Dina’s Diner – May 6, 2019

| May 6, 2019
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Milah Carlone

The New York Times Styles section had an interesting article about how Jewish Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies are holding up in an age where some teens don’t identify as male or female. The article appeared on March 28, 2019. The term “bar” (sons) mitzvah is for males and “bat” (daughters) mitzvah is for females. Where does a pangender or gender fluid teen fit into those binary camps?

The answer according to the Times and some families covered in the article, is that they found a third path. A family whose pangender child uses the pronouns “they” and “their” to show the inclusiveness of both genders in their life, held a “B’nai Mitzvah.” “‘B’nai’ is just the plural form of the word ‘bar’ or ‘bat,’ so we thought maybe we can use that,” said Hilda Cohen, [the] mother. “We didn’t make a big deal out of it. We just sort of did it.”

The congregations and the announcements for the mitzvahs are beginning to use the term “B Mitzvah” to indicate a gender neutral ceremony. From the Times article: “Milah Carlone is a 15-year-old who lives in New York City and identifies with the pronouns she, her, they and them. “I’m gender fluid-ish,” she said. “I’m comfortable with everything.” In April 2017, when Milah was 13, she had a b mitzvah.”

One gender fluid mitzvah kid, who is named Lion, recalled a bar mitzvah for one their trans friends where the masculine pronouns seemed out of place given the celebrant’s identification. “It wasn’t comfortable.”

The Times brought up an interesting fact. “More traditional synagogues encounter problems with the Hebrew language. Like Spanish, it is a gendered language, in which every noun has a masculine or feminine ending. For example, you can’t say “child” instead of boy or girl in Hebrew. So every act — blessing the teenager, addressing them, calling them up to the Torah — requires a gender specification.” Some congregations are attempting to bridge the traditional text of the ceremony with modern English usages. But it’s a work in progress.

It’s always nice to read when someone takes the long, progressive view of life, with respect for tradition but an eye to the future. Here is a good example: “People want to have their whole lives reflect who they are, including major rites of passage,” said Rabbi Rachel Timoner, the senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn. “The traditions of Judaism adapt every generation. And this is one of the needs of our generation.”


The New York Times had a full page article in the National section about Mexican trans women in the March 24, 2019 edition. It was headlined, “Female, But Only on One Side of Border.”

The article followed a couple of trans women as they traversed (legally) the border between Mexicali, Mexico and Calexico, California. It reminded readers that “crossing between Mexico and the United States is an everyday practice for people living in the border towns of the Southwest.

The trans women in the article discussed how they had to hide their trans-ness while living in Mexico and that the U.S. offered greater protections and freedom for them. The article points out that Mexico is still regressive towards GLBT citizens. Even though Mexicali – a large city of a million residents – has a gay community, trans persons are still looked down on more-so than gay persons.

So the trans women – one a 25 year old insurance agent and part-time drag queen and the other a 39 year old agricultural worker – keep their trans identities under wraps as much as possible when visiting their families in Mexico. One lady said, “I always have to be two people at once and I always want to be ready to be myself.”

Jess Enriquez Taylor with Mother.

The ironic thing is that Mexicali, Mexico has a nightlife scene while the California side is the rural Imperial Valley region with only sleepy rural towns. So Sofia Gonzalez does drag in Mexicali and works at an insurance agency on the California side. Jess Enriquez Taylor is an agricultural worker in California with a green card. She can’t afford to live in California, though, and she dislikes the anti-trans cultural pressures in Mexico, so she carries much of her belongings in a backpack and sleeps where she can.

One of the photos accompanying the article showed Ms. Enriquez Taylor wearing a “Madonna” t-shirt. It made me think of the Madonna song, Borderline which isn’t about national borders but the competing U.S./Mexico sides are pushing at least these two trans women “over the borderline.”


The Yahoo.com newsfeed had an item headlined “King of the Catwalk Struts with Viral Sugar Walk Boy.” It almost sounded like a new superhero movie tagline. The article was short and I’ve copied most of it here.

“They are killing it. Filipino social media star “King of the Catwalk” Sinon Loresca posted a video on Facebook today showing him strutting down a Metro Manila street with Denver Orbeta, the young boy who recently went viral for his “sugar walk.” Loresca’s videos, where he struts like a model in everyday locations like malls and sidewalks, have racked up hundreds of thousands of views. Denver, on the other hand, recently went viral after he was seen strutting in high heels on the way to get a pack of sugar at a corner store. Their video starts with Denver fiercely walking on the sidewalk while wearing a blue shirt, skimpy shorts, and high heels. He also carries a pack of sugar in the video. He then gets stopped by a man who pretends to scold him for his attire. Loresca then sneaks up behind the man and gets him in a headlock. “There’s nothing wrong with being gay,” Loresca says in Filipino as he pretends to strangle the man who eventually falls to the ground. Loresca then holds Denver’s hand and the two strut the sidewalk together.”

High heel walkers Loresca and Orbeta.

Mr. Loresca has an Instagram page filled with photos of him in various poses – not all in drag or with high heels – and apparently he has a certain degree of fame due to his exploits in public spaces. The youngster’s “sugar walk” referred to in the article goes back to a series of photos that captured young Denver Orbeta walking from a local grocer carrying a bag of sugar while wearing sparkly platform high heels. There was no explanation for his choice of footwear on that fateful day. Perhaps it was too good not to be true that the Philippines’ two most famous guys in high heels should get together.

