News - Violence Continues

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #096, Winter 2001.

Violence Continues

A Tennessee man was shot to death in Nashville because his assailant assumed he was gay. According to a 3 August article in Bay Windows, Willie Houston was holding a purse and assisting a blind friend to the men?s room at Opry Mills, a country music showboat, where his assailant shouted anti-gay epithets and then followed him into the parking lot and shot him in the chest as Horton tried to reason with him. Nedra Jones, Horton?s fiance, had asked him to hold her purse just before his friend asked for assistance in going to the restroom. The gunman was identified as 25-year-old Lewis Maynard Davidson, III, who had not been apprehended at the time the article was written. Amazingly, Nashville police have not classified the incident as a hate crime, claiming insufficient evidence.
Just days after Willie Houston?s death, Lester Childress, 46, a female impersonator, was found dead in his Chattanooga apartment. Fatal stab wounds were inflicted by 26-year-old Brian Keith Jackson, who confessed to the murder after his capture in Catoosa County, just across the state line in Georgia. Childress, called a ?living legend? in the Tennessee drag scene, had worked for more than 20 years at the gay club The Tool Box. He was known as Mr. Della Reeves. More than 500 friends, fans, and family members attended his funeral. (Source, Southern Voice, 9 August).

In July, Colorado was shaken by the murder of 16-year-old Native-American two-spirit Fred C. Martinez, Jr. of Cortez, who was bashed in the head and left to die. 18-year-old Shaun Murphy has been charged with the crime.

One Good Cut

Authorities are becoming concerned about underground castrations. Last issue we told you about Tammy Feldbaum. This summer, ?a former professional chef who learned how to castrate farm animals as a boy in Saskatchewan was given a suspended sentence ... for removing the testicles of a man who wanted a sex change.? (Canada Times, 28 June). The incident would have gone unnoticed had cutter Gary Gillingwater?s sutures held. The ?victim,? whose mother accompanied him to the site of the operation, held no malice toward Gillingwater. Gillingwater, who apologized for his actions, was given an 18-month suspended sentence by Judge Kenn Bellerose and ordered to stay off the internet [and hopefully out of the kitchen, where there are plenty of those amazing little ginzu knives?Ed.].

According to an article in Time Asia, MTF sex reassignment surgery in Thailand can cost as little as $1000. That gets you what this writer will term the ?Bangkok Split,? a penis which is cut down the middle like a banana in a popular ice cream dish. Much better quality SRS is available in Thailand for about $6000, but Thais generally can?t afford it. Thailand has many transsexuals, who, because of the traditional culture, have historically enjoyed a measure of support. Recently the government, apparently not considering transsexualism family fare, has removed transsexuals from popular television programs and shut down the publication of New Half, a transsexual lifestyle magazine. Meanwhile the movie ?Iron Ladies,? which tells the story of an all-transsexual Thai volleyball team, has proved immensely popular, and American transsexuals are flocking to Bangkok in record numbers for the $6000 SRS.


News Flash! Ex-GI George Jorgensen underwent a series of hormonal and surgical treatments in Denmark and is now Christine Jorgensen! Oh, wait... sorry to alarm you, this is old news. Seems the UK advocacy group Press for Change has been re-releasing vintage transgender news articles on their excellent mail list. Press for Change has recently announced they will be forced to curtail services if they can?t raise money to cover their moderate operating expenses. This is a woe common to all transgender organizations. Seems trannies like to get services, but don?t like to pay for them. They would rather buy racehores, matching SUVs, airplanes, yachts, fast cars, stock their wine cellars, take a cruise, build a cabin in the mountains, eat in fine restaurants, spend thousands on clothes, bet on the ponies, give money to political parties and televangelists, buy more wigs and shoes, or fly their Lear jets to Nova Scotia to catch a total eclipse of the sun. That?s their business, of course, but predictably, those who have supported the organizations the least will be hollering the loudest when they realize there is no longer an infrastructure for the transgender community. Wake up, folks. The social changes we?ve seen over the past decade didn?t happen by magic. The organization you?re not supporting made the changes happen?and when Press for Change, Renaissance, IFGE, GEA, FTM International, and your local support group are gone, we will be at grave risk of slipping back into the genderdark ages. See you back in the closet.

The Bathroom Issue

Oh, yes, the ubiquitous bathroom issue. Most recently, it was visited at Ohio University, which turned several single-stall bathrooms from gender-specific to unisex for the benefits of transgender students. The predictable right- wing wackos went off, calling the decision, among other things, ?a moral outrage. [No, Tuesday, September 11 was a moral outrage?Ed.] In an article in the university paper The Dispatch, Amanda Sledz wonders if this is a victory or a defeat, since transgendered students are effectively segregated from the rest of the university?s students and faculty:

If the concern is morals, it could just as easily be considered a conservative victory as a queer one. After all, the ?funny? folks get separated from the herd, and driven off to their own respective bathrooms. Yup, that means that the uncomfortables no longer have to touch the same toilet seat as ?them? .... The question is: is this granting potty-rights to people who choose to identify differently; or is this protecting the ?normal? people from the abnormal ones?

Sledz points out that single-stall bathrooms are effectively unisex anyway, since they won?t hold more than one person. Thanks for raising such an interesting point, Amanda.

Transgender Clout

According to a 3 July article in The Arizona Republic, the city of Tucson plans to cut off $1.5 million in funding the United Way unless that organization agrees not to discriminate against transgendered folks. You may throw this magazine away, but keep this page. It will be a collector?s item, for transgender clout is exceedingly rare.

The Clout of Others

Occasionally a judge gets a hair up his or her ass and makes an ill-considered, uneducated, prejudicial ruling. Sometimes a whole gaggle of judges enters this type of consensual unreality. And occasionally, as happened last year in Texas with the Christie Littleton case, the insanity goes all the way to the top. Most recently, as reported on 14 August in the Columbus Dispatch, the Ohio 12th Court of Appeals upheld a ruling of a Butler County Probate Court judge and a trial court refusing the name change of MTF transsexual Richard Clark Maloney, who wishes to change his name to Susan Louise in preparation for real-life experience. Administrative Judge Anthony Valen disagreed with the majority, saying there are plenty of names that give no clue about whether one is male or female. According to Maloney?s attorney, the next stop is the Ohio Supreme Court.

Governor Gray Davis, who has one of those gender-nonspecific names mentioned by Judge Valen, has once again vetoed legislation designed to help transgendered people?this time a bill that would have let transsexuals residing in California obtain new birth certificates after SRS. According to a 9 August Sacramento Bee article by Emily Bazar, Gray stated that he vetoed AB 194 because ?he could find no compelling reason to expand existing law.? Right wing flak Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for California Families said the bill would ?advance transsexuality.? Gray also vetoed last year?s AB 1851.