The Week In Trans — 9/5/16

| Sep 5, 2016
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Ophelia Pastrana

Ophelia Pastrana

Mexico is making progress on passing protections for its LGBT community. While the legal changes are underway there is still a problem with violence against trans women. A recent report rated Mexico as having one of the highest rates of transphobic violence. One woman there is trying to make a difference. Trans activist Ophelia Pastrana was born in Columbia but now lives in Mexico and owns digital media companies there. Learn more about the Mexican LGBT scene and Ms. Pastrana in The Huffington Post. Thanks to Jan Brown for the tip.

Mark Ruffalo is taking heat over a film that is not yet released. He is one of the producers on the film Anything and he recommended his co-star from The Normal Heart, out gay man Matt Bomer, for the role of a trans woman sex worker. Is the time ripe for a trans hooker with a heart of gold? Anyhow, the trans community is up in arms over this “transfacing” while those in the biz make excuses like “no trans actress fit the role,” and “there aren’t enough trans actresses.” Read an article about it in The Hollywood Reporter.

Anna Pacquin

Anna Pacquin

Anna Paquin will star in a Canadian crime drama that will start filming soon in Montreal. It’s titled Bellevue and it features a trans teen who goes missing in a small town. Expect the community to get upset that the trans person is the victim. (Or if they’re not portrayed by a trans actor.) Learn a bit more about it in the Spy section of the New Zealand Herald.

A minister in Des Moines, Iowa is chastising some of his fellow Christians for their lawsuit against the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the attorney general and the city of Des Moines over trans people’s right to use the restroom they want to use. Those who filed the lawsuit have their excuses but the minister believes they are bearing false witness. That’s the Ninth Commandment. Read what the minister wrote in The Des Moines Register.

At Manchester Pride in England, several people laid down in the street to protest the way that LGBT people are treated in the legal system. They protested the fact that there are so many LGBT people behind bars, and they protested the fact that so many transgender people are incarcerated according to their birth gender rather than their chosen gender. Gay Star News has more.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to deliberate over whether to accept a case filed by LGBT activist Kendra Kirby. Ms. Kirby, who is not a lawyer, nonetheless wrote and filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to take the case known as Kirby v. North Carolina State University. The case accuses the North Carolina State University School of Veterinary Medicine of expelling her from its Ph.D. program in 1994 because of her “perceived gender non-conformity, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and political affiliation or belief.” Those are a lot of bad reasons for expelling a student. If the court takes the case, it might set a precedent. The Washington Blade has more.

The recent ruling by Judge Reed O’Connor which blocked the U.S. Justice Department from enforcing its view of Title IX has left the Government wondering precisely which cases it can and cannot pursue while the order is in effect. The Justice Department is in the middle of several cases, which do not specifically involve Title IX, but which might be covered by a broad interpretation of the judge’s order. Buzzfeed has more.

Gavin and his mother.

Gavin and his mother.

In other restroom related legal news we return to the saga of Gavin Grimm, a trans boy who just wanted to go to the restroom at his school and it’s been turned into a Federal case. Gavin and his family didn’t want to become the focus of a huge debate over trans restroom rights. Get the whole story on how the case got started from an in-depth article in The Washington Post. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the tip.

Planning a visit to London, or perhaps you live there? Then you need to know where to go in the city for late-night cabaret, drag and more. Fortunately for you there is a list of the Top 10 London cabaret and drag show venues and it can be found on The Guardian website.

The University of Central Florida has begun a new program in which they will give out letters to their transgender students so that the students can get hormones. They are the third university in Florida to do so, following the University of Florida and Florida State University. The Orlando Sentinal has more.

19th century drag.

19th century drag.

While drag shows, trans beauty pageants, and many other gathering were gender roles are fluid or switched can be found in many different spots on the planet things weren’t always favorable to those who would cross gender borders. For example, while today in London you can go to a number of venues where men dress as women and vice versa, in the 1880s you had to do your crossdressing strictly on the down low. Read an account of a raid on a drag ball that netted the police 47 men, half of whom were attired as ladies. Ironically enough the report can be found on the Bust website. Thanks to Stacey for the tip.

A trans man in Vermont who was the editor of a local newspaper came out as himself after the HB2 law in North Carolina was passed. Then the local high school in his town became a center of debate about trans kids in the restrooms. Of course he covered the story but he said it was hard to remain objective since he was pulling for the trans kids. Read about it on the VPR website.

