PHOTOS and VIDEO: Dallas marks IDAHO

About 45 people attended a candlelight vigil in downtown Dallas on Tuesday night to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. A number of pedestrians also stopped along the sidewalk to listen to speakers at the JFK Memorial.

The evening began with singing and an invocation by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Maeve O’Connor spoke about transphobia. A video of her talk is below.

BiNet Dallas president Morgan O’Donnell and event organizer Elizabeth Jayne Webb addressed biphobia by the gay as well as straight communities. Jesse Garcia, Steven Sprinkle and Davlin Kerekes spoke about homophobia.

After the speakers, there was a candlelight vigil along several downtown blocks.

This is the first time Dallas participated in IDAHO. The event has been marked in Europe and Canada since 2004 and is held on May 17 because that is the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

No counterprotesters showed up at the vigil.

More photos and video after the jump.

—  David Taffet

Drawing Dallas • 05.13.11

YendorrFNL_3Yendor Reese stands against transphobia and homophobia —in heels

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com
Name and age: Yendor Reese, 27

Spotted at: Kroger’s on Cedar Springs

 

Occupation: Mortgage case worker
Yendor received his unusual name from his father Rodney, who had a unique sense of humor (it’s “Rodney” backwards). With his strong religious upbringing, it was a natural that this handsome Taurus would pursue a career in music. Originally planning to become a music minister, he first pursued a vocal performance (opera) major at TCU before switching to communications/human relations with a minor in religion and music. The change gave him a deeper understanding of other religions and lifestyles, providing him a gateway to his own coming out. He was the first African-American to win “Mr. TCU” in the history of that university.

Yendor was the lead singer for the soul/rock group Soulever Lift, but the group’s plans were set back when their lead guitarist was picked up by Erykah Badu. Yendor writes music and poetry, and plays tennis whenever he can find time in his busy schedule.

His thoughts on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia: An occasional cross-dresser, Yendor takes a live-and-let-live approach to human understanding. “Why should anyone tell another person who they should love or how to dress or what sex they relate to more? Humans need every color to be a complete rainbow. This day is
a reminder that life is a little bit better with every color — even if it is pink.”

TracieFNL2_1Tracie Hardin combines a green thumb with an artist’s eye

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Tracie Hardin, 26

Spotted at: FedExKinko’s on Greenville Avenue

Occupation: Botanist/creative director

Indigenous interests: This slim Sagittarian has spent his entire life in Texas, graduating with a biology degree from Tarleton State University. He originally pursued a career in fashion but got disillusioned with the “fickle, cutthroat” retail industry. His lifelong interest in plants led him to his current job, working in a greenhouse. Unlike the fashion business, “plants only yield, and they don’t talk,” he quips.

Art and music: Tracie’s varied interests include creating portraits using recycled materials. “My work is mainly people’s faces and the stories behind them.” His music tastes veer toward rock/hip hop/soul (a fave is Nina Simone). Tracie also practices religious fasting twice a month.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 13, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Top 10: Bus driver’s plight led to trans protections at DART

No. 5:

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Ever since Democrats took over the Dallas County courthouse in 2006, judges here have been routinely granting gender-marker changes — court orders that allow transgender people to obtain driver’s licenses and other forms of ID that match their appearance.

Needless to say, this has been a critical development for the transgender community, but as it turns out, even with Democrats in power, gender-marker changes don’t always go smoothly.

In one controversial case uncovered by Dallas Voice in February, an employer tried to intervene in family court to challenge an employee’s gender-marker change, prompting a Democratic judge who was considered a strong LGBT ally to overturn her decision to grant it.

The employer was Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the judge was Lynn Cherry, and this newspaper’s report about the case prompted an outcry from LGBT advocates.

After all, if DART was willing to intervene in family court to challenge an employee’s gender-marker change, would the agency do the same if it didn’t agree with a divorce settlement or a child custody arrangement?

DART offered no good explanation as to why it had sought to intervene in the case, leaving the LGBT community to believe the decision was fueled by bigotry and transphobia. And LGBT advocates demanded that the agency redeem itself by adding gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy.

