LULAC and Congregation Beth El Binah collected thousands of dollars in school supplies along with the offices of Councilman Adam Medrano and Justice of the Peace Sara Martinez. The collection party was held at Havana on Thursday, Aug. 18. The supplies will be distributed to Rusk, Sam Houston and Maple Lawn elementary schools.
I was born and raised in Southern California — Long Beach, to be specific. I lived and worked there from birth until I was about 20. My first radio job took me to Jackson, Wyo., and I’ve never looked back.
OK, I’ve taken a few peeks, but I never moved back.
When I think of my childhood, I smile. I was raised by two parents who loved me more than anything in the world. (I know this because they told me — a lot). I lived within bike riding distance of the beach and spent much of my free time on or in the water. I had some good friends. Other than my nagging sense of identity, being that of a young girl and not a little boy, I was a happy kid. Except for puberty. That REALLY sucked.
I went to Woodrow Wilson Classical High School in Long Beach. I was a member of the Class of ’76. Back in March of this year, I saw a notice that our 40th class reunion was scheduled for Aug. 6 in Long Beach.
Initially, the thought of showing up for this terrified me, like it does for so many of my transgender friends. Many of the kids we knew in high school either tormented us, or we worry that if they knew we had transitioned, they would either reject us at best or ridicule us at worst.
I decided to test the waters. I posted a picture of me on the reunion Facebook page with a caption that read: “You may remember me as ___ well, I’m now Leslie.”
The responses from people I went to school with were so warm, affirming and even congratulatory that it literally moved me to tears. Their love also inspired me to call Southwest and book airfare to L.A. for Aug. 4 for Katie and me.
We arrived in Long Beach on Thursday afternoon. The temperature was in the upper 70s with a cool breeze. I felt like I was home. Katie had never been this far south in California, so a tour was in order. Before going to our hotel in Seal Beach, we drove by the house I grew up in. I stopped in front and the tears started. It looked the same, but with a lot of TLC. The window in what was my old bedroom faced the street. I could see the spot where my dad would park his car, on the street, toss his suit coat across the hood of his car and shoot baskets with us when he got home from work. I wanted so badly to knock on the door and ask if we could come in … but I didn’t. My old neighborhood … it’s still there.
The next day I drove Katie around to my old haunts and we walked on the sand and waded in the ocean. We had lunch with my daughter who had come down from Phoenix. Then Friday evening, there was a cocktail reception at The Boathouse, a restaurant/bar on the water. On the patio were dozens of my old classmates. I donned a name tag and mingled. I was welcomed with open arms.
I saw a girl I’d missed so much. Her name is Shelley and I’ve known her since I was 4 years old. We were inseparable.
It felt SO good to reconnect to something that is a big part of me, yet separated by my transition. Leslie has no connection to any of this … HE did.
Turns out, Leslie has been accepted as one of the gang. A couple of the guys I went to school with had some questions and made comments like “You got balls.” To which I responded “Not anymore I don’t.”
The next night was the actual reunion. It was at the Long Beach Yacht Club, poolside. It was a gorgeous setting. We walked to the registration table to get our name tags. Mine had my senior picture on it, with “Leslie McMurray” for my name. I SO appreciated that. I was grinning from ear to ear and as I looked to my right, there was a table with pictures, names and candles. These are my classmates who had died. It about sucked the wind out of me. I was fighting back tears as I read the names. The radical swing of emotions swept over me like a wave. I was really struggling to hang on.
Then I heard the squeals of “Leslie!” as girls I went to school with ran over and wrapped me in hugs. These were girls that I SO wanted to be a part of when I was in school. Not in a dating sense, but in a social sense. I ached to be in those clusters of girls just talking, hanging out. As I looked around me, I was in a cluster of several girls, just talking and catching up. It took 40 years but it was no less sweet. I still fight tears just thinking about it.
There was no rudeness, not even a hint. My classmates made me so proud to be a member of the Class of ’76. Their hugs, genuine interest and welcoming of Katie into our group was a gift I can never re-pay.
I have since re-connected with many of them and I never want to lose touch again. We drove by the old house on the way to the airport and took a few pictures. I am SO glad I posted that picture and gave my classmates credit for accepting someone who had changed a little … I suppose we all have.
And that’s a good thing.
Who says you can’t go home?
Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2016.
The Bruce Wood Dance Project, which continues to produce new work despite the passing of company founder Bruce Wood, just received an important grant from the TACA/Donna Wilhelm Family New Works Fund.
The $70,000 grant will fund a premiere dance piece combining the choreography of BWDP artistic associate Albert Drake and the compositions of Joseph Thalken for a work that will premiere in June 2017 at City Performance Hall. The grant is the largest awared by the fund since its funding five years ago.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton met in New York today with eight law enforcement leaders today, Aug. 18, including Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.
The officials represent a group called Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration. On Tuesday this week, Valdez spoke to Stonewall Democrats about reducing rates of incarceration.
“It’s obvious that recent events — from Dallas and Baton Rouge to Milwaukee and across the country — underscore how difficult and important the work is ahead of us to repair the bonds of trust and respect between our police officers and our communities,” Clinton said, according to the Washington Post.
In addition to Valdez, the group meeting with Clinton included New York’s commissioner and chief, chiefs from Camden County, N.J., Los Angeles, Seattle, Tucson and the former Philadelphia commissioner.
In a story about the meeting, The Dallas Morning News referred to Valdez as “one of the most popular Democrats in North Texas. When she appeared onstage, Texas delegates in Philadelphia chanted her name.” Valdez spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
In a decision by administrators at Federal Medical Center, Carswell, a federal correctional institution in Fort Worth for female inmates of all security levels with special medical and mental health needs, Marius Mason has been approved to begin hormone treatment for medical gender transition.
