Houston’s Jenifer Pool vies to become 1st transgender elected official in Texas

Jenifer Pool

Jenifer Pool

Jenifer Pool is making a second bid for Houston City Council this November. If elected, Pool would make history as the first transgender official elected in Texas. She is seeking an at-large seat.

“We’re in much better shape this time,” she said.

Last election, Pool had 10 opponents, including two who were LGBT, and did not make it into the runoff. She said this time only six others are running with no one else from the LGBT community.

“We’re more organized,” she said. “We have more volunteers, more money at the first reporting period, more support in the African-American community.”

In this election, Pool said she’s better known and has the endorsement of many of her opponents in the last race.

The LGBT community is supporting her candidacy in greater numbers than last time, she said.

“The community isn’t looking for anyone else to support,” she said.

Pool is a self-employed consultant in construction management and permitting and, like Mayor Annise Parker, is a former president of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. Pool also hosts Queer Voices, an LGBT program on KPFT, Houston’s Pacifica station. Because of FCC rules, once her name officially is placed on the ballot in August, she will be off the air until after the election.

One of her opponents in the race is Al Edwards, a former member of the Legislature, best remembered for authoring the bill that made Juneteenth a state holiday in 1979. But Edwards also championed the anti-marriage amendment in 2005.

Also running for re-election in Houston are Mayor Annise Parker, who is lesbian, and Mike Laster, who’s gay and holds a district rather than at-large seat.

Houston municipal elections are held in November. Mayor and city council members may run for three two-year terms. This year, Election Day is Nov. 5. The runoff is on Dec. 3.

—  David Taffet

Dallas’ Cd Kirven played role in Supreme Court rally controversy

Cd Kirven at Supreme Court - High Res

Cd Kirven at Supreme Court (Photo courtesy Cd Kirven)

Dallas activist Cd Kirven says she played a role in the much-publicized controversy involving a transgender pride flag at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

Kirven said that after an HRC staffer told transgender activists to remove a transgender pride flag from behind the podium,  she picked it up and tried to make sure it was in every camera shot.

On March 26, about 8,000 people rallied for marriage equality outside the Supreme Court while justices heard oral arguments in a case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act. The rally was organized by United for Marriage, a coalition of 180 groups, but Kirven, who was a scheduled speaker, said HRC was in control of the stage and the event. Kirven is a national board member for GetEQUAL.

Kirven said she had to submit her speech and got it back about 15 minutes before she was about to speak with sentences blacked out and words changed. She said she stumbled through parts of it because it wasn’t her words.

“They said I was too aggressive and dark,” Kirven said.

—  David Taffet

Spring ISD will allow transgender teen to attend prom in women’s clothing

tony.zamazal

Tony Zamazal

A transgender teen will be able to attend prom at Spring High School dressed as a woman after an assistant principal originally told the teen she must dress as a boy.

Tony Zamazal wanted to wear dress and heels to prom along with makeup and a wig because he feels more comfortable dressing as a woman. He was told in February that he must wear men’s attire because of the prom’s dress code. When he took his complaint to the principal, he was told the school board would have to weigh in.

The school has now reversed its decision in a letter to the American Civil Liberties Union, explaining that its position was unconstitutional.

“All I wanted was to get to wear a dress to prom, because I wouldn’t have felt comfortable at all showing up in a tux,” Zamazal said. “I’m so grateful that my school has agreed to let me be myself on such an important night.”

The ACLU sent a letter to the principal on March 18, explaining that both federal law and the Constitution protect Zamazal’s right to wear a dress to prom. The district responded last week that they’d allow him to come to prom dressed as he pleases.

“Tony has the right under both federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution to express her gender identity,” Adriana Pinon, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “Students’ legal rights aren’t something that public schools get to put up to a vote. We’re happy to see the school do the right thing.”

—  Dallasvoice

UPDATE: Erica Andrews memorial set

Screen shot 2013-03-12 at 3.16.52 PMThe memorial service for former Dallas resident and famed drag diva Erica Andrews has been set.

The service will take place Thursday at ilume on Cedar Springs Road. Although scheduled to take place inside the facility’s Great Room, the candlelight ceremony may expand to the pool area, depending upon attendance. It will begin promptly at 7 p.m.

Andrews died suddenly on Monday night, following a lung infection. Born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, she long called Texas her home, and frequently performed at the Rose Room. She also appeared in the film Ticked Off Trannies with Knives, pictured right.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: CW33′s ‘Gay Agenda’

Picture 31

This week’s “Gay Agenda” focuses on the high rate of new HIV infections in the black community. The CW33’s Doug Magditch also points out the hundreds of out politicians across the nation, including the possibility of Dallas getting an out City Council member this year. And finally, as the image above shows, a new lingerie line is coming this spring for transgender women.

Watch it below.

—  Dallasvoice

Comprehensive transgender healthcare for Dallas employees is ‘off the table’

Nell Gaither

Despite efforts by local activists, the city of Dallas likely won’t add comprehensive healthcare for its transgender employees this year.

Trans Pride Initiative President Nell Gaither met with City Manager Mary Suhm, as well as representatives from the Human Resources department and UnitedHealthcare, last week to discuss what the city’s plans actually cover due to confusion in January.

Gaither said the city covers everything related to trans healthcare except gender reassignment surgery, including hormones, counseling and wellness checkups regardless of gender.

She said the possibility of covering the surgery next year wasn’t discussed, as the conversation focused on ways to communicate the coverage to city benefit workers and all the city’s employees, who are encouraged to contact Human Resources if they have questions or if something is not covered that should be.

