Wednesday, July 31, 2013

WMATA Silver Line Service Start Delayed Until 2014

The first phase of the Silver Line should begin carrying passengers through Tysons Corner to Reston later this year.
Houston area folks aren't the only ones having to wait for eagerly anticipated transit rail service to commence.   So are the peeps in the Washington DC metro area and Northern Virginia.

One of the things I have long loved about DC is flying into DCA, making a beeline to the train station platform just outside the terminal and jumping on the Metrorail trains to get me around town while I'm there.

The city traffic can be a pain in the butt at times to navigate, especially on the infamous Capital Beltway and near the federal buildings.  Parking in DC is at a premium, hard to find and expensive so I rarely rent a car there because of Metrorail. 

I don't like flying into Dulles or BWI when I need to travel to Washington DC because it necessitates a bus ride before I can connect to the WMATA rail system.   In BWI's case you also have the option of taking an $11 one way train ride to Union Station before connecting with the rail system.  But when I fly Southwest, until recently the only service they had into the Washington area airports out of Houston Hobby was either into Dulles or BWI.

ImageI keep a WMATA SmarTrip electronic transit pass with me with funds on it for that purpose since I frequently find myself in DC for various events.   

I was happy to hear as a rail transit enthusiast that the long talked about Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project was way beyond the chatter stage. WMATA finally started construction in 2008 on the first phase of the long talked about Silver Line that would eventually include a stop at Dulles airport.

Phase 1 of the Silver Line is 11.7 miles from East Falls Church, VA and the Orange Line to Wiehle Ave in Reston, VA. with four stations in Tyson's Corner, the median of the Dulles Toll Road that connects to I-66.  Some of the sections of the Silver Line are elevated and above ground while a section of it is running underground through a 2100 foot tunnel in Tyson's Corner. 

Phase 2 will be a 11.5 mile section with six stations running from Reston through Dulles Airport in the median of the the Dulles Toll Road to just west of Ashburn, VA with a rail storage yard near Dulles Airport.   The Dulles International Airport Station will be an aerial one across the parking bowl from the world renowned Eero Saarinen designed terminal building.

The first construction contracts for Phase 2 were awarded May 14 with actual construction starting after the initial surveying work in spring 2014.  The long awaited section of the line to Dulles Airport is projected to start WMATA revenue service in 2018.  

WMATA cars continue testing all along the Phase 1 alignment from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue in Reston. In this photo, cars are being positioned on the trail tracks for testing (west of the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station) before being temporarily stored. 
While the Silver Line train tests are happening now for the Phase 1 part of the line and the fare service was supposed to start later this year, reports are that it is being delayed until January 1, 2014 according to the Washington Examiner due to construction delays on the West Falls Church Rail Yard critical to storage and operation of the Silver Line's rail cars.

There is a chance that Silver Line service could start in December.

But the end result is that despite the delay in the startup of WMATA revenue service, when it finally does crank up the opening of the Metrorail Silver Line puts the dream since 1962 of having a rail transit link between Dulles and our nation's capital much closer to being a reality.   

And us rail transit enthusiasts in DC and around the country couldn't be happier to have that happen.  

Hazreen Shaik Daud Video Update

I talked about Hazreen Shaik Daud, the Malaysian trans girl like us who was appointed the political secretary to Tanjung Bungah state assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Malaysia.

In Penang state a Transgender committee headed by Teh has been approved and will be formed in two months.  The objectives of this legislative transgender committee is to collect data and alleviate the status and social stigma associated with the transgender community. 

Some of their activities will include holding public forums to spread awareness on the issue.

Here's a video that discusses Hazreen's appointment

Wendy And Ignacio Visit America

Cuba, Ignacio Estrada, Wendy Iriepa, Gay News, Casa Ruby, Washington BladeThe Wendy and Ignacio in this case are our Cuban transsister Wendy Iriepa Diaz and her hubby Ignacio Estrada Cepero who had a very public wedding in Havana back in 2011

The Cuban dissidents arrived here in the States back on June 26 and are spending three months visiting our country before heading back to Cuba in the fall.

They also have some very interesting things to say about what life is really like for our TBLG brothers and sisters on the island.

Mariela Castro was given an award by Equality Forum in May for being a trans rights and gay rights advocate, but Iriepa has a different opinion of the woman she once worked for at CENESEX, the Cuban gender clinic that Castro runs.

“Mariela totally manipulates the LGBT community,” Iriepa said.

“Everything is fake, it’s false,” Iriepa said of Castro’s portrayal of the current status of the Cuban LGBT community.  “The gays still feel repression. When the police come, they say you have to leave here. Mariela sells to the world the same image the Cuban government does. Everything from the outside looks beautiful, but when you go inside, everything is not.” 

Iriepa said that for years she sought sex reassignment surgery, but didn’t get it until she pledged loyalty to the Castro regime.   In 2007 she became the first person on the island to have the surgery as part of the government-run CENESEX program.and was its public face until she and Castro came into conflict in 2011 over her blossoming relationship with Ignacio and his self described status as an 'opponent of the Castro government'. 
until she and Castro came into conflict over her blossoming relationship with ignaio Read more here:

After participating in a Spanish language panel discussion at Miami-Dade College's Wolfson Campus and having events at other venues in the area, they have arrived in Washington DC

The couple toured Casa Ruby and the Us Helping Us HIV/AIDS service agency and are scheduled to visit with Congressmember Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) today before heading back to Miami and eventually departing back to Cuba. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Jamaican Justice Minister Condemns Jones Killing.

Dwayne_JonesWas wondering if anyone from the Jamaican government would condemn the brutal July 22 mob violence killing of Jamaican gender variant kid D. Jones.

My musings were answered according to the Jamaica ObserverJustice Minister Senator Mark Golding has done just that and commented on the senseless killing of the 17 year old.teen.

Given our our country's history of brutality and the pluralistic nature of our society, all well-thinking Jamaicans must embrace the principle of respect for the basic human rights of all persons," Golding said.
"This principle requires tolerance towards minority groups, and non-violence in our dealings with those who manifest a lifestyle that differs from the majority of us".

