Gender Prison: International Transgender Day of Visibility



Yesterday, like every March 31, was International Transgender Day of Visibility. The event is meant to be A Celebration of Transgender Lives, in contrast with Transgender Day of Remembrance, the day on which we mourn those who have been killed.

If you haven’t heard of this before, it’s understandable. It has not been widely observed since its founding by Transgender Michigan Executive Director Rachel Crandall-Crocker in 2009.

As we like to say, transgender lives are livable because transgender lives are lived.

Fashion model Geena Rocero has certainly been visible this month. Earlier in March, Geena gave a spoke at the 2014 TED Conference in British Columbia.









Gender Prison: Transgender Ground Zero--This week in Saskatoon

Spooky how these stories all tied together.

Saskatoon high school students recently attended the 17th annual Breaking the Silence gender diversity conference in that Canadian city.

The conference this year is 17 years old, it’s the longest standing conference of its kind in Canada.

--Dan Cochrane, University of Saskatchewan

The conference had more than 110 attendees at the University of Saskatchewan.

Cochrane said that great strides have been made over the last two decades, in spite of the endurance of phobias and discrimination.

Adoptions, pensions, hospital visiting rights, wills; hundreds of thousands of hours went into legal cases. That’s been a major catalyst and the big one was same sex marriage.





Out of Arkansas

I've shared before that I was teaching at a university in Arkansas when I transitioned. The University of Central Arkansas is located in Conway, about 35 miles north of Little Rock on I-40.

I can't say it was a good place to transition…but looking back, I wonder if there was anyplace that would have been good to transition in 1992.

Anyway, we left there in 2000 and moved to New Jersey.That meant I went from a tenured faculty member at UCA to teaching as an adjunct in mathematics at Montclair State University and as an adjunct in Computer Information Systems at Bloomfield College. Fortunately I was offered a tenure-track position at Bloomfield at the end of the first year, which I accepted…even though I had no background in computer programming.

But I taught myself the languages I needed to be able to teach and gained tenure in CIS in 2006. I moved back to teaching mathematics three years ago.

Anyway…enough about me. There are three news stories out of Arkansas I would like to share.



Gender Prison: TLGB -- Two Voices

I don't so much have any news story this evening as some philosophical discussion. I'd like to invite my readers to listen to a couple of voices they probably have not been aware of.

 photo Johnson_zps10753f4a.jpgDr. E. Jaye Johnson is chief executive officer of KingMakerz Consulting, Marketing and Branding, vice chair of the Transgender Advisory Board of the City of West Hollywood and a member of LA Pride's Transgender Coalition. He has published an Op-Ed at the Advocate: LA PRIDE Makes a Transgender First.

Meanwhile Jerry Davich of the Chicago Sun-Times introduces us to Kaden S. in Transgender teen slowly lowering his shield.




RIP Reverend BobbieJean Baker

 photo BobbieJean_zps26e4cf86.gifReverend BobbieJean Baker, 49, of City of Refuge United Church of Christ in San Francisco and Oakland had officiated at a New Year's Eve Watch Night worship service in Oakland, along with Bishop Yvette Flunder from the same church.

Baker moved to the Bay Area in 1992 from Memphis, TN. She served as west Coast Regional TransSaints Minister of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries and Lay Minister at Transcending Transgender Ministries at City of Refuge. She was also lead singer of the all transgender member Transcendence Gospel Choir. She also worked at San Francisco's Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center as a substance abuse and transgender health counsellor.

My purpose is to help you break whatever it is that had you bound so that you can move to better yourself. I'm willing to hold hands and walk you through every phase, but I am not willing to be your babysitter. There comes a time when you need to really step up and do the work for you.

--BobbieJean Baker, to her clients

 photo BobbieJeanx400_zpsf18ce839.jpgAt the service Bishop Flunder says Baker seemed to know she didn't have much time left.

She gave best wishes to everyone, wonderful, kind words. She went way out of her way speaking to everyone and wishing them the best for the coming year. It was incredible the space that she was in.

--Bishop Flunder

After the service Reverend Baker went to the home of gay deacon Bobby Wiseman where there was to be a traditional meal of corn bread and black-eyed peas.

[It was almost as if she knew] that something was coming, because she was so unusually specific in many of the ways she was going around talking to different people and encouraging them through their own struggles.

