Friday, August 22, 2014

History Repeating Itself In Chitown?

Chicago SkylineTransGriot Note: We African-American transwomen painfully remember that our sis CeCe McDonald spent several months in a Minnesota prison unjustly incarcerated after defending herself from an unprovoked racist attack by cisgender transphobic bigots.

Is the same thing about to happen to another African-American trans woman in Chicago?   This guest post by Channyn Parker suggests it's possible.

Self-Defense is Murder When You're A TWOC.

A Trans-Woman sits in Cook County Jail, Division 9, and there she awaits trial. Why?, because she refused to not defend herself.

While on the city of Chicago's West Side, she and a friend were accosted by a barrage of slurs and epithets at a near by gas station. Two neighborhood men, violently informed the young woman and company, that she was not welcome in her own community because she is transgender. Refusing to be berated, thus speaking up for herself, blows to the face were delivered by one of the men. She proceeded to fight back, the result; the accompanying man called for back up.

In an attempt to get away, the young woman and friend, got in the car, in an effort to drive off. By this time, another vehicle full of the assaulting individual's friends had pulled up, thus blocking her from behind. To the side of her, was the man now pulling at her door in an attempt to force her out of the car. In a panicked frenzy to get away, she ran her car into the man thus pinning his leg to the wall.

Amidst the chaos of the situation, the two women fled from the vehicle and hid from their attackers until she was met by safety.

At the urge of her mother, she eventually turned herself in. Here, she was to discover that her attacker was not only injured during her attempt to escape, but the injury cost him his leg. It had to be removed.

Now, a young woman trans woman sits; 26 years old, detained in the Cook County Jail, facing 10 years imprisonment for 1st degree attempted murder. Her crime; defending her life.

This crime comes on the heels of rampant violence against TWOC on our city's west-side. This travesty of justice proceeds the murder of Paige Clay and preceded the death of her friend that accompanied her that very day. Yes, she was later found murdered, her death goes unsolved.

So, here she is.... another victim of being fed up. Here she is, another victim of the devastating reality of the social injustice Trans-Women of Color face.

I could go on and on with all of the crushing details that this case entails. While sitting with this woman today, it took all that was within me not to cry. She holds fast to her innocence as her public defender offers little defense. Again community, I urge you to offer your support.

With her permission, I have offered to gather whatever resources I can to help her go public with this. All I know is that a trans-woman sits, eyes glazed with fear, uncertain of her future. As always, hold her in loving light and prayer. Write her, as your letters of support are welcome. Rally whomever and whatever support you can offer.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rest In Power, Kenishia Hubbard 1964-2014

Was stunned to hear that one of our transsisters, Left Coast advocates and my fellow Texan Kenishia Hubbard suddenly passed away at age 50 on Monday August 18 in San Diego, CA..

From Kenishia's daughter Nita Hubbard:  (multiple pronouns changed to avoid misgendering Kenishia and respect her life)
For those of you who are unaware my father suddenly passed away at the age of 50 years young yesterday afternoon. I am saddened and in shock but more importantly I want to make sure that everyone who knew Kenishia is aware of her death so they may join our family and friends in her home coming. Please spread the word.  I will keep everyone posted on the wake and funeral services. Rest in peace daddy, I love you. Kenishia "KiKi" Hubbard January 3, 1964 - August 18, 2014.

Kenishia was born in Fort Worth, graduated from Dunbar High, studied at Tarrant County Junior College and served our country proudly as a US Marine.   Kenishia was also a mentor to many transsisters in the San Diego area .

I had the pleasure of meeting her along with many of my BTAC family at the recent edition of the Black Trans Advocacy Conference in Dallas.

Kenishia was my roommate for the event and we spent a few long nights discussing our lives up to that point and her desire to expand her outreach wings in the San Diego and national trans community.   She had a heart as wide as our home state and never failed to put a smile on my face and everyone else who she came in contact with during the time we were together at BTAC 

And as I found out to my chagrin at the Saturday fun day, she plays a mean game of dominoes.

I made a friend during that weekend, and saddened I didn't get the opportunity to build on the connection we made during that weekend in Dallas like I wanted to do.    

A reminder to all of us.  Tell the people that you care about and who mean a lot to you how much you appreciate them while they are in this plane of existence to hear it..   Once they are gone, it's too late to do so. 

Services for Kenishia Hubbard are pending at this time, and as I get information about the homegoing service arrangements or any memorial services being planned in the San Diego area, I'll pass that info to you as soon as I receive it.

If you wish to send donations, flowers or cards, you can do so via Kenishia Hubbard's daughter Nita Hubbard.  Phone number is 972-750-1929 or you can call 619-506-7505.

