Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why RuPaul's Drag Race Should Eliminate RuPaul...And Itself

TransGriot Note:  If you think trans people outside the borders of the United States aren't paying attention to Drag Race's use of shemale and the t-word and are fine with it, this guest post by Malaysian activist Yuki Choe will blow that perception up.

She's in her words "a lone transsexual advocate and a vocalist, one who performs without drag."


It is now exactly a month since the fateful segment on the reality show Drag Race drew widespread condemnation from the transgender population, and what is deemed as transphobic slurs have since been removed from the show. There are discussions aplenty on where to draw the lines when it comes to terms that are hurtful to transwomen, like “she-male”. Words do count, but not for some who just refuse to understand how much influence words can get, especially specific terms that society usually use to mock transwomen.

Society is too lazy to study Trans 101, and they will eventually pick up information by what they observe along the way. People would look to the idiot box and find RuPaul, a man, in drag. They will reason that transwomen are males who drags like RuPaul. He uses “she-male” like nobody’s business, so there cannot be anything wrong with it. And for RuPaul, all this mash up is no big deal. But, it is. “She-male” is a term that is oft used to shame transwomen into mere sex objects. Such words are meant to demean any womanhood that any transwoman could have. It has all the motivations to humiliate transwomen by reminding them of just how incomplete their lives are with their bodies.

Do we hate him?

We hate RuPaul not because we have internalized transphobia; we hate what the character RuPaul brings to the front. We hate the imagery he represents because it is a caricature in which society determine how to define a transwomen – a she-male, a drag, a shim, a cross-dresser. He turns us into entertainment. He transforms the lives of transwomen into a Howard Stern styled comedy. Many attacked RuPaul for being transphobic, but I really doubt it. He may not even comprehend what the hell the outcry is about simply because he is not really a transgender. He never knew what that means 20 over years ago, and probably never will.

We are called to accept his drag world as a transgender representative, even by GLAAD’s definition of transgender. But he is not. His approach is one of a gay guy who thinks he is doing us a favour. That is the arrogance we so despise. We also cannot stand the fact that he still does not wish to learn from us. He has been ignoring the needs of the transgender population to be addressed with respect for many years.

Talking past each other

Some of the comments I read from the blogs highlighting this controversy, mention about policing of words. That this is transfacism. It is actually far from it. This is about words created to impact a population. Words come with its own definitions. Would a transwomen want to be described with terms bearing male pronouns like “she-male” and “lady-boy”? Perhaps the reason some insist there is nothing wrong with such derogatory words is obvious, is it not? They want to use the word because they feel nothing, but we feel hurt. Words like “tranny“ are widely used to bully children and verbally abuse transsexuals. People who stand by RuPaul just could not relate to that.

The words are meant to harm, which is why one should avoid using it. It has the power to degrade transwomen. It is easy to say we only give strength to the word if we bother about them. It does not work for transwomen. Because lest we forget, we are only less than 1% of the population. These words determine whether we are fit for the next interview to get a room for rent, or be forced back into the closet at churches. To drags and cross-dressers, it is all about dressing part-time or dressing full-time, the mentality is that transwomen are “really” genetically boys, as opposed to the term “genetic girl” when addressing cisgender women.

The point that transgender activists have been trying to say for the past month, is not only confined to that infamous game segment. It has been echoed for years to even the majority straight population – we are not a show, we are not freaks, so stop using media to turn us into jokes. But all this while, RuPaul sees transwomen as only men in women’s clothing, like him. There is not even one moment from him that shows he truly knows what it feels being born in the wrong sex. He parrots the belief that we are all drag queens in the end, and that some of us just decided to go further into hormones then SRS, which is so painfully far from the truth.

RuPaul’s Ignorance

When RuPaul implied about revolution by citing Orwell’s Animal Farm, he is talking about his own “drag queen” revolution that has very little to do with any revolutions that may or may not take place in transwomen’s world, a world that needs protection from the flurry of abuses that are generated by a vastly transphobic generation, and meant to punish transwomen; RuPaul would accidentally be behind another face of his revolution, one that is directly against transwomen.

He does not realize that in defense of words like “she-male”, he shows little understanding of how much damage it would have on trans women, all the while as he removes his makeup and pumped up dresses after shows to be Andre Charles again, with his package of male privileges. For him, it is his art, jumping into womanhood for a while, after being RuPaul for several hours.

But, for tens of thousands of transwomen, it is not an art. It is not an entertainment or a game. Gender Identity Dysphoria is a real condition that affects lives. Transwomen born with it need to transition. Their body mapping must change to accommodate their brain sex, and the intense distress is painful and lifelong. While he sits in his car out of drag, and heads for home after his show, many transwomen would be struggling to hold on to their jobs, and some may even encounter violence. RuPaul can jump out of his drag. Transwomen cannot jump out of their skin and be non-transgender.

RuPaul would expect us to “toughen up” and be “queen”. But we are tough, only not queens. We are simply women, but women who are tough because we have to endure hundreds of hazardous situations he most likely will not encounter even once in his life. And he is not helping. Until this gets into the thick skull of his and every other sympathizers he has, the discussion will not go anywhere.

Visibility breeds stereotypes

And people assume transwomen are “in-drag”. So people would disparage transwomen, and forcefully consider them men. Religious conservatives always lay claim to a “change” of “gay lifestyle” if transwomen want to. And those with lesser knowledge would just brand transwomen as a life choice, and when difficulties arise, sometimes even life-threatening, it is “really” transwomen’s fault because we “choose to drag”.

As transwomen, we wish we could just say to hell with the world. Unfortunately, as a minority at the mercy of a general public who find transwomen useful for tease and ridicule at best (and we do not wish to be reminded what happens at worst), what society think of us does count; it affects our jobs, our insurance, our education, our relationships, everything. And we already have to bear with misrepresentations from religious fundamentalists painting us all as child predators, rapists and fetishists.