--Bishop Yvette Flunder

Wiseman says that at about 2:30 am he was driving his Ford Expedition west on I-580 in Oakland to take Baker home, "remembering the good times and the friends that we've lost over the years" when a silver and black car bumped his SUV on the left before swerving away. Wiseman's vehicle fishtailed and then rolled two or three times before landing upside down at the Park Boulevard exit. Wiseman managed to crawl out of the vehicle through the window, but he and a bystander were unable to free Baker. Both of them had been wearing seat belts.

Baker died at the scene.




Gender Prison: Like they're not even human

Welcome to Transgender Awareness Week…which will culminate on Friday with Transgender Day of Remembrance. It's a time when we should be celebrating being transgender, but as is all too often the case, it will liikely not be a a time to rejoice.

Equality Michigan issued a press release last Friday noting that the murder victim whose body was discovered in a trash bin on November 8, although not yet identified, is believed to be a member of the transgender community.

We are saddened and angry to hear of the murder of another transgender woman of color who has yet to be identified. The undignified way in which her body was dumped speaks to the larger issue of anti-transgender hostility in our society, and the vast amount of work we, as supporters of the LGBT communities, have in front of us. We know that transgender women of color are the most disproportionately affected by violence and hate against the LGBT communities, and this latest incident is a tragic reminder of that reality. 

--Yvonne Siferd, Equality Michigan director of victim services




New game: "Burn the Tranny"

Richard Thomas' mother is defending him. According to her, the 16-year-old Thomas is not homophobic and didn't mean to hurt anyone last Monday.

My son is not a hateful person. He's not homophobic. He was joking, and he didn't know it would go that far.

I am very sorry, very sorry for my son's actions. I did not raise him that way.

--Ms. Jackson, Thomas' mother

 photo sasha_zpsd2829755.jpgHis mother says Richard is very sorry and is writing a letter of apology to his 18-year-old victim, Sasha Fleishman. Fleishman identifies as gender-neutral…which is sometimes called neutrois. Fleishman made the mistake of dozing off on a public bus in Oakland. Thomas thought it would be funny to set fire to Fleishman's skirt.

The intentional and callous nature of the crime is shocking and will not be tolerated in our community.

--Nancy O'Malley, Alameda County District Attorney



Vigil for Islan Nettles

The vigil for Islan Nettles, who died last week after being beaten into a coma and being declared brain dead, drew a crowd of hundreds to Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem. Nettles was a 21-year-old transwoman who was pursuing a career in fashion.

On August 17 Islan was walking with a transwoman friend when they encountered a group of men outside a Harlem police precinct station. One of the men, Paris Wilson, 20, had recently friended Islan on Facebook. Wilson reportedly began flirting with Nettles, until one of his friends yelled that she had been born a man. The friends began teasing Wilson until he attacked her. As he was beating her, the "friends" shouted anti-trans and anti-gay epithets. He continued to pound on her face after her head had been driven into the sidewalk. Wilson was arrested after police finally arrived. He was charged with misdemeanor assault and released on $2,000 bail.



DC starts hoped for snowball effect over transgender documentation





District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray signed the JaParker Deoni Jones Birth Certificate Equality Amendment Act on Tuesday, as well as the Marriage Officiant Amendment Act.

The birth certificate measure is a reform bill aimed at removing obstacles to transgender people changing their birth certificates to reflect their new gender.

By signing the birth certificate equality amendment into law, my administration continues to meet the needs of all of our residents so that they may work, live and thrive in safe communities free from stigma and discrimination, which is a goal shared by all of us.

We know that something such as a birth certificate not only validates the gender identity or expression of transgender individuals but it also provides them the opportunity they should have been guaranteed in the first place – especially around such issues of employment and housing.

--Mayor Gray



The anti-transgender violence goes on and on

Heavy Sigh.

Having not yet recovered from the murder of Diamond Williams, Philadelphia's trans community was rocked again on Tuesday night. A 26 year-old transwoman is reported to be in critical but stable condition at Hahnemann University Hospital after being pistol whipped and shot in the back of the head in her apartment in Northern Liberties. She is expected to survive.

The victim was found at the front door to the apartment building, having crawled there from her third floor apartment. She was able to communicate with police when they arrived after being called by neighbors. She reported that she was waiting for a family member when she heard a knock on the door. She opened it to discover a man with a gun who she did not know.

There is video here. That's the CBS coverage, which describes the victim as a woman. Early ABC coverage described the victim as a "man dressed like a woman." I saw video yesterday that identified the victim and had some interviews with family members, but it appears today to have been scrubbed from the internet.




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