Rest in power and peace Kenishia.  Until we meet again.  

Malcolm X-The Ballot Or The Bullet Speech

This April 4, 1964 speech delivered by Malcolm X at Cleveland's Cory Methodist Church is ranked (number 7) as one of the 100 Greatest Speeches in American history. 

It is sadly, in the wake of what's happening in Ferguson, MO still relevant 50 years later..

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

HERO Updates, Notes And News- August 20

Last night Team HERO took a moment to celebrate and recognize the team of folks who helped get the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance passed back on May 28, verified the oppositions petitions, or did whatever it took to make the HERO a reality.  

In addition to just being in the same Resurrection MCC church space with each other, we had the pleasure of hanging out with Mayor Annise Parker and State Rep Sylvester Turner.

As you can see by the photo, a certain blogger was there, and I got to hear Mayor Parker thank us for collaborating in the effort to get it passed and showing the world that Houston doesn't discriminate.

Mayor Parker in addition to thanking us provided an update on HERO's status.  The implementation of it is unfortunately on hold pending the legal case, but she also stated that if you are discriminated against, bring your cases to the OIG anyway so they can start tracking them,deal with them and have documentation to bring to the January 19 trial that HERO is needed to tackle the discrimination that does happen.

As for what the faith-based haters were up to?  Probably licking their wounds after the dual legal setbacks they received on Friday.   But the biggest loss for them is that the HERO repeal vote will not be on the November 2014 ballot. 

It gives us time to educate and fundraise should it hit the November 2015 one, and the money they're wasting on the lawsuit is cash that won't be going to right wing candidates in this election cycle.

Speaking of that education effort, the Houston Forum will be having at 6:30 PM their event tonight at Social Junkie entitled '10 Things I Hate About You: Why Houston Needs HERO.   Featured speakers will be Councilmembers Ellen Cohen and Ed Gonzales (who sponsored and voted YES for the HERO).  

I won't be at that one because of a scheduling conflict (darn) but if you wish to attend it, 
Social Junkie is located at 2412 Washington Ave.   You'll need to e-mail an RSVP to Lillie Schechter at in order to do so.

Photo: Kim was the promoted to Assistant Director last night for the telecast.  Here is her POV.On Houston Media Source TV tomorrow at 6:30 PM is another in their series of HERO conversations hosted by Fran Watson and Durrel Douglas. 

I'll be a panelist along with Brandon Mack, Michael C. Webb, Jr and Tarah Taylor in that discussion from the perspective of Black allies and supporters concerning the issues that cropped up during the unnecessarily contentious HERO debate in the African-American and mainstream communities.

The reason I won't be there for the Houston Forum event is because I'm signed up to participate in a African-American specific training that starts an hour later several miles away at the Montrose Center.
The Real Talk: A Message Of Equality training is jointly sponsored by the Movement Advancement Project and Equality Texas

The rationale behind this messaging training is that the best messengers to get the HERO word out amongst African-Americans are other pro-human rights minded African-Americans. 

It's past time that happened, since our predominately conservative white male opponents have been playing the game of using sellout kneegrow pastors to christopimp their message of hate and claim they have 'broad based support'.

If you wish to attend the event, it will happen at The Montrose Center, located at 401 Branard St.   An RSVP is required
for your attendance.  Please go to this link: to register for it and hope to see you tonight starting at 7:30 PM

Finally on Sunday, August 24, the Educating Us About Us Forum facilitated by Austin D.Williams will take place starting at 3:30 PM.  Yep, I'll be at that one too and hope you'll be in attendance for this much needed conversation.   

This facilitated conversation will do some HERO mythbusting liebusting, break down misconceptions about different groups in the African-American SGL, trans and bi community and facilitate community building    Should be an interesting and much needed three hour discussion.

The fight to keep the HERO continues.

Smithsonian Adds Trans Items To Expanded LGBT History Collection

14772026379_59e4dbaaac_zYesterday The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History added hundreds of photographs, papers and historical objects to its collection to document the history of trans, bisexual, gay and lesbian people.   And in case you're wondering about it, yes, the trans end was ably represented on this day. 

One of the trans items donated was a wooden tennis racket from Renee Richards, who turned 80 years old yesterday and was one of the newsworthy trans folks of the 1970's.  After she was denied entry to play in the 1976 US Open because of a hastily enacted USTA women-born-women policy, she won a landmark New York Supreme Court trans rights decision in 1977.

Another of the trans-specific items donated for historical posterity was the original trans pride flag created by longtime Atlanta based trans advocate Monica Helms back in 1999 along with a Transgender American Veterans Association button, a rubber wrist bracelet, Trans and Proud and Trans Ally buttons  and items from Monica's military career in the US Navy.  