Having RuPaul and his show amplifies even more stereotypes of transwomen. We should go even as far as to say he is abetting bullying of transgender children, and encouraging verbal abuse towards transgender people. After all, words are not sticks and stones, right? NOT.

The bigger questions

This is perhaps an appropriate period for us to ponder, what really is transgender now? Should RuPaul be even considered a transgender? While the American Psychological Association includes drag queens in its definition for transgender, many trans people have started to address themselves as transsexual and not transgender, simply because of the disparity in experiences of people born with gender identity dysphoria, and the rest under the transgender umbrella.

Is it not time to correctly address transsexuals as transsexuals and drag queens as drag queens? If we were to say drag queens are transgender, would we not have to include bio queens as well? Or even some animals in drag? Is it not time to consider a more accurate definition of transgender in GLAAD and other trans resources? Should RuPaul even be associated with the “T” still?

Maybe RuPaul is far from transphobic and has the right to use whatever word he wants; but he or any cross-dresser, drag queen, or any men who dresses as women, could and should spare a thought for transwomen afflicted by being born trans.   Unlike them, because any claims of sensitizing society is offset by their own misuse of words that attacks transwomen, the incongruence suffered by transwomen is real.

For transwomen, it is not about dressing, let alone over-the-top with a face buried in tons of makeup and purposely deepening their voices.  We are living our lives.  RuPaul would do well continuing his work, but not at the extent of creating collateral damage on the lives of transwomen everywhere.

Someone should start knocking a hard fact into RuPaul; the difference between a drag queen and a transgender, is that everybody can be a drag queen, even the queen of England. Not everyone can be a transgender, and for those who are unfortunately born transwomen, their lives are problematic enough without being trivialized by RuPaul.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why Y'all 'Scurred' Of Non-White Transpeople Owning Their Power?

Like everyone else, I ;like to change up my photos on my Facebook page every now and then.  

With the rapid approach of the third annual Black Trans Advocacy Conference happening up I-45 from me in Dallas April 29-May 4, last night I decided to put the Black Transwomen, Inc logo up on my Facebook page in honor of that.  Black Transwomen, Inc is the sister organization to Black Transmen, Inc. founded by 2013 Trans 100 honoree Carter Brown, and I wasn't expecting any drama over it.  

But amazingly to me, Jennifer Barge posted this comment on my Facebook page in reaction to that.  . 
  • ??every voice??
  • Monica Roberts It's the sister org to Black Transmen, Inc.
  • Jennifer M. Barge I know what it is- I helped to create it- but I am wondering why- with sooo much work- as a whole community- we [ the trans]are choosing to segregate the transgender community- when at this powerful moment we ALL NEED TO STAND STRONG- and I am not calling you out- just wanting to know why my "white" story is not as good as yours? I mean you went to college- I went to prison- you are educated- I ate out of a dumpster and am HIV +[ and survived by selling my body-] and came from the streets..I just ask when do I get heard?? The gay male privilege community threw me under a bus 17 years ago- {how I wish I was gay back then- as my meds would have been paid for] but NO- I am trans- and the white trans- HIV + -convict story is over looked because "we" do not fit a profile?? Well that is- umm racism- trust me a white convict is just as good [bad] as a black [ oh- sorry person of non specific color] convict Just know- I know my truth...and feel the lack of importance in "my" community.

    Monica Roberts And yeah, Jennifer, yes you did try to step to me on my own page over a logo.

    Seriously? School is now in session.

    Racism is prejudice plus systemic power. That's basic Sociology 101. The reality of American life is that by dint of you being born with white skin, you still have far more societal juice than I ever will have.

    As I wrote in February and it is just as applicable today.:

    ' We warned you that if something wasn't done about trans leadership ranks that resembled a GOP convention and you kept ignoring our pleas to change that and share the responsibility of leading this diverse community, the day was going to happen that we made our own damned tables and we wouldn't care if you liked it or not. "--TransGriot , February 8, 2014 'Why Y'all 'Scurred' Of Black Trans People Owning Their Power?

    That day is here. The Black Trans Renaissance  is happening. All we are doing is what the white trans community has done for the last several decades. We are building community infrastructure while we own our power and deal with the shame, guilt and fear issues among others in our ranks.

    A strong, muscular and powerful Black trans community confidently owning its power and giving itself options shouldn't be seen as a threat by white transpeople.

    And if you do see that as a threat, why?

    The trans community is only as strong as its weakest link, and Black trans people are simply taking the steps to make ourselves a more potent coalition partner and give ourselves options as any free people would intelligently do.
She then retreated to her own Facebook page to write this:. 
We can all try so hard to make "change" happen- and also try to live up to mainstreams perception of a transgender leader - be it a "black-trans-woman,inc" or a poc or a "hall of fame" participant in regard to transgender- but guess what? shockingly we are all the same...not all of us have a blog or choose to hold onto 5,000 friends on FaceBook- but WE have a path and a story- lets not continue to confirm the mainstream idea of celebrity within our community- it is great we have the Laverne Cox - But let us never forget the Holly Boswell- Virginia Prince and Renee Richards along with James Greene-they paved a way to make "us" happen-
My response to the comment she posted on her own Facebook page was the following:. 
And what you just did was erase Sylvia Rivera, Miss Major, Marsha P Johnson, the African-American gender variant kids who executed the Dewey's Lunch Counter Sit-In in Philly in April-May 1965.

Without them, and especially Sylvia Rivera jumping off the Stonewall Riots in 1969, there would be no trans rights movement for Renee Richards, Jamison Green or Holly Boswell to take part in.

Which FYI, I've met two of the three along with the mother of the trans rights movement in Sylvia Rivera in May 2000.
This movement has been centered on white trans voices for six decades, and now that non-white transpeople are finally getting face time, media coverage and recognition, y'all wanna trip.


