Archive for the ‘Trans Liberation’ Category

Hello to all

Important things have been happening in the background and a rumbling is heard. I am very proud to announce that Jerimarie Liesegang has finished her video documentary on Sylvia Rivera. The documentary Sylvia Rivera Was More Than Stonewall is one of the few possibly the only one that looks at the complete life of this Revolutionary Transgender Warrior. Twenty years ago I was honored to introduce Sylvia at the Ct. Stonewall Congress and to this day hold her dear in my heart. What fun myself, Regina Dyton, Tim, Paul and a few others had visiting with Sylvia and her family outside as we smoked and laughed and then laughed again. Sylvia indeed as a revolutionary Trans leader whose words ring true today. Sylvia who believed in a multi issue revolutionary movement where all of us were and are included. Sylvia who fought hard for her people in the Trans community and was thrown off the bus, and under the bus so many times.

We need more Sylvia’s in our movement today. If there were we all know the one issue or issues only of a LGBT nature would not exist. We would understand and see the connections with all other communities and not only act when it involves a LGBT person. We would understand fully that when the bombs drop on the people of Palestine it is our issue. We would know that when Democrat or Republican deports immigrants it is our issue. We would fully understand that when people all across this country can not afford medication that is needed, or a home to live in it is our issue. We would fight back when the least among us are hurting and become one with all. This I believe is what Sylvia Rivera would do as she proved over and over again this is what must be done. This was the inspiration that pushed us towards a new day before a wrong road was taken so many years ago. We must, let us repeat that we must move back to those days when we fully understood that we are here, there, and everywhere so there for all issues are our issues. It is the only way we will survive.

Anyway there I go again up on the soapbox but wanted to give just my little introduction to Jeri’s video.  Of course this type of work is best viewed on full screen for a full viewing pleasure. While you are over at the Ct. Trans Archive page check out all the work that Jeri has been doing lately as she posts and gets her archives in order to send down to CCSU.

My best to everyone
Richard Nelson

P.S A birdie told me a new Ct. movement documentary is now in the works. It’s good folks really good or so the birdie saw.

The documentary is found here:

Full Length (cradle to grave) documentary on Sylvia Rivera

It’s Been Twenty Years and We Are Still Remembering!
By Jerimarie Liesegang

In 1999, Gwendolyn Ann Smith started the Transgender Day of Remembrance to memorialize the murder of (transgender woman) Rita Hester (a East Hartford Native) in Allston, Massachusetts. The TDOR has slowly evolved from the Remembering Our Dead Names list started by Smith into a national and then an international Remembrance and day of action.
In 2002, Ct TransAdvocacy (It’s Time, Connecticut) held Connecticut’s first Transgender DOR (Click here to view the 2002 event on CtTransArchives). In that year we remembered 15 US transwomen brutally murdered, many of them trans women of color. Including the brutal murder of Gwen Araujo, a 17 year old who had been living in their preferred gender role for approximately a year and a half. During a house party, she was revealed to have been more a male. After this revelation, at least three individuals allegedly beat her, dragged her into a garage, and strangled her, before disposing of her body in a remote location 150 miles away.

Yesterday the NYTimes ran an article with the title:

18 TRANSGENDER KILLINGS THIS YEAR RAISE FEARS OF AN ‘EPIDEMIC’
The killings, many of them against transgender women of color, have deeply disturbed groups already familiar with threats to their safety.
According to this article, the AMA is declaring the alarming rate of Trans Murders an epidemic. In the United States this year, at least 18 transgender people — most of them transgender women of color — have been killed in a wave of violence that the American Medical Association has declared an “epidemic.” The killings, which have been reported across the country, have for some prompted a heightened sense of vigilance.

And of course we must note that statistics do not capture the full list of Trans murders since many go unreported, dismissed as a murder of a sex worker, not to mention the many hate crimes other than the ultimate crime of murder. A well known example is the highly probable murder of Marsha P. Johnson. (per wiki: Shortly after the 1992 pride parade, Johnson’s body was discovered floating in the Hudson River. Police initially ruled the death a suicide, but Johnson’s friends and other members of the local community insisted Johnson was not suicidal and noted that the back of Johnson’s head had a massive wound.)