This ceremony also took place on the 15th anniversary of the August 19, 1999 day she created the trans pride flag she is donating to the Smithsonian.  

Helms was in Washington DC for yesterday's donation ceremony and obviously thrilled to be representing the trans community on this momentous day.  In her remarks she spoke to the importance of the 'T' being repped in this expansion of the National Museum Of American History's LGBT collection.

Thank you Director John Gray, Katherine Ott, Jennifer Jones and Valeska Hilbig for all that you have done to make this moment possible. This is a historical honor for all transgender and gender non-conforming people across our country. We have always been part of America’s history since the beginning, yet we have also been marginalized the entire time.

Now, the Smithsonian and the American Government are saying that our history is worthy of being displayed, along with that of our fellow Americans. The Transgender Pride Flag was created to give our community a unique symbol for us to show that we are proud of who we are. Not only have trans people in America embraced the flag, but trans communities in other parts of the world have also embraced it. If weren’t for them we would not be here today. The honor goes to the people of the world’s trans community. Transgender and gender non-conforming people of America are truly part of this country that we all love.

And, since the Smithsonian will be displaying items from my military career, they are also acknowledging that we have contributed to the security of our country since the Revolutionary War. We only hope that the Department of Defense and President Obama hears this message and allows transgender and gender non-conforming people the right to serve openly in the military, like our gay, lesbian and bisexual brothers and sisters are doing today.

Thank you for this honor.

nullSea Monica shot me an e-mail before her departure to DC for yesterday's donation ceremony and I asked her a few questions.

TG- What prompted the Smithsonian to seek to enshrine the original trans pride flag and when did they contact you?

MH- I contacted the Smithsonian a year ago. They are starting to collect LGBT artifacts, so I contacted them at the right time.

TG- How excited were they about getting the original trans pride flag and to your knowledge what other trans historical artifacts are going into their collection?
MH- They were very excited. I was surprised.  They became more excited when they understood how important this was to the trans community.

TG- How soon will Smithsonian visitors be able to see it?

MH- It may take them a year or more before the display is put together and put out to the public. They will let me know. It will be on permanent display versus temporary.  It will be in their Armed Forces Flag display section, because I was in the Navy.


So how important is this?  BFD important.  Just as it happened when the April Ashley exhibit opened last September in her hometown Liverpool Museum, it notes to the world and our haters that transpeople exist. 

It loudly says to the world we have a proud history we can show to our transkids and others that The Smithsonian thought was worthy enough to be enshrined in its National Museum of American History halls.    It's one of the reasons I participate in efforts locally and elsewhere to document trans history on behalf of my African-American trans community.   It's why I keep a lot of my papers and memorabilia around so I can pass them on so future generations can enjoy them.

Thank you Sea Monica for helping to ensure that when The Smithsonian was looking to expand the LGBT collection, items representing the trans end of the community were included.

Domonique Newburn Case: One Year Later

Domonique Newburn, 31, aspired to be a reality TV star and the first transgender performer with a hit song on iTunes.As Islan Nettles was lying in a New York hospital bed in a coma after the vicious transphobic attack on her, today was the day a year ago the national trans community discovered we'd  lost another one of our sisters.

31 year old Domonique Newburn had been found dead in her blood spattered Fontana, CA apartment after reports of a disturbance were relayed to the local police.  

Newburn starred in a 2010 YouTube reality TV series called Hollywood Houseboys about four trans and SGLl friends trying to make it in the entertainment industry.

The prime suspect, Dantjier Domenick Powell, allegedly dated Newburn for several years.   He was spotted loading items in Domonique's black Mercedes C240 that was later found abandoned at Perris Hill Park in San Bernadino, CA.

Dantjier Powell, 18, of San Bernardino, left, is the prime suspect in the killing of Daymond Watford — also known as Domonique Newburn and Domoniique Duffy. He is believed to traveling with Nicole Cotton, 25, of HighlandThe now 19 year old Powell fled the state by bus along with now 26 year old Jaime Nicole Cotton.  That led to a $1 million arrest warrant with extradition back to California being issued for Powell and Cotton.  

Powell was eventually captured in Springfield, MO., charged with murder and extradited back to California to face the legal music in February.   He has been held at the Adelanto Detention Center without bail since then.  

A hearing was held on Monday, August 11 before Judge Michael R. Libutti, with the result of Powell’s case being sent to Superior Court Judge Shahla S. Sabet for further action.

Prosecutors have filed charges of accessory after the fact against Cotton.   She was aware of the heinous crime Powell committed and helped him flee the state of California to avoid prosecution.