"Depraved acts of violence against individuals such as Dwayne Jones have to cease. The police must spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice, so that any persons who may be inclined to indulge in such vile brutality will know that they cannot do so with impunity," the Justice Minister added.

I agree.  They need to find the wastes of DNA who did this and bring them to justice as soon as possible because the world is watching.

Still Sick Of Hearing The Term 'Race Card'

'It wouldn't be necessary to 'play the race card' as you peeps so derisively put it if you Euro-descended Americans ancestors hadn't set up a system that demonizes non- whites, maximizes benefits to your ethnic group, stacks the deck to maintain that advantage, marks the biggest face cards in the American cultural card deck for themselves and passes them on to their children.'
--TransGriot August 6, 2007 'Sick Of Hearing The Term 'Race Card'

And once again I'm having to write a post about the insulting to the Black community conservaterm 'race card'.

We non-white folks are more than sick and tired of being sick and tired of hearing that insulting conservaterm deployed every time a discussion pops up about race in mixed company either online or in the media. 
Last time I checked that race card or my government slavery reparations check for $150,000 hadn't hit my mailbox yet. 
Non-white people are fed up of hearing from vanillacentric privileged conservative white people that having POC organizations tasked with addressing our lack of representation in the larger communities we interact with or pointing out how race, class white privilege and white supremacy negatively affect us is 'playing the race card'.

It's even more infuriating when that same conservalanguage and rhetoric comes out of the mouths of our liberal-progressive white allies. 

I remind you that predominately POC organizations such as the NAACP, La Raza, LULAC, MALDEF, the Urban League, the National Bar Association, the Congressional Black, Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander caucuses, the National Black Journalists Association, the Divine Nine historically Black fraternities and sororities in the National Pan Hellenic Council, HBCU's and countless other organizations founded by people of color during the 20th century didn't just pop up in a vacuum.  

They exist because of a need for communities of color to band together to fight a persistent four century old pattern of racial discrimination aimed at non-white communities by white America and indifference or outright denials from vanillacentric privilege addled whites not affected by that discrimination it exists or they benefit from it.  

Sadly, because the TBLG community is a subset of the parent society infected with those same problems, isms and ills, it has become necessary in the last two decades to create predominately POC organizations to address the same lack of representation issue just as we had to do in the parent society. 

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the Trans Persons of Color Coalition (TPOCC), the Trans Latin@ Coalition, the International Federation of Black Prides (now the Center For Black Progress), Black Transmen Inc/Black Transwomen Inc (BTMI/BTWI), along with corresponding conferences, seminars, the Honor 41 list and events these organizations sponsor such as TransFaith In Color, various Black prides across the country and NBJC's upcoming September 18-22  OUT on the Hill conference in Washington DC are necessary in order to close ranks, help us own our power and become part of the greater BTLG and other communities we intersect and interact with.
If a 'race card' truly exists, it's the White Privilege Rewards Card which gets played every time any person of color begins to excel despite the barriers strewn in their path.  As the Zimmerman case demonstrated, it also get deployed when whites get in legal trouble.  And yes, it comes with a rainbow sticker on it as well.

We are a long way from the colorblind society Dr. King envisioned.  But at the same time colorblind does not mean ignore race or not have thoughtful discussions about it.

Frankly, not having serious discussions about the issue of how America's original sin of slavery still impacts this country's race relations 150 years later and how its foul stench still permeates American society is why race and the color line are still major dissension causing problems in 21st century American society. 

But one point I need to emphatically make once again is the
re is no such thing as a 'race card'.  White peeps, especially on the liberal-progressive side need to eviscerate those insulting conservawords from their vocabulary so that we can at least on our side of the political aisle have a thoughtful and civil discourse on it.

Dr KRZ-Commentary On The New Black Trans Narrative On OITNB

I just spent Sunday evening and early Monday morning watch the Netflix series Orange Is The New Black mainly to check out my homegirl Laverne Cox's performance as Sophia Burset and see what kind of job the writers did on this trans character.

I had some reservations about the role before the series started in whether it would be playing into stereotypes of Black transwomen, but because Laverne was playing this character, I was confident that whatever flaws were in the original script she'd be able to point out and correct.

I was blown away by not only by Laverne's performance throughout the first season, but how three dimensional a character Sophia has turned out to be.

Orange Is The New Black was renewed on June 27 for a second season.

.Dr Kortney Ryan Ziegler in his latest post discussed OITNB and the Sophia character.
Sophia’s choice to rely on strategy and intellect instead of her body to get what she needs, is not the limit of her sexual agency. As a trans woman who is married to a cisgender woman, the portrayal of their relationship explodes overarching myths that have positioned trans women of color as sexually undesirable outside of pornographic imagery. At the same time, their union also calls attention to the nuances of marriage equality in relation to trans individuals who are victims of the prison industrial complex–an issue that has yet to gain traction in the marriage equality debate.
Please click this link to read the rest of Dr. Z's post entitled 'Orange Is The New Black and the New Black Trans Narrative'.

The 4 Year Old African-American Genius

girlAnala Beevers of New Orleans is just a precocious four years old, but at just 4 months of age she was learning the alphabet, counting in Spanish at eighteen months, knows the location and capital of all 50 US states and many of the world's nations and can identify the planets and dinosaurs.

Hmm, that makes her way smarter than 47 US senators, 234 US congressmen, 4 US Supreme Court justices and her state's current governor.

Anala also has an invitation to join MENSA, the international organization for super smart individuals that requires a comprehensive standardized Q test and a 130 or better IQ to get in.  .

MENSA menbership is much older than Anala and claims people with intelligence that are in the top 2% of the world's population.  Anala is in the top 1% with a 145 IQ.   I'm a slacker compared to her, because the last time I took one a few years ago I tested out at a mere 118. 

But raising an exceptionally smart child can be a challenge.  Her mom Sabrina says that Anala is 'always correcting their grammar' and dad Landon says 'she keeps us on our toes'.

Enjoying childhood: When she's not exercising her brain the toddler enjoys playing with her big sisterAt a time when African-Americans are once again getting bashed in the conservamedia, this child genius is a breath of fresh air in a stale racist conversation of negativity about us as African-descended people.

And sadly, note in the various articles about her on the Net the racist comments in the threads . 

