Music, Art, and Literature

Gender Prison: Trans woman finalist in model search

 photo amyb_zpsed6cdb59.jpgAmy Brosnahan, 18, is aspiring to be a model. In an attempt to further her career, Amy entered herself in the Battle of the Babes beauty contest modeling competition, which is apparently a worldwide search.

She advanced through the early rounds of the competition, but it didn’t feel right.

I felt really weird going into the competition not telling them what I am really about, what I stand for.

—Amy Brosnahan

So she told the organizers that she was assigned male at birth. The woman she told asked her if she had had surgery yet.

She was really keen for me until she knew I was transgender.

Amy's prize for being up front about herself was being told that the event was “for female models only.” So Amy called them out for discrimination.

Just because I am transgender, it doesn’t mean I am not female.





Transgender artists at the Whitney

 photo drucker_03biennial08_800_zps4493c8c6.jpgRhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker are doing their part to bring the transgender influence to pop culture.

Rhys and Zackary met at a bar in the East Village in 2005. They were both aspiring to be artists…or rather, they were artists who were aspiring to be better known. Rhys was a graduate of Hampshire College and was working for MTV. Zackary was a graduate of the School of Visual Arts and was appearing on a reality show called Artstar, created by Jeffrey Deitch which was available on Dish TV's Gallery HD.

Their self-identifications at the time were an impediment to any instant romance. Rhys had never dated a man. Zackary had never dated a woman.

I remember thinking, "if I ever dated a boy, that’s the type of boy I’d date."


But over the last five years they have both transitioned…Zackary from male to female and Rhys from female to male.

They have a photo exhibition, Relationship, at the Whitney Biennial in New York. The exhibit consists of 46 chromogenic prints.



Beautiful Music for Ugly Children: a young adult novel

 photo BMUC_zps3b745aca.jpgKirstin Cronn-Mills recently won an American Library Association Stonewall Award "for a work of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience" for her young adult novel Beautiful Music for Ugly Children.

Published in October of 2012 the book was also a Top Ten pick for the 2013 Rainbow List, the Young Adult Library Services Association's 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults, the silver medal winner in Foreword Review's Book of the Year Awards for Young Adult Fiction and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in the Children's/Young Adult category.

The book is for Grades 8 and up.

Gabe Williams is a guy with big summer plans. He’s got a job as a radio DJ, following in the footsteps of his mentor, and he wants to move far away after graduation. He’s also hoping his best friend Paige will fall in love with him—she’s smart, she’s hot, and she tolerates his music habit. He couldn’t ask for more. His only problem? The rest of the world has known him as Elizabeth for the last eighteen years.

--Kristin Cronn-Mills









Talking to us and about us

The Philadelphia police have a new policy intended to eliminate the divide between the the city's transgender citizens and the people sworn to protect them.

Historically police the world over have tended to use the wrong honorific (sir instead of ma'am or vice versa) and/or have declined to use our adopted names.

It's enough to put fear into you or make you feel uncomfortable or uninvited.

--Samantha Dato, director of Philadelphia's Trans Health Conference

The new policy, formally called Directive 152, was originally announced in December and addresses how officers will interact with transpeople and the housing, transportation, and processing of transgender inmates. It also addresses how to speak with reporters about transgender offenders or victims of crime.

In cases where a transgender victim has died, the policy states officers should "use pronouns and titles of respect appropriate to the individual's gender identity as expressed by the individual."

We were vulnerable because we had no real policy in place.

--Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey

For officers to start addressing people with their proper pronoun, that to me is totally amazing. I do want to see them come through with this.


It is amazing to me that we would be amazed at being treated respectfully. People should not get Brownie Points for not being rude.



Gender Prison: On Spreading Love...for Valentine's Week

I'd like people to read an Op-ed by Lucian Clark that was published in the Advocate this morning: Why Are Narratives Around Transgender People Always So Negative?

Clark has his own website, called Gender Terror.

People like me are terrors to people who hate trans* people. My very existence shatters many of their beliefs. I literally terrorize their definitions.

Similarly, my own Tuesday column, which I label Gender Prison is not about any prison I am locked in. It is about the prison you allow yourself to be incarcerated in...which I attempt to point out...because your imprisonment always works to our detriment.

I hope people have noticed that I search for positive news stories about us to mix in with the usual stories of us being assaulted and/or murdered. I mean, we can't ignore what happens to people like Islan Nettles and Cece McDonald and the others who have gotten less coverage…but whose lives are nonetheless deserving of having their existence acknowledged. But it is necessary to also share the lives of those who are…or could be…role models for the transpeople who are struggling to build meaningful lives.




Gender Prison: Documentary to watch for: My Prairie Home

 photo Spoon_zps9db88672.jpgOne of the documentaries that showed at the just-concluded Sundance Film Festival was My Prairie Home about the life and music of transman Rae Spoon.

I sure wish I was a man,
I would never go to church again.
My prairie home fits like a Sunday dress.

--Rae Spoon, Sunday Dress





Rae prefers people use the pronouns "they" and "them." They say that the people at Sundance have been very accepting of their choice of pronoun.

There haven’t been any grammar discussions yet.





Book review: Does Capitalism Have A Future?

Book review: Wallerstein, Immanuel et al. Does Capitalism Have A Future? Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013.

(crossposted to Firedoglake and to

This book is a "response" anthology, with the lead author being Immanuel Wallerstein, prominent world-systems theorist, laying out his hypothesis for postcapitalism. Even though I am sympathetic to Wallerstein's hypothesis, I find its logic a bit brief. Wallerstein argues that a number of trends in present-day world-society will converge and produce a transition to a postcapitalist world-society, and that what is going on now is the struggle to define what the world after capitalism will be like.




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