Will be keeping you posted on the outcome of this case and hoping that at long last, Domonique receives justice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2014 Honor 41 List Initial Videos

41-listThe links to the 2014 Honor 41 List honoree videos are becoming available. .  

So what's the Honor 41 list?  It was founded by Alberto B. Mendoza last year to recognize and celebrate LGBTQ Latin@ community role models.   The inaugural list had 5 trans people on it, this year there were nine trans people selected.  One of them was my DC homegirl Ruby Corado.

I'm going to compose an Honor 41 post highlighting all the trans Latin@ peeps selected this year and those nine videos..

In the meantime, congratulations to all the people selected this year, and to see the posted so far Honor 41 List videos, just click on this link.

Educating Us About Us Forum Sunday

One of the things the HERO battle exposed in our Houston African-American SGL, trans and bi community was not only a need to do a better job of owning our power, but also understanding the component parts of our communities and debunking the stereotypes and myths the component groups have about one another.

Austin D. Williams is facilitating a conversation on Sunday, August 24 to do precisely that

Acceptance is a beautiful thing! We all want to be accepted, but to understand those who make up the LGBTSQA-SGL community will make us better as a community. If we don’t take the time to know where others are coming from in our own community we limit our potential on where we can go. I want to invite you to join us in an in depth discussion on the following topics:

Understanding Transgender
Understanding the Lesbian
Understanding the Gay Christian
Understanding the Gay Republican
Understanding the Gay Man
Understanding DL
This conversation will take place at the Montrose Center 401 Branard St. from 3:30-6:30 PM CDT.  I'll be taking part in that discussion and hope you can attend. 

Diamonds Are Mo'Ne's Best Friend

Marilyn Monroe once sang diamonds are a girl's best friend.   But in 13 year old Mo'Ne Davis' case, it's a baseball diamond.

Mo'Ne is the 18th girl to make it to the LLWS, but she has the sporting world's attention as one of the few girls in the 67 year history of the LLWS to be the star player of their Little League team.

Her Taney Youth Baseball Association Little League of Philadelphia squad got to the 2014 Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA on the strength of her pitching arm and her 70 MPH fastball.  

In addition to the personal history Davis is making, her Taney squad is also making it as a team. They are the first team from Philadelphia to make it to the LLWS. 

In the Taney Dragons first game on Friday a 4-0 win against Nashville, Tennessee, Davis proved she was no joke as she pitched her second complete game,   She gave up only two hits and struck out eight batters enroute to becoming the first girl ever in the 67 year history of the event to pitch a shutout. .

AP Photo/, Elizabeth FrantzIn the game last night against Pearland East, my H-town suburban homies and the overflow crowd  of 32,000 found out that Mo'Ne can hit, too. 

Her first inning single made her only the sixth girl to record a hit in LLWS play and help her Taney Dragons team to a 7-6 win that puts them two game away from the US Championship.

They face Mountain Ridge LL from Las Vegas in the winners bracket on Wednesday.

Hopefully Mo'Ne and Taney LL will continue to prove that baseball diamonds are a girl's best friend, too.

Monday, August 18, 2014

HERO Updates, Notes And News- August 18

HERO 4-HERO haters 0

Despite the faith-based oppressors trying to spin this as a 'victory', the reality is they lost twice in court Friday in their bid to force a November repeal vote of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

Because the 152nd District Court has a Democratic judge (which is more ample evidence that elections matter) the haters tried to get the case heard in the  14th District Texas Court of Appeals in the hopes they would get a conservative leaning judge.

Former city councilor Jolanda Jones speaks about Equal Rights Ordinance on August 15, 2014 at 201 Caroline St. in Houston, TX.
The strategy didn't work, because the 14th District Appeals Court refused to hear their case and sent it back to the 152nd District Court and Judge Schaeffer

While all this legal maneuvering was going on, Team HERO was holding a noon press conference before the court hearing at the steps of the Harris County Civil Courthouse telling our side of the story.

The pro-HERO peeps are continuing to hammer home the points why this non-discrimination ordinance needs to be implemented without delay instead of being delayed .  

This news story that broke last Thursday about an African-American cis man being denied access to a downtown public bathroom in a public building is more evidence why HERO needs to be implemented in H-town without delay. 

In the Friday afternoon court hearing, the faith based haters went in trying to accomplish three things.  
*A temporary restraining order to stop HERO from being implemented. 
*An order forcing City Council to vote to repeal HERO in its entirety
*An order forcing a City Council vote to place it on the November 2014 ballot.

Never mind the fact the HERO haters screwed up and failed to follow clearly set out city charter parameters for conducting petition drives and they know it.  Now in their faith-based phobic arrogance want the special right to ignore the rules that everyone else has to follow.