The employee in the case, a longtime DART bus driver who asked not to be identified, said the agency’s decision to challenge her gender-marker change was the culmination of years of discrimination and harassment on the part of the agency.

DART had added sexual orientation but not gender identity to its nondiscrimination policy in 1995.

After meetings between representatives from DART and Resource Center Dallas, the proposal to add gender identity appeared to be on a fast track for approval when it unanimously cleared a committee in April.

But suddenly in May, despite the fact that the amendment had been under review for months, the agency’s Board of Directors voted to table it so they could seek more information about the definition of gender identity.

Then, following a 30-minute, possibly illegal closed-door session in mid-June, the board hastily approved new language that effectively gutted the proposal.

The new language said the agency wouldn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, “except to the extent permitted by federal and/or Texas law.”

Because there are no federal or state protections for LGBT workers, legal experts said the new language would’ve not only undermined the trans protections, but also rescinded DART’s sexual orientation protections from 15 years ago.

The LGBT community was outraged anew and even more galvanized than ever over the issue.

Claude Williams, an LGBT ally on the DART board, accused the agency’s attorneys of “duping” board members into supporting the new language. Incidentally, it was these same attorneys who’d sought to challenge the employee’s gender marker change.

Finally, on June 22, Williams and other allies on the DART board put forth a motion to remove the language that would’ve gutted the proposal, and to approve it as previously written — with both gay and transgender protections in tact.

Faced with immense pressure from the LGBT community, the board unanimously approved the motion — and received a standing ovation from what was the largest LGBT audience to attend a government meeting in North Texas since Fort Worth City Council meetings in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

— John Wright

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Top 10: Controversy brewed success for ‘TOTWK’

TOTWK
UNDER ATTACK | Director Israel Luna, center, is shown with Jenna Skyy, left, and Krystal Summers, two of the stars of his ‘Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives.’

No. 6:

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Gay Dallas filmmaker Israel Luna has been building his reputation behind the camera since he wrote and directed his first feature film, Str8 Up, in 2001. His subsequent films — including The Deadbeat Club, RU Invited and Fright Flick — secured his place in the Dallas filmmaking community and made him a regular on the independent film festival circuit.

But it wasn’t until the early part 2010 and the release of his latest, the “transploitation” flick Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives, that Luna got a taste of the kind of fame that filmmakers long for. And it was due, in large part, to the protests of an angry transgender activist with nothing good to say about either Luna or his movie.

If Luna wanted attention, he got it, especially from local trans activist Kelli Busey, who at first protested the use of the word “trannies” — a word considered by many to be a pejorative term for trans women — but soon expanded her objections to include the movie’s content, which includes have trans women who have been bashed taking their revenge in a most brutal fashion.
Busey, who acknowledged never having watched the movie and refused Luna’s invitations to attend a screening, said the film painted trans women as psychotic killers who all have silly names, engage in campy dialog and work as “drag” performers. She said the film’s transphobic attitude was a reflection of Luna’s — and many gay men’s — own transphobia.

When, in mid-March, Luna announced that TOTWK had been chosen for the prestigious TriBeCa Film Festival in New York, Busey turned to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for help in spreading protests against the film. GLAAD soon called for a boycott of Luna’s movie, and called on officials with TriBeCa to rescind their invitation.

TriBeCa officials responded with a reasonably polite but thoroughly firm “no” to GLAAD’s demands, and screenings of TOTWK at the festival not only drew sell-out crowds but received, for the most part, positive reviews — despite protests staged outside the screenings by transgender activists.

In June, Fort Worth’s Q Cinema film fest also screened TOTWK, and again, the movie drew protesters, this time led by Busey herself.

Yet again, though, the screenings sold out, and Q Cinema organizers put together a panel discussion of trans issues after one of them.

The panel included Fort Worth trans woman Tori Van Fleet who had initially agreed with Busey and was opposed to the movie.