I had never thought that on that day of November 20th, 2002, that we would be remembering AT LEAST 18 brutal US Murders in 2019 ~ Twenty Years after the first Official Remembering Our Trans Dead!!!! We need to continue to remember each year, if not each day, and say Presente! for each of our trans comrades who have been brutally murdered simply for being who they are. BUT we must do more than just remember, since for far too many years, even preceding 1999, we continue to loose our families due to Hate and insensitivity to sex/gender fluidity. I recall that after Gwen’s murder, we had discussions that the community needs to work with our youth to empower them to learn how to be Out and assure they maintain safe surroundings, especially when having sex. Though we know the issue is much deeper and more complex than that simple view. I do view this in two lenses: (more…)

As long as trans people—many of them Black trans women—continue to be murdered, there will be a need to commemorate their lives, work to prevent more deaths, and uplift Black trans activism.

A tribute to Raquel Willis.

 

Raquel Willis

The Black Transgender Pride Flag

What a beautiful flag, what a beautiful flag this the flag of the Black Transgender Community. Raquel Willis African American writer, editor, and Transgender activist designed a Black Transgender Pride Flag. It has a black stripe in the middle instead of the white stripe as in the original flag. Willis stated that she created the flag to represent the higher levels of discrimination, violence, and murder that the black trans community face in contrast to the larger transgender movement. It was used on August 2015 by Black Trans activists throughout the U.S as a part of the first Black Trans Liberation Tuesday, and was held in conjunction with Black Lives Matter, for the Black Transgender Women murdered throughout the year.

Raquel Willis knew at an early age that she was different. As a teenager, she came out as gay, and eventually found acceptance from her peers and parents. She attended college at the University of Georgia, where she encountered more harassment for being gender non-conforming. She came to realize that she was a trans woman, and decided to transition. She worked with other students to counter discrimination based on gender identity. Willis graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Willis moved to Oakland and got involved with transgender and gender non-conforming people of color, worked as  acommunications associate, and then as a national organizer for the Transgender Law Center.

Willis was one of the speakers at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. She later stated that though she was glad to be there, she felt that trans women were an “afterthought in the initial planning”, and she was cut off by organizers when she tried to say this at the demonstration itself.

In December 2018, Willis was appointed as executive editor of Out magazine, becoming the first trans woman to take on a leadership position at that publication.

We at furbirdsqueerly celebrate the work and life of Raquel Willis. Thank you Ms. Willis for standing out, tall and proud.

A must read article is an interview by Raquel Willis with Miss Major Griffin-Gracey, TransVisionaries: How Miss Major Helped Spark the Modern Trans Movement. Our Black Trans Sister Revolutionary who fought back at Stonewall and continues to today in a revolutionary spirit. Miss Griffin-Gracey just did a wonderful video stating No Cops At Pride.

Always the warrior Miss Major Griffin-Gracey had this to say:

Q. “We are in a moment of visibility like never before. What does that mean to you with the political backdrop of the Trump Administration?”

A. “This president wants to eradicate us from the face of the earth. He doesn’t have a belief system and he’s not a politician. When he won this, my worry was that our community would become so fearful of what he may do, that they [might] run blindly into the closet and hide. This is a time that we can’t hide. We need to have our presence known. I don’t want to see trans people on the endangered species list. I’m hoping being out there myself that people will see me going on and believe that we can do this.”

Every Breath a Black Trans Woman Takes Is an Act of Revolution… Lourdes Ashley Hunter 

Some facts. Why we support the Black Stripe and Our Trans Sisters. 