At the end of the hearing, the HERO haters failed to accomplish any of their goals.  They agreed to withdraw the TRO request since Mayor Parker made it moot by suspending implementation of the HERO pending the results of the court case

The trial date will be January 19, 2015, which means that the earliest election date that can happen for a HERO repeal vote will be the November 2015 city elections.  

The haters were trying to get it on the ballot this November, and the deadline to submit ballot language to the Texas Secretary of State for the upcoming election was today.   It's why the HERO haters were so pressed to force City Council to act on it.  

But while a HERO repeal referendum will not be on the November 2014 ballot, it also means the HERO will not be in effect either until the legal issues are sorted out.   The silver lining is that it gives us time to educate the people who have been bamboozled into believing the faith based lies and flip them into becoming supporters of the ordinance once we lay out the facts

Moving on to other HERO related news.   On Tuesday August 19 there will be a HERO Volunteer Appreciation Event at Resurrection MCC featuring Mayor Annise Parker.

At the event will get an update on where the legal challenges against HERO-our new landmark nondiscrimination law stand, take a moment to celebrate the amazing work that our broad citywide coalition has done and accomplished so far and hear what we need to do to ensure that HERO remains City of Houston law.

The Volunteer Appreciation event will start at 6:30 PM at the church, located at  2725 W 11th St. 

On Wednesday August 20 at Social Junkie, the Houston Forum will present starting at 6:30 PM entitled '10 Things I Hate About You: Why Houston Needs HERO.   It will feature Councilmembers Ellen Cohen and Ed Gonzales      

As is so apropos to this HERO discussion, Social Junkie is located at 2412 Washington Ave, the street where clubs located on it have been going buck wild discriminating against anyone that isn't a heterosexual white male.  

The Houston Forum is a space for like-minded people to meet, network and discuss current issues and to foster the progressive community in Houston.   If you wish to attend what should be an interesting event,  e-mail Lillie Schechter at to do so. 

Meanwhile at the Montrose Center that same night, starting at 7:30 PM will be the Real Talk: A Message Of Equality event jointly sponsored by the Movement Advancement Project and Equality Texas.

African Americans are the best messengers for LGBT equality in the African American community. This training brings national experts from the Movement Advancement Project and Equality Federation to lead a conversation among African Americans about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. Our presenters will provide evidence-based information on effective messaging that can be difficult to hear, but is vital to broader public education efforts.
RSVP is required for your attendance.  Please go to this link:

The struggle to keep the HERO continues.

Fallon Has A New Fight-With Wannabee 'Advocate' Tamikka Brents

Our fave MMA warrior is now in training for her next fight with 24 year old Tamikka Brents

Y'all know I have much love for Fallon Fox and I'm looking forward to meeting her in person.  I wish the 'Queen of Swords' the best of luck as she gets ready to handle her business inside the octagon on September 13 in Springfield, IL.

And Fallon's probably got some extra motivation to be on her A+ WMMA game with this upcoming opponent after Tamikka Brents flapped her gums and let loose some dog whistle transphobia back on May 25, 2013. 

“I am tired of Fox getting all this publicity just for being a transgender fighter rather than having great skills. I think it’s unfair anyway but as long as the opponent knows and accepts the fight then go ahead… I mean Allana took her to the third and she’s not even a 145er; she’s a more of a 135er who can probably go even lower to 125 pounds. She’s using all that attention as a good publicity tactic – go ahead and ride that free publicity train as long as you can. I’ll gladly derail that s#*t quickly so the world can go back to giving the publicity and notice to the female fighters who earn it. It just pisses me off that Women’s MMA has fought to get away from being seen as a side show. She’s using that to further her career while setting Women’s MMA back in the process.”
And this from a woman who claims in a November 2012 Bleacher Report piece she wants to be an LGBT advocate.   Well, she said she wanted this fight with Fallon bad, and she's about to get her wish. 

But let me focus on Tamikka Brents' advocacy, or lack thereof.   The only thing you've done is take a rainbow flag a few hundred feet into an octagon twice.   I haven't seen op-eds written by you in TIME magazine, the TransAdvocate, or much less my GLAAD Award nominated blog   I have yet to see you at an National Black Justice Coalition event or do anything in support of the SGL, trans or bi  community.

While you bump your gums in a puff piece about wanting to be an advocate for the LGBT community, Fallon Fox is role modeling it. 

So stop hatin'.

And here's your first advocacy lesson, Tamikka.  The 'T' in LGBT stands for transgender.  Without transfolks like Ms. Fox showing up and showing out at Stonewall in 1969 fighting for everyone's human rights including our own, you wouldn't have a movement to consider being an advocate for.