Van Fleet, however, agreed to watch the movie before forming an opinion, and she came out of the first Q Cinema screening as a fan of both TOTWK and filmmaker Luna.

Luna’s movie went on to win spots in numerous festivals — including Seattle International Film Festival, Philadelphia Q Fest and Telluride Horror Shows — and audience favorite awards at many of those screenings.

As icing on the cake, in late July Luna reached a distribution deal with Breaking Glass Pictures that put the film on even more big screens through a limited theatrical run of midnight screenings that began in October, and a DVD release in November.

Earlier in the year, Busey turned her attention to an eventually successful effort to convince Dallas Area Rapid Transit to extend protections to its transgender workers, and she continues her trans advocacy online.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Transphobia As An Apparent Government Function

Sometimes, one can’t help but wonder if one of the functions of state and local government is transphobia. Below are two stories on agents of government allegedly behaving badly.

Story 1.) You may remember Amber Yust. She’s the California transgender woman who filed for a new driver’s license, only to allegedly have the DMV employee who assisted her send a letter to her home.

Thumbnail Link For TLC Press Release, Entitled 'Transgender Law Center Investigating Offensive Letter from DMV Employee'The letter was framed in antigay terms. The letter tied her name change to “[t]he homosexual act,” and went on to say:

Supporting those who commit this act and encouraging and justifying those who have the orientation also lead one to hell.

The letter quotes and highlights scriptures from Leviticus, 1 Corinthians, Romans, and Genesis.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel has added to the story in their article DMV employee put on leave after allegedly sending hate mail to transgender woman. In the article, learned the name of the DMV employee that allegedly wrote to Amber Yust: His name is Thomas Demartini. From the article:

[Below the fold: More about the California DMV Employee (Thomas Demartini) and the DMV's action so far, and the DC Trans Coalition press release, entitled DCTC Condemns Alleged Anti-Trans Assault by MPD Officer].

Yust received a letter at her home from Demartini that was dated Oct. 22, the day after he processed the changes to her DMV record.

The one-page document lists biblical references that imply homosexuality and gender transitions are mortal sins. In the letter, Demartini apparently begs Yust not to complete her gender transition.

“Jesus clearly prohibits gender change operations,” Demartini wrote. “If an operation like this is the reason for changing one’s name, then one has made a very evil decision.”

The ABC affiliate in Los Angeles is reporting DMV employee in transgender case suspended — apparently Thomas Demartini has been suspended with pay.

The San Francisco Chronicle, in their piece Transgender woman says DMV clerk warned of hell, reports the following (emphasis added):

The same day, Yust said, a DVD arrived from a fundamentalist church warning of eternal damnation for anyone “possessed by demons” of homosexuality. The DMV employee’s letter had referred her to the church’s website as a source of “critical information for your salvation.”

What’s more, the DMV had kept the employee on in 2009 even after he refused to process another transgender woman’s name-change application, Yust said in a damage claim filed with the state, the precursor to a lawsuit.

I had “the demon of transvestism” cast out of me in 1979. I know all about how Evangelicals and Pentecostals — basically, Christian fundamentalists — feel about transgender people. Too bad Thomas Demartini never closely read Matthew 19:12; Isaiah 56:3-5; Acts 8:25-40; Judges 4; and 1 Samuel 16:7b, and learned that his God respected gender variance, and that while folk like him look at people from the outside, his God looks at people’s hearts.

Anyway, UPI is reporting in their piece DMV worker faces lawsuit:

In a damage claim filed with the state, preliminary step in the filing of a lawsuit, Yust alleged the DMV retained Demartini on its payroll following an incident in 2009 in which he refused to process a name-change application for another transgender woman.

California’s DMV needs to take antitransgender behavior very seriously — I know I’m planning on telling the DMV that via their General Drivers License and Registration Information number, which is 1-800-777-0133, that I want to know if transphobia is something they take seriously. Hey, I found the number on the DMV Phone Directory webpage — I plan on asking for the management official who is in charge of their antidiscrimination policy.

