Archive for July, 2007

Death, Elders, Karma

I’m going to visit my family for a few days. Will be off my high-speed internet fix and my blog during that time.

My grandmother died last Saturday at the hospital. She was recovering from surgery as well as pneumonia. In her 80s. I was a little surprised to hear it, and my mother never even told me that my grandmother had gotten sick until my brother mentioned it. I thought that was weird. But my mother doesn’t tell me much of anything unless it directly concerns me. Her calls are usually to ask whether i’m sleeping enough, whether i’m wearing the clothing she bought me, whether i am making enough money at my job.

This reminds me of some thoughts i had last weekend at the end of the digital storytelling training program. I had just spend all day at the office building in downtown San Francisco, mostly helping people with a digital film editing program, stressed, tired. Though it didn’t surprise me, i realized that even though i was, in theory, similar to these women in that i had a male body and was transitioning to a gender of “woman,” i felt very different. Not only because of my age (i was definitely younger than any of them) and educational attainment, but also because i got the impression that i was the only one who passed as a straight guy during my teens.

It got me thinking about something i was troubled by during my initial coming out period in Santa Barbara. And which still bothers me somewhat today. Where are the elders?? Where are the people i’m supposed to be able to look up to for wisdom, for guidance? Not my biological mother or Her mother. Nor did i really even know my grandparents from my father’s side.

A generation or two ago, people with my gender inclination and attraction to women living in a society as homophobic and transphobic as the United States probably would not have come out until they were in their 40s or 50s, married to a cisgender (XX chromosome) woman, had 2.5 kids and a house.

… continue reading this entry.

CA Worker’s Comp recognizes Acupuncture

As of June 15 of this year, the CA Division of Worker’s Compensation has started covering acupuncture if it is used to treat work-related injury.

You can get information by calling (415) 703-5020, (510) 622-2861, or (213) 820-2045.

Please see this article for more information.

Book review: The Other Wind

Author: Ursula K. Le Guin

Publisher: Ace Books, 2003

Every Earthsea novel has its principal protagonist (not necessarily the s/hero); the one through whose eyes we see into the world of the isles (Earthsea is made up of hundreds of islands and isles with various regions, cultures, languages, beliefs, folklore).

The Other Wind spreads itself out over several characters. I think this weakened the strength of the story a little, there not being enough development of the newly introduced characters to get us to care particularly for what they experience. This story follows Alder, Tenar, and Lebannen at a point of great change in Earthsea.

Alder is the reluctant herald of this change. A village sorcerror with a talent for mending objects, he has no great powers of wizardry. But he regularly has frightening dreams about the souls of the dead who call out to him from across the wall that he sees in his dreams; a wall that divides the land of the dead from the land of the living.

… continue reading this entry.

Digital Storytelling Program – Basic editing finished

I spent most of Sunday in San Francisco helping others to complete a digital media project, the same one i had posted that i’m fundraising for. Mostly, i was helping people use computers – most of the transwomen receiving training in digital storytelling had little experience with internet and no experience with film editing applications. I was surprised how quickly i picked up the basic functions of the editing software – i had taken a course using the same program about 5 years ago, but not used it since.

Towards mid-day, a few people became very vocal and cranky and a loud argument with personal insults took place in the training room. I tried futilely to calm them down and was myself really too tired to put much focus on that situation. Those involved apologized and forgave each other after a break period. I got there at 11:00 am and did not leave until almost 8:00 pm.

One of the rewards of volunteering on that day was being able to see the rough cuts of the various stories. It was positive to witness folks’ experiences, as the arc of all the stories ended on some kind of positive note.

Bridging another Digital divide!

If you have read the Alexis Giraldo story in San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter or the Bay Area Guardian article last year about extremely high rates of transwomen being incarcerated ( 1 in 3 according to the SF Dept of Public Health), then you have some idea of what transgender people endure in prison…and in leaving prison still retain the memories of cruelties. But very few people are even aware that the vast majority of transgender women go to prison for nonviolent crimes such as drug possession and prostitution. Even fewer people have the opportunity to hear from a transgender former prisoner herself.

To expand society’s views and definitions of “transgender issues” and to push for serious changes in how the so-called criminal justice system impacts transgender women, the Tran/Gender Variant and Intersex Justice Project has initiated a digital media program that provides former prisoners who are transgender people of color the training and

… continue reading this entry.

Non-Profit Organization = Community-Based Organization?