Geena Rocero at a TED talkSo why are you and your fellow white transpeople mad that non-white trans people are getting positive recognition when you've had the spotlight on you ever since Christine Jorgensen stepped off the plane from Denmark and a trans movement predominately centered on your issues for the last six decades? 

It took the formation of the multicultural National Transgender Advocacy Coalition in 1999 ( that yours truly was the Political Director of from 1999-2002) before this community even started saying the words HIV/AIDS and talking about it as part of trans community policy discourse.   One of the seminars at the inaugural Transsistahs-Transbrothas conference we held in Louisville back in 2005 was presented by Miss Major, who discussed the issues incarcerated trans people face.    . 

We happen to be in the spotlight now, but this attention doesn't do justice to the time and hard work we all put in to make it happen.   Laverne Cox has been toiling for almost a decade before getting the breaks that led to her role on Orange Is The New Black and the subsequent well-deserved media attention.

Janet Mock was earning her masters degree and busting her behind as a editor before coming out as trans and writing her New York Times bestselling book Redefining Realness.  Same with Geena Rocero, who was a fashion model before coming out as trans to conduct her well received TED talk and form her international organization Gender Proud.   Dr. Kortney R. Ziegler is a filmmaker, blogger and the creative genius behind Trans*H4CK.  Isis King's movie Hello Forever will be playing soon at a film festival near you and Tona Brown will soon be performing on the hallowed Carnegie Hall stage.  .

Same with Ruby Corado, BTMI founder Carter Brown, Bamby Salcedo, Cecilia Chung, Maria Roman, Arianna Lint, Tiq Milan, Kye Allums, Kylar Broadus and the multitalented MMA fighter Fallon Fox.

We trans peeps of color all put the work in, paid our dues, got little to no recognition for a while and are now receiving the rewards from doing so.   You can dismiss it as 'confirming the mainstream idea of celebrity' all you want, I and the trans community of color see it as 'getting the long overdue recognition we deserve'. 

We've been erased from a 60 year vanillacentric trans narrative that barely mentioned the existence of trans people of color in a positive light unless we were talked about in 'tragic transsexual' terms if and when we did get the media coverage.  

And yeah, since you went there trying to throw shade at unapologetically Black blogging me, I've been part of this movement for 16 years and counting as my 2006 IFGE Trinity Award and being a inaugural Trans 100 honoree emphatically underscores.  

I've been busting my behind for the last eight years building TransGriot to be the internationally read and GLAAD award nominated platform it is now and voice for the African-American and other communities who get to guest post here. 

I'm proud of founding a popular blog that is unapologetically Afrocentric, focuses on transpeople of African descent, has highlighted much of our history,  and is widely read around the planet.   While I talk about a wide variety of trans and non trans issues, some of you whine about the heightened positive attention we trans POC's are receiving and you stage intramural arguments egged on by white gay men savaging each other about whether shemale and the t-word are slurs.

Yeah, they are.   End of story.    And I'd be willing to bet that Carter and Esperanza Brown aren't apologizing for founding BTMI, BTWI or starting the Black Trans Advocacy Conference either.   
The reason organizations like the TransLatin@ Coalition and BTMI/BTWI exist along with the Black Trans Advocacy Conference is because contrary to your assertion, we transpeople of color aren't 'just trans'.  We exist with multiple intersections in our trans bodies and don't have the luxury as you and other white transpeople do of going about our daily lives separating our ethnicity from our trans status.  

We trans POC's have to deal with the reality that racism exists in microaggressive and macroaggressive ways and deleteriously affects us inside and outside trans and SGL spaces. We are deeply aware of the fact we trans people of color are judged by our skin color first.   We are seen as Latin@, Black and Asian-Pacific Islanders first, and have to grapple with racism and the other issues that impact our communities before we can even begin to tackle the trans specific ones.   

There are issues unique to our communities that these organizations are better suited to address.  Trans Latinas and trans Asian-Pacific islanders are dealing with immigration issues along with the common ones like racism, the crushing unemployment-underemployment, HIV/AIDS, dealing with shame, fear and guilt, erasure from the trans narrative and accurate documentation.  

And as we are reminded every TDOR, the name lists we read have an unacceptably high number of Black and Latina transpeople. 

We also have as trans persons of color the task of trying to educate our socially conservative leaning communities about trans issues.  We have the unique know how, expertise and talking points that will best facilitate this ongoing mission.   And it can only help the trans community as a whole to have trans people of color talking to other cis people of color about these issues.

Janet's best selling book and Laverne's award winning work have probably done more in the last two years to speed up trans awareness and acceptance in the African-American community than the last 60 years of activism.. 

So I ask the question again.  What is wrong with non-white transpeople doing the same thing white transpeople have done for several decades in terms of building community amongst ourselves?  Why are you so 'scurred' of non-white transpeople owning their power?   Why are you jealous of us getting media attention after being erased from the trans narrative for the last six decades?

Non-white transpeople closing ranks in order to become a stronger, more cohesive part of the greater trans society is a long overdue and necessary step.   Having possibility models that we can proudly point to like Janet, Laverne, Kortney and countless others not only says to our transkids of color we exist, but sends the same message to our communities of color. 

And if you Jennifer and the people who share your narrow, vanillacentric privileged opinion can't see the benefits to you and the entire trans community of non-white transpeople owning their power, then that's an issue you and your friends will have to do some serious soul searching about.

You and your fellow white trans peeps grousing in your not so quiet Internet rooms about all the attention POC transpeople are getting now can #bemad and #staymad about that.  

And there are even more amazing trans activists of color in our wake who will exceed even what we're doing now that you can be jealous about like Cherno Biko, Parker T. Hurley, Tye West, Reina Gossett, Morgan Robyn Collado and Angelica Ross just to name a few. .   