Lady Bunny

Lady Bunny

If you like your drag queen comedians to be un-PC then you should stick with the old favorites. Performers like Lady Bunny tell it like they see it and heaven knows humor is in the ear of the listener — but goodness gracious! What will she say next? And of course while it may trigger some people’s unhappy place it could be entertaining as well. Give her a listen and see if you don’t find some commonsense in the Bunny’s interview, which you can find on the Splitsider website.

The Human Rights Campaign has created a new video guide, entitled Safer Sex for Trans Bodies. It should at least get praise for a self-explanatory title. You can download it from the Human Rights Campaign’s website.

Transitioning according to the rules can be expensive. Some people try to save some money by not seeing doctors to get prescriptions, but instead simply order their hormones online. The thing is, some of those online pharmacies are not as legitimate as they seem, says The Atlantic.

Transitioning can cause many problems for trans people. Since it is most often a do or die situation many go ahead and transition but then experience severe problems with family or employment, but some do manage to carry on in their professions. Jan Brown pointed us to an article about several trans women who are successful in their careers, and they talk about the differences in how they are treated compared to when they were presenting as males at work. They also discuss how to take on leadership roles as a trans woman. The article can be found in The Atlantic.

The State of Michigan’s Board of Education has come up with a set of voluntary guidelines for schools to deal with transgender students. They are voluntary, but even so, some parents are upset. What’s new here is that the state has said that school staff should involve parents in a discussion about LGBT students’ rights, but that has to be balanced with the safety of children. Previous statements have generally suggested that school staff not talk with parents, for fear of outing the student. You can read more about these guidelines from the Detroit Free Press.

Way back in the dark ages of the late 1980s TGF founder JoAnn Roberts and I appeared in a documentary film about the transgender phenomenon. It was titled All Dressed Up and No Place to Go. JoAnn and I were featured since we were founders of a group called Renaissance that gave trans people a place to go. We were filmed at a Renaissance support group meeting and while working on the organization’s newsletter. If you want to see me with very large ‘80s hair the film has been released in a digital version that you can rent and watch on Amazon or watch for free if you’re a Amazon Prime member.

Violet Chachki

Violet Chachki

The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 7 is Violet Chachki. She is a drag artist but identifies as “genderqueer” or “genderfluid.” That’s different than many in the drag world who tend to say they are just dressing up to perform. Chachki says she feels more male some days and other days more female. Learn more about her and get her advice for “drag babies” in The Advocate.

Are you tired of taking selfies with your smart phone and having them turn out awful because the lighting is bad? You can take steps to improve your photos, and making sure you use the lens that has the flash is just one way to look better. There are also makeup tricks you can take advantage of if you know you’re going to be caught on camera. You can find 15 of them on the Glamour Shots website. Thanks to Jan Brown for the tip.

From the “know your enemies” file comes a story about how the unlikely alliance of TERFs (Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists) and fundamentalist Christians came about. It seems that the fundamentalists have been getting their anti-trans talking points from the TERFs, going back to the widely discredited and reviled book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of a She-Male. The TERFs believe that there is no way any male-bodied person can become female and that is the same attitude that you find among the legislatures that are banning trans women from public restrooms. Learn more about the connection in The Daily Beast.

A four-year-old in Australia is the focus of the “how young is too young” debate in that country. The child will begin school next year in their new gender. Some say that is proper and the child is correct about who they feel they are. Other experts say it could just be a “dressing up” phase (note that my dressing up phase has lasted my entire life) and it could pass, so changing gender should not be pursued. How young is too young? Read the article in Pink News and see what you think.

Meanwhile in the outback; the town of Broken Hill is doing it again. Last year they held the first Broken Heel Festival honoring the 20th anniversary of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and it was such a success that they’re bringing it back from September 9 – 11. Learn more from the Same Same website.

From the Australian outback we zoom across the globe to Pontiac, Michigan. The Oakland County Water Resources Commission produced a PSA about toilet flushing that starred a drag queen. Drag performer Lady T plays a Pontiac housewife who keeps flushing the wrong things down the toilet. Meant to be comedic and informative the video is titled Pipe Down! Watch What You Flush! Read all about it and watch the PSA itself on the Oakland County One-Fifteen News website.


In Britain they take hate crimes against trans people pretty seriously. Recently in a town called Bolton one of the members of the city council mis-gendered another council member while ranting against that councillor. The trans woman councillor is the Hate Crime Ambassador for the town and she immediately called the police and reported the incident as a hate crime. The police have downgraded the status to a “hate incident” and are trying to get the two together to talk it out. The councillor who committed the crime refuses to speak to the trans woman. That’s earning him a TWIT Award. Learn more from the Mirror.