And what pisses me off Tamikka is you piling on Fallon.   She's handled this lemon situation of being outed and the subsequent microaggressive and macroagressive publicity it generated with class and dignity while trying to build her reputation in women's MMA.  

She has remained classy as you and several of your women's MMA colleagues like Ronda Rousey, Ashlee Evans-Smith and Allana Jones have been transphobically shady towards her while spouting jaw dropping anti-trans ignorance.

So yeah, looking forward to September 13.   

Musing About These Austin Gender Variant Photos

I've talked about the point more than a few times that Black gender variant people are an intertwined part of the African-American community and not something that just popped up out of thin air in the late 20th-early 21st century . 

Thanks to Max Reddick, I have some more proof of that and some interesting photos to peruse.

The cool part is that these photos were taken at a club in the Lone Star State.

Max sent me a link to a story in the Arts Labor Austin blog by Michael Corcoran dated February 7, 2014.    In it Corcoran discusses finding some photos dated October 7, 1955 while searching for another legendary Austin establishment called Charlie's Playhouse.  

The photos weren't of Charlie's, but possibly of the IL Club which was on East 11th Street    The east side of Austin was predominately African-American at the time but due to gentrification of those historic neighborhoods and the rising cost of living, Austin's African-American population is falling. 

It's interesting to note these photos are of drag artists of that time period performing at a blues club.

Not a big surprise to me, knowing that the Halloween Finnie's Ball in Chicago and elaborate drag balls in New York's Rockland Palace dating back to the Harlem Renaissance were quite popular and drew large crowds during that period.  

The winner of Finnie's Ball was covered in Jet magazine from the 50's through the late 60's-early 70's.  
And just across the Sabine River, New Orleans has had a longtime gender bending reputation and Mardi Gras events that lent themselves to celebrating gender variance .

As I look at these photos I'm curious about the lives of the people in them.  How old were they at the time these photos were taken?  Did they continue to live in the Austin area or move on to cities with larger gender variant populations?

Did their gender variance cross over into transgender territory? 

To see more photographic evidence of gender variant people prior to my arrival on the planet is exciting to me and drives me to want to learn more about this Austin scene and the snapshots taken on this October 7, 1955 night.   It's even more exciting to note that it's in my home state, and these folks share my ethnic background..

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Islan Nettles-One Year Later

21 year old Islan Nettles was just beginning to have some positive things happen in her life.   She had just started a new job.  She had recently moved into her own apartment in Harlem and the budding fashion designer was starting to work on her own clothing line.

She was also beginning to blossom into a confident young woman as her transition progressed..

But that came to a screeching halt one year ago today.  Nettles was out with a group of trans girlfriends when they ran across a group of cis men around 11 PM EDT on that fateful Saturday night at the corner of West 148th Street and Eighth Ave in Harlem. 

When the men on that corner realized the women they encountered were girls like us, they began spouting transphobic slurs at first that progressed up the transphobic violence scale to knocking Nettles to the ground and  savagely throwing punches at her until she was rendered unconscious. 

Nettles was taken to Harlem Hospital where she remained on life support for several days.  She was declared brain dead, taken off life support on August 22 and subsequently died of her injuries.

It's a year later and Nettles alleged killer Paris Wilson still hasn't been brought to justice, to the major pissivity of my New York area trans sisters   TWOCC and others in the area continue to stay on the case to ensure that Islan's memory and what happened to her doesn't fade from our consciousness.  

They are also determined that the perpetrator of this heinous crime is tried, convicted and sentenced to extensive jail time

Islan Nettles rallyRest in Power, Islan.  Know your New York sisters and all who loved you will keep fighting to ensure justice is served in your case.

TransGriot Update:  There will be at 4 PM EDT a demonstration at the same corner and police precinct where Islan Nettles was murdered.    Gathering at the corner of 147th St and Fredrick Douglas Ave in Harlem,  NYC 10030.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Two Trans POC Involved Events This Weekend

As I've stated more than a few times on this blog, intersectionality is an important value for trans people of color.   We are keenly aware of the fact that our skin color makes our transitions different from our white trans counterparts and we can't (nor do we wish to) separate our ethnicity from our trans status. 

We are also quite aware of the fact that issues that affect our Black and Latino communities also affect trans people who also are members of those communities.    

There are two events happening on different coasts that involve elements of our diverse trans community. 

Here in H-town members of the Trans Latin@ coalition will be in full effect at the FLAS 20th Anniversary Gala that will take place tonight starting at 6 PM CDT at the Hilton Southwest Hotel. 

FLAS stands for Fundacion Latinamericano de Accion Social, a Houston based organization that provides health services and social programs for the Latin American community.

