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 photo Marcelas_zpsh0yuokcu.jpgMarcelas Owens created quite a stir six years ago as the "Obamacare Kid." At the time he was a chubby 11-year-old African-American boy in a black vest who watched President Obama sign the AFA into law.

Marcelas' mother died because she didn't have health insurance, Owens says. She was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2006. Her illness caused her to miss days at work, which led to her losing her job. She was denied Medicaid because she had earned too much money working the previous year.

So Marcelas started attending Obamacare rallies and "gave a human face to an abstract political isse."

Marcelas stepped into a new role. While other kids his age could barely mumble while speaking before a class, he was speaking to crowds of up to 6,000 people at rallies. At one rally in Seattle, he met U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from the state of Washington.

And when the Affordable Care Act was passed, he was invited to the White House signing ceremony. He still talks about the experience with a sense of awe.

"I got a high five and fist bump from Barack Obama!"

So this is all old news and some of you may have heard this story and more.



Shakespeare on transgender

University of British Columbia professor of English Literature Mary Ann Saunders is presenting at a conference which begins on Thursday. The conference is called 2016/Moving Trans History Forward: Building Communities -- Sharing Conections and it is being held at the University of Victoria. Keynote speakers are Jamison Green of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health and SiriusXM founder Martine Rothblatt.

Professor Saunders' paper is The (Transgender) Tempest: Shakespeare as Trans Archive. She will be speaking, of course, about the character Ariel, the spirit who is the sorcerer Prospero's indentured servant.

On three occasions during the play, Prospero orders Ariel to take on female form.




 photo LillyWachowski.0_zpsxkebeoul.jpgThat title is the one Lilly Wachowski wrote for her own coming out yesterday. Her sister Lana came out in 2012.

There's the headline I've been waiting for this past year. Up until now with dread and/or eye rolling exasperation. The "news" has almost come out a couple of times. Each was preceded by an ominous email from my agent—reporters have been asking for statements regarding the "Andy Wachowski gender transition" story they were about to publish. In response to this threatened public outing against my will, I had a prepared a statement that was one part piss, one part vinegar and 12 parts gasoline.

It had a lot of politically relevant insights regarding the dangers of outing trans people, and the statistical horrors of transgender suicide and murder rates. Not to mention a slightly sarcastic wrap-up that "revealed" my father had injected praying mantis blood into his paternal ball-sac before conceiving each of his children to produce a brood of super women, hellbent on female domination.

Okay, mega sarcastic.

But it didn't happen. The editors of these publications didn't print a story that was only salacious in substance and could possibly have a potentially fatal effect. And being the optimist that I am, I was happy to chalk it up to progress.

--Lilly Wachowski



Overture. Dim the Lights

I hear it all the time. We transgender people just have to wait for our time; We're just too new.

A team of trans people are busy putting the lie to that. We've Been Around is series of documentary shorts that chronicle the lives of Lucy, STAR, Albert, Little Ax, and Lou. They are directed by Rhys Ernst, produced by Christine Beebe and the narration is done by transgender people. The team includes Transparent actress Alexandra Billings, writer and filmmaker Susan Stryker and trans historian Monica Roberts.

I know it's terribly bad form to write a diary that asks the readers to go somewhere else and then come back. But I sure hope you do. The videos do not embed well.



Returning the snub

 photo ANOHNI_zps8uavsp2u.jpg

Last week, when the list of this year's Academy Awards performers and presenters was announced, ANOHNI's name was not on it. Despite being nominated for Best Original Song for "Manta Ray," her collaboration with J. Ralph from the documentary Racing Extinction, she will not play the song live on the broadcast. (Organizers reportedly cut the performance due to "time constraints.") Nor will she attend the ceremony. Now, in a powerful, no-holds-barred essay, ANOHNI explains her decision not to attend.   








Minnesota man writes about his transgender child

Louis Porter has an Ed. D., has been a teacher for a long time, and is executive director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage.

He is also the parent of a transgender child. And he fears for his black transgender child's life.