As this country becomes more diverse and speeds toward the 2040 day in which non-white people will be a majority of the United States population, it was inevitable the trans community would also reflect that demographic shift since we are a microcosm of the parent society.

We need as a trans community to adjust to that looming reality and train a multicultural cadre of trans leaders.   It is also past time that some of the leaders of this community and the people sitting at trans community policy tables reflect the ethnic diversity of the trans community at large.

And if you don't want us sitting at yours, we'll do what our parents, grandparents and great grandparents did and make our own damned tables.    We will also as free trans people of color decide as we own our power what groups we wish to ally ourselves with.   Bottom line is get used to the fact we are no longer powerless junior partners, but people who do have growing circles of influence we can use to not only uplift our communities of color, but the trans community as well.     

So choose wisely.   You can either embrace what's going on or be 'scurred' of it   But either way it is going to continue regardless of what you and your friends think pro or con.   

Stop Yelling From The Porch

TransGriot note:  Proud to put up another guest post from Fallon Fox 

@jokestress @calpernia @TheAdvocateMag @huffpostgay Please stop yelling at us from the porch. It's hot out here, and the sun is beating on us hardcore. Yes, that ladle you're holding that's dripping with water sure does look good. But, I'd rather die than come up there. I'd rather die than not be respected like the other minorities in the world.

The porch is a very nice place to be I'm sure. And I'm sure it's nice and cool inside the house no? But, what do we have to do to get in that place? Oh, that's right, be made fun of. And release our ability to fight back when others keep theirs. I will not be coming up there with you. I'll toil out here with my sisters. One day the plantation will be overthrown. And where will that leave you?

**Warning - I must now spell out the slur words in text to use as examples in order for it to be clear what I say, and educate about these horrible words.**

Again, 'tranny' and 'shemale' are slurs. I won't stand by while my sisters and I are repeatedly disrespected by minorities outside of us. I won't sit back and allow any ethnicity outside of blacks, to attempt to joke around with the word 'nigger' at blacks expense without a fight.

I won't sit back and allow cisgender people outside of trans identity, to attempt to joke around with the word 'shemale' at trans women's expense without a fight.

This next question is important for the both of you. Would you be okay with ANY other ethnicity joking around with the word 'nigger' on TV in the way Ru Paul did?

Scenario- A Cuban rap artist holds a TV show. He has other Cuban rap artists come on the show, then tell those rappers to pick which rap artist in ANY ethnicity or a "nigger", depending on the partial photo presented.

All good fun, right? Nothing should be said to the entities that host their show?  It should be laughed off? Blacks who complain and demand that, should be removed should grow a thicker skin?

And free speech? Free speech is recognized by the government. Yes, you can say anything you want. However, there are real world consequences between citizens and businesses - when they say things within government protections of free speech.

Consider these three scenarios: 1- You want to come to my store and buy something? Great! But, don't call me a 'nigger'. Don't call me a 'shemale' either. Or you will be bounced. I don't have to let you stay in my store if you do. Why is that? 1- If I own a store, and my employee makes the unfortunate mistake of cracking jokes in front of customers by using 'shemale' or 'nigger', I can reprimand them, or fire them. Why is that?

2- If I own a business, and I myself make jokes in front of customers saying the word 'nigger' or 'shemale' I don't get fired. However, I will most likely lose business. Why is that? Perhaps it could be because we do have freedom of speech from a governmental standpoint. Which I applaud and love. It keeps our government in check, and is needed. But, outside of that, as Americans we govern ourselves in this regards.

Question for Calpernia Adams, Andrea James, the entities of The Advocate @TheAdvocateMag, Huffpostgay @huffpostgay: Can a politician joke around with the words 'nigger' or 'shemale' and keep their job? Would you say they should be able to keep their job on the grounds of free speech? If yes why? If no why?

As American people we have the power to vote our politicians out of office or impeach them for infractions of slur speech like this. And that is a good thing. Yes, you have freedom of speech; we all do. You will not prosecuted you for slur speech. THAT IS WHAT FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS. But, you do not have 100% free speech without the repercussions of people in your everyday life. That goes for businesses too. That is correct, that is right, that is needed. As the public need to keep businesses in check in this regards. Calpernia and Andrea, we will keep you in check. We will keep RuPaul in check. We will keep LOGO in check.

LOGO is a business. Ru Paul is an employee. The customers complained about his language at work in a work setting referring to derogatory language linked to its customers. They complained about this (repeatedly). Finally he was reprimanded. Do not attack @ChristinaKahrl. Do not attack those working hard to uplift our trans minority to a positive place in the minds of Americans. Do you love those who poke at us, their emotions of wanting to get that out of themselves, more than your own people?

Again, stay off of the porch.

We are valuable people. As valuable as Blacks, Gays, Asians, Native Americans, the disabled, et cetera . Stop treating us as if we are lesser human beings.  Have respect for your people, and have some respect for yourself. And I don't say that out of hatred. I say that because I truly, deeply, care about my people.

***If you are still unclear of my stance at this point I suggest you read the following link.***

Friday, April 18, 2014

Shut Up Fool Awards-Church Of The Real Edition

It's Good Friday, and we head into the 2014 edition of Easter Sunday poised to celebrate as Christians the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

It is also Friday, and that means it's time for my weekly exercise in calling out the mind numbingly stupid, the willfully ignorant, the over the top arrogant and the jaw dropping hypocrites and give them the Shut Up Fool Awards they so richly deserve.

It's time for our own Good Friday service in the Church Of The Real, run by Founding Pastor Denny Upkins.  So fire up you favorite gospel music to call out fools with as we launch into this week's edition of the Shut Up Fool awards.   BTW, the love offerings for this service can be dropped in the TransGriot tip jar.