She's aware of her intellectual gifts and when you ask her she wants to be when she grows up, her answer is a nurse.  While the nursing profession may be happy to hear that, I think as she gets older that career choice might be subject to amendment.

Pat Robertson Has Another Broken Clock Trans Moment

Pat Robertson

You longtime TransGriot readers know I have gleefully pointed out that televangelist Pat Robertson, who has a long history of uttering racist and anti-gay remarks has actually said that 'transsexuality is not a sin'

Well, duh.  And nope, it's not April 1. 

Pat made that comment during a October 5, 1999 broadcast of his 700 Club show and has had other broken clock TBLG moments as to when this show happened a he was asked a question last year about Christians bullying BTLG kids that he had a surprising answer to.

And now, here's another broken clock Pat Robertson trans moment that comes in response to a question during his 'Bring It On-Line segment from David

"I work with two people who have decided that they are females. I know what the Bible says about homosexuality, but is it wrong to refer to them as females since they have had their gender status changed in the eyes of the law?"

Surprise surprise, Pat says NO.   While he take a swipe as SRS and transition as 'radical' and dangerous', he basically echoed the 1999 comment in saying transsexuality wasn't a sin. 

Better get busy people copying this before they delete the video along with the transcript of his remarks from the 700 Club website.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Houston Black Trans Community-Time To Step Up

One of the conversations I was engaged in as I attended a recent community event was one in which I was pulled aside by two of my African-American trans sisters and we discussed the state of the Black trans community here in Houston vis-a-vis our white counterparts.

I addressed some of their concerns as they saw it and have talked about the mounting frustrations about our invisibility and lack of visible local non-white trans leaders.

I have repeated my call for more visible diversity in the Houston (and Texas) trans communities and pointed out to the African-American community that Black trans issues are Black community issues.  .

But at the same time it would be intellectually dishonest to not point out this problem isn't just on Houston's white trans community.  Houston Black trans community, you have some internal things you need to do to fix this problem especially when white trans people of goodwill in the area are doing their part to reach out to us because they realize the importance of doing so.

We've got to step up, become visible and lead.   This situation isn't going to change unless people come out of the shadows to accentuate the point that trans African-American Houstonians exist.

I hear the commentary from elements of you stating 'there's nothing for the gurls' here in H-town, you don't feel comfortable at the TG Center, you feel left out or you would like to have trans events like (fill in the city) does. 

But when people have stepped up in the past to try to fulfill that FUBU need or organize those events, you either have an enthusiastic turnout of people at the first couple of meetings, then it fizzles out when it's time for the work to be done.

Or you don't support it for various reasons.  

Yes, I agree we could use some trans POC infrastructure geared toward our community and I understand a meeting was held in southwest Houston on July 22 to get that party started. 

But those chococentric trans organizations, events and support groups aren't going to create themselves.  They will take sustained organizational activity to get off the ground and need to be constructed with long term stability in mind.  They also need to be designed to benefit the entire community long after the founding members have left the scene.

If somebody wants to handle that task, I'll be happy to give them advice on what to do and the pitfalls to avoid.  I'll also provide moral support at whatever meeting you call that you make me aware of is happening.

But it's put up or shut up time.  The cohesive Houston Black trans community you tell me you want to build isn't going to happen organically.

Moni isn't going to be the one doing the heavy lifting on this project because I have others I'm involved with on a local, state and national level that need my undivided attention.    

But if 'having something for the gurls' is what you desire, time for those of you who desire it to step up, determine what it is you want, and exhibit the visionary leadership and drive to make it happen.

New TBLG Military Group SPARTA Emerges From OUTServe-SLDN Drama

Post image for SPARTA, New Group For LGBT Service Members And Veterans LaunchesIn the wake of the contentious drama that ensued after the ugly implosion of OUTServe-SLDN last month and the drama in BTLG World concerning what exactly did happen with former director Allyson Robinson, a new TBLG military advocacy group has arisen from the smoldering ashes of OUTServe-SLDN.

The newly minted organization is called Servicemembers, Partners, and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All (SPARTA) and formed July 22. 

SPARTA said in a statement they “are a membership organization, built by, for, and with members from all parts of our community.”   The trans community is represented in SPARTA's ranks following the decision of the Transgender chapter of OUTServe-SLDN to leave that organization to join SPARTA.

"Since the upheaval at OutServe-SLDN began on June 22, the transgender chapter of the organization has been working to determine where and how we can best fit within the movement," wrote Brynn Tannehill, the chapter spokeswoman for OutServe-SLDN's Military Transgender Group in a statement.

"This process has been painful, and strained personal and professional relationships that had previously been strong… The ultimate question we had to answer was where we need to be in order to most effectively move the issue of open service for transgender people forward. Unfortunately, it was the considered opinion of our members that OutServe-SLDN will not be able to represent our interests effectively for the foreseeable future."

Meanwhile the troubles continue to mount for OUTServe-SLDN with the announced July 31 closing of its Washington DC offices and reports it is near bankruptcy.

The initial SPARTA leadership team according to a post by The New Civil Right Movement's  David Badash includes:

Carl Able, USMC
Karl Alvarez, Air Force veteran
Jase Daniels, US Navy
Tanya Domi, Army veteran
Tania Dunbar, US Army
Christopher Hooper, US Navy
Jeremy Johnson, Navy veteran
Mark Mazzone, US Army
Beth Schissel, Air Force veteran
Julianne Sohn, Marine Corps veteran
Brynn Tannehill, Navy veteran

SPARTA has a Facebook page up and the website is being constructed. 

The other question being asked by many in the trans community is whether Allyson Robinson has been asked to join SPARTA or if she will have a role with the nascent organization.  

There also isn't word as to whether SPARTA will extend an invitation to TAVA, the decade old Transgender American Veterans Association to either join their ranks or work in partnership with them in future projects designed to speed up the day in which transperson can openly serve their country.  .

Welcome SPARTA.  May you live long, prosper and be wildly successful in your mission of advancing the cause of TBLG service members.

A Mother-Trans Daughter Femininity Dinner Discussion

Some of the Facebook trans groups I'm a member of have very interesting discussion threads at times that eventually trigger hard solid thinking by me to turn it into a post.

