Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Poem For Barack Obama

I am not a poet. In fact, while I've been writing for years, this is my first attempt ever at this kind of thing, so I ask your indulgence. Bad poetry it may be, but it's how I feel. I offer it in the hope that its message will supersede its failings in style and format.

As your big day approaches

I hope you realize

The hurt that you have caused us

Our feelings brutalized

As millions cheer your victory

We cry for what we've lost

To return an invitation

Is it really worth the cost?

We know you just don't get us

We're those who you avoid

I say this as a Lesbian



For all your talk of changing things

For which you are renown

Did you really have to do it?

To kick us when we're down?

We thought that you knew better

We thought you'd understand

How you'd rip our wounds back open

By honoring this man

The message you have sent us

As clear as clear can be

Fairness, freedom, and respect

Are not for those like me

I will not come to Washington

Can't bear to see that day

When the values of a bigot

Are put upon display

I will watch it on TV

But I will tune in late

For I am an American

I will not honor hate

Thursday, December 18, 2008

White Vigilantes in New Orleans

As members of an embattled minority, I hope that we can all find empathy for all those suffering racist attacks. The story below, from, is heartbreaking. -Nancy
A new report in The Nation[1] documents what many have claimed for years--for some Black New Orleanians the threat of being killed by White vigilantes in Katrina's aftermath became a bigger threat than the storm itself.

After the storm, White vigilantes roamed Algiers Point shooting and, according to their own accounts, killing Black men at will--with no threat of a police response. For the last three years, the shootings and the police force's role in them have been an open secret to many New Orleanians. To date, no one has been charged with a crime and law enforcement officials have refused to investigate.

The report is helpful, but given Lousiana's horrible record on protecting its Black citizens, justice will only come if we demand it.

Please join ColorOfChange in calling on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana's Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, and the U.S.Department of Justice--to conduct a full investigation of thesecrimes and any police cover-up. It takes only a moment:

Add Your Voice

In the two weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the media created a climate of fear with trumped-up stories of Black lawlessness. Meanwhile, an armed group of White vigilantes took over the Algiers Point neighborhood in New Orleans and mercilessly hunted down Black people. "It was great!" said one vigilante. "It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it."

The Nation's article tells the story of Donnell Herrington, Marcel Alexander, and Chris Collins--a group of friends who were attacked by shotgun-wielding White men as they entered Algiers Point on September 1, 2005. As they tried to escape, Herrington recalls, their attackers shouted, "Get him! Get that nigger!" He managed to get away. Alexander and Collins were told that they would be allowed to live on the condition that they told other Black folks not to come to Algiers Point. Herrington, shot in the neck, barely survived.

And there's the story of Henry Glover, who didn't survive after being shot by an unknown assailant.[2] Glover's brother flagged down a stranger for help, and the two men brought Glover to a police station. But instead of receiving aid, they were beaten by officers while Henry Glover bled to death in the back seat of the stranger's car. A police officer drove off in the car soon afterward. Both Glover's body and the car were found burnt to cinders a week later. It took DNA analysis to identify the body.

These are only a few of the stories of Black folks who were accosted in Algiers Point, and you can read more in The Nation. But unless you speak out, we may never learn the full extent of the violence. Journalists have encountered a wall of silence on the part of the authorities. The coroner had to be sued to turn over autopsy records. When he finally complied, the records were incomplete, with files on several suspicious deaths suddenly empty. The New Orleans police and the District Attorney repeatedly refused to talk to journalists about Algiers Point. And according to The Nation journalist A.C. Thompson, "the city has in nearly every case refused to investigate or prosecute people for assaults and murders committed in the wake of the storm."

The Nation article is important, but it's just a start. For more than three years now, these racist criminals have by their own admission gotten away with murder while officials in New Orleans have systematically evaded any kind of accountability. We have to demand it.

Please join us in calling on state and federal officials to investigate these brutal attacks and the conduct of Orleans Parish law enforcement agencies, and please ask your friends and family to do the same.

Add Your Voice



1. "Katrina's Hidden Race War," The Nation, 12-18-2008

2. "Body of Evidence," The Nation, 12-18-2008

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Diego Sanchez Named As Senior Advisor To Barney Frank

Today is reporting that FTM transgender activist and business leader Diego Sanchez has been named to replace Joe Racalto as Congressman Barney Frank's senior policy advisor.

As you would expect, this news is receiving mixed reaction from many in the transgender community. A quote in Marti Abernathey's TA piece from transgender activist leader and blogger Vanessa Edwards Foster no doubt reflects the reaction of many LGBT's and especially the trans community:

“It’s great to have a transgender employee in staff in Congress, and extremely rare. But I worry that this will be Barney Frank strategizing that he can bring a trans person in and use them as a shield to deflect future trans criticism for what legislation he’s likely to push forth.”

Given the history here, Vanessa's concerns are certainly justified, especially since thus far Congressman Frank has flatly refused to speak directly with transgender-relevant media about this or any other issue of importance to Transgender-Americans (and no, appearances on the softball-pitching, gay-male-focused, transgender-caller-quota-enforcing Michelangelo Signorile Show on Sirius Satellite Radio don't count) Transgender-Americans haven't been offered the opportunity for a serious and public discussion with Congressman Frank about the issues which directly impact our lives since before the turn of the century.

