Tuesday, January 26, 2010

T-World 2009. The Year in Review

Okay, we touch on a lot of topics in this blog. Lingerie for men. Heels for men. Panties for men. Hormones for men. (Are you picking up a trend?) But every once in a while I like to get a little serious and talk about things that are a little more global. Most news agencies do their “Year in Review” this time of year… so I thought I would too. (But don’t worry, after this it’ll be right back to crossdresser clothes and hosiery for men as usual!)

You know what? This was a pretty good year in T-World. RuPaul had a hit TV show. Propositions on gay marriage (while not successful) did bring gay and transgender issues into the national dialogue. And the internet seems to have spawned an ever growing number of tgirl websites, support groups, and chat rooms. I’ve said it before and I”ll say it again. It’s a great time to be a T!

Now don’t get me wrong. I know it’s not all coming up roses out there. T-World lost one of its most visible and inspiring personalities when transgendered sportswriter Christine Daniels took her own life in November. And transpeople all over the world still fight ignorance, prejudice, and sometimes violence every day. Then there are the more personal challenges associated with the transgender life. Broken marriages. Finished friendships. Disowned children. Lost jobs. Lost promotions. Daily insults. Hurtful remarks in the media. It’s not easy being queer!

But there have also been some pretty amazing accomplishments in the trans community in the past 12 months. So I thought I’d review of few of them now – just in case you missed them. I know I’m speaking to a pretty broad audience with this blog. I know that these words are read by tgirls and cds, admirers and friends, drag queens and closet queens. But no matter where you are on the transgender spectrum, I think you can appreciate the courage and honesty behind each of the accomplishments below. These heroic individuals have challenged their communities, their national governments, their friends and families, and their own personal biases and feelings of low self-esteem – all for the simple right to be themselves.

Okay, this first item actually occurred in late 2008, but I thought I would include it any way. In November of ‘08, the small town of Silverton, Oregon elected an openly transgendered politician as mayor – perhaps for the first time in the nation. Stu Rasmussen had been active in Silverton’s local politics for over 20 years and he had been elected mayor twice before! But this was the first time he ran for office after receiving breast implants and dressing as a female in public.
Rasmussen joked that because he was open about his dressing, he had “blackmail proofed himself.” The campaign therefore concentrated on the issues at hand (and couldn’t more election campaigns use that kind of honsty and focus?). Stephen Marc Beaudoin, a reporter for the Portland publication, “JustOut,” claimed that Stu never sought recognition for his dressing. “He's interested in doing a great job for the community that he loves. The gender identity thing is just a total backseat thing."
BTW… I used male pronouns to describe Stu because that’s what he uses to describe himself. "I am a dude," he says. "I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female." I smile every time I read that quote. And I wonder how many of our readers would describe themselves the exact same way!
Another great story from a much younger tgirl came out of Virginia. In October of ‘09, The College of William and Mary crowned its first transgender homecoming queen, Jessee Vasold. Jessee, who identifies as genderqueer, was announced at halftime of the homecoming football game (along with her court) and received an overwhelmingly positive response.

"I've only had people congratulating me,” Jessee said in an interview. William and Mary is the second-oldest university in the U.S. and has no gender specifications for its homecoming queen. Students who made nominations were simply asked to describe how the candidate exemplified Tribe pride. And apparently Jessee fit the bill!

Many of Jessee’s family members were at the game to see her receive her honor, but she admits that while they are generally supportive, they were also a little uneasy about her decision to accept the award. 'They're a little hesitant about this,” she said. “But they realize that it's my choice to accept.”

Congratulations Jessee! And maybe even more so, congratulations to the William and Mary student body for this landmark vote! As I have written before, I’m very curious to see how the younger generation handles issues associated with transgender life. And stories like this give me hope!
The last story I want to relate occurred in December, but actually started ten full years ago! In December 2009, trans woman Marcela Romera was named by lawmakers as Argentina’s 2009 Woman of the Year! The honor was conferred by the Committee on Women and the Family in the lower house of the Argentine Congress. The award recognizes Marcela’s 10-year court battle to have legal documents issued recognizing her identity as a woman.
An artist and civil rights activist, Marcela is the vice president of Argentina’s Association of Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgender Persons. She says her award suggests that "no other person would have to wait 10 years or more in order to receive a national identity document with their name and gender identity."
When I first read this news report, I was immediately struck by the length of Marcela’s court battle. She’s been fighting for 10 years – and that’s approximately the length of time I’ve been dressing. I feel like I’ve come a long way since the year 2000. And to think that Marcela has been in and out of court that whole time just blows me away. She’s been fighting all this time for the simple right to have her female name and gender published on her official ID. A lot of ID photos end up looking like mug shots. But what do you want to bet that Marcela’s smiling ear-to-ear on her ID!
Congratulations to all of these very proud and confident tgirls. I find each of these stories touching and inspiring. And I marvel at the thought that these milestone moments are taking place all over the world among tgirls of all ages! As I read over the short bio’s I’ve written, I realize that I could never do justice to the long battles and years of struggle (both public and intensely private) that each of these individuals has endured. Breaking new ground isn’t easy. But for some, like these brave souls, walking on the old ground just didn’t cut it.
By the way, if I’ve missed a particularly important moment in transgender news (and I’m sure I have), please feel free to add it in the Comments section below. There’s nothing like an upbeat success story to re-inspire the gender rebel that lives inside each of us! I’ll end this Year in Review with a nice quote from Marcela – Argentina’s Woman of the Year: “I am what I am. The right of one person is the right of all.”
Amen to that! And Happy New Year to all of our readers!
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy!

NOTE: As I was preparing to send this out, two more big stories hit the international news! Geez, tgirl news is happening fast these days! First of all, Pakistan became one of the first nations, if not the first nation, to recognize a third gender! According to news reports, the Supreme Court in Pakistan ordered the government to officially recognize a separate gender for Pakistan's hijra community, which includes transgendered people, transvestites, and eunuchs. The court told the federal government to allow people to identify as hijras when they register for a national identity card!
Then, not long after that bit of encouraging news, here in the States, President Obama appointed Amanda Simpson, a transgender woman, to be a Senior Technical Advisor to the Commerce Department. Considered to be the first openly transgender individual ever appointed by a president, Simpson has worked for over 30 years in the defense and aerospace industries, most notably at Raytheon. A former military test pilot, she holds degrees in physics, engineering, and business administration.


Seleena K said...

Hi Cici,

Thank you so much for you eloquent review of the last year's accomplishments in the T-world. I'd like to add one rather irreverant and comedic event.

Jimmy Fallon has been doing a feature on his show (and available on the web) called "The Real Housewives of LateNight" that's hilarious. He and several crew members do some pretty funny pieces as they each portray their own spouses. This is a great opportunity for us all to laugh a little and not take ourselves too seriously.

Regarding some of the other accomplishments you mentioned, kudos to Silverton, Pakistan and William and Mary! These stories are heartwarming and really are indicative of a changing world.

Christine Daniels' tragedy is quite humbling since the reasons are unknown but should serve as a caution to all of us.

But Obama's appointment, in my humble opinion, is a meaningless milestone. Personally, I'd rather not see "one of us" associated with something that appears to be going up in flames! *giggling*

I'd really rather see a thriving society where jobs are plentiful, the future is optimistic, a nation is not divided and the stress level of the vanilla population is low. In that world, we have our best opportunity for acceptance. Just my thoughts, of course.

But enough with the politics!

Thank you again for being you.

Anxiously awaiting your next blog,



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