Even when my child was an infant, I had a premonition that our precious baby girl was going to throw some curveballs our way. Something in this long-awaited baby’s spirit let me know that a wild ride was ahead for my wife and me.

So, several years ago when my then-middle school child came out as queer, I was caught off guard, but it was news I could handle. “Your daddy’s love comes with a lifetime guarantee,” I said, paraphrasing a song by Sade, a generation-bridging family favorite. Then, as a native of the South steeped in black-middle-class tradition, I said: “I wonder if they’ll still let you be a debutante.” We both immediately laughed that hearty, authentic family chuckle that eases tensions.




Fit to Serve?

A new study reveals that transgender active duty service members (ADSM) report few lifetime mental and physical health problems.

These findings challenge the current policy of excluding transgender persons from enlisting in the U.S. military or discharging them based on the presumption that they are unfit to serve due to their mental or physical health.

Fit to Serve? Exploring Mental and Physical Health and Well-Being Among Transgender Active-Duty Service Members and Veterans in the U.S. Military explores the lifetime mental and physical problems of transgender ADSM and veterans. The research was done by Brandon Hill and Alida Bouris of the University of Chicago, Joshua Trey Barnett of the University of Utah (Salt Lake City) and Dayna Walker, transgender American Veterans Association.



One might think she's the most fearsome creature in America

 photo Lucy_zpss1gjege0.jpgYou should meet Lucy Tidd. She is 8. It is unusual for such a young child to be scaring the bejeezus out of adults across the land.

Because looking at the behavior of those adults...adults who enough people judged to be sufficiently mentally competent that they elected them to public office, you'd think she was a serial killer.

It was the first day of third grade and 8-year-old Lucy was sitting in the principal’s office with her parents, crying her heart out. She was terrified. Mark and I sat with her and said: ‘This is your journey. We will go and do whatever you want.’ She had this blue bunny and she just held onto that and sobbed and sobbed. And then Mark carried her to the classroom.

--Briget Tidd

The scariest thing is that nobody knew except for the teachers. The kids saw Benjamin walk into school dressed like a girl, and they were like, ‘Hey, Benji.’ They were confused, but there was no malicious intent.

--Mark Tidd

Lucy didn’t relax until recess, when her mother helped a group of curious girls understand what was happening.

I said to them, ‘This is the same person you played with last year, that you played four square with, that you played jump rope with, that you ran around and played ball with. This is the same exact person.’ Only now, Benji wants to be just like a girl.

--Briget Tidd

“I said, ‘Do you think that we can let her be herself and do this?’ ” Bridget asked the girls, who nodded in agreement. “Then the next thing I know they took her hand and they ran and that was it.”

I stood there with tears in my eyes, trusting that the rest of the day would be OK, and I let her go. And at that moment she was completely free, and we’ve never turned back.




Public art to be created as tribute to transgender victims of violence

Los Angeles-based sculptor Heath Satow has been commissioned by the Transgender Community Coalition to create a tribute to transgender victims of violence to be displayed as public art somewhere in Palm Springs.

 photo clinton_zpsezlhbyzq.jpgThe original rendering of the statue was created by coalition director Thomi Clinton and R. J. Taylor.

The original iteration of the transgender sculpture illustrates a life-size figure, made of steel butterflies, lying on its side. Where exactly the statue will find a permanent home in Palm Springs is still to be determined.



 photo statue_zpsa16ta9ac.jpg




Olympics to allow transgender athletes in 2016

The International Olympic Committee is expected to adopt new guidelines concerning the participation of transgender athletes before this years summer Olympics in Rio. The new guidelines have grown out of an under-the-radar meeting this past November called Consensus Meeting on Sex Reassignment and Hyperandrogenism.

The new guidelines will completely eliminate restrictions for trans men. Triathlete Chris Mosier's participation in the World Duathlon Championships, for which he has qualified as part of the American team, had been in doubt. The International Triathlon Union will decide Mosier's fate by which set of standards it adopts.




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