Honorary mention number one is Steve Maltzberg, who less than 24 hours after Chelsea Clinton announced her pregnancy, this Pharisee decided to violate commandment number 9 and bear false witness against thy neighbor by claiming that Chelsea's pregnancy was a Hilliary campaign ploy.     

Honorary mention number two is all the racist bigots who sent home run king Hank Aaron hate mail after he was asked in an interview why he kept all the hate mail he received during his 1973-74 run to break Babe Ruth's home run record   "To remind myself that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.”

And the bigots promptly proved his point

Honorary mention number three is Congressman Ted Yahoo Yoho (R-FL) who implied to an African-American constituent that he doesn't believe the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 is constitutional.  After he started getting called out about it, then put out a statement trying to clean up the mess he made.  


So tell me/  How's that GOP African-American outreach working for y'all again? 

Honorable mention number four is Twitter user Sarah who found out why you don't tweet terrorim jokes at an airline.   During my pre 9-11 airline days I had three people I had to call the cops on for telling terrorist jokes at my gates. Gate agents are quite aware of the fact we are the last line of security between the terminal, the airplane, the passengers and crew and we took that responsibility seriously.

TransGriot PSA:  Don't tell those terrorist jokes while transiting US customs, TSA security or at your departure gates.  It will not be a good day for you if you do so.

Honorable mention number five is a blast from the past in Phyllis Schafly.   The Stepford Republican parted her lips to say that the pay gap between men and women needs to be maintained so women can find suitable husbands. 

Marsha blackburn congress.jpgThis week's winner is Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who tried to claim days after Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, tried to claim on CBS' Face The Nation that 'Republicans have long led the fight for women's equality'.

Excuse me for a moment dear readers while I double over in laughter.

Marsha, Marsha, Marsha.  Stop lying.   You've far too often led the opposition to women's equality .   And coming from you, considering that you voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 and said last year 'women don't want equal pay laws', it's an egregious one.

And FYI Marsha, the first five US women governors were all Democrats.  
Rep Marsha Blackburn, shut up, fool  

Laverne Cox Moves To Top Spot In Time 100 Poll

Laverne CoxInteresting news concerning the Time 100 that will be revealed on April 24.    While the people in the various categories of the Time 100 are chosen by the magazine's editors, they do include input from the the public as one of the factor in helping to guide their decision. 

Justin Bieber had been holding the top spot in the Entertainment Time 100 section until Laverne passed him and he has now slipped to fourth.  

It's a narrow lead, and we can help keep Laverne there, but we have to work fast because the voting on the Time 100 closes at 11:59 PM on April 22.

So if you have time (pun intended)  you can hit this link to vote for Laverne in that Time 100 poll and if you wish, participate in the Time 100 polls concerning other areas such as sports, US and world politics and science and technology.   

B. Scott Loses BET Lawsuit

Bscott 2010.jpgI saw this coming back in August when I took a lot of criticism for questioning the timing of B.Scott's 'I'm transgender' declaration.

As you recall, that declaration happened just as a multimillion dollar discrimination lawsuit was filed against BET by Scott for forcing her to change into masculine clothing and later dropping her from the telecast during last July's BET Awards show.

A suit that B. Scott has lost.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Yvette M Palazuelos ruled Thursday that BET had the right to force Scott to change to more masculine attire.

Will have to chat with my attorney friends to see if the troubling vibe I got from Thursday's ruling is something to be concerned about as a trans human rights advocate. 

But as you probably guessed, B.Scott and her attorney are disappointed in the outcome and will appeal it.

It disheartens me that the message sent today wasn’t a message of acceptance, but rather it’s acceptable to discriminate against transgender individuals on the basis of their gender identity and expression  – and that such discriminatory acts are protected under the first amendment.
As my attorney and I seek to appeal the judge’s decision on the motion to strike in the California Court of Appeal, we’re continuing to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community and to remind the world that it’s ok to be who you are.
I believe the fact B.Scott only made the trans declaration AFTER the July 2013 BET incident and had a long documented history of writings, video blogs and statements denying trans status may have possibly played a role into yesterday's decision by Judge Palazuelos.  

As I said in last August's post, the saga continues. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UH Josephine Tittsworth Act Passes!

Photo: Equality for all: whether you want to be called Sarah or Sean. Let's support the Josephine Tittsworth Act and help improve the UH-system.Was on the University of Houston campus to watch a little history being made in the ultramodern UH SGA Senate chambers in the UC North as UH 51.001, the Josephine Tittsworth Act came to a final vote

The SGA meeting started at 7:30 PM with the TransGriot an overflow crowd anxiously watching the proceedings.

The Tittsworth Act sought to have The University of Houston follow its existing EEOC and non discrimination policy by allowing trans students to update their university identification with their preferred name, discerned gender and titles. .  
But this simple turned into a surprisingly contentious issues that plucked nerves on both sides of it.

The frats and sororities were the initial Tittsworth Act opposition, and there were reports the UH campus Republicans were also stirring the injustice pot as well.  The opposition initially went to the all too familiar play to the trans community and our allies of 'fear and trans smear' along with complaining about being called bigots during the debate.

Well opposition people, when you actively oppose a measure for a marginalized group by throwing long ago debunked trans bathroom and sexual predator myths as you did in last week's town hall (which I made my pissivity about that stunt clear), it's not a good look and puts you on the wrong side of the arc of the moral universe not only in my eyes as a trans person but in the court of public opinion.  .

I also noted that the UH frats and sororities 45 years ago were on the wrong side of history when they opposed the election of Lynn Eusan as UH's first Black homecoming queen, and sadly, they were repeating that history by attempting to oppress another on campus marginalized group.  

The opponents sought to delay the vote, claiming that the Tittsworth Act 'had been rushed', with many of the junior SGA senators complaining they 'hadn't had enough time' to present the issues to their constituency groups

SGA President Charles Haston and Tittsworth Act lead sponsors SGA Senators James Lee and Guillermo Lopez  were having none of that along with the senators who supported the bill .  

