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  WINDY CITY TIMES

TransNation: 2007 Trans Year In Review
Extended Online Version
by Jacob Anderson-Minshall
2008-01-02

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From a transgender perspective, 2007 was a year with a lot of peaks and valleys. The entertainment field, in particular, witnessed many accomplishments but the community as a whole was tested with some significant blows.

Achievements

A number of trans folk received recognition for their notable achievements, including Just Add Hormones author Matt Kailey, who became the first trans managing editor of a LGBT publication ( Colorado's Out Front ) . Performer Scott Turner Schofield received a special award from the Princess Grace Foundation. Trans actor and screenwriter M.C. Brennan won an Outfest Screenwriting Lab award for her transgender teen comedy script, Dramatis Personae. Filmmaker scholar Joelle Ruby Ryan became the first MTF-spectrum trans person to receive a prestigious Point Foundation Scholarship. Transgender consultant Debra Davis clocked her 1,000th presentation while your friendly TransNation columnist passed the 100th column mark. After 20 years as a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times, Mike Penner came out and transitioned in the predominately male field to become Christine Daniels.

Books

The genre of transgender books continued to expand beyond simple memoirs. A few of this year's best included: Julia Serano's Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity and Transparent, in which lesbian author Cris Beam offers unique insight into the lives of trans teenagers living on the streets of Los Angeles. Helen Boyd followed up My Husband Betty with She's Not the Man I Married, further examination of gender and relationships with a trans partner. Disability activist Eli Clare's collection of poetry and prose The Marrow's Telling: Words In Motion explored how bodies carry history and identity over time. The memoir What Becomes You distinguished itself by including both trans man Aaron Raz Link's perspective and that of his mother and co-author, feminist scholar Hilda Raz. Link's scientific background also provides unique insight into the trans experience.

Films

This year the film that garnered the most attention in the trans community may have been Catherine Crouch's short The Gendercator, which was pulled from the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival after activists accused Crouch of transphobia. But the festivals were privy to a number of great trans films, including Martin Rawlings-Fein's documentary, Clocked: An Oral History, which provided an intimate portrait of transgender communities through personal reflections; Godspeed the film, based on Lynn Breedlove's novel about a bike messenger who passes as a boy fighting for the love of a stripper; The Believers, a doc about the all-trans Transcendence Gospel Choir; and Trannymals Go To Court. The latter is a sequel to the award winning short, Trannymal, which captured the adventures of dressed up tranny genitalia.

Music

Rock band The Cliks had quite a year, releasing a major-label debut, Snakehouse; joining Cyndi Lauper on the True Colors Tour; hitting Europe; and then opening for The Cult. With singles on constant rotation, trans front man Lucas Silveira rocketed to fame. Athough they didn't receive the same attention, the trans band Actor Slash Model released its 2007 album, Cheap Date, and made its own mark in the industry by filming a documentary about other trans musicians. Spoken word artist Katz, the one-trans-band known as Athens Boys Choir, released his latest album, Jockstraps and Unicorns. Trans rapper Foxxjazell, who appeared in Beam's Transparent and on The Tyra Banks Show, joined the HomoRevolution Tour while another Tyra alum, hip-hop stud Joshua Klipp, went on his own tour and experienced the Margaret Cho effect when the trans-loving comedian directed and appeared in the music video for his single, Rescue Me.

Television

Increased portrayals of transgender characters on television this season represent a marked improvement from the past. The highest profile character was Rebecca Romijn's Alexis Meade on Ugly Betty. While it's a huge step to have a trans woman portrayed by a former supermodel, ABC's show Dirty Sexy Money went a step further, featuring transgender actress Candis Cayne in a well-received recurring role as a trans character. On FX's The Riches, a young boy with a penchant for cross-dressing is embraced by his family. And The L Word's once reprehensible characterization of FTMs, Max, improved significantly.

Other performances

Comedian Ian Harvie, the man most likely responsible for Margaret Cho's blooming obsession with trans guys, continued to expand his Ian Harvie Show, which has developed into a live revue featuring queer icons Jane Lynch, Jenny Shimizu, Garrison Star and Cho herself. L.A. also saw the premiere of queer pop-rock musical Twist, starring trans actress Alexandra Billings as Fagin, the male dominatrix with a nasty temper.

Performing artist Scott Turner Schofield premiered his most ambitious work to date, Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps, the final installment in an autobiographical performance trilogy. Trans dancer Sean Dorsey's highly-anticipated new concert of dance, Lost/Found—performed by a cast of transgender, gay and straight men—delves into life on the margins of masculinity.

Gains

As with the world of entertainment, there were advances in political, business and educational realms. The Department of Homeland Security dropped its 'No Match' rules that would've required employers to fire employees if their name, Social Security number or gender didn't match info in the Social Security Administration database.

According to GenderPAC's GENIUS Index, an increasing number of colleges, universities and K-12 school districts now prohibit discrimination and promote awareness of gender identity and expression in their policies. Similarly, the number of Fortune 500 companies including gender identity in their nondiscrimination policies rose from 78 to 125 in the past year; and the American Medical Association also amended its nondiscrimination policies to include trans people. Outreach to trans youth and their parents increased a great deal in 2007 with numerous conferences addressing the specific needs of trans youth and their advocates, such as Gender Odyssey Family and the first Midwest Trans Youth Conference.

Losses

As the Transgender Day of Remembrance reminded us, despite the year's gains, there are always painful losses as well. This year those losses struck close to home for the youth advocacy organization Trans Youth Family Advocates, who lost a founding member's trans son to suicide. Proving that sometimes the strength of a community is determined not by the wins but their response to losses, TransYouth Family Advocates has channeled its collective anguish into a new suicide prevention initiative. The loss of gender protections in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act engendered similar results, when 350 local and national organizations united to protest the exclusion. If the firing of Largo, Fla.'s City Manager Susan Stanton had a silver lining, it was the national attention it brought to the employment discrimination of trans workers. And when trans filmmaker Raymond Rea's The Sweet New was rejected from San Francisco's Frameline Film Festival after panelists reportedly declared it 'not queer enough,' Rea set up an event to showcase the work of other LGBT artists who'd been excluded from queer venues because of non-gay material.

Tune in next week for the preview of 2008. Trans author Jacob Anderson-Minshall writes the nationally syndicated column 'TransNation,' and co-authors the Blind Eye mystery series with his wife, Diane. Learn more at anderson-minshall.com or reach him at jake@trans-nation.org .

© 2007 Jacob Anderson-Minshall


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