Tag Archives: transgender

Chesty Mags

Alrighty, I’ve been lazy and haven’t posted this past week.  I was preparing for Doomsday.  But, alas, nearly the entire world made it through the day.  So prepare for a quarter-sized hailstorm of posts.

For Doomsday my friends and I went to a small rinky-dink, cash-only bar.  The local gay bar closed recently, creating a surprisingly beautiful blend of really white drunken country-singers and some really fun, amazingly good-singing gay men and women.  Needless to say, the whole bar was treated to jello shots by the end of the night.

The world did not respond to happily to the recent Dossier cover featuring a shirtless, Serbian androgynous model named Andrej Pejic.

As Adam Polaski from The Good Men Project points out, what’s the big deal?  “After all, men appear shirtless all the time on Men’s Health, Esquire, and Men’s Fitness:”

Barnes & Noble and Borders have told Dossier representatives that they wouldn’t shelve the magazine unless all copies were covered with opaque poly bags—the kind typically reserved for Playboy or Maxim. According to Skye Parrott, the co-founder of Dossier, both stores acknowledged that they understood the model, Andrej Pejic, is male. But representatives asserted that the femininity inherent in the image was too confusing to risk putting on the magazine shelf.

Let’s explore this “risk.”

Most everyone fun loves drag.  Get a guy with a cute face and some pizzazz and put him in a dress and you’ve got some great Saturday night entertainment.  Have that same guy want to wear a dress to work and that’s no longer drag – that guy’s trans and therefore “weird” and to some even “profane.” 

Women, obviously, have much more flexibility in wearing men’s clothes, as I can go to work in flats, suits, boxer briefs, and cut my hair short.  But can men wear heels or skirts?  Not really.  Over the past decade, America has barely come to terms with men wearing pink

But in the case of Pejic, it’s his body that both engages and frightens people.  Despite the massive gains we’ve made in moving towards gender equality over the past half-century, the controversy surrounding the issue reveals a nation of gender squareness. 

Polaski includes a quote from Jon-Jon Goulian, author of a memoir about his own skirt-wearing, who provides some interesting context about our country’s obsession with labels:

One thing I’ve learned over the course of 24 years of behaving and dressing androgynously is that people hat e to be confronted with indeterminacy. The uncategorizable is unsettling. If I were a man in drag, people would know exactly what I am, or at least they would believe they know exactly what I am, and have fewer problems with me: “Oh, yes yes yes, that man is definitely gay, and he has a very strong identification with women, he probably thinks he is a woman, and that’s why he dresses like one, and a sex change is probably in the offing, in fact it wouldn’t surprise me if his [own] special vagina is being made to order as we speak.”

But gender and sexuality, race, religion, and politics…aren’t so easily definable, despite our continual efforts to turn all of us rainbows into squares.

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Stud Magazine Rewriting Gender Norms

Stud Magazine is “an online based magazine founded in Toronto with an aim to redefine the term stud and introduce non gender conforming people to mainstream media.”  The magazine challenges female gender norms and tackles everything from education and health to art and fashion.  While you may not be the magazine’s target audience, it’s content should undoubtedly expand your definitions of femininity.

The magazine, as well as its website and blog, offer enlightening perspectives from non-gender conforming women.  For example, has your femininity ever been questioned when you used a public bathroom?  Probably not, but this is a daily source of frustration for many women who don’t or don’t want to conform to the essentialist female figure on the bathroom door.

Using the woman’s washroom when I was younger was an easy task that I took for granted. I’d walk in without a problem, do my business, wash my hands and walk out. Of course there would be whispers in the background and lengthy stares from other females for obvious reasons. My appearance and the way I carried myself.

The little juvenile Tomboy who would eventually grow out of “the phase” sooner or later… Well, I’m 22 years old now and that “phase” that many thought I would outgrow is who I am NATURALLY.

Nowadays going to the washroom for me is a daily challenge when out in public – I pass as male 85% of the time in a crowd of strangers; ( I consider myself a TG Butch/Gender-queer) so walking into the woman’s washroom would certainly cause problems and confusion that I rather not put myself into – so to avoid such I plan my day out accordingly.

Use the bathroom before leaving my house, limit my drink intake throughout the day, and look for places that have unisex or single bathroom stalls.

For butches/studs/doms it’s hard to go into the woman’s washroom or change room without having a bunch of other females hush in silence whenever you walk in, the stares you receive and the whispers you have to listen to.

