Queer Denton church takes out ad in honor of Trans Day of Remembrance

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Members of The Abstract Church in Denton placed an ad today in the Denton Record-Chronicle in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

The Rev. Jeff Hood, who leads the church, said the ad was motivated by the recent trans murder of Artegus Madden after reading the initial story in Dallas Voice, as well as one about how police have few leads. An anonymous donor helped pay for the ad.

“We were particularly burdened to act due to the murder of Artegus Madden in the Savannah community near Denton,” Hood said. “Our leadership decided to take action and issue a community appeal.”

The ad reads, “Gender is not a Dichotomy/Remember the Slain/ Stop the oppression.”

This is not the first ad the church has placed in the paper. Back in March, the church reached out with an Easter ad calling for inclusive churches to unite.

The church, which used to meet at Denton’s gay bar Mable Peabody’s Beauty Parlor, recently changed their name from The Church at Mable Peabody’s to The Abstract Church when they began meeting at anther location, 529 Malone St. in Denton.

—  Dallasvoice

Remembering the victims of trans violence

Allyson Robinson

Keynote speaker Allyson Robinson

No one knows how many transgender people are assaulted and killed. Not all the violence is reported. Brazilian authorities, for example, reported 28 deaths last year, but no one is certain of the actual number.

This year, 238 transgender people have been reported killed worldwide. Since 2008, Transgender Europe has documented 1,374 murders of trans people in 60 countries worldwide. Of these, 108 victims have been under the age of 20.

Those victims were remembered Sunday during a service at Cathedral of Hope. Nov. 20, which is Transgender Day of Remembrance, was set aside to remember Rita Hester who was murdered in 1998, five days after Matthew Shepard was murdered.

Keynote speaker Allyson Robinson said Cathedral of Hope is special to her, even though she had never set foot in it before the services.

“I’ve never been here before,” she said, “but it means hope to people around the world.”

Robinson said that while ceremonies commemorating Transgender Day of Remembrance are approached differently, taking place in venues that range from bars and businesses to churches and other public facilities, what they have in common is the reading of the names of those people who were killed for living their authentic lives.

Audrey Brown, a 20-year-old transgender student, echoed that theme.

“For other people to stop you from being who you are is tragic.” she said.

Blair High, who runs the Gender Education, Advocacy and Resources Program at Resource Center, talked about how far the Dallas trans community has come, but there is a desperate need for expanded services.

High is available at Resource Center on Wednesday nights, and she said people often come in who have recently lost their jobs, their families or their homes, and they’re thinking about suicide.

GEAR is awarding legal and health scholarships to people who are transitioning, and High said anyone who is interested can call her about the application process. Scholarship recipients are required to do some volunteer work with the organization.

Cd Kirven, a community activist, encouraged those attending the service to remember the victims by working to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

“Go to your representative,” she said. “Tell them, “My family matters’, and tell them your story.”

Kirven said many people, including legislators, don’t think transgender people have value and aren’t concerned with those equality issues. In Denton County, Artegus Madden, a transgender woman, was found murdered in her home Sept. 1, but Carmarion Anderson, a minister, said officials aren’t investigating the murder.

There’s no update,” she said. “Nothing’s being done.

Sunday’s program included a video that showed the victims’ names, and one rose for each person killed was placed on an altar. The video is shown below.

Metropolitan Community Church has a video for TDOR, titled Pioneering Voices: Portraits of Transgender People. Through first-person accounts and positive images, the exhibit challenges damaging myths and stereotypes about transgender people.

MCC of Greater Dallas is at 1840 Hutton Drive No. 100, Carrollton. The exhibit runs through Dec. 8, Sundays 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. and Tuesdays 5:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: Transgender Day of Remembrance at Cathedral of Hope

A rose was placed in a basket for each transgender person remembered at Transgender Day of Remembrance. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

More than 100 gathered Sunday evening at the Cathedral of Hope to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso presented a city declaration marking the day as Transgender Day of Remembrance in Dallas, and Black Trans Men Inc. founder Carter Davis was the featured speaker. Euless eighth-grader Hannah Walter spoke about why she is an ally.

Mosaic Song, a small chorus from Resounding Harmony, performed several times during the service.

The reading of names included 39 transgender people brutally murdered during the previous 12 months including Janette Tovar of Dallas. Tovar’s was the only death marked as having an arrest made in the murder.

A rose was placed in a basket at the front of the church for each name read.

More photos below.

—  David Taffet

Council member Jones to be first cisgender reader at Houston Day of Remembrance

Jolanda Jones

Jolanda Jones

Houston City Council member Jolanda Jones is scheduled to be the first cisgender reader in the history of Houston’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. Lou Weaver, president of the Transgender Foundation of America, one the events sponsors, says that Jones was originally approached to be a speaker at the event because of her advocacy for trans children, but that she requested to read instead.

“I begged to read, I begged them,” corrects Jones, “they asked me if I wanted to speak and I begged them to read instead because it’s profound and it touches you. I think it’s better to read because it’s important.”
Jones said she was particularly moved at last year’s Day of Remembrance by the story of 17 month old Roy A. Jones who was beaten to death by his babysitter for “acting like a girl.” “I was so touched when they read about the baby that was killed,” said Jones, “the readers tell the story.”