I’m applying for an internship with the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) and I got stuck at this particular question: “What is your experience working with community-based organizations?” I felt stuck trying to answer that questions because i’ve been working with an HIV/AIDS service organization that has certain aspects which resemble a community-based organization, but at times, seriously makes me doubt its authenticity.

So i did a Scroogle search of “community-based organization” and found this policy statement by AIDS Commitee of Toronto (ACT).

They spell out what it means for an organization to really serve its community. Essentially, this means knowing:

A) Which specific communities does the organization represent? And, of these communities, which maintain or are relinquishing primary control?

B) What type of responsiblity do the persons in the organization elected/chosen to represent “the community” have when acting and speaking for the community?

C) How does an organization balance the tension between trying to identify with constituent communities versus maintaining relationships with big funders that often don’t have the best interests of the community in mind (government, corporations, foundations)? This is an especially sticky point for which several HIV/AIDS organizations have gotten unplugged or cut severely when they pushed advocacy into areas that the feds felt uncomfortable with.

… continue reading this entry.

Silly tourists…

Hilarious post from the website of Kenyan Indian diaspora poet Shailja Patel:

Click here

Tourists ask the darndest things. Here’s an on-line Q&A from a Kenyan tourism website:

Q: Does it ever get windy in Kenya? I have never seen it rain on TV, so how do the plants grow? (United Kingdom)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

U.S. Social Forum Blogs

I feel so behind.

Anyway…the U.S. Social Forum is a national get-together of folks working to address systemic inequalities, oppression, and broken social/economic institutions. No government or corporate sponsorship has been sought or accepted since “the gubmit” and corporations are notorious for trying to water down proposals or shutdown conversations about things that they deem too controversial. The U.S. Social Forum is also meant to be a place for people from the community, from grassroots organizations, and from “green businesses” to get together as a direct contradiction to the idea that people need elected (or supposedly elected) politicians to speak for them. There is no particular organization that is allowed to dominate the conversations.

This is the first event of its kind in the United States, but it is based on organizing models developed in the global South: Mumbai, India; Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Karibu, Nairobi have been sites of past global social forums.

However, since i was not at the U.S. Social Forum i have no personal reporting to give you. Instead i refer you to the following blogs:

♦ brownfemipower’s Women of Color Blog. Day-by-day updates and some speech summaries by fierce WoC leaders at the Forum.

♦ Un blog bilingüe (de un peruano)

♦ National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights has Migrant Diaries

♦ Third Wave Foundation’s blog

♦ Monthly Review Foundation’s blog has lots of links to participating organizations

Enjoy! I will soon review the last edition of Left Turn magazine, which contains lots of stuff about the USSF.

Censorship at Frameline Film Festival

For those of you outside “the Bay” when this happened (or who don’t live in the area anyway), there was a film approved by the Frameline screening committee called “The Gendercator,” made by a Catherine Crouch, which got pulled after someone began circulating an on-line petition against it.

A summary of Crouch’s film here:

It’s pretty clearly transphobic – lumping all transgender people together with gender policing straight people and the State (DUN DUN DUN!). And it ignores the lived circumstances of transgender lives: how not passing can be hazardous to our health, how transgender people who don’t pass or choose not to pass are shunned in many L and G spaces, how the government does not, in fact, encourage or support people who want sex-change surgery and hormones unless one is living in a place like San Francisco.

Still, i am against censorship except under extreme circumstances. Pulling an already approved film sets a bad precedent. Frameline could well censor a film with a story about

… continue reading this entry.

Trans Rape Survivor Sues Prison System


Article on Alexis Giraldo in the latest Bay Area Reporter

Community United Against Violence (CUAV) and the Transgender, Gender Variant & Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP) are encouraging community individuals, groups, and social justice organizations to show their support for Ms. Alexis Giraldo. Ms. Giraldo is a young Latina transgender woman in the California prison system. For three months Ms. Giraldo repeatedly sought protection from prison staff after her cellmate threatened to rape her. After numerous denied requests for assistance, Ms. Giraldo’s cellmate raped her in early 2006. She is suing the state of California for failing to protect her. Ms. Giraldo is asking the court to require the State of California to develop guidelines to better protect transgender people in prison.

*CUAV and TGIJP are requesting community presence and attendance at Ms. Giraldo’s trial.

* Community presence in court will demonstrate our belief that the state must be held accountable for continually placing our community in life-threatening danger.
… continue reading this entry.

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