Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012

I attended my first Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, 2002.  That event was ten years ago and was just months into my own transition.

At that time, Gwen Araujo had been killed the previous month by four young men and a girl who decided to rat Gwen out at an intoxicating party.  I attended her funeral with several transgender friends, but it was at that first TDOR when I experienced something for the first time.

It had been around three months since I had started hormones, and when Gwen's story of her murder was told and a bell was rung for her, it was the first time that I felt such an intense emotional response and overwhelming realization of the path I was on.

I cried.

I cried for her, and for all the other guys and gals who were murdered simply for trying to be themselves.  Sure, some girls and guys put themselves into not so safe situations, but that doesn't mean they deserve to die.  Some find themselves working the streets because it's the only way to earn the money needed to survive, but not everyone on the streets is a victim.

On the Transgender Day of Remembrance website, it lists 72 transgender people that have been killed in the past year.  Of them, at least one was murdered in the Bay Area, and quite a few are from Brazil, which has been a hot spot for transwomen murders the past few years.  On the slide show at the local TDOR event, they posted that 265 transgender people have been murdered in the past year.

The numbers are staggering.

Sometimes, I forget that there are such fierce predators in the world, but I have survived these past ten years fairly well.  I have cherished the good times, have grown from the bad times, and have tried to make do as best that I can.  I haven't tried to be me...I simply have been me.  And if I am ever killed for that simplest notion, I shall have no regrets for the journeys I have partaken, the friends I have made, nor the times I have shared.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Frameline 2012

It was Pride in San Francisco two months ago, and it's about time that I reviewed the films that I went to see:

Kiss Me (Netflix link / IMDb link)

I started off the filmfest with this import from Sweden.  Most lesbian films that I have seen deal with one girl realizing that she is falling for another girl, and then dealing with the consequences of being a lesbian.  It happens to be the typical formula for lesbian films that I have seen.  Two of the better done lesbian films of this nature were Imagine Me and You and Saving Face, and Kiss Me will probably be considered third place in this group of three.

The acting, scenery, and camera work were all fantastic.  I'm also one that believes there must be some type of believable chemistry between the two women in order to have a good film to begin with, and for this film, there is definitely a believable chemistry.  The story was a little slow in spots and it felt like some things were happening without much reason or explanation.  I suppose that is what the director/writer was hoping to convey at times, or they just didn't have any other way of presenting it on film.

Overall, it was a pretty good for an independent film.

North Sea Texas (Netflix link / IMDb link)

I watched this movie right after watching Kiss Me, so I went from a Swedish movie to a Dutch movie, both with English subtitles. My lesbian friend who went with me to see Kiss Me did not want to stick around for this gay-themed film.  Every year, I seem to find one or two gay male films that looks interesting, and almost every year they really disappoint me.  I should have learned from my friend.

This film is about a young boy named Pim who seems to be coming into his own sexual identity.  His mom, a single woman who plays her accordion on the road at night clubs with her loser boyfriend, seems distant from his life.  Pim hangs out at the neighbor's house where the single mom there does a better job taking care of him than his own mom.  Pim falls for the older boy in that house, while the neighbor boy's younger sister falls for Pim.  Pim and the younger boy end up having sex, but the neighbor boy isn't so into being out about things, and starts dating a girl in a neighboring town.  It was basically a repeat of the same things over and over, and since I had a lot of things to do the following day, I skipped out of this movie early since it wasn't really doing anything for me.

Facing Mirrors (IMDb link)

Facing Mirrors was definitely my favorite movie this year.  Since this movie is from Iran, it was in Farsi, with English subtitles...my third foreign movie in a row.

In Facing Mirrors, female-born Eddie is being forced to marry a man by her father.  Eddie's not so keen on that idea since he's more into transitioning to be a man than marrying a man.  To get out of town, he jumps in a taxi driven by Rana, a woman illegally driving a cab to make ends meet.  While there were a few over the top moments, it still played out well and was very heart breaking in the end.

It's Complicated

This was a collection of shorts.  It seems like the good shorts are few and far between on many of the short film collections, but I'm still not sure if finding that one good one is worth viewing all of the bad ones.

Bye Bye Blondie (IMDb link)

While this movie looked very interesting on paper, the actual film really failed to deliver.  White collar Frances shows up in blue collar Gloria's neighborhood.  Frances asks her to come live with her for some unknown reason related to their youth when the two first connected.  There were some interesting parts, but there was never any chemistry between the 40-something actresses.  Their younger selves had more chemistry, but the story never really found good cohesiveness in the two timelines.

I Stand Corrected (IMDb link)

This movie was a documentary on jazz musician Jennifer Leitham.  I actually enjoyed this film quite a bit as we saw the life of Jennifer as she went through transition in the jazz world.  While there were some slow parts, it was a very interesting movie, not only about Jennifer, but about the jazz world in general.  There were a number of interviews with many famous musicians, but it was quite apparent that Jennifer has experienced discrimination in her post-transition career.  Jennifer was on hand for the event and spoke after the film concluded.