FLAS has provided education, HIV counseling and testing and treatment referrals for Latinos affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as STD referrals. Throughout the community, we host education seminars and health fairs at a variety of locations, including churches, civic organizations, consulates and even on-street corners
For those of you in the Houston area that may wish to join the TransLatin@ coalition and attend this event, the hotel is located at 6780 Southwest Fwy.  If you need more information call Elia Chino at 713-772-2366.

In Boston, the transbrothers are there and in full effect for the LGBTQ Health and Wellness Weekend that is running through tomorrow.  It started last night with a dinner in honor of birthday boy Rev. Louis Mitchell.

The event is sponsored by Body Image 4 Justice, TPOCC and long list of orgs.  It will feature a keynote speech from Fallon Fox, our fave MMA fighter and trans human rights warrior in keeping with this year's theme of LGBTQ Athletes And Sports.

The Health And Wellness Weekend features seminars, panel discussions, live demos and more at two venues.  Emerson College's Max Mutchnick Campus Center will host Saturday events, and the Holmes Sports Center on the Simmons College Residential Campus will be the venue hosting Sunday events. .

For those of you in those areas, hope you can attend and support these events orgs that are also supporting our community.

6th Annual Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit Recap

To be honest, I'd like to take a road trip to San Antonio, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin or even better one of our Texas HBCU campuses in Texas Southern University or Prairie View A&M to attend or teach a seminar at a TTNS one day.
-TransGriot, July  21, 2013    5th Annual Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit Recap.

You know what they say about being careful for what you wish for, you just might get it.  

And what we got for the 6th Annual Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit on August 8-9 was a road trip.  For the first time in TTNS history, we Houston folks would have to hit the road to attend an event that was born inside Beltway 8.  

The 6th edition of the TTNS would be hosted by the wonderful folks at Texas State University in San Marcos, and I hit I-10 west on a warm sunny Thursday morning with Maria Gonzales, Kristen Capps and Daniel Williams for the 166 mile run to their campus nestled between Austin and San Antonio. 

And yes, there were some very interesting conversations during that drive. 

Texas State used to be known as Southwest Texas State until the 2003 name change, and its most famous alum is Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States along with country singer George Strait and actor Powers Boothe.. 

After a lunch stop at the 80 year old Frank's Restaurant along I-10 in Schulenburg, we hit San Marcos a little after 2 PM   Our hotel was across the street from a popular outlet mall, and the hotel was surprisingly full because we had the double whammy of summer graduation on the Texas State campus transpiring Friday and the start of the Texas tax free shopping weekend.  

Ironically it was hotter in San Marcos than the home sweet humidity I left behind, with the temp hitting 102 degrees F (39 C).  Not long after I settled into my room and decided to grab some ice and something to drink, I ran into my roomie Nikki Vogel in the hallway.   The last time I'd seen her was when UH was trying to pass the Tittsworth Act.   Since then she's been working on her masters at UT-Austin and is taking a killer class load to get it done in less time.

Several hours later we were making the short drive down I-35 south to New Braunfels and Oma's Haus to sample its tasty German-Texan cooking.  I had their German chocolate cake for dessert, and Mom, yours is light years better. 

I passed on the peanut butter fudge knowing I needed to get some sleep for our busy day tomorrow. 

Friday dawned with Nikki and I after a pit stop at a nearby Starbucks to get her coffee, heading to the LBJ Student Center at 8 AM to help set up its cavernous third floor ballroom for breakfast and the historic first day of the TTNS.  

After the meet and greet phase, founder Josephine Tittsworth took to the stage at 9:30 AM to welcome everyone to the TTNS and introduce Dr. Sherri Benn, the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and the Director of Multicultural Student Affairs at Texas State. 

I'd already started during the meet and greet at our table having an awesome conversation with her, Dr. Audwin Anderson and Jesse Silva in which we were discussing a wide range of topics before the TTNS day started.  

She welcomed everyone to the Texas State campus and laid out in her occasion speech why we were there.  Dr. Benn is also an ordained minister, and it was evident in her rousing speech.
After Dr. Benn's speech concluded, Josephine introduced our MC Jenifer Rene Pool, who shortly after taking the stage introduced our Friday keynote speaker in Dr. Gage Paine, the Vice President for Student Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin just up I-35 from San Marcos.

Dr. Paine's keynote started at 10:55 AM and was entitled 'The Power of Paradox'.  She talked about the university paradox of being a guardian of tradition, yet also being an agent for change.  Another interesting point she made during her keynote is that what needs to be done to create allies for systemic chance is not to talk more, but to listen. 

Another point that jumped out at me during her speech is that mixed messages are part of the paradox.   Dr Paige closed with another thought provoking message in be yourself, but live in community before taking questions from the audience.