President Haston spoke eloquently during his time in favor of the bill to a standing ovation when he concluded his remarks.   He also wrote this op-ed concerning the Josephine Tittsworth Act.

The Senate will vote tonight on a bill that, unfortunately, a small group of students has voiced visceral opposition to. I'd like to make some things clear. 

I have had several conversations with CFSL (Center For Student Life)  and this bill literally has NO impact 
on fraternities or sororities.

A student said today that Greeks would be "discriminated" against if they chose not to admit a trans student to their organization. This bill is about protecting students who are actually discriminated against and the notion that we shouldn't protect those students because an organization is worried about bad PR is disgusting.

Over the last 237 years, 1,264,000 Marines, soldiers, and sailors have died to protect the freedom of all Americans, but especially the freedom of those the majority may disagree with. That includes everything from Westboro Baptist Church's right to protest military funerals, to women and minorities right to vote.

You don't have to agree with the personal choices of others, but as an institution we have an obligation to promote tolerance in order to ensure that all students can thrive at the University of Houston.


After handling the initial business items on the meeting agenda, the meeting turned to the issue the overflow crowd was waiting to see, the outcome of the Josephine Tittsworth Act.  

The initial plan was to allow three speakers from each side to speak for two minutes for or against the bill.   But after none of the peeps flapping their transphobic gums on social media stepped up to speak against it (surprise, surprise), an additional three speakers in favor of the Tittsworth Act filled that time.

The first and most moving speaker of the evening was Autumn Packard.  She is the mother of a trans child who urged the UH SGA to pass the bill so that her trans daughter, should she grow up and wish to attend UH someday could do so in safety.  Becca Keo-Meier spoke about the problems she encounters as a person who has androgynous appearance on campus and read a statement from her spouse Dr. Colt Keo-Meier.    After the rest of the affirmative speakers had their say (I was on standby),  the debate shifted to the SGA senators who would determine the fate of the bill.

Senator Pooja Magadi in response to an opposition senator who stated he was voting against the bill 'for his constituents', reminded the senators to a standing ovation that the trans students on the UH campus were also their constituents, too.

After some final questions and answers, the vote on the Josephine Tittsworth Act finally happened a little after 9:15 PM    The vote was 11 in favor, 4 opposed and 2 abstentions.

The Josephine Tittsworth Act now goes to the Faculty Senate and up the UH administrative ranks before it becomes university policy.  

Photo: Tonight the University of Houston Student Government passed the Josephine Tittsworth Act further protecting the privacy of transgender students. Well done to those student Senators who spoke out in favor of this bill and its benefits to students. We want to point out the tremendous leadership of James Lee in particular for his work in helping to carry this bill.But I'm so proud of my Coogs and the UH SGA for passing the Josephine Tittsworth Act.  Thanks to James Lee, Guillermo Lopez, Yesenia Chavez, President Charles Haston, the 11 SGA senators and all the people who were drum majors and drum majorettes for justice that got this done.  

It was a deeply appreciated step not only for the safety and security of UH trans students, but also resonated beyond the campus with alums and supporters of the University of Houston and the Houston TBLG community.

Tonight you proved that the justified pride in UH being one of the most diverse campuses in the nation isn't empty rhetoric as far as trans students were concerned.

Go Coogs!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Overpolicing Language? Seriously?

TransGriot Note:  I read this essay Fallon Fox posted to her Facebook page concerning the still simmering controversy over serial transphobe RuPaul's use of terms the trans community has repeatedly told him were dehumanizing to our community and his white gay male fanbase rushing to defend him. 

The predominately white gay male supporters of RuPaul are holding up any trans woman who seems to side with him as a human shield to bash the rest of us with.  

Why?  Because they are hypocritically pissed off transpeople of all ethnicities had the temerity to do what they have done for decades.  We called and are STILL calling his azz out for using the 'shemale' and 't----y' terms we find offensive to our community and LOGO listened.

LOGO pulled the offending show with the female or shemale game form their site and will no longer used the offensive words on it and elements of the white gay male community are tripping.   What part of 'the trans community will decide what words are or aren't offensive to it' do you not get?  

The latest entry in that small minority of RuPaul trans defenders besides Calpernia Addams and Andrea James is Our Lady J, who recently penned an essay published in the Huffington Post that Fallon is rebutting here.

It deserves a signal boost.   And now, here's Fallon's essay.

**Warning - I'm spelling out derogatory words in this post in order to discuss an important issue.****

Is it true that Ru Paul recently complained to Amanda Byrnes use of the term 'faggot' in a tweet, stating: "Derogatory slurs are ALWAYS an outward projection of a person's own poisonous self-loathing." Just saw that online. That, and the Huffington post article by Our Lady J. I know, I'm a little late on that one.

I disagree with Our Lady J on this. 'Drag Queen' is an occupation created primarily in gay culture, in similar fashion, 'Rap artist' is an occupation created primarily by black culture.

Some people argue that 'shemale' is a harmless fun word. You ever Google the word 'shemale'? If not, then I suggest you do. See what you come up with. It's pages and pages of porn. While I like porn myself and see nothing intrinsically wrong with it, (other than the exploitation some porn entities use) - I do not appreciate the language alluding to me being a porn star or sex worker. Because that's what that word actually means.

It's that whole 'chick with a dick' derogatory language from cisgender people I've had to endure for years. No, there's nothing wrong with a woman with a penis. Nothing at all. But, that whole she-male term is wrapped around a very real history of forced sex work and porn. I say forced, because for the most part the trans women who have engaged in those occupations over the years have done so, because of lack of opportunity as trans women. It's pretty much slavery or a type of servitude in some situations. One needs the money to transition or risk losing ones sanity. One needs a job for that. But, one can't find or hold down a job in many situations if one is trans. So, where does that person go...? No other options but sex work or porn in many situations. Trans women are forced out of the openness of general society into a narrow channel that leads to sex work of some kind. And we are forced to endure the labeling of those outside of us. Labeling that seeks to never let us escape us being reduced to genitalia.

