Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I just read a post found on Hip Hop Wired. With the Transgender Day of Remembrance only three days away, my jaw dropped to the ground after reading “Dude Looks Like A Lady: 10 Celebrities Caught With Trannies!”, penned by Jason Weintraub. I am guessing that this MAY have been intended as can only presume. The word “tranny” (to which I am generally not as sensitive as some...depending upon its use) was used no less than seven times. Mr. Weintraub also seemed fairly comfortable with the term “transvestite.

Well...I found neither satire nor comedy... nor ANYTHING of redeeming value in this column. It was crude, bigoted, insensitive and left me drained. Why, I asked myself, did I even dignify this piece of trash by even taking the time to read it? Well...I answered myself with my customary response. If we don’t read what’s going on out there, we’ll never know whether and to what extent the winds of change are blowing. And we won’t be able to help effect that change.

Mr. Weintraub’s column can essentially be dismissed as meaningless’s the comments following the column that I found to be REALLY disturbing. It wasn’t the copious use of obscentities...I’m cool with that. It wasn’t even the disbelief espoused by the commenters. What DID sicken and scare me...and left me with a feeling of foreboding in the of pit in my stomach...was the level of hate and intended violence these cretins embody. It defies any sense of tolerance, empathy or even humanity.

And it wasn’t just a few commenter’s...there were many who had, for some unknown reason, a desire to spew their vitriol. Here are a few...

“Mothf@@@as talk that ***** but if they see this "IT" at the bar and find out it has nothing hanging in between "IT's" legs and no signs of being a chick they will not think twice about tearing that ***** up with or without liquor in their system!!!!!!!”

“Omg!!these Dudes crazy! da bow wow one look like a str8 up fem she pretty. Da second one wit neyo looks disgustin ewww how cud he. Wtf!! Danm sidney really wtf!! U attentiion suckin w***** lol”
“No telling how many men haven't been fooled by the one Bow wow was with, cause he looks like a woman.”

This one, however, blew my mind...

“He looks like a man in this pic, with his busted weave. All of this is disgusting and an abomination. This is how transgender and homosexuals get beat up and murdered, being deceitful. Some men can't take the shame. Then it's turned around and called a hate crime. I don't condon violence of any kind; but this is how we get violent crimes of p*****ion. To all you transgenders who have not been honest about your gender, you are a digrace. At least be honest about who you are, if you want to be a woman and are bold enough to have surgical procedures to be one of us. Be woman enough to tell your prospective partner, give that man an option; stop pulling that Crying Game sh**!”
When have you ever seen the trans panic defense better articulated? Not to mention the alleged “deceitfulness” of trans individuals? This mindset defies any attempt at reason.
I started to leave a response...there were actually several comments which could be construed as somewhat supportive...but asked myself if there were really anything to be gained by stepping in someone else’s droppings. Part of me felt compelled to add my comment...part of me chose to refrain. question is...are there times it’s better to keep quiet? Or..should I have added my .02?

Just wondering...

Hip Hop Wired

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reaching Out

It’s been about a year since we lost Christine Daniels. After reading the LA Weekly article, I was devastated…perhaps one of hundreds who innocently subjected her to pressure for advocacy. I suspect she would not have wanted us to feel remorse, yet her death, along with the latest bullying provoked suicides, has once again called me to re-examine the taking of one’s own life. But there’s another reason, too.

I know what it feels like to contemplate suicide. I also know what it feels like to attempt suicide, and fail. I even know what it feels like to rejoice over that failure (this is the first I’ve written about it). What I do NOT know and am currently learning, or not learning, is what it feels like to try to prevent another’s suicide.
My friend is super intelligent, funny and completely at ease in the public’s eye. She’s been a trans activist for years. She’s lived though two horrible years, wherein she’s lost her job, her home, her dignity and her sense of being in the world. As with many of us, she’s an aging trans person, trying to make it in an economic downturn where employment can be difficult for everyone…and infinitely worse for trans individuals.

Being the super intelligent person she is, my friend has devoted much time to researching and reading about suicide. “Out of the Nightmare: Recovery from Depression and Suicidal Pain”, by
David L. Conroy made an impression on her. So did Canada’s CBC broadcast of “Ideas: To Be Or Not To Be.” Just last night she mentioned the names of two other books she’d just checked out of the library. I’m hoping that her interest in investigating suicide will be a stopgap and actually help to deter her from a radical and irrevocable decision.

