Transgender center launches intersex group

When a baby is born the first question most people ask is “is it a girl or a boy?” The doctor takes a look at the baby’s genitals, if they see a penis the child is declared a boy, if the see a vulva the child is called a girl. But sometimes a child’s anatomy is not that clear cut, and sometimes the genetics, physiology or anatomy of person is more complex than the penis=boy, vulva=girl equation. The umbrella term “intersex” is used to describe people whose physical bodies, hormones or chromosomes lie between the male and female ends of the spectrum.

According to the Intersex Society of North America somewhere between 1 in 1,500 and 1 in 2,000 babies born in this country have genitals that fall between the strict male/female dichotomy. Additionally, several genetic conditions exist where people who may appear strictly male or strictly female have chromosomal combinations other than XX or XY, a combination of XX and XY, or the chromosomes associated with one gender and the body associated with another. With so many intersex people walking around, there is a fairly good chance that you know one.

But according to “Koomah,” the founder of the group, very few spaces exist for intersex people to talk about their lives. “Most of the social and support groups that I’ve encountered are online,” says Koomah. “I’ve encountered a handful of people both in and outside of [Houston's] Transgender Center that are intersex-bodied but didn’t know anyone else who was. When I mentioned I was and spoke with them more in depth about my experience it seemed to be a great relief that their experience isn’t the only one.”

Koomah realised that their was a need for a group that would allow the intersex community to talk about their experiences. This realization led to the founding of the Transgender Centers Intersex group, which will have its first meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 pm at the Center (604 Pacific). The group is designed as an informal get-to-gether for those with intersex bodies and their spouses.

Koomah explains that while the transgender and intersex communities share many experiences the terms are not interchangeable. “While some intersex people do identify as transgender and some may choose to transition, sometimes the experience of being intersex is different,” says Kumayama. “Being intersex in childhood is radically different than the experience of other non-intersex folks, explaining your body to doctors can be scary, and making choices on things like transition or relationships are easier when you have people whom you share similar experience to talk with.”

—  admin

Houston ARCH seeks public submissions for new logo

Houston ARCH proposed logos

History relies on historians, whether the formal history of the academic or the informal history of grandpa’s stories, someone must tell the tale for the story to live on. The straight world has many formal institutions designed to maintain its story, from museums to archives to oral history projects the stories of straight people are well documented and preserved.

Queer history, on the other hand, is far more fragile. As a community we have a habit of separating ourselves by generations and the documents of our recent past, the fliers, t-shirts and pamphlets, are often seen as ephemeral trash, rather than important historical documents.

Several institutions have been created to try to preserve that history, including the Botts Archive, the Gulf Coast Archive, and archives at the University of Houston, Rice University and the Transgender Foundation of America. These desperate efforts have joined together to form the Houston Area Rainbow Collective History (Houston ARCH), a coordinated effort to preserve and document LGBT History in Houston.

Of course, any great organization needs a great logo, and that’s where Houston ARCH is reaching out to the public for help. Through January 5 you can submit your design via e-mail to billyhoya@billyhoya.info. Designs must contain the name “Houston ARCH,” and may spell out the acronym, also designs should be be scalable, work both in color and black and white, and be suitable for print and online reproduction. Designers should take care that their submissions are not confusable with logo’s of similarly named organizations.

So far only two proposals have been submitted and loaded to the Houston ARCH website for comment. Final voting for the design will take place January 25 at the regular Houston ARCH meeting.

—  admin

Dallas baker wins Food Network challenge

To a pastry chef, the term “piece o’ cake” probably pisses you off. (Don’t even get ‘em started on “easy as pie.”) Cake is hard! Especially when you’re trying to impress the judges on a national network, commemorating the re-release of the most popular animated film of all time.

But Dallas’ Bronwen Weber of Frosted Art Bakery and Studio made it look, well, like a piece o’ cake Sunday night, when she won the Food Network’s Lion King-themed bake-off.

Weber’s dynamic interpretation of the villainous Scar in mid-leap bested all the other competitors, with the show airing the second weekend when the new 3D Lion King claimed the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office.

This is nothing new for the gay-friendly Weber, who last year designed “pride cake” cupcakes with rainbows and HRC symbols. She has won 14 medals from the Food Network, including eight first-place citations — three more than her nearest competitor. The episode airs again tonight at 7 p.m.

You can find Weber’s treats at FrostedArt.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay game-show set designer Ed Flesh dies

Ed Flesh, the gay man who designed the Wheel of Fortune wheel, has died at 79, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Flesh is survived by his partner of 44 years, David Powers. Flesh gave the game show its look by designing the wheel to spin horizontally, not vertically. He began his career designing off-Broadway sets before he was hired by NBC. He gave many other game shows their look as well. He designed the $25,000 Pyramid as well as the sets for Jeopardy, Press Your Luck, The New Dating Game and The Newlywed Game. He also designed the set for David Letterman’s original NBC talk show and special sets for Oprah. He was also the set designer for the soap opera Days of Our Lives.

—  David Taffet

SU deconstructs the Pentagon’s ‘poorly designed, biased and derogatory survey instruments’

When the Pentagon’s survey was released over the weekend, Servicemembers United’s Executive Director Alex Nicholson issued a statement, but promised a more thorough analysis today. That analysis has arrived in the form of a briefing memo titled, Assessment of the 2010 DoD Comprehensive Review Survey of Service Member Spouses, which can be found here as a pdf. The actual survey is embedded in this post.

Here’s the statement from Alex, which accompanied the release of the briefing memo:

“While it is wise to solicit and consider military spouse input on policy changes that will have a major impact on military families, it is extremely unwise to do so for issues that have minimal impact on spouses while also using poorly designed, biased and derogatory survey instruments,” said Alexander Nicholson, Executive Director of Servicemembers United and a former U.S. Army interrogator who was discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “The Pentagon should be concerned with real family readiness issues like excessive deployments, inadequate mental health screenings and support, low troop pay, reductions in housing subsidies for military families, and inadequate spousal employment support instead of spending .4 million on a politically-motivated and unnecessary survey about gays and lesbians.”

And, here’s an excerpt from the memo:

14) Question 29: “Assume Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is repealed and your spouse is deployed. Would the presence of a partner of a gay or lesbian Service member affect how often you attend deployment-support activities?” (and one similar question – question 35)

This has to be the single most insensitive, disrespectful, selfish, and just plain cruel question in the entire spouse survey. The partners of gay and lesbian troops who are deployed hurt, worry, cry, stress, and suffer just as much – if not more, because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – than the partners and spouses of straight troops. To even entertain the idea, much less suggest it, that fleeting discomfort of straight partners and spouses should lead to denial of support for the agonizing partners of gay and lesbian troops is simply horrendous, cruel, and inhumane. Keep in mind that even the girlfriends and boyfriends of straight troops get some support during their partners’ deployments. So a straight one- night-stand is given a higher priority under current military policy – and this question – than a devoted partner of 20 years.

I stand by what I wrote on Saturday in my first post about the spouse’s survey:

You have to wonder how the hell the Pentagon came up with these questions. Makes me think Elaine Donnelly had a hand in writing the survey. And, we’ve been told repeatedly, the Pentagon study is about “how” to implement repeal, not “if.” But, everything we see from the Pentagon seems to be a lesson in how not to implement repeal.




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—  John Wright