Mason, who was assigned female at birth, is an environmental activist, sentenced in 2009 to 22 years in federal prison for the 1999 sabotage of a Monsanto laboratory on the Michigan State University campus. He was diagnosed with Gender Identity Dysphoria around 2013, and came out as trans to friends, family and supporters in 2014. Since then he has been seeking gender-affirming health care, including hormone treatment, or “T” that will cause him to develop male secondary sex characteristics.
It is believed Mason will be the first FTM person to obtain transition-related health care after coming into federal custody.
Although he uses masculine pronouns and the name Marius, the state of Texas forbids name changes for incarcerated people. Experts in the treatment of trans people, however, insist that respect for a patient’s identity, including a gender-appropriate name and pronouns, constitute medically necessary care. Prisons are required to provide medically necessary care.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has had a policy on the care of individuals with GID since at least 2011, but despite Mason’s 2013 GID diagnosis, it was not until an independent expert review medical records that administrators and staff at FMC Carswell agreed to administer hormone treatment. The facility is now much closer to compliance with federal policy on gender-affirming care, and it is hoped that they will acknowledge the use of gender-affirming names and pronouns as a medical necessity.
The decision of FMC Carswell to come into compliance with the Bureau of Prisons directive on GID promises to have positive effects for many other incarcerated trans persons.
Suicide is the No. 1 cause of death in jail. Since becoming sheriff, the suicide rate in the Dallas County jail, the seventh largest jail in the U.S., has been reduced by 92 percent.
Valdez spoke at the monthly meeting of Stonewall Democrats on Tuesday, Aug. 16, fresh off her nationally televised appearance at the Democratic National Convention. Her topic was mental health programs in the Dallas County jail.
Valdez’s goal is to reduce the jail population and serving those with mental illness is the area she’d like to reduce the most.
“The mentally ill do not belong in jail,” Valdez said.
The current jail population is 5,300 people. When she took office in 2004, about 350 people per day were processed into custody. Today the number is about 250. Of those, about 67 per day are referred to the psychiatric unit. More than half of those are homeless. About 1,100 of the the jail’s inmates are on some sort of psychotropic medication.
“The majority can be in programs other than jail,” Valdez said. “We need to get them out of the cycle of incarceration.”
She said people go to jail to learn to become better criminals.
Valdez said one reason so many with psychological problems are placed in jail rather than other programs is a lack of space elsewhere. Parkland’s psyche unit was full, Valdez said, and another facility was closing. When there are no alternatives, she said, people end up in jail where they don’t belong.
She said the jail’s programs for those with psychiatric problems have been recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Culinary: Culinaire food and beverage concepts
Media: Steve Kemble, pictured
Community: Chris Bengston, Caven Enterprises
Government: Councilman Adam Medrano
Philanthropy: Rodd Gray, aka Patti LePlae Safe
The awards will be held on Sept. 23 at 7 for Parties in the Design District. Tickets are $65. Congrats!
Dallas Wings guard Erin Phillips scored 10 points in Wednesday’s quarter finals game against Serbia. But her strong contribution wasn’t enough to score a win.
Phillips is competing in the Olympics as part of the Australian Opals basketball team. In the first week of play, the Opals were undefeated. Serbia, competing for the first time in Olympics competition, beat Australia 73-71.
This is the first time since the 1992 games in Barcelona that the Opals didn’t win a medal in women’s basketball.
The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce announced winners of its GLBT LEAP — GLBT Leadership Education & Advocacy Program — scholarships. LEAP scholarships are awarded to residents of Texas who self-identified LGBT, members of LGBT families or allies who have been strongly supportive of the LGBT community.
Thanks to a generous donation by Texas Instruments, this year’s scholars include two recipients of the Steve Lyle Educational Scholarship — $2,500 was awarded to Judith Velazquez, of Schulenburg, Tex., who is pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at the University of Texas, and Melvin Rodriguez, of Houston, who is pursuing a Master of International Affairs/International Politics degree at University of California – La Jolla. Lyle served on the first board of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce who retired from Texas Instruments in 2015.
The $2,000 Rob Ruhlin Memorial Law Scholarship was awarded o Adam Greenup, of Arlington. He is attending UNT Dallas College of Law. The scholarship was established by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce to honor the late Rob Ruhlin, a Chamber board member who lost his life in 2014.
Derek Miller of Fair Oaks Ranch, Tex., was awarded the $1,500 LEAP Film & Television Scholarship. Miller is pursuing a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree at Texas State University.
Three additional scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each were awarded to Margaret Neuner of San Rafael, Calif. (John F. Kennedy University, Calif.); Jordan Richardson of Lufkin (University of Texas); Matthew Chester of Austin (University of Texas).
Founded in 2009 by the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, GLBT LEAP has awarded 33 scholarships valued at $55,000.
“Scholarships are at the core of the GLBT LEAP mission to support young adults and nurture leaders in the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender community,”said Candy Marcum, GLBT LEAP Board Chair. This year’s cohort of scholars reinforces our mission and demonstrate the breadth of disciplines being pursued by our future leaders.”
HG Sply Co., the foodie-centric restaurant and bar that helped continue the resurgence of development along Lower Greenville Avenue, will expand to a second location, this time in Fort Worth, beginning Monday.
The Cowtown version will continue to use all-natural ingredients when it opens in the WestBend mixed-use development at 1621 River Run. The menu — which will include salads, burgers, brats and queso, pictured, among other items — has been created by chef Danyele McPherson, while Eric O’Connor, formerly of Winslow’s Wine Cafe, will serve as the location’s chef de cuisine.