Gwendolyn Ann Smith
This past January, an otherwise non-descript Priority Mail box arrived at my doorstep. Inside was a late holiday gift from my father: a silver locket containing a photo of him and the inscription “I am with you always.”
At a visit to an Obama campaign field office in Sarasota, Fla., Vice President Joe Biden singled out a woman whom, it was reported, he thought had beautiful eyes. That woman is Linda Carragher Bourne.
When I was at the cusp of my teenage years, my parents decided to snoop around my room one day. There, in one drawer of my dresser, hidden under towels, was a stash of women's attire. When I came home, I spotted that my "stash" was gone, and realized I'd have to come up with some really good story for why all that was there.
If you happen to be transgender, then you have a reason to celebrate: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled that an employer who discriminates against a transgender job applicant or employee due to said person's gender identity is practicing sexual discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This, in a word, is huge.
A transgender woman, Jenna Talackova, ended up as a finalist in the Miss Universe Canada pageant, likely the first known transgender finalist in Miss Universe—or at least the first I'd ever heard of. For a brief period of time, a transgender woman was part of one of the world's biggest pageants dedicated to feminine beauty. Then something happened: Talackova was removed from the event.
In 1972, back in the days of Earth Shoes and the Watergate scandal, a law passed in Sweden. The law, in the works since 1966, covered the legal standards for sex reassignment in the country. With this law, Sweden became the first country in the world to officially recognize gender reassignment.
Many years ago, a friend of mine came to me, frustrated. She could not grasp why we needed to spell out who was included in various non-discrimination bills. Why did we need to spell out race, and gender, and religion, and disability, and sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression, and so on? Why not simply say that no one could discriminate against another person? Frankly, I might take it a step further: we should not even need to point out that one should not discriminate: that should be a given in a humane society.
Vandy Beth Glenn, a transgender woman from Georgia, had been working as a proofreader and editor in the state's Office of Legislative Counsel. Two years into her employment, in 2007, Glenn went to her supervisor to inform her of the pending transition. Her supervisor then took this news to her boss, Legislative Counsel Sewell Brumby. Brumby then terminated Glenn's employment.
Bobby Montoya wanted to join the Girl Scouts.
Born with male genitalia, Montoya decided at age 2 that she was a girl. She dresses and acts like a typical American 7 year old. Her mother, Felisha Atchuleta, has been supportive of her child, even holding “princess parties” for Montoya’s birthday. Recently, she tried to get Montoya into the Denver chapter of the Girl Scouts of Colorado, a part of the Girl Scouts of the USA. You know, the folks who sell cookies.
At MTVs video music awards, Lady Gaga took to the stage as her more masculine alter-ago, Jo Calderone.
Calderone started the show with a performance of Gaga’s “You And I,” but only after a mock-tirade about his relationship with Gaga. The act itself was bold and showy and quite good overall. Gaga remained Calderone for the whole show, accepting a moonman as well as presenting one to Britney Spears completely in character.
I do have to confess, I’ve never been a big Lady Gaga fan. I must admit, though, after seeing the VMA performance, Gaga can really put on a show. Unlike previous incarnations, Calderone is not in a meat dress or plastic bubbles. He sports a white t-shirt with rolled up sleeves, jeans, and slicked-back hair: one might expect Calderon to start performing tunes from Grease rather than Gaga’s tunes. He struts around the stage, taking drags from a cigarette or swigs from a beer bottle. If you’ve ever seen a good drag king show, well, you’ll recognize the moves―and they’re done well.