Then you have that one female who feels bold and brave enough to confront you and say “Excuse me sir, this is the woman’s washroom…” Women who do this need to understand that NOT EVERY female is going to conform to society’s thought of how a female should look and act.

I personally have took it upon myself to NOT use the women’s washroom unless its last resort situation just to avoid the constant bullshit that one has to go through when your physical appearance doesn’t match the little sign on the washroom door.

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Mexican transgender asylum seeker allowed to stay in U.S.

Last week I read The Straight State in which historian Margot Canaday traces the history of homosexuality in the twentieth century through the lens of the state.   Although in America there is currently an outlook that the issue of homosexuality has always been black and white, Canaday reveals this assumption to be false by showing how, through immigration, military, and welfare, the US government increasingly defined citizenship as white, middle class, male, and heterosexual.

In regards to the issue of immigration, Canaday found unbelievably amazing immigration records in which men and women were denied entry into the US due to their suspected “sexual perversions,” which could have been anything from having no facial hair (for men) to wearing pants (for women).  Transgenders and homosexuals were repeatedly turned away because of their sexuality.

Alexandra Reyes’s case proves a remarkable turning point in America, as it shows that Americanism does not equate sexual or gender normalcy.

Here is an excerpt from Felisa Cardona’s Denver Post article.  Read more here.

Reyes begins to cry as she remembers her father using a branch from a tree to beat her that was lined with sharp spikes. Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post.

When Alexandra Reyes’ father caught her wearing her sister’s shoes and clothes, he tied her up and beat her with spiked pieces of a tree.

“It was so horrible, I would scream,” Reyes said in Spanish. “He told me he had a son, not a daughter, and he did not accept me.”

Last week, an immigration judge granted Reyes a form of asylum that allows her to stay in the U.S. based on the persecution she suffered as a transgender woman in Mexico.

The Board of Immigration Appeals withheld her removal from the U.S. after determining the Mexican government would not protect her from abuse if she was deported.

“It would be physically dangerous for her to walk down the street,” said her attorney, Bryon Large. “She could be sexually assaulted.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not keep statistics on the numbers of transgender immigrants granted asylum. But Large said the relief Reyes got is rare for a Mexican national because some immigration judges think there is tolerance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Mexico.

Same-sex marriage is allowed in Mexico City, and many gay tourists flock to beach resorts throughout the country, leading to the misconception that the country is welcoming, said

Large, who argues that pockets of intolerance abound in rural Mexico.  In defending Reyes, one of the cases Large used to persuade the board was of a gay Mexican immigrant who fled to Canada but was denied asylum. After he was deported back to Mexico, he was killed.

Asylum is easier to obtain for immigrants from countries such as Jamaica, where gays are imprisoned, or Iran, where members of the LGBT community are executed, Large said…

She takes female hormones but has not yet had sexual reassignment surgery. She finds the American people accepting of her differences.

“What I have seen here is people are more open than people from my country,” she said. “Sometimes I miss Mexico, but I am scared to return.”

Read more: Mexican transgender asylum seeker allowed to stay in U.S. – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16560073?source=rss#ixzz1553qO4vo

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The Plastics at Morehouse

With all of the recent dialogue over homophobia due to the recent teen suicides, we need to have a better discussion about the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality.  In my most recent post on C. J. Pascoe’s Dude, You’re a Fag, I included a snippet from her section on the racialized contexts of the use of homophobia epithets.

One issue that she didn’t get into is the pressures of heterosexuality within the black community, especially for black men.  After reading Vibe’s article on the new dress code at Morehouse and how it affects transgender students, I felt like I needed to go read some bell hooks.

I initially heard about Morehouse’s changes in its dress code policy when I attended Agnes Scott College – an all women’s college not too far from Morehouse.

In our day and age, traditional femininity is devalued.  (More conservative) Parents expect their daughters to be born fragile, vulnerable, and domestic because they believe these characteristics are biological.  Parents, therefore, encourage girls to be more masculine – more powerful, more engaged in sports, and louder.  Women are lauded for having a balance of both characteristically masculine and feminine traits.

Young boys, on the other hand, are expected to be born masculine, and any hint of femininity is perceived as homosexual, feminine, and therefore weak.  In saying, “Don’t be a sissy, don’t cry!” parents force their boys to continuously “accomplish” their masculinity throughout their lives as they feel that they constantly need to prove it to themselves and others.

Combine this incessant quest for masculinity with the issues of race and you’ve got a hell of an article.

Although it would be great if all Princess Boys could grow up in loving families with supportive schools, Morehouse shows more discussions are needed in how institutions help reinforce heterosexual masculinity.