Jones led efforts this year to encourage local homeless youth provider Covenant House to adopt a nondiscrimination policy that covers both sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. She used her position on City Council to threaten to cut Covenant House’s funding unless they addressed accusations of discrimination. That threat persuaded the organization to overhaul their policies and begin regular meetings with community leaders to discuss their progress in serving LGBT youth.
The Houston Transgender Day of Remembrance is Saturday, November 19, from 7-9:30 pm at Farish Hall on the University of Houston Campus.

—  admin

Houston Transgender Day of Remembrance: when words fail

Houston Transgender Day of RemembranceIn Seymour, an Introduction, J.D. Salinger’s title character is quoted as saying that Abraham Lincoln was dishonest in delivering the Gettysburg Address because “an absolutely honest man” would have simply walked to the podium, shaken his fist at the sky, and departed. No other response, says Seymour, would have been as appropriate. When faced with 8,000 dead human beings words will inevitably fail the situation.

I get to thinking about that passage every November when cities and communities around the globe gather in commemoration of the Transgender Day of Remembrance. The Day of Remembrance recognizes those people who, in the last year, have lost their lives to violence due to their gender identity or expression. Most observances, including Houston’s, include a reading of the names of victims and the causes of their deaths. The words are powerful, and the thing that always shocks me is the level of violence involved in so many of the murders: victims stabbed not once, but dozens of times; not only killings, but dismemberments; the perpetrators not content with simply robbing a person of their life, but intent on desecrating the corpse. In the face of such horror words fail, the imagination falters, the mind shuts down in self defense.

The Houston Transgender Day of Remembrance is Saturday, November 19, from 7-9:30 pm at Farish Hall on the University of Houston Campus. It’s a somber event, but not without its joys. As the community comes together to mourn and read the names of those lost, a new resolve to continue the fight is born. Leaning on each other we get through the night and leave bolstered by the support and determination of our community.

As you listen to the speakers and the list of the dead, or enjoy conversation and refreshments beforehand, look for me… I’ll be the guy shaking my fist at the sky.

—  admin

Trans people make great strides over this year

College basketball player comes out as trans; LGPA announces rules change, and 1 trans judge elected while another is appointed

Leslie Robinson General Gayety

Recently our community marked the 12th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, a somber day devoted to memorializing those murdered over their gender identity and expression.

Also recently, however, we’ve seen transgender breakthroughs that are, in a word, fabulousgreatwonderful.

College basketball season has begun, and many a media outlet has covered the story of Kye Allums, a junior guard at George Washington University.  At 5-foot-11, Allums won’t be shattering glass, but his story is.

“Yes, I am a male on a female team,” Allums, 21, told USA Today. “And I want to be clear about this. I am a transgender male, which means feelings-wise, how it feels on the inside, I feel as if I should have been born male with male parts.

“But my biological sex is female, which makes me a transgender male.”

This was a college student taking great pains to educate a sportswriter, who’s accustomed to Xs and Os, on Xs and Ys. The sportswriter can expect a midterm.

When Allums’ college playing career is over, he intends to transition. He planned to keep quiet until then, but “it just got too tough not to be me.”

His teammates, coach and university all appear to be supportive.

The NCAA probably thought not long ago that it would have to deal with this issue the day the Rhode Island School of Design won the Rose Bowl. But the NCAA has a policy, explained a spokesman:  “A female who wants to be socially identified as a male but has not had hormone treatments or surgery may compete on a women’s team.”

So this college basketball season begins with an African-American, openly transgender person playing Division 1 hoops. This represents so many steps forward it’s practically traveling.

Turning to a different sport, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) will soon have a different understanding of “lady.”

GolfChannel.com reported the LPGA will propose in a Nov. 30 player meeting to axe its “female at birth” requirement.

It’s not that association honchos experienced an epiphany. It’s that they have drivers aimed at their heads.

Lana Lawless, 57, who had gender-reassignment surgery five years ago, filed suit in San Francisco over the LPGA declining her application for tour membership. Her suit claims the organization discriminated due to her transgender status, a violation of California’s anti-discrimination statutes.

The LPGA has landed in the rough indeed.

A change to the constitutional bylaws requires two-thirds of the LPGA membership to agree. The association has already told players the old gender rule was established “in a different time,” and defending it legally today would be harder than putting with your eyes closed.

Also, the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Golf Association and other golf entities now allow transgender participation. The fairways are getting fairer.

Victoria Kolakowski, who had reassignment surgery in 1991, has scored big in a different arena. In a race so tight it couldn’t be called until two weeks after the election, voters in California chose Kolakowski for Alameda County Superior Court.

An openly transgender woman wins a popular election. Thank you California for being, well, California.

Kolakowski, 49, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the election result “speaks well of our ability to look past differences and look to the things that matter: our ability and experience.”

Here’s hoping she has both, because she’ll be scrutinized like an American Idol finalist.

Two days after Kolakowski declared victory, transgender LGBT activist Phyllis Frye was appointed a municipal court judge in the Houston City Council chamber, the same room where 30 years ago Frye helped repeal Houston’s “cross-dressing ordinance.”

Frye, 63, said to the Houston Chronicle, “Things have changed, and it’s pretty wonderful.”

Two judges in two days. That’s the right kind of order in the court.

Leslie Robinson lives in Seattle. Read more of her columns at GeneralGayety.com. E-mail her at lesarobinson@gmail.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Remembering the fallen

READING THE NAMES |  As Aaron Barnes and Dorian Mooneyham, above, read the names of the victims of violence against the transgender community, others line up, below, to lay red roses on a table in memory of the victims during the Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony held Sunday, Nov. 21, at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. For a full story and video of the event, go online to DallasVoice.com. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens