Michael Sam, a football player who recently graduated from the University of Missouri, publicly came out as gay in a video posted to The New York Times’ website this weekend. “I’m coming out now because I want to own my truth,” Sam said. “I didn’t want anyone to break a story without me telling it. … I can’t tell society to agree with this or not agree with this, but hopefully society will rally around this and support me, too. ”
As Missouri’s most valuable player and one of the top defensive linemen in college football, the 24-year-old Texan is expected to be an early-round NFL draft pick. He would be the first-ever openly gay player in the NFL. Keep reading »
If there was one thing Piers Morgan got right in his interview with writer Janet Mock last night, it was when he called her, “brave, frank, and honest” about coming out as transgender. Sadly, the interview sort of falls apart after that.
From almost the start of the interview, the header “Was a boy until age 18” ran across the screen, insinuating that Mock wasn’t truly a girl or woman until she had genital reconstruction surgery. That is not only incredibly reductive regarding gender, but missed the entire point of Mock’s new memoir, Redefining Realness: My Path To Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More about her road to girlhood, which began far earlier than one moment in Thailand at age 18.
Instead of treating the topic of disclosure with the nuance and sensitivity that it deserves, Morgan went straight for the sensational, wanting to know how the various men Mock has dated have reacted when she finally told them about being trans. He treated Mock, her body, and her past as a spectacle, rather than with respect as befitting the lived experiences of a fellow human being. (You can read the transcript here, although Morgan’s responses on Twitter are a better illustration of his blowhard behavior.) Keep reading »
Oakland, California teenager Sasha Fleischman was the victim of a horrific hate crime last month when another teenager lit hir* skirt on fire as ou* rode home, asleep, on a city bus. The teen suffered second and third degree burns in the attack. Why was Sasha targeted? The teen identifies as agender rather than male or female and is an activist for agender Americans. Sasha has gathered 27,000 online signatures in hopes of capturing President Obama’s attention on the issue. Keep reading »
Minnesota teacher Kristen Ostendorf is out of a job right now because she’s a lesbian. After 18 years at Totino-Grace High School, during which she kept her sexuality secret, the 43-year-old teacher came out last month in a workshop with her fellow teachers about how to make one’s mark in Catholic social justice. “I tried to figure out how I could encourage others to ‘make their mark’ if I was willing to be part of a community where I was required to hide and compromise and deny who I am,” she told the Minneapolis Post.
So, Ostendorf told her colleagues: “I’m gay, I’m in a relationship with a woman, and I’m happy.” Keep reading »
A show about women in prison could have easily devolved into mindless titillation or stereotypical boredom. But Netflix’s breakout hit “Orange Is The New Black” has skillfully avoided either trapping. Instead, viewers are treated to a show with well-thought-out story lines, sharp social commentary, diverse, multi-faceted characters with compelling backgrounds, and stellar performances. One of these standouts is actress Laverne Cox, who captures audiences with her portrayal of transgender prison inmate, Sophia Burset.
Looking at her career thus far, it’s easy to see why some have deemed Laverne a trailblazer in many ways. Not only has she made the enviable leap from reality star (appearing on VH1’s “I Want to Work For Diddy”) to skilled actress, but she’s also a producer and transgender advocate. Laverne’s visibility as a trans actress of color is breaking barriers on many levels, and hopefully will pave the way for more rich roles created for trans actors.
I had the chance to speak with Cox and learned more about working with Jodie Foster, her relationship to her activism and her art, and the future of trans actors. Keep reading »
Oh, hurray! A story with a not-horrible ending!
Here goes: photographer Anne Almasy purchased a print advertisement for a magazine called Weddings Unveiled. It was the first-ever print ad that she had ever purchased and she was pretty excited. So it really sucked when, on Valentine’s Day, the editor of Weddings Unveiled called to say they didn’t “feel comfortable” publishing an ad depicting a same-sex couple (partially displayed above). The editor asked if Almasy had another photograph she would prefer to use; she didn’t. The editor then said it was good that they hadn’t run her credit card yet to charge her for the ad. Keep reading »
Over the weekend, the UK’s Observer published an editorial about transgender people that crossed a bunch of lines. It’s not really worth repeating the things that the author wrote, but they included the sort of slurs that, if used against, say, black people or women, would make your eyes pop out. The Observer has since removed it, but it was full of “N-word” level stuff, with an editorial tone dripping with self-righteous, “if you don’t want to be called these things, stop being the way you are” privilege.
It was gross, in other words. I tweeted about it throughout the day on Sunday, when it ran, as I learned more about the author or different things occurred to me. Most of the rest of my tweets from that day were about football, which meant that I got some confused replies from people who follow me because they like when I make fun of Matt Schaub. I’m not transgender, and I don’t have any close friends or family who are, so why was I treating that editorial like it was personal? I am a dude who is straight and cisgender (that is, someone whose gender identity matches their biology) and who seems to have no stake in this fight.
Here’s why I take transgender issues personally… Keep reading »