Here are some excerpts from Vibe’s article “The Mean Girls of Morehouse.”  Read the FASCINATING story in its entirety here.

You should also check out the comments, where you can witness largely black men and women criticizing the actions of these Morehouse students because it reflects badly on the race.  Take, for example, this comment by Desiree, (1 of 234 comments) who stated:

If you dont know about Morehouse College, then you would not understand what the president is coming from… I go to Clark Atlanta University, which is right next door to More house College. What would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (who graduateed and tought at Morehouse) say if his school all of a sudden had male students looking like women.
As black people we can not turn our cheek and let foolishness continue. We need to make our ancestors proud and be better for our future. I do not have a problem with gay men because they know what they want, men. I have a problem with Men looking like women claiming to be men and a gay guy looking for a women like man to be his boo, then find a female….
Posted 10-12-2010 01:27 pm
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And finally, some excerpts from the article:

WITHIN THE OPENLY GAY COMMUNITY AT ATLANTA’S MOREHOUSE COLLEGE, THERE’S A SUBGROUP: GENDER BENDERS WHO ROCK MAKEUP, MARC JACOBS TOTE BAGS, SKY-HIGH HEELS AND BEYONCÉ- STYLE HAIR WEAVES. CAN A MAN OF MOREHOUSE BE GAY? ABSOLUTELY. BUT CAN HE BE A WOMAN? MEET THE PLASTICS.

Diamond Martin Poulin, 20, teetering in strappy sandals with three-inch heels, steps into an eclectic clothing boutique in Little Five Points, a quaint cluster of shops and restaurants two and a half miles outside of downtown Atlanta. “Ooooh,” squeals Diamond. “What about this?” Holding up a white floor-skimming skirt with an eyelet hem, he swoons. The proprietor of the store looks up at Diamond, does a double take, and immediately picks up the cordless phone at the register. “There’s a man in here with heels on!” she whispers loudly into the phone. Diamond raises his eyebrows and continues browsing the racks. He shrugs when asked if the comment bothers him. “Isn’t it true?” he says, chuckling. “There is a man in here with heels on.”

Nibbling on sushi later that day, Diamond explains why he left after one year at Morehouse. A bastion for producing leaders in politics, community service and medicine, Morehouse College has long been viewed as the ultimate HBCU for young Black men, who are conferred with the mystique of being “Men of Morehouse.” Established in 1867 in Augusta, Georgia, as the Augusta Institute, the school counts such luminaries as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard H. Jackson, Jr.; financier Reginald E. Davis; School Daze writer/director Spike Lee; the late Keith “Guru” Elam of Gang Starr; and the late Def Jam exec Shakir Stewart among its graduates.

"Diamond"That pedigree is what brought Diamond (pictured left) to Morehouse, but he says the school’s social conservatism drove him out. In October of last year, the Morehouse College administration announced a new “appropriate attire policy.” The dress code stated that students, referred to as “Renaissance Men,” were not allowed to wear caps, do-rags, sunglasses or sagging pants on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events. But what raised most eyebrows was the rule about women’s clothing: no wearing of dresses, tops, tunics, purses or pumps.

The new dress code resulted in a flurry of media coverage, prompting Dr. William Bynum, Jr., vice president for Student Services, to release a statement to several news outlets: “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.” During a recent visit to the campus, the poet Saul Williams wore a skirt in solidarity.

“Morehouse wasn’t ready for me,” says Diamond, who has the word “unbreakable” tattooed on his collarbone and the acronym C.R.E.A.M (“Cash Rules Everything Around Me” coined by rap group Wu Tang Clan) wrapped around his right wrist. “I’m about freedom of expression. I’m about being whomever you truly are inside. I came to Morehouse because of all the historical leaders that attended and impacted the world so heavily. You know, I really wanted to follow in their footsteps. I don’t think Morehouse believes that someone like me—someone who wears heels and dresses—can uphold that reputation. But they’re wrong.”

“We respect the identity and choices of all young men at Morehouse,” Dr. Bynum said via email. “However, the Morehouse leadership development model sets a certain standard of how we expect young men to dress, and this attire does not fit within the model. Our proper attire policy expresses that standard.”

Diamond now attends American InterContinental University, majoring in fashion marketing and design. “I want to, like, teach at Parsons. Or you know, maybe even in London—who knows?”