2.) The DC Trans Coalition has a new press release out, entitled DCTC Condemns Alleged Anti-Trans Assault by MPD Officer. From the press release:

Washington, DC – The DC Trans Coalition is alarmed by the alleged assault of a transgender woman by an off-duty Metropolitan Police officer on December 1, as reported last week by the Washington Blade. Thumbnail Link: DCTC Condemns Alleged Anti-Trans Assault by MPD OfficerIf the allegations prove true, this case would mark a flagrant violation of the DC Human Rights Act. Even more disturbing is that to date, criminal charges are still pending against the alleged victim of this assault.

According to the Blade, Chloe Moore and a friend approached a man – off-duty Officer Raphael Radon – to ask for a light for a cigarette. Upon discovering Moore and her friend were trans, Radon proceeded to utter transphobic epithets and threatened violence, and, according to Moore, also shoved her. At this juncture, Moore used pepper spray in self-defense. Radon proceeded to chase Moore two blocks, and beat her on the sidewalk. Soon after, uniformed MPD officers arrived and determined, based on witness testimony, that Radon had instigated the incident. However, Moore was handcuffed and taken to First District headquarters, where the watch commander ordered that she be charged with assault, against the advice of the officers who had arrived at the scene.. MPD officials have said that the issue is under investigation.

“What’s especially disturbing about this case is that it features several flagrant violations of MPD’s general order on dealing with trans people,” said Alison Gill, a DCTC attorney. “Medical attention was apparently not provided promptly, and the use of degrading, transphobic language is expressly forbidden,” Gill continued. Since June, DCTC has been working with several LGBT community organizations to train officers affiliated with MPD’s special liaison units in cultural competency and relevant MPD policies. So far, roughly 70 officers have been trained in this program. “What this incident shows us is that training self-selected volunteers is only a small step toward ensuring that MPD officers fully comply with DC’s human rights law. We want to see a swift rejection of this kind of behavior from the highest levels within MPD, along with a real plan for making sure that every law enforcement officer knows and follows the law, including mandatory training for the entire force,” Gill said.

“We will provide whatever support we can to Chloe Moore as she battles this injustice, and we look forward to working with Mayor-elect Vince Gray and MPD officials to ensure that this kind of violence does not happen again,” said Sadie-Ryanne Vashti, a DCTC advocate. “We call on our allies to stand up and reject transphobia perpetuated by the criminal justice system. No one should be arrested for being the victim of an assault,” Vashti said.

What can I say about this story that the DC Trans Coalition hasn’t already said?

Still, it does seem strange that alleged antitransgender behavior by agents of the government occurs still in parts of the country where gender identity or expression is a protected class. And, that antitransgender behavior by agents of the government isn’t treated by the managers of these agents of the government as seriously as other kinds of bad behavior by agents of the government would be.

I ask the question of myself and others — what can do we do to affect changes in the way government deals with antitransgender discrimination? What can we do to make sure enforcement of antidiscrimination laws and policies based on gender identity or expression are approached with the same level of seriousness that we would expect antidiscrimination laws and policies based on race, gender, and disability would be treated?