The video with the “King of the Catwalk” and the “Sugar Walk” boy is staged and it appears to be on a mostly deserted street so it’s harmless, I suppose. But if a female model was “catwalking” in skyscraper heels with a pre-teen girl also in high heels and swinging her hips suggestively I think many people would see it as inappropriate. Young “sugar walker” Denver Orbeta is just another in a growing cohort of crossdressing kids on public display. Maybe he’s just having fun with it. Maybe it means something deeper to him. It just leaves me wondering about the quest for sensationalism, young kids who may or may not be gay or trans, and where it’s all headed.


Maria Butina

A week ago, alleged foreign agent Maria Butina was sentenced to prison for acting surreptitiously on behalf of the Russian government. According to news reports when her story first started breaking, Ms. Butina traded on her attractive youthful persona to get close to leaders in the National Rifle Association and other politically active groups and individuals in the U.S.

Before arriving on our shores, she became a gun rights activist in Russia and forged an alliance with the NRA to further their mutual causes. The photos of Maria posed with firearms as an accessory for her auburn-haired beauty were sure to hit pay-dirt with American gun enthusiasts.

Anna Chapman

Ms Butina’s photogenic “girl-spy” story brought to mind the mostly forgotten story of another beautiful Russian spy from the mid-2000’s: Anna Chapman. Right from the pages of a Hollywood script, Anna Chapman and her associates were part of a sleeper cell program designed to infiltrate social and business circles to promote Russian interests without ever disclosing their true identities. She was arrested, tried and convicted of acting as a foreign agent. She was part of a prisoner exchange with Russia (not sure if there was a foggy bridge, men in trench coats and fedoras, and dark sedans blinking their headlights as the signal during the swap) and returned to Mother Russia where she is a media personality. Beautiful spies lead a charmed life.

Natalia Veselnitskaya

While not a spy in the classic sense, Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya was involved in the “Trump Tower meeting” episode of 2016. She was representing Russian interests to reduce U.S. economic sanctions and perhaps aiding Russian adoptions somehow. The Trump people seemed to think her group had useful political dirt they would share. Natalia is in her forties but she had a certain MILF-y sex appeal with a zaftig figure, flowing hair and carefully made-up eyes (the better to spy with, perhaps).

The female spy is a popular cultural archetype. Everyone has heard of Mata Hari from World War I. (Have you ever see Mata Hari? I guess beauty standards were different 100 years ago.) Actress Barbara Bach played a Russian spy in the appropriately named Bond film, running around the Egyptian desert in a black evening gown with 007. Although the Russian women named above are attractive, the real-life exploits don’t quite match the fictionalized version of la femme espionne. And it’s hard to translate the archetype to a crossdressing persona. I guess a long cigarette holder and an indeterminate European accent might sell the illusion but most people might think you were just, well, European. There must be another way. Maybe as a french maid who steals her master’s secrets. Yeah, now we’re talking.


Casimir Pulaski

In mid-April this year, researchers disclosed that Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski may have been either intersex or biologically female. Pulaski’s skeleton was re-evaluated and had DNA tests done recently to verify the bones were indeed his. “One of the ways that male and female skeletons are different is the pelvis,” Virginia Hutton Estabrook, an assistant professor of anthropology at Georgia Southern University, told NBC News. “In females, the pelvic cavity has a more oval shape. It’s less heart-shaped than in the male pelvis. Pulaski’s looked very female.”

It’s believed that the Polish-born Pulaski who commanded America’s cavalry in the Revolutionary War may have been a female who lived as a man or was intersex and presented as male. It’s not the first time researchers have wondered about Pulaski’s sex and gender status. In 1996, Pulaski’s remains were extracted from a burial site in Savannah, Georgia (where he was killed in battle) and the skeleton was small (5’2” to 5’4” in height) and appeared feminine in composition. The current revelation is that DNA testing concludes that the bones were Pulaski’s so we are left with the true mystery of his or her deal.

The news about Pulaski made me think again of my skeevishness about historical figures. Whenever I read about or see an artistic depiction of a historical figure, I wonder about hygiene — or, rather, lack of hygiene in days of yore. So for all the heroes and romantic figures of world history, there is always a tinge of revolt at the thought of the smells, hairiness, and other areas best left unconsidered on those grand figures.


Take Chevalier D’Eon, an icon of transgenderism, who operated in the 1700s as a spy and presented as a woman for a certain portion of his life. This during the period of heavy, un-dry-cleaned clothing, and powdered wigs (adopted by males to alleviate head lice or hide syphilitic patchy baldness). Icon or not it gives me a shudder.

Likewise pioneering female impersonator Julian Eltinge who performed during the very early decades of the 1900s. My hygienic concern is not quite as great with Julian (given the advent by then of running water) but when I see the old photos in the bulky female costumes of his day I wonder “why bother?” Even some of the photos of modern female impersonators from the 1950s and ’60s leave me off-put by the dingy black and white backgrounds that look like cheaply furnished apartments or dirty dressing rooms in show bars.

So I guess I won’t be invited on the Pulaski float in the LGBT pride parade this year – or next. But the revelation of Casimir’s trans identity and his historical appellation of “Father of the American Cavalry” may give pause to those who want to deny trans persons from serving in the military. Or it should.

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Category: Transgender Community News, Transgender Fun & Entertainment


About the Author ()

I started crossdressing and going out publicly in 1988. I joined the Renaissance group in the Philadelphia area that year and later became chapter leader for two years in the '90s. I always enjoyed writing and wrote for the Renaissance newsletter and magazine throughout my membership years. I've been writing for TGForum for several years now. I also contributed items to LadyLike magazine and other TG publications before the advent of the internet. My hobby-within-a-hobby is singing live as my alter-ego Dina Sinatra and I have had the opportunity to do that with several accommodating performers and in a number of venues over the years since the mid-1990s. In the Diner column items here, I try to relate crossdressing or transgender themes (and my own pet peeves and fetishes) to the larger world -- and vice versa.

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