This was the case two weeks ago when Lotus, a member of a predominately African-American trans Facebook group I'm on that prides itself on thoughtful discussions of trans issues talked about the night she recently had  dinner with her mother. 

Their dinner discussion turned into a mother-daughter chat that discussed femininity and the perception difference between cis and trans women.


Lotus:  Over dinner, my mother and I began an open discussion about the perception of natal females as it pertains to Transgender women. I wanted to bring some of the points that came up during the conversation to the group and see how you all felt about them.

My mother's main point in the conversation was that there is no one SET STANDARD that defines what it means to be a woman. Women come in all shapes, sizes, class levels, and intellectual capabilities; nonetheless they are a woman. With this in mind she inquired as to why someone would assume that all girls like us should strive to be more than the average neighborhood hood rat. As transwomen why is it not okay for us to be the kind of woman we feel most comfortable being (even if that's a "Ratchet Ass Hoe").

I explained to her that as transwomen we should aspire to be a compliment to womanhood not a detriment. Her counter argument was that women are detrimental to themselves so why should a woman in transition feel burdened by the pressure of complimenting womanhood?

We are individuals embarking on a unique journey into what many would perceive as the unknown. We all must make decisions as to who we would like to be, much like any other woman.

All things considered I believe that all points are valid when viewed from that person's perspective. I still stand steadfast by my belief that as a young woman in transition I want to make natal females proud to accept me as the woman that I am, but her perspective opened up another gateway for dialog about the representation of transgender women in society; how we chose to present ourselves.


That dinner conversation most certainly did open up a dialog in that group we gleefully began to discuss.  Our
trans elder Cheryl Courtney-Evans pointed out in the discussion thread that developed in the wake of Lotus' initial post:: 
I think that perhaps this concept may be simply explained by a sentence/attitude that accompanied the advance of the African American community in it's reach for parity with Whites..."You're a credit to your race." For many years that's what Blacks strove to be, in order to garner 'acceptance'.
Angel V. also pointed out:
When I started my transition, the last thing that was on my mind was acceptance from cis-women. As a matter of fact, the only acceptance that I will ever need is my own. You were not put on this planet to cater to everyone's wants and needs. None of us were. There are plenty of cis-women who will accept us and many who will not. Their opinions will not dictate or change who I am in any capacity.

That said, I like your mom, Lotus. She made some interesting points!! Some ladies will never strive to be better. Trans or otherwise.
What I would have said in response to Lotus' mom is I believe one of the reasons we Black trans women are so adamant about being considered compliments to Black womanhood is because after being stuck on the Black masculinity side where we were considered suspects and targets regardless of the content of our character, some of us don't want to fight that psychic battle again.

But what you come to realize is that Black women also have their own psychic battle they fight in which their femininity is demonized every day by whiteness and white supremacy.  They are depicted as the 'unwoman', 'ugly' and juxtaposed as the polar opposite to white women, who are held up as the penultimate form of feminine beauty and template of womanhood that women of non-white ethnic groups should aspire to be.

As Angel pointed out, some cis Black women don't care, do what they please, don't give a second thought about the historic and current images of Black women and never will. 

So why should we Black trans women care?   Because Black transwomen don't have the luxury to be that cavalier about the feminine images they project to the world.  We're already demonized, have few positive trans feminine role models to counteract the negative images already on the minds of people and fear that whatever negativity happens in our trans ranks will be unfairly projected back at cis African-American women.

But then again, trans women are damned if we do and damned if we don't live up to the standards of Black womanhood.   Even when we try to live our lives as complements to Black womanhood, we're demonized and hated on by many of those same cis Black women we desire sisterhood with and fell like that standarsd is a shifting goalpost. .

Cheryl basically dropped some more knowledge on us in this discussion with this sentence. 
Well, I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Do you"...that's what you do; we must each do as we aspire...whatever that is.
She's right.  And I concur with her that's the point where we Black trans women need to be comfortable in our own minds of getting to.

As Lotus said in that thread, she wasn't aspiring to be hypersexualized by society, but some of her girls like us friends see that as their desired feminine presentation standard and set out to achieve it. 

In my case the elegant Diahann Carroll was one of my feminine role models along with my mother, sis and other cis and trans feminine role modes whose qualities I admired and wanted to role model in my feminine evolutionary path.  

Whatever type of woman we trans women are trying to project to the world, that's ultimately our decision.  Once we start down that path, we have to deal with whatever the consequences are of emulating the type of woman we wish to project to the world as we go through our lives.

But we transwomen also have to become comfortable with just simply being able to 'do you' and being allowed the space to 'do us' just like our cis feminine counterparts. 

TransGriot Note: Last graphic in the post created by Randi of TransMusePlanet.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Texas Drag Icon Whitney Paige Dies

We Texans have already dealt with the shocking death of Erica Andrews to a lung infection back in March. 

I'm unfortunately just now finding out the news that another one of our iconic female illusionists in Whitney Paige has passed away .

Whitney was born in Little Rock, AR raised in Tennessee and eventually moved to the DFW area and lived there for over two decades.  The Fort Worth based Paige was nicknamed 'The Eyes Of Texas' for those hypnotic grey eyes of hers. 

While I never met Whitney, I was aware of her as because her career started back in the 80's,   Paige was immensely popular in Dallas, Houston and other parts of the state and in the female illusionist world as the outpouring of grief that ensued after her death was a testament to how beloved she was. 

Paige held a long list of titles that included winning Miss Gay USofA at Large, Miss Gay USofA Classic and most recently Miss Continental Plus 2013 in addition to being a runner up for Entertainer of the Year twice.

Paige passed away June 25 after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.  A memorial service was held June 30 at Fort Worth's Rainbow Lounge and this memorial video popped up to pay tribute to her as well.

Rest in peace and power, Whitney.  You are going to be missed by all the people who loved you inside and outside the community  

I Repeat: Stop Looking At Being Trans As A Curse

I wrote the original post in reaction to seeing that tired meme expressed by a transperson in a discussion thread, and I've gotten some positive reactions and feedback from it.

