persons, raffle with great prizes, and tasty culinary delights.
Location: The Center, 238 W. 13th Street, NYC
Admission: $20* (*no one turned away). You can purchase tickets in advance at

Take My Breasts Away event

February 7, 7:00-10:00 pm
Gala fundraiser to raise money for FTM Evan Schwartz’s chest surgery. The incredible line up includes: Emcee Tristan Taormino; The Cast of Butch McCloud with Episode 7, Honey I Shrunk The Lesbians!; Helen Boyd, author of My Husband Betty; Drag performer extraordinaire Johnny Kat; clips from Transparents, a film about FTMs and their children; plus postcards to send to your congress persons, raffle with great prizes, and tasty culinary delights.
Location: The Center, 238 W. 13th Street, NYC
Admission: $20* (*no one turned away). You can purchase tickets in advance at

TransNews: Corporate Protections article

This article appeared in Forbes magazine
FEATURE-Transsexuals new focus of companies’ legal protection
Reuters, 11.09.03, 10:55 AM ET
By Daniel Sorid
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Corporations and lawmakers are expanding protections against sexual harassment and discrimination to cover transsexuals,
cross-dressers and others who fall outside the traditional notions of gender identity.
In the last two years, 19 companies in the Fortune 500 — including Bank One Corp. and Microsoft Corp. — have banned discrimination based on “gender identity and expression.” Sixty-five cities and counties have similar protections, with 16 ordinances passed in 2002.
The measures extend protections to men perceived as effeminate and women viewed as masculine.
“There is a sense that laws specifically based on sexual orientation are not capturing everyone,” said Daryl Herrschaft, deputy director for work-place issues at the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest lesbian and gay political organization.
In August, California’s recalled governor, Gray Davis, signed legislation banning discrimination in housing and employment based on gender stereotypes or
transgendered status. Three other states — Minnesota, Rhode Island and New Mexico — have similar protections.
Another four states — New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Massachusetts — have had either court or administrative rulings that could be interpreted as banning discrimination against gender expression or status as a transsexual, according to Human Rights Campaign.
Socially conservative groups have opposed the measures, arguing they force owners of religious businesses to support a way of life they morally oppose, and would hold up transsexuals as role models for children.
At some companies, however, the protections are seen as a straightforward way to comply with a patchwork of statutes that protect transsexuals in some cities and states, as well as to reduce taunting and discrimination against those whose appearances clash with more traditional beliefs.
Proponents see the trend as a natural progression from the protections for women and gays against harassment.
“Gender identity and expression was the next step,” said Maria Campbell, director of diversity at SC Johnson & Son, based in Racine, Wisconsin.
Transsexuals are disproportionately pushed out of jobs, kicked out of housing, and beaten up or murdered, according to studies. Excluded from a society confused and sometimes disgusted by their way of living, they tend to get less education and are more likely to lack health insurance, studies show.
A survey funded by the District of Columbia in 2000 showed that most “gender variant” residents earned less than $10,000 a year, with one in three saying
they had been a victim of violence or crime brought on by hatred of gays or transsexuals.
In a poll of 392 male-to-female transsexuals in San Francisco in 1997, nearly half the respondents reported facing job discrimination, while a quarter said they faced housing discrimination.
“Even though it’s only a patchwork, at this point this is how civil rights proceeds,” said Riki Wilchins, executive director of the Gender Public Advocacy Coalition in Washington, D.C. “Ten years ago there was none of this. All this has happened very quickly.”
A growing sense of protection among transsexual workers is tangible in a city like San Francisco, considered one of the country’s most liberal places to live. Indicative of that is the experience of Ina Fried, a technology reporter who in May came out to colleagues and business contacts as transsexual.
Fried (pronounced Freed), who was born male and had always used the name Ian at work, said she wanted to feel “whole” in her life.
Her employer, CNET Networks Inc., said it has made a conscious effort to accommodate employees “transitioning” from one gender to another. When
designing its new headquarters building in San Francisco, for instance, it included unisex bathrooms to accommodate transgendered employees.
“I think I’ve been very lucky,” Fried said in an interview. “For a lot of people the experience of being transgendered is still greatly more difficult.”
The term “transgender” is often a term appended to the name of gay and lesbian groups, even though many transsexuals and cross-dressers do not consider
themselves gay. But it is the gay community’s success gaining protection and prominence in government and private-sector jobs in recent decades that has, in
part, led to calls for expanded transgender protections.
“Transgender issues are really seen as the next frontier, as a way to really make the work place safe for everyone,” said Selisse Berry, executive director of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, based in San Francisco.
“People are finally much more comfortable with the words gay and lesbian,” Berry added. “They’re not familiar with what the word transgender even means,
and sometimes people’s only connection is either drag queens, prostitution, or some movie.”
Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service