I’m know I’m starting with a phone call to the California DMV about how Amber Yust was allegedly treated. If I lived in the District of Colombia, I’d be calling the Metropolitan Police Department, the city Mayor’s office, and LGBT organizations based in DC — specifically to ask them to take action regarding the alleged behavior against Chloe Moore.

~~~~~

Related:

*California DMV Employee Tells Trans Woman In Letter She’s Made A “Very Evil Decision”

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Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

DV Publisher Robert Moore settles his World Series gambling debt, won’t lose any fingers

On Page 12 of this week’s Bay Area Reporter we found the above photo of our own publisher, Robert Moore, holding a giant check for $1,000 and wearing a San Francisco Giants T-Shirt. Alas, Moore made good on his World Series bet with BAR Publisher Thomas E. Horn, donning the winning team’s apparel and sending $1,000 to the Gay Straight Alliance Network, a San Francisco-based organization that empowers youth activists to fight homophobia and transphobia in schools.

Robert did get something out of it, though, as Horn proved gracious in victory and sent over a Rangers T-shirt and cap that arrived today, shown below. Unfortunately, as you can see, the shirt is about three sizes too big for Robert. Sometimes you just can’t win for losing.

—  John Wright

Trans women murdered in Puerto Rico

Mercado-1

This morning I got an e-mail from Oscar Lopez with the Latino Commission on AIDS regarding the recent murders of two trans women in Puerto Rico.

Angie Gonzalez Oquendo’s body was found Monday, May 24 in Caguas, and Ashley Santiago was murdered in her home in Corozal on April 19. Lopez says police are investigating both murders and have not ruled out the possibility that these were hate crimes.

If these latest killings are determined to be hate crimes, Lopez says, they will be “the continuation of a disturbing trend,” noting that these murders come less than a year after gay teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado (right) was murdered, dismembered and his body set on fire by a man who said the teen was wearing a dress when he picked him up looking for sex, and he thought the young man was a woman.

Juan Jose Martinez Matos confessed to killing Lopez Mercado and earlier this month was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

The e-mail from Oscar Lopez included a statement from Latino Commission on AIDS President Guillermo Chacon, who urged his fellow Puerto Ricans to fight the violence by working to end homophobia, transphobia and all kinds of discrimination.

Chacon said: “I urge the Latino community to be united as one voice and with our personal actions reject any type of homophobia, transphobia and discrimination. We are one family; we must pursue the well-being of all our members. We must address homophobia and transphobia by putting a stop to the jokes, slurs, discrimination and hatred faced by our LGBT brothers and sisters, not just in Puerto Rico but across the entire country. Hatred and violence are never the answer.”

—  admin

'Family Guy': Funny or just plain offensive?

MothersDay_AnimatedShows_R2_fGuyFYou wanna see the trans community really pissed off, you can forget about Israel Luna’s transploitation film — look no further than last night’s “Family Guy.”

The animated series, which is historically very gay-friendly while also being patently offensive to gay people (for instance: Baby Stewie is clearly gay, while they have songs that mock AIDS) went all-out hateful against the trans community in last night’s episode, “Quagmire’s Dad.”

In the ep, womanizing neighbor Quagmire introduced everyone to his dad, a heroic veteran who announced he is having sexual reassignment surgery.

At first, the jokes are silly but funny-ish about the discomfort people have with transgenders. (“Do you miss your penis?” someone asks.) But the discomfort escalates, especially after Brian the dog has sex with the post-op woman, and upon learning she was trans, violently vomits for 29 seconds. That’s a long time on TV. And there’s no coda at the end, no “let’s make up and be friends” apologia.

But really, should we be surprised? Animated series like “Family Guy” and especially “South Park” have long pushed boundaries of good taste and political correctness.  I think it’s possible to just take the episode as another “ah, well, they have no sacred cows.” But I can imagine the trans community being up in arms.

What does everyone think: Humor we just accept as legitimate satire? Or line-crossing insensitive claptrap?

You can watch the episode here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DART accused of transphobia

Judge reversed order after transit agency fought longtime employee’s gender-marker change last year

John Wright | News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

TRANS FRIENDLY? | Judge Lynn Cherry, right, is shown alongside drag performer Chanel during Stonewall Democrats’ 2008 holiday party at the Round-Up Saloon. A few months later, Cherry ruled against a transgender DART employee and overturned a gender-marker change. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

DART stands accused of bigotry and transphobia after attorneys for the local transit agency intervened in family court last year to challenge a gender-marker change granted to an employee.

According to court records, a transgender DART employee obtained a court order in February 2009 directing all state agencies to correct their records by changing her gender-marker from male to female, including on her birth certificate.