Trans and gender non-conforming people of color are disproportionately impacted by physical and structural violence. According to The National LGBTQ Task Force, Black trans people have a household income of less than 10k a year and almost 50% have attempted suicide. What is equally disturbing is the silence from mainstream media, the Black social justice and LGBT organizations. The same systems that are designed to protect us is actively engaging in erasure. When looking at the mainstream Black and LGBT organizations leadership teams and Board of Directors, they lack diversity and representation. How can their work be informed if they don’t even hire us? Denying a Black Trans woman a job is an act of violence. Denying Black trans folk access to healthcare is an act of violence. Denying Black trans people platforms to speak and represent themselves is erasure. Actively engaging in erasure is an act of violence. .. Lourdes Ashley Hunter, Every Breath A Black Trans Women Takes Is An Act Of Revolution.  (more…)

New Haven Rally & Speakout: Trans People #WontBeErased!
Public · Hosted by Party for Socialism and Liberation – CT and Party for Socialism and Liberation – PSL

Saturday October 27, 2018

1:00pm-2:30pm

WHEN: Saturday, October 27 @ 1pm
WHERE: downtown New Haven courthouse – 121 Elm St

WHAT: Join us for an emergency demonstration to show that New Haven says NO to the Trump administration’s efforts to legislate trans people out of existence!

A couple days ago, the New York Times exposed a plan by the Department of Health and Human Services to redefine gender as it pertains to Title IX protections in an unscientific and deeply transphobic manner. This threatens the safety of trans and intersex people, especially youth and students, and could strip our community both of protections from discrimination and of access to correct documentation.

Actions are taking place across the country – let’s show that Connecticut will not stay silent and will fight for trans rights!

Currently co-sponsored by:
ANSWER CT
Party for Socialism and Liberation – CT
New Haven Pride Center
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England
Trans At Yale
Connecticut Bail Fund
Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
Trans Lifeline
Yale Young Democratic Socialists
CT Green Party
True Colors
Socialist Action CT

CO-SPONSORS WANTED! If your organization wants to cosponsor this event, please email ct@pslweb.org!

NOTE: Some language terms in this article are terms that were used in 1975-1976 which have been replaced in Queerdom since then. Bear with these terms and be glad we are not still living back then.

Ivan Valentin and The Connection to Connecticut. A Fight Back!

” Our strength lies not in our ability to assimilate, hide and become absorbed, but in our ability despite our great diversity to stick together and to continue to fight for rights of all men and women to be different and diverse and live their lives in freedom according to their own life choices.”  Ivan Valentin


Gay Pride March, NYC. Left to Right: Ivan Valentin, unidentified, Sylvia Rivera, Jim Fouratt, Marsha P. Johnson (photo Joe Caputo)

Ivan Valentin was quoted as saying, “A drag or transvestite is somebody who always dresses as a woman. A female impersonator is someone who claims to actually be a woman. I’m just a man who likes to dress up.” He was a good friend of Sylvia Rivera and helped to fight back during the Stonewall Rebellion where he was hit in the knee by a policeman’s Billy Club and had ten stiches to close the wound. Speaking about that time he remarked, “We had it. We weren’t going to be beaten or jailed. Those with the good jobs ran out of the bar and fled but those of us who remained fought back. ( 1 ) By 1975 Ivan was headlining Leading Ladies of New York, and appeared in Connecticut at the University of Connecticut, in West Hartford at Finocchios East and after fighting against the liquor laws in Ct. and wining in other places around the state.

We are sure very few knew that what happened on December 10, 1975 would be a blow against oppression, a fight for freedom and a big thumbs up for Queer Culture. That night in December along came Lilly Law and her boys and Ivan showed us the way to fight back. A great lesson learned from Stonewall, When you’re under attack, Stonewall means fight back.! More times than not many of our people fall through the cracks of even our ownstories, let alone the mainstreams story books. More times than not these hard fighting folks are people of color. Such is the case of Ivan Valentin in our own Ct LGBT+ stories.

Well that is what Ivan did.

What was the fight about?

“No on-premises consumption place of business such as a restaurant, tavern, hotel, café, or club ,shall permit entertainment consisting of impersonations either of females by males or of males by females, nor shall any permittee of any such establishment advertise, give, permit or participate in any obscene, indecent, immoral, or impure show or entertainment.” ( 2 )

STOP THE SHOW!!