Up top we mentioned the film Anything. Matt Bomer is a cisgender actor hired to play a transgender sex worker in the film. It is tempting to want to cut him a bit of slack — he’s an actor who auditioned for a role in a movie and was cast. It’s not his fault that they preferred his performance over that of others who auditioned. But, the someone else who auditioned was Jamie Clayton, a transgender actress who appears in Sense8 on Netflix. Ms. Clayton tweeted, “I really hope you both choose to do some actual good for the trans community one day,” to both Mr. Bomer and Michelle Rodriguez (a cis woman who plays a male assassin who is subjected to an unwanted gender change in the film REassignment.) Mr. Bomer then blocked Ms. Clayton’s account. For that classy response, Mr. Bomer gets a TWIT Award. You can read about this in The Advocate.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked Judge Thomas Schroeder to delay the trial on the constitutionality of HB2 until after Judge Reed O’Connor holds his trial on the so-called “Obama mandate” regarding transgender students. So, because he was able to get the judge he wanted, he thinks he should be able to stop all other judges from ruling. Isn’t is supposed to be the job of the Supreme Court to rectify competing decisions from lower courts? Shouldn’t that be known before one gets into law school? For assuming that which is not part of his job, he gets a TWIT. BuzzFeed has this story.

This is not a TWIT award but it pertains to Ken Paxton. Last month Paxton told the news media that he would be happy to have dinner with a family who has a trans child. Last week he made good on his promise to dine with the Briggle family. The Briggles say that it was a pleasant evening and they didn’t ask Paxton to take any particular action. The dinner was just their way of showing him that they were a normal Texas family. Could his dinner with the Briggles be a factor in his wanting to hold off on the HB2 trial? Read the story in The Dallas News.

Here is a story that was bound to happen sooner or later. A student at a school in California claimed to be “traumatized” by seeing a girl in the boys’ restroom. The school investigated, and they found no evidence to back up the claim — no other students saw the girl, and the video of the entrance to the restroom did not show any evidence of the incident. (It’s a bit creepy that they have video of the entrance to the restrooms, but it is understandable.) As is to be expected, this became a huge discussion item at the next school board meeting. A TWIT Award goes to parents who do not let the truth get in the way of their rant about something which evidence shows did not happen. The Fresno Bee has more.

Portions of this TWIT column were researched and written by Cecilia Barzyk.

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Category: Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc., the former editor of that organization's newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She wrote the Diva of Dish column for TGF in the late 1990s and was the Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She is currently the Editor of TGF. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows. In her idle hours she keeps busy producing her monthly TG parties, Angela's Laptop Lounge.

Comments (10)

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  1. says:

    Kool: “She would of objected adamantly to the subsidized transition welfare state that many transgenders are seeking…”

    But Rand would have loved Obamacare. LOL

    Seriously, though we may not live to see it, the total welfare state is coming, certainly before the end of the century.

    Robots are already starting to replace human workers, an unstoppable trend that will eventually put virtually everyone out of work.

    We’ll either starve or be taken care of by the government. The former is not happening.

    And I’m a conservative! But the future is what it is and I can see the broad outlines as they come into focus.

  2. says:

    Kool: “I really think very few transgenders say they feel masculine on day and feminine another.”

    True because there is an almost unmeasurable population of the “gender-fluid”. It’s a phony category thought up by the same angsty teens who in a previous decade called themselves ‘goths’ or ’emo’s’.

    If you watch several of the Jazz Jennings shows when she goes to school support groups, you see a preponderance of transboys, not transgirls. We know that there are far more transwomen than transmen so something doesn’t ring true there.

    What is interesting is that all the transboys look quite geeky and in no way masculine, they look androgynous. They’re short for one thing, as one would expect from a female teenage body, and they have high-pitched voices.
    I accept that they don’t want to be ‘feminine’ and ‘girlish’ but you’d never mistake them for the school jocks.

    The fewer transgirls actually look pretty convincing but that may be due to a selection process chosen by the producer.

  3. says:

    “Chachki says she feels more male some days and other days more female.”

    Here’s a test for these self-defined ‘gender-fluid’ folks. When you’re feeling “male” go down to your local biker bar or cowboy bar and compare your ‘masculinity’ to those real men.

    At best gender-fluid ‘maleness’ is androgyny with a heavy emphasis on effeminacy. “Girls” of either sex can try to be tough but they ain’t masculine.

    Young people live in self-limited bubbles, online and in their material lives, and are clueless about what ordinary men and women are like even with 99.7% of those around them fitting into that status.