As Dallas Voice reported last week, many Dallas County judges have been routinely granting gender-marker changes to transgender people who meet set criteria — including documentation from licensed medical personnel — since the Democratic sweep of 2006.

The DART employee, who’s name is being withheld to protect her anonymity, later presented the court order to the transit agency’s human resources department and requested that her personnel records be changed to reflect her new gender.

But DART’s attorneys objected to the gender-marker change and responded by filing a motion seeking a rehearing in court. DART’s objections prompted 301st Family District Court Judge Lynn Cherry to reverse her order granting the gender-marker change.

“Where does this stop when an employer can start interfering with your personal life and family law decisions?” said longtime local transgender activist Pamela Curry, a friend of the DART employee who brought the case to the attention of Dallas Voice. “She was devastated. This should be a serious concern to a lot of people — everybody — and I just think this story needs to be told.”

Judge Cherry, who received Stonewall Democrats of Dallas’ Pink Pump Award for her support of the group last year, didn’t respond to messages seeking comment this week.

Morgan Lyons, a spokesman for DART, noted that Cherry reversed her order before the agency actually filed its motion for a rehearing. However, Curry alleges that DART’s attorneys met with Cherry privately and pressured her into reversing the order.

As is common with gender-marker changes, the case file has been sealed, but Dallas Voice obtained copies of some of the court documents from Curry.

In their motion for a rehearing, DART attorneys Harold R. McKeever and Hyattye Simmons argued that Texas law grants registrars, not judges, the authority to amend birth certificates. They also argued that birth certificates could be amended only if they were inaccurate at the time of birth.

“It’s not a DART issue, it’s a point of law,” Lyons told Dallas Voice this week, in response to the allegations of bigotry. “The lawyers concluded that the birth certificate could not be altered by law, unless there was a mistake made when the birth certificate was completed, and again, the judge changed the order before we even wound up going into court with it.”

Asked about DART’s LGBT-related employment policies, Lyons said the agency’s nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression. The agency, which is governed by representatives from Dallas and numerous suburbs, also doesn’t offer benefits to the domestic partners of employees.

Lyons didn’t respond to other allegations made by Curry, including that the agency has fought the employee’s transition from male to female at every step of the way.

Curry, who helped the employee file her pro se petition for a gender-marker change, said the employee has worked for DART for more than 20 years and has an outstanding performance record.

The employee began to come out as transgender in 2003 and had gender reassignment surgery more than three years ago, Curry said. Curry said DART supervisors have at various times told the employee that she couldn’t have long hair, couldn’t wear skirts to work and couldn’t use women’s restrooms at work.

The employee has responded by showing up at work in her uniform so she doesn’t have to change and using public restrooms on her bus route, Curry said.

Supervisors have also told the employee she can’t talk to the media and can’t join political groups, such as Stonewall Democrats, Curry said.

“She’s intimidated and she’s scared,” Curry said. “One supervisor even suggested to her that if she doesn’t lay off it, they will mess up her retirement.”

Elaine Mosher, a Dallas attorney who’s familiar with the case, also questioned why DART intervened. Mosher didn’t represent the employee in the case but has handled gender-marker changes for other clients.

Mosher said the employee’s gender doesn’t have any bearing on her ability to do her job at DART.

“My argument in any gender marker matter is, the birth certificate was wrong, that’s why they had to go through the transition surgery, in essence to put them in the correct gender,” Mosher said. “All I can tell you is that it seems strange to me that DART would care one way or another what the gender marker of anybody that works for them is.”

Moster added that she believes someone at DART may have been “freaked out” by the employee’s transition from male to female and developed a “vendetta” against her.

“I wish I had a good explanation for why [DART got involved] other than the fact that I know there are people out there who are utterly blind and prejudiced for no other reason than they are,” Mosher said. “I compare it to some of the nonsense African-Americans had to live through in the ’60s.”

Mosher also said she’s “very surprised” that Cherry reversed the order granting the gender marker change.

Erin Moore, president of Stonewall Democrats, said she’s heard “bits and pieces” of the story but isn’t sure of all the facts.

Moore said in response to her questions about the case, Cherry told her she couldn’t talk about it because it’s still within the timeframe for a possible appeal.

“Lynn is a longtime supporter of Stonewall and I would think she would be fair in the case,” Moore said. “I’m confident she’s an ally to this community.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 19, 2010.

—  admin