Free Nicoll

Nicoll Hernández-Polanco tried to enter this country twice when she was 17. The Guatemalan native was caught and deported.

In October of 2014, Nicoll again crossed the Sonora desert to the Arizona border. This time she turned herself in and asked for asylum. Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere for transgender women, battling for second with Honduras behind Brazil.

Having experienced about a decade of sexual and physical abuse in Guatemala and then Mexico, ICE threw the new fish into the shark tank that is their Florence, AZ all-male detention center. Since she has been there she has been assaulted by another detainee, forced to shower with men, verbally abused by both the guards and the other inmates, and placed in solitary confinement for standing up for herself.

Mariposas Sin Fronteras (Butterflies without borders), the Transgender Law Center, and other LGBT and immigration rights advocates have been fighting for her release...for an end to the torture...but ICE refuses to budge. In their eyes, her deportation is a priority because of her two previous deportations.




 photo tc1.jpgOn this International Day of Transgender Visibility dueling manifestos have apparently broken out. I've always been a bit wary of manifestos as a general rule, but I suppose they have their place.

In Great Britain (or anywhere) a coming together of the various and sundry transgender constituencies for any purpose is a great feat indeed, but they did so in late 2013, in hopes of creating a bit of focus.

My view about four or five years ago was that protection trans people had in the law exceeded the societal understanding of trans issues but it wouldn’t take very much for that situation to be reversed. I think we’re now at that point. People now understand a lot more about trans issues because of the general publicity. The law is trying to progress, but it’s not progressing anything like as fast as the social understanding.

--Helen Belcher, LGBT Consortium was launched yesterday. It "allows users to view which candidates have indicated their support for the Trans Manifesto, and those who have declined it."





 photo trans-moms-2_zpsf9wawvva.jpgYesterday I posted about a group of Canadian mothers of transgender kids who were starting a "bathroom movement" in order to advocate on behalf of their children. In that diary, we met Anne Lowthian and her child, Charlie.

 photo trans-moms_zpskwcojvae.jpgIn Saskatoon Megan Cheesbrough and Fran Forsberg commandeered a men's restroom to drive home the point.

As of early March, Bill C-279 is awaiting the outcome of a Senate committee report consideration.

This private member's bill is seeking to change current federal laws in order to introduce gender identity to the Human Rights Code of Canada. The bill passed its first two readings and went to committee, at which point Senator Donald Plett introduced amendments.

[The amendments] exempt federal spaces from being bound by legislation. His rationale was that he wanted women's shelters or women's bathrooms and change rooms to be able to exclude trans women where they feel it is an issue of safety.

[That] is ridiculous because you can't exclude an entire group of people for safety, that's what bigotry looks like. So, in order to stand up for our trans children, we are here to pee in the opposite gender's bathroom and make that statement that if our children are going to be forced into the wrong bathroom, then we're going in there to make it a safer space for them.





 photo Blake_zpshmuycn7h.jpgDuring basketball season of 2014, Blake raised $2555.55 for East Meckelenburg High School's chosen charity, Mothering Across Continents, for the purpose of building a school in South Sudan. Since the dozen other candidates for homecoming king raised a total of $648.33 between them, Blake became the first transgender homecoming king in North Carolina history.

I honestly feel like this is something I have to do. Nobody should be scared to be themselves, and everybody should have an equal opportunity to have an enjoyable high school experience.

Blake shared that he was mentoring several younger transgender students.

When Blake came out his birth family rejected him. He was placed in a foster home.

Winning the crown came with a price.

That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey. Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.







Transgender Lives

Before Laverne Cox landed the role of Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black...

I played hookers a lot. That was the scope of what was available for trans actors. When I got the [OITNB] script, I was like, OK, this is what I've waited for my whole career—I need to kill it.

--Laverne Cox

The rest, as they say, was history in the making.

This year, with gay rights and marriage equality forging ahead at an unprecedented pace, the transgender community came out of the shadows, demanding to be respected and understood too. "I looked around at the lives of so many trans folks—lives that are often in danger," says Cox. "The homicide rate is disproportionately high among trans people. The rate of bullying is disproportionately high. Forty-one percent of all trans people have attempted suicide, compared to 4.6 percent of the rest of the population." Forty-one percent.