After lunch came the initial session of the 2014 TTNS conducted by Iliana Melendez, the Student Conduct Officer for Texas State, entitled Understanding Title IX on a College Campus.   Melendez's presentation focused on the parts of Title XI discrimination claims based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity.

In addition to pointing out it protects students, faculty and staff, she then talked about the expansion of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act of 2013 that takes effect October 1, and the Know Your IX website.  When she was done answering questions about her presentation, Josephine took to the stage to talk about the Macy v Holder case and the Title XI sections that help trans collegiate students

After a ten minute break, at 2:30 PM we prepared to leave the ballroom and head to the first concurrent sessions of our choice.  The choices were Chris Busby's Engaging The Conservative Movement In Meaningful Dialogue or Supporting Trans* Students of Color

Since I'd checked out Chris' seminar last year, I decide to check out the one in LBJSC 3-14 taught by the Texas State team of Corey Benson, Jesse Silva, Iliana Melendez and Texas State police officer Sue Taylor.

Photo: Wrapping up day one @ transgender summitIt was an interactive seminar that discussed the point that we all have multiple dimensions of identity.   There was some lively discussion about privilege being brought into all marginalized spaces and needing to be aware of that ended far too soon at 3:40 PM  

After we returned to the ballroom for closing remarks from Josephine, Day 1 of the TTNS at Texas State ended with a reception that lasted until 5:30 PM  

Two hours later Nikki, Josephine, Cheryl Cabusas and I headed to Centerpoint Station, another local eatery that had milk shakes made with Blue Bell ice cream.  Passed on them this time because I was full from the meal.

Day 2 of the TTNS began with Corey Benson introducing our Saturday welcoming speaker in Dr. Brandon Beck who had made a little trans history of his own the day before.   Dr. Beck became the first open transperson to earn a doctorate at Texas State, and he picked it up at the summer graduation ceremony the day before.

After his speech, I got to teach starting at 9:30 AM my Contemporary Texas Trans History seminar in LBJSC 3-14, while in LBJSC 3-13 the other concurrent seminar was Transgender Perspectives: Learning From Literature that Dr. Brandon Beck was teaching. 

After that seminar block, we returned to the ballroom at 10:55 AM for Jenifer's introduction of our Saturday keynote speaker in Equality Texas Field Organizer Daniel Williams.

Daniel's entertaining and informative keynote speech was entitled  'A Tale of Three Amendments'.  It discussed the odious attempts by Texas Republican legislators Wayne Christian and Bill Zedler to shut down LGBT resource centers on Texas collegiate campuses and the progress made in getting bipartisan support to keep them alive.  His speech also discussed the Littleton v Prange and Delgado v Araguz trans marriage cases and noting that with the looming January start of the 2015 Texas Legislative session we will have to fight  hard to defend those gains  

After the opportunity to ask Daniel some questions we moved to lunch and the concurrent sessions starting at 1:15 PM.  The choices were the Transgender Legal Issues one by the Frye, Oaks and Benavidez PLLC Law Firm in LBJSC 3-13 and Trans*cending Limitations: Student Panel on Creating Spaces For Trans* Identified Students and Allies moderated by Dr. Brandon Beck in LBJSC 3-14.

I wanted to see the student panel, so LBJSC 3-14 was where I ended up.   It was an interesting discussion of Texas State students that lasted right up until the scheduled 2:45 PM end time and our return to the ballroom. 

Ten minutes later a panel comprised of people who have helped create change on collegiate and school district level policy answered questions from the audience until 3:45 PM.  . 

Then came the What's Next? remarks from Jenifer, followed by the closing remarks and thank yous from Josephine.   And as quickly as it had started, the 6th annual Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit at Texas State came to an end. 

The Houston contingent on our way back home stopped in Luling to chow down on some tasty barbecue before we played tag with each other on I-10 east all the way back to H-town.  I got to ride with Nikki on the way back so she wouldn't be making that drive by herself..

This TTNS broke its all attendance record set at the 2010 event at Rice University with 82 people in attendance.   Two attendees thought it was important enough to make a 495 mile drive (one way) from West Texas A&M in Canyon, TX to the San Marcos campus of Texas State. 

It also exposed the event to Central Texas, got it out of the Houston-Gulf Coast area where it was founded, and fulfilled the dream of founder Josephine Tittsworth that the TTNS be an event held on college campuses around the state to discuss these transgender-specific higher education issues     

As to what Texas school will host the 7th annual TTNS?   Good question.   If you're interested in hosting it, send the proposal.  But you know I'll pass on that news as to the 2015 host school as soon as I receive it.