A theory which has found traction with her is the three-legged stool model. All three legs must be there for a suicide to be successful…that is, fatal. Two out of three criteria are insufficient and even then a so called “trigger” is usually instrumental after the stool has all three legs. The trigger is what suicide hotlines and professionals who deal with suicides try to keep from occurring, in addition to addressing the three legs.

The first leg of the stool is despair. Okay…my friend is desperate, or at least has allowed herself to believe she is. The truth or fiction of this belief appears to be in the eye of the beholder, if our “arguments” are any indication. She’ll probably hate me for this, but it has something to do with a dogma of self delusion. I know about this behavior because I personally rationalized my own suicide attempt with this same faulty reasoning. Many who contemplate suicide do too.

It goes something like this: “I have nothing to live for; there is no hope for me. I don’t even deserve to live…let someone who is more deserving and who will appreciate it have my life. Yes…I hear what you say about thinking positive, but I used to be positive about life and look where it got me. So much for your theory that negativity begets negativity and positivity begets the positivity.”

And…I’m stumped, because I don’t have any answer. It’s Job’s plight…why do the good suffer? Well…life isn’t fair, but you get back what you put out…I know there’s a paradox here, but it’s true. And you need to believe to make it work (a little thing called faith…and not necessarily in a religious sense.). Sadly, I’ve failed in fostering a sense of faith with my friend, even though she accepts that none of us knows what’s around the bend.

The second leg of the stool is isolation. Everyone knows what it’s like to be all alone. It can be pretty damn scary if you’re already feeling like you have no reason to live. And it’s easy to lose friends (she has no family) as life gets more tenuous. I’ve watched her alienate friends and I guess the subconscious rationale is that of the self fulfilling prophecy… ‘see…I have nobody who really cares anyway, so it won’t make a difference either way.’

Sadly, isolation and despair become a co-dependent pair, each one feeding off the other’s negative energy until you’re literally being sucked down into a vortex of utter hopelessness. Sometimes it’s all the energy she (I,you) can muster to even get out of bed in the morning. She has wanted me to visit (she lives 800 miles away), but it just hasn’t worked out and I know she feels I’ve abandoned her. There’s a push/pull dynamic involved here, as well, which confounds and frustrates me, but you have to work within the parameters of your own life and sometimes reaching out is difficult. Still, I feel guilty.

The third leg is, as I’ve been told, not courage, but a loss of fear. As life gets more desperate, a tipping point can be approached, and then reached, where the fear of taking one’s own life is less than the fear of the unknown with no home, income, or prospects. And then there’s the trigger. It could be the stupidest and least consequential event or thought which ignites the stool and its three legs. An irrevocable moment has been reached with no room for buyer’s remorse.

It gets better. We’ve heard this expression a lot lately but the truth is that sometimes it doesn’t. And my friend has convinced herself that, in her case, NOTHING will ever improve. In fact, it will progressively become worse…is becoming worse, whereupon she lets me know that the clock is ticking and that it’s getting closer to midnight. But it doesn’t always get worse; in fact the more you want it to get better, the greater chance it will. And in most instances, life is its own proof that checking out early is not only tragic but regrettable. But we’ll never know if we don’t stick around. I’m living proof.


Having just read a news item in The Christian Post, I’ve marked April 18th as a day of note on my calendar. Why, you ask? Well…it’s the national Day of Dialogue. How cool… a day when we’ll all chat about matters of moment. It kind of reminds me of the colloquys we use to have when I was in college. We’d rap (I know…I still use this antiquated hippie-speak term for talk…I say “dig it” too) and try to find common ground, or an understanding, or at the very least give audience to views we may not quite accept. So…a day for dialogue…that sounds wonderful.

Day of dialogue was previously the Day of Truth. Okay…that’s a little bit weirder. I started to get suspicious that we weren’t actually planning to discuss all manner of stuff on April 18th…no…we’re only going to discuss “THE TRUTH”. What truth? According to whom? And how would we really know it’s the truth?

My suspicions were not allayed. I learned that the Day of Truth, originally founded by the Alliance Defense Fund, was endorsed by Exodus International…you know…the people who claim that being gay can be cured? They’re good buddies with the folks from AFTAH…Americans for Truth about Homosexuality. Exodus International…wasn’t the recently defeated Delaware senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell affiliated with them too? You know…she told us masturbation is a sin.

Day of Truth was originally intended as an answer for the Day of Silence (April 15)…a day when people express solidarity with LGBT issues by not talking. Day of Silence is a reminder that those who are bullied often lose their voice. It’s a response to all those who would just as soon sweep gender and orientation issues under the table because this kind of talk makes them squeamish; or pissed off; or hateful. And, the Day of Silence stands as a reminder to all those who feel that bigotry is unacceptable, who know intolerance is antisocial, and who will not allow these issues to be diluted or swept away.

Here is the Christian Post’s quote establishing a rationale for Day of Truth. It was meant to "counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective." Egads…not the “homosexual agenda”…please…not again. Spare me!

In its infinite wisdom, however, Exodus International decided to abandon the Day of Truth because “of the ‘adversarial’ tone it came to take on.” Have no fear…Focus on Family to the rescue. “After Exodus stepped away, we wanted to make sure the program was continued,” Gary Schneeberger, vice president of communications for Focus on the Family, told The Christian Post. "We consider it valuable and believe in what the program stands for – which is making sure more than one perspective on the issue (homosexuality) is heard in schools."

Now it’s to be called Day of Dialogue, not Day of Truth. But...should we all be wary that this is a subterfuge? Should there be cause for concern? Will LGBT students be persecuted? Not at all. “Schneeberger stressed that the Colorado Springs-based evangelical group has zero tolerance for bullying of any kind and makes that clear to participating students. And it is asking students not to speak in ways that are condemning, antagonistic, dismissive or demeaning when engaging in dialogue about homosexuality.”

Nope…no harassing here. Not according to Gary Schneeburger. “Focus on the Family's main role in sponsoring the event is to equip students with information about God's design for sexuality – that is in the context of marriage between a man and a woman – and to provide guidelines on how to articulate that respectfully.”

Oh…I see…We’ll talk about the truth, as it’s postulated by those whose goal is to rid the world of any kind of deviance, as they define it, and call it dialogue. And, of course, Focus on Family has always had a reputation for civil and respectful discussions. My experience in chatting with those who rail against the “homosexual agenda” however, is that I’d get more responsive discourse from a turnip. So...mark April 18th on your calendar...this day’s events should be interesting, informative and will make for a wonderful day filled with meaningful dialogue.

And pigs can fly too!!

Christian Post

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Rep. Barney Frank on LGBT legislation:

“Next year there’s no chance of anything happening,” he said of pro-LGBT legislation. “There’s zero chance.” This in the most recent Washington Blade.

Washington Blade

Is this some kind of “light bulb” moment? I can’t believe Rep. Frank is stating anything that most of us haven’t already figured out. We blew it…blew our chance to make major gains effecting literally millions of Americans. Instead, we got a health plan, with no guts, that’s essentially a gift to the insurance companies.

How can this be? The Obama administration is chastised by the right as Marxist, madmen with a socialist agenda. Most of us on the left think President Obama has sold us out by not standing firm and tall against the crap tea party zealots and others have dished out. This administration had the opportunity to have the greatest legislative session coinciding with a presidency since LBJ. Yes…it still was an amazing 111th Congress, but by the estimation of many of us, it fell far short.

Where did this administration go wrong? Blatant lies were never effectively refuted. The campaigns of misinformation and disinformation put forth by far right conservatives and by Faux News and its cronies were allowed to stand. Revisionism and prevarication and a stiff neck have been a pretty damn effective formula for the right (just listen to Mitch McConnell & John Boehner) and it seems we on the left have no answer for it.

In President’s Obama’s haste to make compromise a possibility, we overlooked reality. There was never a sincere intent on the part of Republicans to compromise. As soon as it became obvious that there would be no cooperation, the Democratic controlled Congress, with President Obama’s support, should have set forth their own agenda irrespective of the conservative nay-sayers and their obstructionist bent. ENDA should have been at the top of the list. It was doable.

Granted, the Senate cloture issue made automatic passage of legislation difficult, but it’s hard to believe we could not persuade, with a big enough carrot, two Republican Senators to go along with a Democratic majority. I don’t know what that might have entailed, but it’s hard to imagine us having any better odds for legislative successes than we had in the 111th.

So…we may get DODT in the lame duck session…we may even get DOMA repealed through the judicial process. But, ENDA…essentially the granddaddy of all LGBT legislation, the one bill which would truly have helped the greatest number of Americans in the most substantial way, has been allowed to languish. No thanks to Rep. Frank. And now there’s a large Republican majority in the House and a much narrower Democrative margin in the Senate.
Just f@#king great!

Equality for all? Not happening…not now!

Saturday, November 06, 2010


Okay…I’ve been watching the complete “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and the other night (election night), needing a diversion from election returns for a bit, I slid in the DVD, got the first episode on the disc and pushed “Engage”.

I had forgotten about this show, entitled, “The Outcast”. It’s about a race of androgynous aliens who need Captain Picard and the rest of the Enterprise crew to solve a space conundrum. In the pursuit of solving this mystery, Commander Riker and one of the aliens, named Soren, are thrown together into what develops into a most unusual yet prescient situation.

The denizens of Genia (interesting, given that this show revolves around gender issues) have evidently, according to Soren, evolved past a gender binary and are now essentially androgynous. It turns out that Soren is a “throwback” to days when gender WAS binary and she identifies as female. Of course, she and Riker develop a mutual attraction and therein lies the problem and the plot. Not only have the Genians evolved past gender binary, but it’s now taboo to exhibit pre-androgyny behavior.

The parallels to contemporary Earth are purposefully and artfully developed. In fact, it’s actually the inversion of the gender status as we know it. And the writer (Jeri Taylor) and director (Robert Scheerer) make sure that many of the nuances of gender oppression mirror those to which we are accustomed.

Before learning of Soren’s gender identity, one of the first issues they confront is the personal pronoun issue. Riker refers to Soren’s teacher as “he” and “she” corrects him. (I’ve used the pronoun “she” because Soren identifies as female) He says he was unsure of what would actually be the correct pronoun because he knows using the word “it” would be rude and offensive. She tells him Genia does have non-gendered pronouns.

Riker finds a world without gender differences curious; Soren finds a world WITH gender differences equally incomprehensible. She states Genia’s moirés thusly: “The idea of gender is offensive to my people. Long ago we had two sexes; we have evolved to a higher form. Gender is primitive, less evolved.” Riker remarks that sometimes primitive is good. Riker asks who leads when they dance…she replies the taller of the two. Soren asks what guides human attractions…what kind of woman Riker would prefer? He says it varies amongst humans, but, for him, they have to laugh at his jokes…she, of course, laughs.

At some point, we have the “coming out” scene. Soren expresses her attraction (we saw it coming) to Riker, but with the caveat that gender expression is not only discouraged, but that there is a “no tolerance” policy. She tells him there have been so called throwbacks before and that she is one, that she identifies as female. Soren describes a childhood incident wherein one of her classmates displayed male behavior. He was taunted and bullied unmercifully. One day he appeared to have been beaten and the response was to subject him to what they called “psychotectic treatment”. Soren had known she was different from a very young age; thereafter she realized that her gender identity must remain hidden and that she must not disclose her innermost feelings. Soren’s secret had to be Riker’s secret.

Feelings of gender identity and/or a belief that one was gendered were considered to be more than just taboo on Genia…they were forbidden. Those who dared to express anything other than androgyny were ridiculed and shunned and subjected to curative regimens. So they kept their true selves hidden and led secret and guarded lives.

The climax, of course, was Soren getting busted. Riker covered for her, but finally having been discovered, she just could not go back down the path of denial. She made a heartfelt and dramatic appeal for individuality, diversity and the right for self validation; to no avail. She was summarily taken off for the customary psychotectic treatment, something I imagine to be in between reparative therapy and the Ludivico Treatment from Clockwork Orange.

Upon her return, she stated unequivocally that she was “glad to be cured”. How could she have been so wrong, so anti social, so embarrassing to Genian civilization. How humiliating! How wrong! Indeed…how wrong!!

Of note is the fact that this television show aired in 1992. Given the obvious fact that Jeri Taylor was purposefully making a social statement, it’s tragic how far we still have to go in creating a tolerant and accepting community. Bullying, bellicose bigots and Bible–toting dogmatists make sure the concepts of harassment and marginalization are alive and well. Loud mouthed and hateful miscreants are at the ready to whisper behind our backs, and then openly ridicule and shun whenever they deem it necessary to pass judgment, which is just about always. Or else they want to beat us up. And then there’s that chorus telling us we can be…and should be… cured. What a load of crap.

If only and we could take a tip from the 24th century and had just a scintilla of the wisdom of that era.

Make it so, Jean Luc, make it so…