Look at the word shemale. We didn't pick this word for ourselves.
SHEMALE = "She" (female in mind ) + "male" (in the pants).

It was meant to mark trans women, and pin us down to what's in our pants pre-surgery (if we elect for it). It was derogatory.

See here:
I remember when I first stepped foot in a drag bar. It was the only safe space I could find in town that I lived. Yes, some drag queens called themselves tranny, or she-male. And they got me to do it very briefly. But, as time went on, I realized how different I was from that drag mentality. I realized that I was trans, not gay. I was offered many times to be a performer because of my potential 'passability'. However, I declined, as I also realized one important thing about myself. I was not a parody of a woman. I was not seeking to be a parody of a woman even temporarily. I wanted to embody 'woman' both inside and out at all times. And not a hyper feminized, non realistic, rigid unmalleable version of one confined to a bar in the secluded side of town either. No, an intelligent, respected woman who had 'options', and held an occupation in spaces straight cisgender people did.

One thing is for sure. If I ever see a Cuban rap artist hold a TV show, have other Cuban rap artists come on the show, then tell those rappers to pick which rap artist in ANY ethnicity or a "nigger", depending on the partial photo presented, I'm going to lose it.

I don't care if Cubans and blacks are under the same umbrella of 'people of color'. I don't care if both of us face discrimination. I wouldn't give Cubans a free pass to hold a tv show and use that harmful word at blacks expense.

Let's look at the word 'nigger'. Where did that come from? The exploitation and hatred of black people in this country. Yes, they loved the benefits they got from us when we were slaves. They marketed us as 'niggers'. I'm quite sure if slavery was still in use today, you could do a google search for 'nigger' and come up with pages of pages of people trying to sell you a 'niggers' service.

Again, where did 'she-male' come from? The exploitation and hatred of trans women in this country. Yes, they loved, and still love, the benefits they get from us as sex workers and porn stars. They market us as 'she-males'. Some of us got lucky. We found ways around this horrible servitude. But, many of us would like out. Many of us want an education. Many of us are stuck, and living similarly to newly released slaves. Some of us see no potential for escape of the framing, no potential life outside of sex work, porn, or drag and accept the term. Some just decide to embrace it. Some, (and this is very, very rare) just like the ring of it. You can find some of them online if you search. Don't worry, it's not hard. Just type in 'shemale', and observe pages and pages of entities trying to sell you a 'shemales' service.

I realize that black oppression and trans oppression are different. But, they do have very striking similarities. And as a black woman I have no problem with pointing them out. It makes sense, and is important to do so in order to attempt to fix the similar problems that plague both minority classes.

...But wait, there's more.

I ask a few questions. And they are open for anyone to answer. And you may have already thought of it.
Are black people who call themselves 'nigger' or 'nigga' (and identify as such-which is rare), similar to trans women calling themselves 'she male' or 'tranny' (and identify as such-which is rare also)?

Are black people who call themselves 'nigger' or 'nigga' (and identify as black- which is common), similar to trans women calling themselves 'shemale' or 'tranny' (and identify as trans - which is also common... Kind of)?

I think so. And how does all of that relate to the topic of Ru Paul's she-male game?

Revenge Of The Conservafools

I'm so tired of this 'Revenge Of The Conservafools' horror movie that has been playing for far too long in America's political life

Because the conservative movement is pissed off a Black president got elected in 2008 and reelected despite their millions of dollars, loud propaganda and Massive Resistance 2.0 in Congress, they are taking it out on Black people and the country.

Conservatism is a failed political philosophy, and they can't win elections without cheating. 

See them cut the social safety net! See them diss women and eviscerate a woman's right to choose! See them roll back voting rights! See them brazenly suck up to billionaires while hatin' on the poor. See them kill union organizing rights! See them refuse to raise the minimum wage while their obscene corporate profits grow.

See them lie on cable news and talk radio while doing all that shady crap. See them claim they have the support of 'The American People' while doing so.

See the horror of large numbers of stupid, racist tea bag holding bigots voting for them against their own economic interests as the 1% maniacally laughs at them from their quiet rooms.

Rated GOP

Starring John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Ted Cruz, Rush Limbaugh and Reince Priebus.

Produced and directed by the Koch Brothers.

Time for this horror movie to end.  You can make that happen by voting to throw the GOP bums out on November 4. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Attacking The 'All Transwomen Are Sex Workers' Meme

Monica JonesNow that Monica Jones has been found guilty of 'Walking While Black Trans' in Phoenix, the question that comes to my inquiring mind is what are we going to do about getting the word out about this injustice being aimed at her and frankly, all trans women of color at times?

Yes, it's easy for all of us to say that we stand with Monica Jones when this obvious injustice is being aimed at her.

But I just feel we need to do more.  I think we can start with a national, coordinated 'Walking While Trans' protest events next month before the May 28 sentencing date of Ms. Jones.  

Photo: I DO!We could have walks that lead to rallies decrying what happened to Ms Jones.  Put together a coordinated campaign that calls for an end to the 'Walking While Trans' profiling.

Since trans human rights issues are suddenly getting national and international media attention, let's use this moment to do more education about our trans lives. 

I believe we have been given another opportunity to attack and destroy another meme deployed against us that feeds into the unjust treatment being aimed at us.

It's the 'all transwomen are sex workers' meme.   