So yep, I need to say this once again and keep repeating it until some of you get over your shame and guilt about being trans and stop wanting to hide. Stop looking at being trans as a curse 

As I stated in the closing paragraph of that December 2011 post:: 

It's past time that transpeople stop viewing being us as a curse.  If we want people to love and respect us, it may sound simplistic, but we have to start first with loving and respecting ourselves.  
Damn skippy.  And if you're going to love and respect yourself,  then we have to stop internalizing the shame, guilt and negativity that society has about being trans in the first place.

Hard to have or motivate yourself into having a positive life when you hate a God given characteristic of yourself you can't change. We are God's children and part of the diverse mosaic of human life. 

We are intelligent.  We are beautiful.  We are creative and talented.  Some of us just need to look in the mirror and like what you see staring back at you, have the faith to believe in our God given gifts and talents and use them to your own and the community's benefit.

Disciples Of Christ Church Officially Welcomes TBLG People To Its Churches

disciples of christ 300x199 Disciples of Christ Vote to Embrace Gay Members, LeadersDuring the time I was a Texan in Exile in Louisville, Edenside Christian Church, the one I attended from 2001-2010 and was a proud member of was part of the Disciples of Christ (Christian) Church denomination.

I was even prouder to 'slliiiiiiide into Edenside' after the congregation voted in 2008 to become an open and affirming church. 

So I was ecstatic to read that at the recent yearly Disciples of Christ meeting that took place July 13-17 in Orlando they passed Resolution GA 1327 that stated:

“The General Assembly calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to affirm the faith, baptism and spiritual gifts of all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that neither is grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, but we celebrate that all are part of God’s good creation.”

One of the sponsoring churches for this resolution was our larger and down Bardstown Road neighbor in Douglass Ave Christian Church. 

Translation: If you're a trans, bi or same gender loving person, you are welcome to attend, participate in and become a member of a Disciples of Christ congregation.

There was a July 19 letter from Rev Dr Sharon Watkins, the General Minister and President of the Disciples of Christ Church in the United States and Canada clarifying the intent of this resolution. 

*It is not a statement of “unwelcome” for Disciples who did not support the resolution. All who confess faith in Jesus Christ are welcome. All means all

*It is not a policy change. The congregation where you worship and serve will not be requested to establish (or change) a policy on gay or lesbian persons in the life of the Church. The region where your congregation is affiliated is not required to change its policies on ordination. Your pastor is not required to bless same-gender marriages.

*It is not a theological mandate. It does not say that we have the same biblical understanding of sexual orientation or gender identity. Disciples, prayerfully and with biblical study and other research, come to their own understanding on these matters.

Rev. Watkins' letter goes on to say:  It points out that within the broad membership of Disciples, among the many congregations in covenant with each other, there have always been gay and straight, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender persons who participate fully in the life and leadership of the church. It urges us to treat each other with gospel hospitality as we seek to understand each other better.”

And that's a point I think we can all agree on.   But this is also wonderful news to a TBLG community that has seen far too many efforts by religious denominations to exclude, dehumanize and denigrate it instead of opening their church doors wide to embrace them as fellow human beings and brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

T.G.I.F. 2013 Happening Tomorrow

Last July  T.G.I.F., spearheaded by local trans activist KOKUMO brought over 350 people to a first of its kind event in Chicago celebrating the trans, gender variant and intersex communities that featured a rally, musical performances, a picnic and a community expo. 

The second annual Trans*, Gender Non-Conforming, Intersex Freedom (T.G.I.F.) event happens tomorrow July 28 at Union Park from 12-4 PM CDT at 1501 W. Randolph St.   If you're living in the Chicago area and are looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon that supports the local community, you may wish to show up for this one. 

T.G.I.F. 2013
The theme for this year's T.G.I.F. is "Transcending Pride, Evolving Movements," is hosted by Cyon Flare and will have performances by Angelica Ross, Dirty Grid, About Face Youth Theatre, Elias Karal, Jova Black, KOKUMO and more.  Local activists delivering keynote addresses are Alexis Martinez of the Chicago Dyke March Collective, gender nonconforming performance artist Nic Kay and intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis.

There will also be organizations at T.G.I.F. 2013 with information booths and tables performing services such as SAGE Community Services, the Young Women's Empowerment Project and the Transformative Justice Law Project.

Should be a fun, interesting and informative event, so if you're in the Chicago area, go support it.

Laverne's 'Orange Is The New Black' HLN Interview

Laverne Cox is on HLN talking about her role on the Netflix series 'Orange Is The new Black' in which she plays (gasp) a transwoman.

Black Is The New Black


Denny Upkins weighs in on the Trayvon Martin tragedy and the ongoing drama that African-Americans endure in this country in this essay entitled 'Black Is The New Black'

Here's a taste of it:

Whether it’s Paula Deen, George Zimmerman, Ellen Sturtz, or the legions of other monsters, one thing I’ve come to realize is that most whites don’t defend these bigots and their actions because they believe it’s right. Whites defend these racists because they’re defending their white privilege. Whites like having the option of killing black children and getting off scot free. Whites like murdering their children and blaming it on the black guy. White women love the option of throwing acid on her face, blaming black women and knowing the story will be believed. Whites love blaming blacks and other POCs for homophobia despite what facts, and history states.
After all, why be equal when you can be superior, a supremacist even?
You can read the rest of his post here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Road To Creating Change Houston 2014 Diary-Changes

I posted my initial Creating Change 2014 Diary back in May not long after we had our initial interest meeting with the goal in this ongoing series of posts being to give you readers a ringside seat what it's like to be part of the planning for one of the largest LGBT conventions in the nation.

It will be taking place in my hometown January 29-February 2 for the first time ever.  It's also my first Creating Change I'll be in the house for since 1999 and I can't wait.      

We have Host Committee meetings scheduled on the first Tuesday of every month at the Montrose Center in which we get together and review the overall progress of organizing Creating Change 2014 Houston style.

At the host committee meetings the 15 different subcommittees report on how they are progressing in organizing their respective portions of the CC14 conference.  We get updates from the Host Committee chairs about things CC National wants and needs us to know and what they are doing to support us on the various subcommittees so we're all on the same unified organizational page.  It also gives those of us on the various planning subcommittees an opportunity to ask questions directed at the convention co-chairs and get a big picture sense of where we are on our CC14 organizing journey at that particular point in time. 