Maine's Nicole Maines wins November

BiPM includes a poll in his Friday C&J to select who won the week. I decided I needed to riff off that for my title.

I don't know that I have ever read the magazine Glamour. I mean, I may have done so, once upon a time. When I was a child, I read whatever I could get my hands on, just for the joy of reading.

On November 10, Glamour honored its 2014 Women of the Year award recipients at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Glamour's annual Women of the Year Awards is one of our favorite issues of the magazine, and the event marks one of the most inspiring nights of the year; it's a chance to celebrate trailblazing women from all walks of life—Hollywood stars, political and cultural leaders, groundbreaking scientists and researchers, and more come together to honor the women who helped to shape and change the year. But let's not forget that phenomenal women are all around us; to celebrate the spirit of Women of the Year, we named 50 standouts—one for every state. Flip through to see the hometown heroes whose work we recognize this year.

Flipping through the inspiring women from each state, one eventually encounters...



Gender Prison: All the Lonely People





The holiday season brings with it a terrible price for some of us. You can't miss any of the clues that tell us all this is a time of family.

I remember when I was transitioning in the MidSouth trying to find someplace to go for dinner on a holiday and seeing the sign on the doors of the restaurants:



So that our employees can spend the day with their families, we will be closed for the holiday.


That's really not what one wants to see when one has been excommunicated from their family, has no place to go and is feeling lonely.



Speaking for The Dead: Transgender Day of Remembrance

At some instant
one day
the words will cease to flow
their creator (or vessel)
having passed through
the Door
between herenow
and therethen

The words left behind
the ideas they expressed
the actions they instigated
will be all
that remains
to weigh the meaning
of this particular existence

Regret is extinguished
if the words
have expressed
concern and care
and a life lived well

--Robyn Serven
--September 21, 2007

Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse!

--John Derek, Knock on Any Door (1949)

The quote is often erroneously attributed to James Dean.

Some of the murder victims whose stories are told after the break may have tried to live with that philosophy, but the violence visited upon them almost assuredly negated the last part. Being set on fire, run over by a car, shot in the face, or stoned to death usually preclude a "good looking corpse."

A few comments of note: In Brazil, where most of the murders took place, those who would probably be regarded as transgender women here are referred to as travesti (transvestites) and so male pronouns are most often used. I tried to correct that as much as possible. It is also the case that the Police in Brazil are whole-heartedly in favor of blaming the victim, so revenge, drug involvement, "working the program" (prostituting), revenge, or "reckoning" are almost always given as the suspected motives. Gay men in drag, on the other hand, are usually thought to be victims of homophobia. Finally, an autopsy of a transgender woman in Brazil is usually called a necropsy...a word which we reserve for non-sentient animals.

All of those comments may shed light on why there are so many murders in Brazil (77 out of the 121). The United States is second, with 10, (but we try harder...I'm sure we can catch up). Mexico is third with 9.

That works out to one murder of a transgender person about every 74 hours and 27 minutes.

For what it is worth, five of the victims and one of the killers had the last name of da Silva. Ages of the victims ran from 8-year-old Alex Madeiros to 52-year-old Betty Skinner. One of the victims was 16, while 5 were 18 and two were 19.

The list I have generated was collated from several sources, including the Transgender Violence Portal and Memorializing 2014 at the International Transgender Day of Remembrance site.



Remembering the Neglected and Harassed

The focus of Transgender Awareness Week has been Transgender Day of Remembrance, which I will attempt to properly observe tomorrow (I expect to begin in the morning, but I live on the West Coast now).

 photo S1O_SmithGwendolyn-web_zps31e2ac9d.jpg photo rita-hester_zps094f3e6e.jpgStarted by Gwen Ann Smith in 1999 with a candlelight vigil to remember the still unsolved murder of transgender woman Rita Hester on November 28, 1998, TDoR is intended to memorialize those who were killed due to transgender hatred or prejudice, but it has tended to include all transgendered people who have been murdered for whatever reason. During the past year there have been 74 transgendered people murdered, whose stories I shall attempt to share tomorrow.

But each one of the murdered listed on TDoR was killed by the direct action of one or more protagonists. We tend to forget those who have died from institutionalize neglect or harassment.





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