Transgender Tuesdays (IMDb link)

In this excellent documentary on the Tom Waddell Health Center, we see the many stories about a facility that helps out transgender people by providing health care and hormones.  In a world where many transgender people are discriminated against, the Tom Waddell Health Center has been a beacon of hope in the San Francisco transgender community.

Me @ the Zoo (Netflix link / IMDb link)

I will admit, when I first read about this movie, I thought "no way, I'm not going to see it."  After talking a friend into going to the film with me, we gave it a shot.  It actually turned out OK and was pretty interesting.

The film is about Chris Crocker, the androgynous young man who proclaimed to the Youtube world, "Leave Britney alone!"  Chris' life is a mixed bag as he struggles to find fame while also being a homebody with his grandparents.  At times, his grandparents steal the show, even in their very non-Chris Crocker manner.  Overall, this film turned out fairly well and was perhaps my underdog film of the Frameline.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lana Wachowski

In the trans-world, Larry Wachowski's transition to Lana has been common knowledge for quite some time.  In fact, even outside the trans-world, it's fairly well known that she goes by Lana as reported by TMZ several years ago.  For those not in the know, Lana Wachowski is one of the famous Wachowski's...the ones who brought us the Matrix trilogy, V for Vendetta, and a number of other movies.

In a recent article about the Wachowski's upcoming movie, Cloud Atlas, the media is reporting that Lana has made it official about her gender transition.  Good for her.

I saw the Cloud Atlas trailer the other day after a friend posted it on Facebook, and I have to say, the movie looks awesome.  It looks like they are telling the story of two lovers through time, gender, and sexual orientation.  To me, the visuals look fantastic, and to have a love story span that many hurdles will hopefully make for an amazing movie.

The Wachowski's have always been one to challenge identity (think the blue or pink pill in the Matrix) and gender roles (V for Vendetta), and I think her own unique journey has hopefully given her insight into creating a wonderful tale that challenges everything we think about love.  In fact, if you rewatch the Matrix with her journey in mind, one can see how things might be interpreted with even more context.

Granted, I'm thinking Cloud Atlas looks like a more elaborate version of Dead Again mixed in with The Time Traveler's Wife, The Fifth Element, and The Princess Bride, but that's totally OK with me, as I really liked all of those movies.  (I watched Dead Again, an early 90's movie, several months ago via Netflix.)  I also see that Hugo Weaving will be in his 5th Wachowski film.  Hugo is another actor that has played a variety of roles that have challenged gender identity or sexual orientation.  (I just wish they would let him say, "Hello, Mr. Anderson" in every film...it would be awesome!)

And to Lana, I hope this official outing takes some of the stress off making more awesome movies...but, just to let you know, you still owe us for Matrix 2 and 3!  =P

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I was out at a gathering earlier this week and arrived early to help set up at a bar.  I met up with a few friends and we sorted through the initial details before everyone else arrived.  Because we were early, though, none of us had eaten dinner.  I asked if they were up for food, and everyone seemed to agree that pizza would be the easiest thing to obtain.  I had passed a Dominos on the walk to the bar and told my friends that I would take care of the pizza.

I walked next door and ordered a large pepperoni from the guy standing behind the layers of plexiglass that separate the two of us.

"That'll be $8.77."

"$8.77?  Is that for a large?"

"Yes, ma'am...$8.77."

I was totally surprised.  I mean, I used to order a medium pepperoni pizza back in college for about $5...and this was back in 1988!  I think a large ran about $6-7 back then.

This is 24 years later and the price has gone up less than $3?  Crazy!  How can they still make a large pizza for that price and stay in business?

Anyway, this summer marks ten years since I started taking hormones.  The ten year mark is actually in a few weeks, but around ten years ago, I stored sperm at a cryobank in the hopes of one day "parenting" a child.

So, my renewal is up again.  When I first started, the price was $1000 for 5 years of storage.  Steep, I know.  Five years ago when I renewed, the price went up to $1225.  This time, it's $1495.  Basically, my $6 "pizza" went up to $9 in the past 10 years...instead of 24 years.

I'm not sure if I will renew again in five years as I will be 47 at that time, but then again, I'm pretty sure that I'll still like pizza....so, who knows.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Baby Picture

I sorta feel like I'm going through my late 20's again. A number of my teammates are either getting married, having babies, or both.

Unlike my late 20's, though, I now get invites to baby showers. The most recent baby shower invitation, though, has the following sentence:
As part of one of the baby shower games, we ask that guests bring a baby picture of themselves.
At first I wondered if I could simply use my own baby picture, but I realized that we can often gender kids even when they are babies. Not only that, but my mom definitely put me in some wicked boy clothes from the early 70's. I don't know if I would be more cautious about my friends seeing my birth gender or the 70's attire, for that matter.

The thought of using someone else's baby picture ran through my mind for like a millisecond, but there is no way that would even be possible.

I've often wondered what the possibility is of having my own baby photo's photoshopped to be more feminine, but I don't think it's really worth it, and really, I don't think I would feel quite right about it.

So, for the baby shower, I think I'll just take one for the team and not participate. I figure I'm saving them the pain of 70's fashion.