In addition, we've seen exactly this sort of thing in the past from the Human Rights Campaign in their failed attempts to promote transpeople as spokespeople who are willing to promote HRC and its selfish and exclusive political agenda. One need only remember the Susan Stanton debacle to understand how attempts to proffer "celebrity" transpeople to our community as opinion leaders have been seen by the rank-and-file transactivist community in the past. Congressman Frank and Mr. Sanchez will have their work cut out for them if they are to convince the majority of American transfolks that things will be different now, and it'll never happen to any real extent until Congressman Frank is ready and willing to speak with us instead of just at us.

It's hard to be enthusiastic about what should be (and hopefully will be) a major step in transgender acceptance and involvement in this country and in our government when we're talking about a man who frequently promotes and defends his views on a variety of social and political issues all over mainstream media, even up to and including getting into an on-air shouting match with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News, but won't take even a few minutes to seriously and productively discuss legislation he wrote, introduced, and advocates in Congress with those Americans whom it would most directly impact.

Personally, despite these concerns, I choose to have hope. I choose to hope, at least until proven wrong, that Diego Sanchez's appointment signals a readying by Frank and Congressional Democrats to renew the fight to protect all Americans from discrimination in earnest in light of the election of a new and fully supportive incoming President. I choose to hope that in addition to hiring a highly-qualified transperson to a senior policy position on his staff, Frank is sending us a message that he's finally ready to stand with us and be as adamant about refusing to take "No" for an answer on the equal rights and treatment of Transgender-Americans as he is when advocating for same-sex marriage.

Of course, like many Transgender-Americans, I cannot evolve my hope into actual trust and belief in Congressman Frank's intentions my own mind if I don't hear it from him in his own words. There's been just too much water under the bridge, too many disappointments, too many hopes dashed at the last minute, for me to have actual faith that my hopes will be justified unless and until I see and hear it from the man himself.

I want to believe. Honestly, I do. Nothing would please me more than to be able to know with certainty that Barney Frank, who many call the smartest man in Congress, is genuinely and solidly on our side now, on the side of justice and equality for all Americans, with no conditions and no equivocations. I think most of us would be thrilled to be able to take Frank's support of full equality for all Americans at face value and not feel the need constantly look over our shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Unfortunately, we're not quite there yet. Diego's appointment can certainly be seen as a very positive step in that direction, but we can only reach that place if Barney Frank is willing to step up and lead us to that place with his words as well as his actions. The question, of course, is will he? I, for one, am looking forward, with hope, to learning the answer.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

TransFM Christmas

I just got this lovely note from Ethan St. Pierre:
TransFM would like to thank our listeners for inviting us into your homes, offices and mp3 players over the years and as is customary for TransFM, we will be broadcasting LIVE during the Holiday season. We will begin our daily broadcast of the12 Days of Christmas, Tonight Saturday, December 13th from 5:00 PM - Midnight EST and will continue daily right through December 25th. Please check our website for further details.

We have a wide variety of shows planned with guests that will surely entertain, intrigue and provoke emotion. There will be many surprise guests from our community who have been invited to call in and chat, some are controversial, political figures while others are not but there will be no political talk or differences aired, this is about community and coming together for those in need. We realize that the Holiday season can be a lonely time for people in our community and we would like to bring you friendly voices from people who care about our community and care about you. We will have our phone lines open 24/7 during our Holiday broadcasts for those who wish to join in the conversation either on or off the air. You are all invited to participate, so please give us a call at (978)373-8898.

Happy Holidays,
Ethan St.Pierre
Founder and Creator

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NEW GenderVision: Transgender Health Care

Transgender persons, like everyone else, have health care needs, but theirs are most often poorly understood by providers who have little to no experience with this population. Alejandro Marcel, diversity educator and trans health consultant, joins with hosts Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene MacKenzie, PhD., in outlining the needs and concerns of transgender persons in their access to health care. Discussion ranges from barriers to receiving treatment, to specific differences between male-to-female and female-to-male needs, to the most recent results of medical studies.

Other program segments include a response to a transgender-disparaging Fox News segment, and a "Raving Raven" segment on gender diversity among animals.

Watch this and other GenderVision programs anytime at


The NYT did an article about the Oaxacan tradition of recognizing male-bodied people who grow up to live and fulfill a female role. What's interesting to me is that a few people on our boards objected to the one time that one of the muxe was referred to as "he," which started an interesting conversation about cultural imperialism, effectively.

  • That is, can we tell a mother of a muxe that she is wrong for using the "he" pronoun for her child?

  • Do we know that a muxe would find that problematic?

  • Do we even know that someone muxe would identify as what we think of as trans?

I don't think we can know any of that, but I do know that I've had enough people tell me I can't call Betty my husband to object to anyone saying they know for sure what pronouns to use. An interview with a muxe that appeared in a gay magazine of Argentina (English translation) helps explain: he uses he for himself but does explain he doesn't speak for all muxe, too.

Interestingly, perhaps, someone at the LGBT Blogger event asked me & Autumn about all the "correct" language issues within the trans, & we both kind of rolled our eyes. She points them to GLAAD's usage guidelines, & I said he'd never make every trans person happy but to ask the person, if possible, or to ask others who might know. (I also mentioned that being upfront about feeling ignorant was entirely acceptable, & might defuse a lot of tempers.)

We didn't quite come to a conclusion, but one of our frequent posters ended on this note:
"Trying to overlay one's cultural understanding, whether consciously or not, over those of another is risky at best."

Which is an excellent rule of thumb.