“I was in the cafeteria, and I had on this cropped hooded sweatshirt. So my stomach was out,” he recalls. “I had on a nice pair of jeans and some sandals. And this boy, a football player, said something that sounded like ‘faggot.’ Before I could even stop myself, I threw my plate of food at him. That’s not even my style. I’m more of a middle-finger kind of person. We ended up yelling at each other for a few minutes, but nothing really came out of it. He could have hit me, but he didn’t. But he didn’t have to. I was already hurt and embarrassed.”

While Diamond insists he’s happier at AIU, his tone and demeanor suggest that he wishes he’d had the opportunity to prove his worth at Morehouse. “I wanted to go to an HBCU,” he says, dipping shrimp tempura into soy sauce. “I wanted the whole African-American experience. I thought it would be a beautiful thing.”

After leaving Morehouse, Diamond would return occasionally to see friends at the school and use the computer lab. Earlier this year, after the new dress code was enacted, he was asked to leave by school security officers. “I had my Nicki Minaj-style Chinese bangs,” says Diamond, a defiant twinkle in his eyes. “I showed them my ID from AIU. I didn’t go to the school, so the dress code should not have applied to me. But they wanted me off campus anyway.”

Kevin Rome, Ph.D., Morehouse class of 1989, is the former vice president for Student Services for the College. He says that people like Diamond are a small minority of the students at the College, and shouldn’t make up such a large percentage of the press the school has received about the appropriate attire policy. “There are nearly 3,000 students at Morehouse, and maybe three that [the ban on women’s attire] applies to. We’re giving such a large influence on a minute population. It’s not representative of the school.”

This is not the first time Morehouse has had to deal with controversy surrounding its gay community. In November, 2002, Morehouse student Gregory Love suffered a fractured skull after being beaten with a baseball bat in a dormitory bathroom shower. A fellow student, Aaron Price, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and served seven for assault and battery. The attack was reportedly prompted by what was thought to be a sexual advance from Love.

Diamond believes he’s a trendsetter. While the population may be small now, he sees the gender benders as a growing group. And as for the future gender benders at Morehouse, Diamond is hopeful. “Even though I’m gone, the Plastics are still represented at Morehouse,” says Diamond. “And I think as time goes on, the administration will have to accept the different types of men enrolled. They need to look to the future. It didn’t work out for me, but I put in the work for people like me to come to Morehouse….”

Read on, friends!

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First Open Transgender in Division I College Basketball

Yes, you heard right.

Having done a post a few months ago on gender and sex discrimination in women’s basketball and viewed the degrading treatment of record-breaking runner Caster Semenya just last year, this story appears to be a remarkable precedent for gender and sexual equality in sports.


Here are some portions from Matt Norlander’s article, “Transgender George Washington player a fascinating, inspiring story,” via Rivals.com to give you the basics. 

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The George Washington junior — who used to be known as Kay-Kay — is referred to on the school’s website as a “male member of George Washington’s women’s basketball team.”

Allums wants to be identified as a male, though he will not begin any medical or drug protocols until he graduates in order to preserve his eligibility on George Washington’s women’s basketball team. OutSports.com reported Allums will be the first publicly transgender person to play Division I college basketball.

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So you might be wondering how this is all possible – how can he play for a women’s basketball team as a man?  The NCAA states that as long as Allums doesn’t take testosterone, he qualifies to play on a women’s team.

This very thorough and fascinating article from OutSports.com describes how this situation isn’t just black and white, female or male:

The issue remains a complicated one for many to grasp. One coach who asked to remain anonymous said he might have a problem if a team in his conference had a player who identified themselves as a man. The reasoning: Because Allums identifies as a man, everyone should treat him as such and he should be playing men’s sports.

Still, Allums’ education is on the line, and he has a scholarship to play on the women’s basketball team. No such scholarship has been extended for him to play on the men’s team.

“There’s not just a one-sentence answer,” said former NCAA basketball head coach Helen Carroll, who co-authored NCLR’s trans-athlete report. “It’s much more complicated than him being a man so he should play men’s sports. Kye as an athlete should have an opportunity to play sports. Period. What that looks like gets complicated because Kye is a transgender athlete.”

To hear more from Allums on his difficult experiences hiding his gender and how his current decision is affecting his teammates and coach, check out OutSports.com.

Now to leave you with some very positive insight from Allums himself on how society can be more open-minded aabout transgenders:

“I used to feel like trans anything was really weird and those people were crazy, and I wondered, ‘How can you feel like that?’” Allums said. “But I looked it up on the Internet and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’m one of those weird people.’ And I realized they’re not weird. It’s all in your mindset and how you think.”

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