For a brief time from November 1975 to June 1976, the nightspot Finnocchio’s East was an attraction for the gay community. Its New Year’s celebration was called the “First New Year’s Gayla Party” and featured the Arthur Blake Review. According to ads in the Hartford Courant, the Review was so popular that it was held over for four days. An attempt by entertainer Ivan Valentin to perform Leading Ladies of New York with his troop of female impersonators was shut down by the Connecticut State Liquor Commissioner in the winter 1975. Connecticut state law prohibited entertainment at a liquor establishment where men dressed as women or women dressed as men. Valentin said the show was shut down mainly because “it attracted a largely homosexual crowd.” Others argued that the show was seductive and dealt in sexual content. According to Ivan in interviews the show was not seductive and had no sexual content. In a Hartford Courant article written just 4 days after the closing of the show, William Cockerham had this to say, “According to a spokesperson from Finocchios the complaint that closed the show was made by a competitor, another café that was frequented by homosexuals.”( 3 )  Like so many other bars at that time frequented by Lesbian and Gay people a threat was made to the owner of Finocchio’s that if he allowed the show to continue the liquor license for the premises would be taken away. One way folks that those in power kept us down by threatening to close our gathering places.

Ivan a member of The Gay Liberation Front in NYC contacted the membership who came out with full support of Leading Ladies of New York and Ivan and the GLF stated they would join in any actions to be taken “vowing to fight it all the way.” Leading Ladies of New York had performed for years in New York and Massachusetts without any problems. The troupe did impressions of Bette Midler, Marilyn Monroe, Diana Ross and others. I am beginning to wonder if this attack on Ivan Valentin and The Leading Ladies of New York  was rooted in racism and classism owing to the fact that Ivan was a Puerto Rican performer and was very involved with radical politics in NYC.

By June of 1976 things along with the season began to heat up. Ads began appearing that the Chateau de Ville a dinner theater in East Windsor had scheduled a three week show staring the Female impersonator group French Dressing beginning on August 3. When news got around about the show Ivan stated, “That show will open over my dead body, unless my show is allowed to go on.” He then went on to threaten to picket the Chateau de Ville if he had to and filed a formal complaint. Richard Aubuchon, Chateau de Ville manger said, “I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. We are talking about two totally different acts. The show at Finnocchio’s was seductive and dealt in a sexual content.” He said people have told him that Valentin’s show is “strictly a drag show and not very professional.” Where as French Dressing does an impersonation of Miss Judy Garland so well, “That I have actually seen people in the audience weeping because it was so real.” Aubuchon went on to say that French Dressing has performed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and has been heralded through-out Europe “as a tremendous entertainment.” ( 3 )

In the Hartford Courant article, “Female Impersonators Would Stop Rival Show,” Henry Donovan, chief inspector for the State Liquor Commission, was quoted as say, “the East Windsor dinner theater would be in violation of the law if the show, French Dressing goes on. The regulation has been on the books for years,” Donovan said. When asked if he would close the show, Donovan said, “probably not, unless there was a complaint.” (3)

Ivan Valentin disputed this by saying, “We have no nudity and we don’t used dirty words. We’re not in drag or impersonating women. We’re entertainers. When we’re off the stage, we take off the makeup, and dress in boy’s clothes.” Tom Condon writing for the Hartford Courant, began his review of ‘French Dressing’ this way, “Feminine beauty whether real or contrived is particularly skin deep on the stage. There has to be more and this is the problem with the female impersonator show, ‘French Dressing’ at the Chateau De Ville in East Windsor.” But then went on to praise some of the performers claiming that some “are seasoned night club entertainers,” another “absolutely amazing” and “two come very close to the truth.” But one just wishes there were more to the show.” ( 4 )