    (Notice I said ‘ordinary’ and not ‘normal’ – I don’t want to enrage the perpetually aggrieved, they suffer enough in this cruel world).

    • KoolMcKool KoolMcKool says:

      I really think very few transgenders say they feel masculine on day and feminine another. They wake up and feel themselves at that given point in time.

      Presenting as fem or masculine on a particular day is a matter of effort. Someone like Chachki knows to go out em-femme he needs to invest time to make it work. I would say he has days where the effort to get dolled up is not worth it or not in the days plans, and he justifies it my calling it a masculine day.

  4. says:

    Kool: “I have noticed you go with this theme often…”

    I’m amazed (and flattered) that anyone pays attention to anything I say. 🙂

    But yes, I do mention self-interest a lot since it is THE core reality of human nature. Actually of all living nature, but I’ll let the flora and fauna speak for themselves.

    I’ll check out Gary Becker but of course Ayn Rand was pointing out the primacy of self-interest decades ago.

    Superb last paragraph on the free market!

    • KoolMcKool KoolMcKool says:

      Ayn Rand 1959 interview with Mike Wallace, “…each man must follow his own rational self interest”

      She likely would not have approved of transgenderism, largely because in her time she would not have encountered it. If she did, her objectivism would have kicked in and said if this behavior supports one’s life and happiness than it is moral. She would of objected adamantly to the subsidized transition welfare state that many transgenders are seeking and likely stated if that’s what transgenderism is than it is immoral.

      Highly unlikely she would view transgenderism as a predetermined biological state.

  5. says:

    Regarding the subject of casting trans-actresses for trans-roles: these conflicts make sense if we realize that both the actresses and producers are ‘acting’ in pursuit of their own self-interests.

    This should be obvious since everyone always always always acts in their own perceived self-interest.

    The trans-actresses, such as Jamie Clayton, need the work since there are very few such roles. Every role that goes to a non-trans actor is a job and pay that is lost.

    The producers want the best actor for the role, taking into account name recognition which supposedly helps the box office. For example, can anyone argue that there is a trans-actress that could compete with Eddie Redmayne for the Lili Elbe role?

    • KoolMcKool KoolMcKool says:

      >everyone always always always acts in their own perceived self-interest

      I have noticed you go with this theme often, not sure what you like to read, but it does remind me of Gary Becker, Nobel Prize winner in economics known for his combination of human behavior and economics, an approach “that individuals maximize welfare as they conceive it, whether they be selfish, altruistic, loyal, spiteful, or masochistic.

      Which brings me back to these movies and your thoughts that every movie producer has an mixed interest, for some producers the interest is making the best movie possible on a subject that has transgenderism, with “trans casting” being a much lower goal if it exists.
      Many transgenders have the primary interest of trans-casting, and overall perception of the movie by ticket buyers is not primary.

      We live and will always live in a free market, there will be never be subsidized transgender success. Trans actor/actresses and all fields will increase their demand and value if they compete in the market place through as many venues and fields as possible.

  6. angela_g angela_g says:

    Obviously, if you are aware of STDs and the dangers they pose, then you don’t need to watch the HRC’s video. If, on the other hand, there are young people who remain ignorant about the dangers of un-protected sex they should be watching the video. We provide the video link in TWIT so that those who feel they need to know more can get the information. Those who already know what’s up can just read past that paragraph.

  7. KoolMcKool KoolMcKool says:

    First let me say last week we had an excellent and lengthy discussion on this site. I hope many of you continue to post or would start to post. If you don’t speak up, others will fill the void and they may not be saying the things you agree with or want said on transgenderism.

    There are decisions, opinions and perceptions being shaped in the world about TGs based upon who and what is being talked about….and honestly a lot of it does not apply to you, and may actually be poor advice.

    I watched the video by Human Rights Campaign “Safer Sex for Trans Bodies”. I don’t care for the title “Safer Sex” as if we are all about sex acts, hormones and physical. take a look at the PDF for this series “Safer Sex for Trans Bodies” at:

    They are explaining terms like “front hole, dick, vagina, cum/pre-cum”. The information I am sure was useful for some, but folks you are not stupid, you already know to use condoms and know how to engage in intimacy in a responsible way.

    I think we can elevate the discussion and show that some of us do not need to be provided with material that tells us how to masturbate (yes that is in there).
    Which gets me back to why not enough of you are speaking up about a wider range of topics, experiences and advice. There is a lot of assumptions that if a trans-activist or organization says it, it’s got to be right for me….

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