The remaining Host Committee meetings in addition to the rapidly approaching August 6 one are scheduled for September 3, October 1, November 12, December 3, and January 7.  So if there are any of you peeps in the Houston area still wanting to do your part to help put CC14 together, there's still time for you to join us. 

The November 12 meeting is on the second Tuesday because we have a Houston city election happening on November 5 in which we'll be busy trying to ensure that Mayor Annise D. Parker will be speaking to you peeps as we roll out the rainbow carpet for you in January.   

We're bursting at the seams proud of the fact that since 2009 Houston has the distinction of being the largest city in the US to have elected an openly gay mayor.  If things break right, Mayor Parker will not only be standing in front of you CC14 attendees for her third term, we TBLG Houstonians hope we'll have another distinction to brag about in terms of being the largest city to elect an openly trans city councilmember  

We've held our June 4 and July 2 Host Committee meetings since my last diary post with the next one scheduled for August 6.  The 15 subcommittees are starting to solidify in terms of their leadership ranks, membership, getting zeroed in on their tasks now that Pride Month is over and all the organizing that revolves around that event is done.  We've gone through the initial brainstorming phase of our CC14 planning and are discussing and fleshing those ideas the various subcommittees

We even have a website and Facebook page to keep you abreast of what's happening and did some get the word out 'CC14 is coming' events during Houston Pride. 

Photo: The Houston Host Committee for Creating Change 2014 will be at Houston Pride on Saturday, June 29, 2013! We will have a booth at the Festival and will be walking in the parade! We still have some openings for anyone that wants to help work the booth at the festival or walk with us in the parade! If you are interested contact Lynette Ross (Promotions & Outreach Chair), Melissa Vivanco (Media Chair) or Justin Bryan Galloway (Media Admin Secretary)
How much organizing is done around Houston Pride we got an unexpected taste of when we discovered our June 4 Host Committee meeting at the Montrose Center was scheduled for the same day as one the Houston Pride Committee was having.  The room we normally hold our committee meeting in was double booked and we got bumped to another smaller one around to corner on the same floor.   

It was an interesting dilemma because some of our CC14 folks were also committed to representing at that meeting the various community organizations planning to take part in Pride.  It set up the situation where many of them, including my committee chair Melissa were rushing back and forth down the hall in order to attend both. 

As the POC Hospitality committee admin I was taking notes during this meeting anyway and was not only keeping her updated as to what was transpiring in our host committee meeting, but was prepared to give our committee report if she happened to be out of the room when Bryan or Christina called on us to do our report which is exactly what happened.

Speaking of the POC Hospitality committee, that chaotic June 4 Host Committee meeting also exposed the major weakness in us trying to trying to hold our POC Hospitality committee meetings just before the main Host Committee meeting.  Good idea, just didn't work, so we decided to find a different night and spot in order to conduct our business which turned out to be a Cafe Express location on Kirby Drive.  It's not far from the Montrose gayborhood and the Southwest Freeway.  It's fairly quiet, has food and drinks in case we get hungry and is centrally located enough for all of us on the committee in this ginormously spread out city to get to. 

Our committee also increased in size to 10 members and I got elevated to become the vice chair of it.  I'm handling both the vice chair responsibilities and the admin duties for now, but when we have that next meeting I'll need to hand that job off to someone else.  

The name of the POC Hospitality committee also changed to the Racial Diversity Committee.  Augie Augustine, our supervising co-chair pointed out to CC National last month in response to some complaints about it that the term 'person of color' gets erroneously interpreted to mean only Black people.  In some quarters, especially in the South there's a negative connotation to it.   I don't have a problem with the POC term, but others did to the point where a name change was suggested to either the "Diversity" Committee or "Multicultural" Committee.

The name change was approved by CC National, and now we're running with it because that uncertainty about the committee name did have us in a slight promotional holding pattern.   Now that we know it's officially the Racial Diversity Committee, we can continue to move forward on our outreach plans, programming, and get laser beam focused on getting our budget submitted with our next meeting scheduled for July 31.

Remember when I told y'all that the Creating Change all time fundraising record of $25,000 was in serious danger?  Fundraising has been handling their business since May and already hit that target.   We 're shooting to have 4000 people in attendance at this event with at least 500 of that record number of people from Texas.

The call has also gone out for Creating Change 2014 Workshop proposals.  Submission deadline is September 30 and you can click this link for more info about how to do so if you're interested. . 

The Houston Creating Change 2014 team realizes the clock is ticking and January will be here before we know it.   We're still focused on our overarching goal of making Creating Change 2014 a memorable, Houston flavored experience that reflects the diversity of our wonderful city and LGBT community and I hope you join me and our team at the Hilton Americas Hotel for it. 

We have a lot of work still to do to make that vision a reality. 

J-FLAG Condemns Jones Murder

Dwayne_JonesIn the wake of the violent murder on Monday of gender variant teen Dwayne Jones, J-FLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals And Gays released a statement dated July 23 condemning the killing. 

J-FLAG notes with deep concern the recent mob killing of Dwayne Jones, a teenager in St James who is gender non-conforming; the recent murder of two gay men at an anti-gay religious rally organized by a coalition of evangelical churches in Haiti; and the continued misuse of medical data by some members of the faith-based community to fuel anti-gay animus in society.

We send our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the teenager who was slain as well as to our friends in Haiti. We call for a thorough investigation into the murder of the teenager in Montego Bay and hope that the family and loved ones of the slained teen will find the justice they deserve. We encourage persons in the Irwin community of St. James to support the police with any information that could lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.
It is time that these murders, beatings, and evictions are seen and treated as an affront to democracy, peace, justice, harmony, and freedom of our society.

Jamaica cannot become the place of choice to raise families if we continue killing our children, expelling our most productive, and perpetuating a divisive atmosphere through the skewing of objective truth to suit subjective prejudices.

Read the entire statement here.

Shut Up Fool Awards- Last Friday In July Edition

Wow, seems like is was just yesterday we were experiencing Canada Day, Independence Day and Renee's birthday and now we're hitting the last Friday of this month and getting ready to cruise into August.