“The city’s position is they’re covered these [benefits] for several years, so that’s what we’re going with,” Gaither said, adding that surgery won’t be added. “It’s off the table.”

—  Dallasvoice

Trans woman says she was singled out, detained at Dallas Love Field

Tegan Marie Smith

An Atlanta transgender woman is alleging discrimination after Dallas police detained her Monday at Love Field, causing her to miss her flight.

Tegan Marie Smith said she was headed home after visiting family in Dallas. After her 3 p.m. flight was canceled, she and a few passengers waiting for the 6 p.m. flight to Atlanta went to the bar inside the terminal. She said she had two beers and a shot during the three hours, but some passengers were drinking more than she was.

Shortly after she boarded the plane, Smith said a flight attendant walked her off the plane to a group of Dallas police officers, who handcuffed her and detained her for public drunkenness for two hours.

“I couldn’t understand,” she said. “I’d had a little bit to drink over three hours.”

Smith said she wasn’t given a breathalyzer or any other test for drunkenness, but said officers handcuffed her after she confirmed that she’d been drinking.

She thinks she was chosen from the people who were drinking because she’s trans.

“I did believe I was being singled out,” she said.

While being detained, she said officers searched her belongings and discovered her legal name change documents, which she said she carries with her just in case someone questions her identity.

—  Dallasvoice

Officials from Resource Center, Green Oaks discuss hospital’s LGBT policy

Officials from Resource Center Dallas met with Green Oaks Hospital administrators this week about an LGBT policy the hospital told a transgender woman it was implementing.

The policy change was explained in a letter to the woman after she sent a complaint about her recent experience at the hospital. The hospital responded with a letter stating they were adding a trans policy, but wouldn’t discuss it with Instant Tea.

RCD then sent Green Oaks a letter requesting a meeting about its LGBT policies. In the letter, RCD mentions the Joint Commission, which accredits Green Oaks, and how the commission “recently added LGBT benchmarks to its future accreditations as of this past July.”

Rafael McDonnell, RCD’s communications and advocacy manager, said hospital officials called them last week to schedule a meeting for this past Monday. He said the hospital is working on a transgender policy and RCD officials suggested a change in the language for intersex individuals in the draft they reviewed. He also said they encouraged the hospital to include trans protections in its employment nondiscrimination policy, which currently covers only sexual orientation.

McDonnell said the policy has to be reviewed by a few committees and would most likely be implemented in a few weeks.

“They’re carrying out in policy what they have been doing in practice,” he said.

Cox, RCD’s CEO,  said the policy and language were complete and comprehensive and she looked forward to working with the hospital in the future.

“We will play a role with connecting some of our people in the trans community with them to work on health issues,” she said.

Alexis Johnson, executive director of risk management for Green Oaks, refused to comment on any LGBT policy previously. After the meeting, she emailed a statement confirming the hospital is working on policies.

“We had a good meeting with the Resource Center and they were impressed with our policy,” she wrote. “We feel good about our policies and the patient care we provide and have no further comment.”

Read RCD’s letter below.

—  Dallasvoice

UPDATE: Dallas man arrested for murder of transgender partner

Jonathan Stuart Kenney

Dallas police arrested a man yesterday for the murder of his life partner, but Dallas Voice has learned that his partner was transgender.

Police documents listed Jonathan Stuart Kenney as the main suspect in the murder of Jesus Tovar, who was listed as male and referred to as Kenney’s life partner.

Emails to Dallas Voice this morning revealed that Tovar was transgender and had been known to family and friends as Janette for a least a decade and a half.

Detective Laura Martin, LGBT liaison for Dallas police, said police had no way to know Tovar was transgender because police issue legal documents based on the person’s legal name, such as the arrest affidavit for Kenney that listed Tovar’s legal instead of preferred name.

Martin also said the death was ruled a homicide and treated as one so mentioning Tovar was transgender was not necessarily relevant to the crime, but would have been helpful to inform people who knew her of her passing.

In an email sent to Dallas Voice, Tovar was described as “truly an amazing person, and her passing has left a giant hole in many hearts.”

Kenney posted about Janette on his Facebook page on Wednesday:

“I love you my baby Janette, your my love my everything and I will miss you so much. Your the best thing that ever happened to me girl kisses!!!!!! I hope you can see me down here even though I can’t see you I feel your spirit still living in me. Rest in peace mi amor mi vida.”

Police confirmed Kenney was in custody Thursday morning.

—  Dallasvoice

UT Southwestern to hold chest wellness day for trans community next week

A Chest & Breast Wellness Day next Saturday at UT Southwestern will provide transgender men and women and masculine women an opportunity to have a comfortable environment for breast cancer screenings.

Nell Gaither, president of Trans Pride Initiative, said she planned the event so gender non-conforming individuals could have good access to healthcare without feeling uncomfortable or facing discrimination at a doctor’s office.

The event is from 7:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 20 at UT Southwestern Medical Center, 2201 Inwood Road on the third floor.  Screenings will remain open until 5 p.m. if there are enough appointments or people waiting.

Appointments can be made by calling 214-645-2526, but walk-ins will also be accepted. Gaither said people can even call the morning of the event to schedule an appointment.

Screening costs are covered for Dallas and Tarrant County residents if someone’s insurance won’t cover the cost or if someone doesn’t have insurance. Residents of other counties should call first.

We’ll have more information about Trans Pride Initiative and upcoming healthcare plans in next week’s Dallas Voice, but we wanted to get the information about the appointments out early.

—  Dallasvoice