And before I get accused of pushing 'respectability politics' or attacking sex workers, let me make crystal clear that's not where I'm going with this post.  I am already quite aware of the fact that some of my trans sisters engaged in or still do engage in sex work to pay the bills.   I'm also quite aware that transphobia, racism and gender policing also play debatable levels of a role into the 'Walking While Trans' issue

What I'm focusing on in this post is attacking is the 'all transwomen are sex workers' meme that feeds into the 'Walking While Trans' harassment and arrests that are far too often aimed at transwomen of color.

In New York, the NYPD stop and frisk shenanigans were disproportionately aimed at Black and Latina trans women because in the cops minds, 'we're all potential prostitutes'    

In New Orleans trans women who are just minding their own business are routinely arrested and harassed by the city's police force on prostitution related charges.. 

The 'transwomen are sex workers' meme is also front and center in the ATL 'Queen of Mean' Peggy Denby's efforts to get a draconian law passed that would permanently banish persons convicted of a second prostitution arrest from Atlanta.  

That meme was on a drunk Kenneth Furr's mind when he propositioned a transwoman in a northwest Washington DC CVS store.  It led to an ugly incident in which he ended up firing shots from his police  service pistol at the vehicle the trans women were traveling in. 

There's also a  2012 study by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) that found transgender people across the United States experience three times as much police violence as cisgender individuals.  Not surprisingly to moi, those numbers are even higher for transgender people of color.  

Even when transgender people were the victims of hate crimes, 48 percent reported receiving mistreatment from the police when they went for help.

So in order to confront the Walking While Trans issue plaguing the community, we will have to attack the superstitions and myths that undergird it. 

One of the major ones buttressing it that needs to be destroyed is the 'all transwomen are sex workers' meme.

UH Josephine Tittsworth Act Vote Happening Tomorrow

The town hall event was packed last week, and I expect the same thing will happen tomorrow when the UH SGA Senate returns to their ultramodern Senate chambers in the UC North to vote on the Josephine Tittsworth Act tomorrow.

That meeting will start at 7:30 PM.

Just as a reminder, the UH SGA proposed this piece of legislation that seeks to have the University of Houston follow its existing EEO and non discrimination policy by allowing trans* UH students to update their university identification with their preferred name, discerned gender and titles

This should be a non controversial issue, but falsehoods have been spread by agent provocateurs who have gotten the white frats and sororities riled up.

And as I reported last week, the bathroom predator and sexual predator lies have been deployed as well.

All this over the top transphobic hatred for a measure that would simply allow trans UH students to update their university ID's to match the people they are now.

Hope that the UH SGA is cognizant of the fact they have an opportunity to be drum majors and drum majorettes for justice and do the right thing.  

About Time The Offensive Trans Slur Terms Were Dropped From 'Drag Race'

It took them long enough, but Logo has pulled the problematic episode of RuPaul's Drag Race featuring the 'female or she-male' sketch.  

In addition, they will no longer use the term 'she-mail' in the show after trans community members and yours truly spoke out and GLAAD met with MTV and Logo
to discuss the issue.

Still boycotting RuPaul's Drag Race, but happy they made the announcement.

To all you predominately white gay menz pissed off they are dropping those offensive to the trans community terms, have several seats and a nice tall appletini flavored glass of STHU.   I'm getting sick of y'all tripping because we transpeeps expressed ourselves about this issue and people actually listened this time.

As I said last month and will repeat, we trans people have every right to call out friend, foe and frenemy who offend us and expect action to be taken on it.  You don't like the fact it was your boy RuPaul, too damned bad.  You don't get to tell us what is and isn't offensive to our community, and it's past time for y'all to deal with that reality.  

For those of you who kept throwing the shady comment 'the trans community has better things to do than call out RuPaul's media transphobia', I call bull feces on that.   I've witnessed far too often the numerous times you gay peeps have straight up acted the fool anytime a straight celeb utters the gay slur words that offend your community. 

It is also the height of vanillacentric privileged cis gay arrogance to presume we trans folks don't have the right to do the same.   

New year, new rules.  As Katie Couric, Piers Morgan, Wendy Williams and now RuPaul have discovered, we trans people are not tolerating ANY disrespect aimed at our community from friend, foe or frenemy.

You can call that 'bullying' all you want.  I call it standing up for our humanity. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Let's Play TransGriot Jeopardy 3

Have a new clue for you in TransGriot Jeopardy.     Remember,  your answer much be in the form of a question.

The category is Black Trans History and the Final Jeopardy answer is.

In June 2014 Tona Brown will become the first African-American trans woman to do this.

Time's up.   The Final Jeopardy answer is:  What is play at Carnegie Hall?

Tona is quickly raising the money she needs in her indiegogo campaign to make that dream happen.   Thanks to everyone who has made videos supporting her and who have contributed for her to stand on that hallowed stage on behalf of our community. 

Speaking of videos, here's the latest from the host of Denver's InFocus program,  Eden Lane.

Going to be wonderful to see that happen.

2014 GLAAD Media Awards LA

Saturday night on the Left Coast the GLAAD Media Awards, LA Division were held in the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  My category will be announced May 3 in New York, and won't be done during the live event. 

Jennifer Lopez was presented with GLAAD's Vanguard Award by the legendary Rita Moreno. 

The Vanguard Award honors efforts to increase visibility and understanding of the TBLG community.   In addition to being an outspoken advocate for the community, Lopez serves as executive producer of the ABC Family series "The Fosters," which centers on a lesbian couple raising their children.

"The Fosters" also won the award for outstanding drama series.

Laverne Cox was presented with the Stephen J. Kolzak Award,  which is given to an openly trans, bi, lesbian or gay member of the entertainment community who have made a significant difference in promoting equality for the TBLG community.   The previous recipients of the Kolzak award have included Wanda Sykes, Rufus Wainwright, Melissa Etheridge, Ellen DeGeneres and Ian McKellen, and Laverne's name has now joined that distinguished list..