But I know that's not why y'all surfed by this post.  Y'all know what I do here every Friday.

It's time to handle my weekly Friday 'bidness' of shining a bright spotlight on the fool, fools or collections of fools that have exhibited engaged in mind blowing WTF moments, said stupid stuff, demonstrated jawdropping stupidity, or exhibited unbridled arrogance and hubris worthy of our Shut Up Fool Awards.

So let's get busy shall we?

Honorable mention number one is Anthony Weiner who has embarrassed and made a fool of himself in front of the city of New York and the nation once again for getting embroiled in another sexting scandal while running for mayor of New York.

Honorable mention number two is Rep Steve King (Teabagger-IA) who not only compared immigrants to dogs and got called on it by Univision's Jorge Ramos, vocalized his racist opposition to the DREAM Act by saying this jacked up comment when talking about DREAMers and a path to citizenship:

“For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

DREAMers have been sending his congressional office cantaloupes in response and have refrained from throwing them at his bigoted butt as he doubled down on the remarks.

And the GOP wonders why they are losing Latino voters..  

Honorable mention number three goes to Rep Louie Gohmert (Teabagger-TX) who once again opened his racist mouth and compared the human rights of African-Americans to the snail darter

Oh well, at least it wasn't the usual simian comparisons his conservafool buddies repeatedly make.   Must be killing him and them not to be able to say n****r.

Honorable mention number four is the GOP controlled North Carolina legislature for passing the most draconian voter suppression law in the nation.  

Honorable mention number five is Tavis Smiley  He's still hatin on President Obama and dissed the speech he made on race in the wake of the unjust Zimmerman verdict by saying 'it was too little and too late' on his Twitter feed and NBC's Meet The Press.  Black Twitter came down on his azz like a ton of bricks with the #TavisWeeps hashtag and so did several African-American pundits..

You and your boy Cornel still aren't getting inside the White House between now and January 20, 2017 and it should be crystal clear by now your hatin' the POTUS is only harming you, so you need to give it up. 
This week's winner is Ted Nugent.   Ted went on an unhinged rant dissing Stevie Wonder and the performance boycott of Florida being joined by an increasingly long list of music performers.

Ted, thought you said you'd be dead or in jail if President Obama was reelected?   We're waiting. 

And I know your Tea bagging ass isn't parting your lips to diss Stevie Wonder, who you wish you were one tenth the musician that Stevie is.  Stevie was named in 2009 a United Nations Messenger of Peace, an honor you'll never get.

When you and your conservafool friends start expressing concerns about the rampant white on white crime and all the white people that die at the hands of unhinged white males with automatic weapons, then I'll take your faux concern over Black folks in Chicago dying at the hand of gun violence that your NRA board buddies enables by fighting reasonable gun control regulations.

Until then sit down, STFU and Shut up Fool!.     

Use Our Black Trans History Posted Here To 'Ejumacate' Folks

"One of my favorite parts about TransGriot is when you showcase some of our trans history.  It opens my eyes to a world in the past that I can't imagine living in. From Lady Java to Lucy Hicks Anderson, I appreciate knowing that we didn't just pop up in the millennium. We have been here fighting. It shows me that I have been handed a torch and I need to continue running with the torch." --Diamond Stylz  October 26,.2011

One of the things I get a lot of love and appreciation for (and requests to do more of) are the posts scattered through the almost 7000 TransGriot posts here I've written about Black trans history makers, the events we've had a hand in shaping, compiling interviews of Black trans people and chronicling our accomplishments here and across the African Diaspora.

I even have a post at talking about it.

I recently added a trans history one about Wilmer 'Little Axe' Broadnax, a trans man who was a major gospel singer in the 40's, 50's and 60's and more are forthcoming.   The Broadnax story also drives home the point I repeatedly make on this blog, at my panel discussions, seminars and during my keynote speeches that Black transpeople are woven into the kente cloth fabric of African-American life and we aren't going away. .

The inspiration for this post is concerning something that happened two nights ago while I was burning the post midnight oil composing a few future TransGriot articles.  I had one browser window open on my Facebook page as usual and received a chat message from Diamond Stylz asking me what was the name of our trans sister who was a JET magazine beauty of the week. 

After I replied 'Ajita Wilson' and sent her the link to the post I wrote about her, she explained moments later why she asked. 

Diamond was approached online by a cis Black woman who wished to write a Buzzfeed post entitled '12 Reasons You'll Never Be A Jet Beauty Of The Week' that wanted to include the transphobic 'because you're a man'  line as one of them.  

Diamond not only schooled her on why that particular reason was not only problematic and insultingly transphobic, she used the link to my Ajita Wilson story to prove it was historically inaccurate and wrong.

Diamond then proceeded to use more of our trans history to point out the other things Black trans women have accomplished or are part of like being a state legislator (Althea Garrison), a major fashion model (Tracy Africa Norman), a writer, community leader and past editor of (Janet Mock), helping jump off the Stonewall Riots and be a major early trans leaders (Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major), help found organizations like A Dionne Stallworth and Dee Dee Chamblee, sing before a sitting US president (Tona Brown), be the first patient to go through the Johns Hopkins Gender program (Avon Wilson), help take down the odious LAPD Rule Number 9 (Lady Java), groundbreaking actress (Laverne Cox), fashion designer (Isis King), college professor and two time DNC convention delegate (Dr. Marisa Richmond), novelist Pamela Hayes, musicians across a wide range of musical genres from Jordana LeSesne, Koko Jones, Katey Red to the late T. Desiree Hines, attorneys like the late Dana Turner, ministers (Rev. Carmarion Anderson), up and coming activists like KOKUMO, trans elders such as Tracie Jada O'Brien, Cheryl Courtney-Evans and Gloria Allen, our Diaspora sisters Audrey Mbugua, Mia Nikasimo, Sahhara and some award winning trans blogger whose posts y'all will occasionally read.      

And that's before I even start talking about all the stuff Black transmen have done and are still accomplishing across the African Diaspora that deserves its own post like Marcelle Cook-Daniels, Alexander 'Bear' Goodrum, Kylar Broadus, Rev. Louis Mitchell, Dr. Kortney Ryan Ziegler, Carter Brown, Victor Mukasa and Skipper Mogapi just to name a few.   