Another source for this ourstory lesson comes from Eric Gordon who at the time wrote for the Hartford Advocate.  In the Hartford Advocate story, Imitation of Images Mr. Gordon writes: “When the Chateau de Ville advertised a revue called “French Dressing” this past summer, Ivan betook himself down to th halls of the Liquor omission and raised a terrible ruckus indeed. Dutifully responding to an outraged citizen’s complain the Commission informed the dinner theatre manager Richard Aubuchon that he too, would be running afoul of the law.” Ivan brought his case to the University of Connecticut School of Law and its Legal Clinic. Louis Parley and a team of UConn lawyers were prepared to file suit in federal court against the Liquor Control Commission seeking to overturn the provision on the basis of unconstitutionality. Claiming that the law was overly broad, vague, and enforced in a unequal and discriminatory fashion. According to Mr. Gordon, “Ivan and the group French Dressing where prohibited while giving the go ahead to Flip Wilson and his character “Geraldine.” ( 5 )

At this time Ivan and the Leading Ladies of New York were performing at the bar in Springfield and a group of UConn Lawyers, students and other interested persons went  to the bar to see the show to, in Mr. Gordon’s words, “make sure they are taking on a worthy case.” They found the show to be harmless and points out that Ivan may be doing something very healthy. He confronts his audience head-on with their uptightness. He demands to know what is your problem with me?” ( 5 )

Ivan at the time of the fight back.

THE SHOW WILL GO ON!! (more…)

We fight on and on. We have heard those words over and over from the day I came out to now as an old man. All of our lives we have been fighting for peace, justice, liberation and a new day and new world. It is October and I fondly remember where I was in 1999. Yes fighting the good fight no matter how small it may seem in the large picture. I can’t really call this down memory lane as that would be a disservice to all of us who fight on now for Transgender rights and the rights for all people to be free. Many of us remember the fight for Trans rights over the years within the L & G community and shake our heads when these battles still pop up within again. Enjoy this video from Ourstories, our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender and all others under the great big umbrella of liberation warriors stories. Enjoy this video of When Sylvia came to town. What a privilege it was to introduce her and to try to help end this nonsense that some in the L & G community were doing.

In another part of the video starting at 2:00:29 Regina Dyton speaks at the Ct. Stonewall Foundation’s exhibition, Challenging and Changing America: The Struggle for LGBT Civil Rights 1900-1999. Be sure to take a listen to this valuable lesson of ourstories.

It was 1999.

When Sylvia Rivera our True Shero of the Revolutionary LGBT peoples came to town.
Letters to the editor began appearing in the LGBT news magazine the Metroline condemning one of our comrades Mucha Mucha Placer, drag queens and bisexual people in general.  Mucha as we fondly refer to her is revolutionary drag queen, co-chair of the Ct. Coalition for LGBT Civil Rights and damn hard worker for our freedom and liberation. A flurry of letters in support of Ms Placer,  drag queens and the Bi community were sent to the Metroline. We felt at this time it was the same type of folks, white comfortable class gay men and feminist lesbians who were leading this charge as they had so many times in the past. Members of The Ct. Stonewall Foundation also participated in responding to this hit against the drag community, transgender folks, the Bisexual Community and decided at their next conference to bring Sylvia Rivera to town for a key note speaking engagement. Arrangement were made that the conference was to be held in October right before the opening of the Foundations exhibition, Challenging and Changing America. The Struggle for LGBT Civil Rights 1900-1999. Richard Nelson one of the Stonewall Foundations educational program directors gave the opening speech welcoming Ms. Rivera to Hartford and speaking out against the denouncing of Ms. Placer, the drag community and Bi community and our trans sisters and brothers. The conference was attended by over 100 people who applauded Mr. Nelson and Ms. Rivera through out their talks. We will always remember Ms Rivera and thank her for fighting the good fight for all of us. We miss you Sylvia but carrying on your work whenever and wherever we can and need to.

As we said at that time, no one is going to take ourstories from us or denounce our hardworking comrades or leaders in the fight for liberation of all. We salute Sylvia and all of our foremothers and fathers, we say thank you and we shall always cherish your memories. Here is the video of the Ct. Stonewall Foundation welcoming Sylvia to town and her talk to us that day.