Transgender Day of Remembrance


The Transgender Day of Remembrance is held on November 20 of each year.  In 1999, transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith held the first vigil to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman killed in 1998. TGDOR has been an annual event since.

“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
– Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith

Since January 1, 2015, 23 transwomen have been murdered in the United States. Already ahead of 2014’s count of 20 killings,  they are part of the worldwide total of at least 81 (documented) deaths by violence at the hands of another this year.

Caitlyn Jenner has been in the news this year, with her story of moving to publicly living as her authentic self making world-wide headlines.  Formerly known as Bruce, gold medal winner at the 1976 Olympics, Jenner has raised awareness of the “T” in LGBT. That has not stemmed the violence towards transwomen.

Locally, Fresno resident K.C. Haggard, 66, was murdered on July 23, 2015.  That crime remains unsolved, and the persons responsible for stabbing her to death on a Fresno street remain at large.  Fresno Police continue to refer to Haggard as a male, even after local trans activists informed them of her status.  (I assume FPD noticed Haggard was dressed as a woman at the time of her murder.)

While the murders of transwomen in the United States are the focus of this blog, violence against transgender people, including female-to-male (transmen), genderqueer, and gender-diverse individuals, continue and number over 1,700 incidents around the world since 2008.

Events are held around the world to mark the day, to remember those lost to violence and bigotry.  Groups in Bakersfield and Fresno have scheduled memorials and vigils.

GLAAD has a good transgender FAQ page, here.

Locally, those looking for information and referral can contact Trans E Motion in Fresno. Their Facebook page is here.

PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties to host Skyler Cooper


PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties will host Skyler Cooper at it’s November meeting, Sunday, 11/15.  The meeting will be held at the Educational and Cultural Center, Congregation B’nai David, 1039 S. Chinowth, Visalia, from 3pm to 5pm.  Hear Skyler Cooper speak and watch a screening of  the short film “Hero Mars” as part of November’s Transgender Day of Remembrance. Join us for dinner afterward.

From the PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties Facebook page:

Skyler Cooper is a dynamic, talented, and inspirational award-winning artist, who has been acting in film and theater for fourteen years. Cooper is an influential transgender pioneer in the arts and has received critical acclaim for his gender-bending title role in live performances of Othello. Having appeared in the films Elena Undone, The Owls, and The Insomniacs, and television on RuPaul’s Drag U, Skyler was recently voted one of Autostraddle’s 100 LGBTQ People You Should Know. Hero Mars marks Cooper’s directorial debut; he also wrote, produced, and starred in this beautifully cinematic and thought-provoking award-winning short film. Currently Cooper is in development of his next film, Worthy of Survival. The Gulf War veteran says: “My overall life experience has aided in my ability to relate to many different people as an actor, producer, and director. Today I see my experiences as stories yet to be told, stories that I hope will transform to inspirational guidelines for life.”

PFLAG provides a safe and confidential space place to talk about sexual orientation and gender identity, and works to build a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.

There is no cost to attend, and membership is optional.

PFLAG Tulare and Kings Counties is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) status.

Don’t poke the dragon


The Mormon Church just poked a dragon. I’m not sure the church hierarchy even realizes it yet, but it won’t take long for that to dawn on them.  They’re a bit weak when it comes to learning lessons, but you’d think after the Proposition 8 debacle they’d be a little more concerned about revisiting this dragon’s lair. Apparently not.

The Mormon Church is now treating the children of gay couples as pariahs themselves, no matter their own sexual orientation.  Blaming the child for the parent’s “sin”, they will ignore the very words of Jesus in Matthew 19 – “14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  Perhaps the leaders of the LDS are following an older policy, however.  Exodus 20:5 – “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.”  Or maybe there’s something in those golden tablets about this, I’m not really sure.  Faith is such a convoluted thing.

On Thursday, November 5, the church announced a new policy that prohibits the children of gay couples from being “named” or “blessed”.  In other words, they can’t be baptized. The new policy requires the children of gay couples wait until they turn 18 to become eligible to be baptized, but then only if they don’t live with their parents, and publicly disavow any same-sex relationship, cohabitation, or marriage.  The church known for it’s strong advocacy of family will now require the children of LGBT households to disown their parents if they want to be Mormons.

A group of Mormon women, confronted with the reality of their religion’s hatred for all things gay when a child of theirs comes out as LGBTQ, have formed a group, called “Mama Dragons“.  Designed to educate, support, defend their children, and try to effect change from within the church, the Mama Dragons are fierce protectors of their children.  The group released this statement after the Mormon Church made their announcement:

As mothers of and mother figures to LDS LGBT children, we are profoundly saddened and disillusioned by the church’s clarification of their stance on LGBT relationships. We work diligently to make sure every LGBT youth and young adult within our reach feels safe valued and loved. We are painfully aware of those who have chosen to end their lives over rhetoric such as this and many of our own children have fallen into this category. As we work to educate and support LDS mothers when their beloved children come out to them, we are fearful now that these recent statements by our church will result in even more of these precious souls being rejected by their families, kicked out of their homes, and attempting suicide. These statements do not feel like love to us. The idea that children of LGBT parents will now have to disavow themselves from their parent’s relationship in order to be baptized in our church, is perhaps the most painful part of this difficult news today. It feels positively medieval, unequivocally wrong, and in our estimation stands to push more people out of the church and tear apart families. We will never abandon our children or grandchildren even as the church prepares to officially do so. We know our Savior loves and accepts our children exactly as he created them and that he desires for them to have love and companionship. We are collectively heartbroken today as our children get the message loud and clear that they are not wanted here; that they are merely collateral damage in some holy moral values war.

The worst thing you can do is threaten a mother’s child.  The Mama Dragons will not stand idly by and let harm come to the most precious things in their lives.  Former Bakersfield resident Wendy Williams Montgomery, now of Arizona, has become a prominent figure in the battle for acceptance of LGBTQ Mormon children.  Working from inside the LDS church, Wendy and her fellow Mama Dragons struggle to bring enlightenment to that conservative, and frankly, rigid organization.  Just when they thought they had been making some progress, this policy is released, to go into effect immediately.  Not content to shun and shame any of their members who are LGBTQ, no matter their age, they’ve now went a step further, and will do the same to the children of LGBTQ adults.

The LDS leaders have poked the dragons, and they may come to regret it.

If you’re struggling with this news, or with any issues related to being LGBTQ, the following hotlines are available, 24/7:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800-273-8255

Trevor Project – 866-488-7386

Trans Lifeline – 877-565-8860