When Diamond was through with cis homegirl she was shifting gears and asking her about doing an interview for a feminine empowerment blog she writes.

That's the power our Black trans history has.  It not only can 'ejumacate' and inspire us to do wonderful things, it also educates our own people who aren't aware of the Black trans community's accomplishments and us standing up for our human rights.  

It also tells the fascinating stories of people like Georgia Black, Lucy Hicks Anderson, Wilmer Broadnax, James 'Sweet Evening Breeze' Herndon and Jim McHarris who boldly lived their lives in an era which predates transgender being used to describe them.

They were simply living the best way they knew how their lives as the men and women they were created to be and insisted they were regardless of the genitalia configurations between their legs.

Much of the reason I compile Black trans history stories on this blog is to ensure they are documented and don't get forgotten, gayjacked or whitewashed.  The attempts to do that with the predominately African-American 1965 Dewey's Lunch Counter Sit In Protest in Philadelphia story have been made.  

It's here on the blog and I'll be adding more Black trans history stories as expeditiously as possible.

So use it trans people, allies and supporters to dispel the lie that we Black transpeople haven't contributed anything to the advancement of trans human rights, our people's advancement, aren't part of the Black community or made some history in our own right.

Use the Black trans history posted here to 'ejumacate' folks about our ongoing contributions to society here and across the Diaspora.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Honor 41 List Trans Honoree Videos

41-listThe Honor 41 list was created by Alberto Mendoza to bring visibility to and honor the contributions of Latina and Latino TBLGQ people.

On the inaugural Honor 41 list we have five transpeople represented on it in the persons of Bamby Salcedo, Arianna Inurritegui Lint, Maria Roman, Danielle Castro and Isaac Gomez.

Nominations will open soon for the 2014 edition of the Honor 41 list, so if there are BTLGQ Latina/o folks you think deserve to be on the next list, when Alberto sends me the word, you TransGriot readers will also know when, where and how to send those nominations in. 

I have a few peeps I'm definitely going to suggest for next year's list.  And naw, they are not all Texans either.

As part of the process of being named to the Honor 41 List, the honorees also submitted videos.  So take the time to get to know our trans Latino/a brothers and sisters who were honored on this inaugural list and hope to see many more Honor 41 trans honorees in future editions of it.

Bamby Salcedo

Arianna Inurritegui Lint

Maria Roman

Danielle Castro

Isaac Gomez


Why I'm STILL Pissed Off About The Zimmerman Verdict

 George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin on Saturday, July 13, 2013. -- CNN
One of the questions I got asked this weekend by a few of my white allies during the just concluded TTNS who sincerely wanted to understand what was happening was why I and many African-Americans were highly pissed about the unjust verdict that went down in Sanford, FL.

Grab a seat.  This might take a while.

While many of us weren't shocked and were even expecting to hear the words 'not guilty' come out of the mouths of a six person jury that had ZERO African-Americans on it (and do not even try in the comment thread to point out there was a Latina on it) it was still painful to hear and realize that this grown azz white man (and that what Zimmerman is, people despite his Latina mother) just got away with killing a Black teenager.

That fact continuing to be ignored by many of you predominately white and conservafool peeps either gloating about this verdict or trying to whitesplain it is much of the reason we're seething about it.  It also didn't help before this verdict even went down that four black robe wearing white men and a sellout self hating knee-grow on the Supreme Court gutted Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.  

Black folks have and NEVER will forget our 400 year negative history with the people who continue to gleefully oppress us and our continuing human rights struggle in the US.  All that verdict did was remind us is there are elements of the white community who will always hate us, and elements of you who are clueless as to the white privilege you walk around with that shapes your opinions to the point you have blocked from your minds that an unarmed 17 year old kid was killed by a grown azz man and got away with it.

It was also galling to see Zimmerman's attorneys gloat in victory, Georgie boy arrogantly demand the Black community 'apologize to him' and his bigoted brother Robert, Jr express fears on CNN that his brother would be shot by armed vigilantes.

WTF?   It was also a bitter slap in the face that reminded us that where the US justice system is concerned, it's definitely not color blind and Officer Friendly has a problem with POC's be they cis, gay or especially trans.

Every time a white person parts their lips to disrespectfully call our legitimate vocalizing of the jacked up things we see happening to us as 'playing the race card', we get even more offended and angry about it.

In addition for the renewed fear I have for my teenage and toddler male cousins (and frankly female ones aren't safe either) and their chances of not fulfilling the depressing statistic that 1 in 4 Black males will die before their 30th birthday, the verdict also reminded me of all those microaggressive and macroaggressive racial incidents I dealt with on the other side of the gender fence.

A DWB traffic stop in Highland Park, TX just a few days after Christmas in 1980 in which mine and my cousin's crime was wanting to see Christmas lights.   Another 1983 one in Southwest Houston in which me and my friends after leaving a club were pulled over and disrespectfully asked by a white cop after we all showed our IDs why we were in Southwest Houston with South Park addresses on our licenses. 

It brought back the bitter memories of being followed in the Joske's in Gulfgate Mall by store security as a white male scooped up a rack of designer jeans and ran past them on his way out of the store.

It brought back the 1990 memory of me in an IAH Terminal C parking garage elevator on my way to work, the elevator door sliding open on the 4th floor of it and a white woman my age switching her purse in her arm and cowering in the corner as I seethed and gave her the side eye.  

I said to her at the time,"If I were the larcenous type, do you really think I would rob you while on my way to a job that pays me quite well every two weeks, wearing a loud ass red jacket with a Continental badge hanging from it with my name in bold print and a loud yellow City of Houston Aviation department badge with my social security number on it?"

It also reminded me of the verdicts in which the murderer of Chanelle Pickett walked out of a Massachusetts courtroom a free man and CeCe McDonald is sitting in a Minnesota jail for defending herself against a neo-Nazi.  The anger and frustration boils over as I think about what Roger B Taney wrote in 1857 in terms of being considered someone who 'has no rights a white person is bound to respect' and seems to be a mantra that the Republican Party and the conservafool movement gleefully puts into political action.

So if you're wondering why I'm still pissed about the Zimmerman verdict, now you know.