Jiovani Carcione

By TMPlanetThere’s another name in our community to familiar yourself with, Jiovani Carcione, but just call him Jio. He’s the all around guy, that’s down for his family, friends, and community. A man meant to be in a uniform, be it his work uniform as an exterminator or as paramedic student, or just modeling some. His Instagram/modeling page has become one of the guys in the transborhood to watch and follow. A face and humble charm that’s catching the eyes of modeling scouts. Yet, that’s just the awesomeness on the surface.

Jio, another Chicago native on our list, is a proud single parent, who made the conscious decision to enjoy the gift of life just before beginning his transition, two years ago. On if being a single parent of a three-year old and transitioning is more difficult? Jio says,

I feel it’s the same as any single parent. Because honestly. She doesn’t know any better and my family knows not to say anything unless I tell her myself. Outsiders don’t know the difference of what’s in my pants and so I keep it that ways. I’m just the adorable dad that does his job and makes sure his daughter is loved and cared for, how she’s suppose to be. She Is my life. I waited to transition for her. I wanted a mini me in this world and frankly I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.

Jio  is open on his views of revealing trans status. On living undetected he says,

All my past gfs knew… even this recent one she knew after the first date because I told her. If I didn’t think the date was gonna go anywhere, I wouldn’t have told her.. so when I first meet or talk to people they don’t know anything unless I tell them. And majority of people don’t know unless they knew me before.

He  aspires to be more involved with in the community and continue speaking on a transgender person’s right to disclosure, and continue the education as an EMT, that he began in Savannah GA.

He is a TMP Role Model, for being an example to youth everywhere that you can have a fulfilling life as a trans person, who embraces the joys of being a parent, and despite the obstacles of single parent hood he is beating the odds. Get to know him, and you will see the joy and love between him and his beautiful daughter. He keeps a positive and hopeful outlook for the future and his passion of being a chef with his own restaurant.

 

We have dreams, we have a right to those dreams and we have the right to pursue those dreams. Jio is an inspiring example of that truth.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON  THE TMP FORUM

AH-CHOO! Interdict That Rhinovirus Before It Ruins Your Makeup

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

Admit it.  You’ve been held hostage.  It can happen every year when chills remind you that it isn’t summer anymore, and especially when you have an upcoming gig in a drag show or a speaking engagement like the quintessentially cold and drippy International Transgender Day of Remembrance.  Ignore it and you can be sure you’ll face a slog of a week or 10 days.  You might face an even longer siege if the infection spreads into your lungs where it could expand into pneumonia in people with weakened immune systems.1 Rhinovirus, the bane of the babes onstage and known to be the most common culprit of the “common cold,” is ready for another season to laugh its way into your nasal passages like an attack of obnoxious little critters to force you out of makeup.  But if you act quickly enough and take proper precautions, you could beat an impending infection in a matter of hours.

We all know the symptoms of the common cold: sore throat (especially in the early stages of infection), runny nose, coughing, sneezing, headaches, and body aches.2 No “cure” exists for a rhinovirus infection.  Antibiotics, useful for coated bacteria, 3 only help combat a secondary infection of bacteria and have lost much of their effectiveness because of decades of improper use.4 The virus has resulted in days lost from work and school, impacting the national economy through loss of labor and increased sales in the robust industry of cold remedies.  But in most cold cases, those expensive cold remedies might not even be needed if approached properly.

 

ANATOMY OF A COMMON INFECTION

While it’s possible to become infected through close contact with another person, especially if an infected person sneezes in your face, most cases of infection happen without our thinking about it at all.  Handling a doorknob or a writing instrument previously handled by an infected individual can transfer the virus, and if the hand is brought to the face infection can readily result.  Common introduction of the virus is through the eyes when we unconsciously rub them during the course of the day.5

The eyes have a constant flow of tears to protect them from the environment.  Keeping that flow of tears enables the cornea, and consequently, vision to remain clear.  Those tears originate in tear glands around the eyes.  But they not only empty into the eyes via tear ducts.  These ducts also direct tears into the nasal cavity.  When we cry those tears loosen other material in the nasal cavity, resulting in a flood that we blow out into our handkerchiefs.6

Those tear ducts not only provide a pathway for tears into the nasal cavity but also for pathogens including rhinovirus.  The nasal passages provide its best nesting ground.  Infection results in an initial response of the body producing its own histamines, causing stuffiness and post-nasal drip.

By “post-nasal drip” we refer to the drip of mucous from the nasal cavity to where these passages join with the pharynx, or the back of the throat.  This drip of mucous can trigger in a response from sublingual salivary glands which produce a predominantly mucous saliva that can also become stringy in texture.  This aids in digestion of food but has a way of exacerbating the less viscous mucous from the nasal cavity, keeping the viral-rich stickiness stuck around the pharynx because it’s difficult to swallow, resulting in irritation of pharyngeal tissues.  One might awaken in the middle of the night with some nose stuffiness and a scratchy throat.  The same may even experience a chill reflecting the body elevating its own temperature in response to infection.  These warning signs need to be heeded.7

 

THE BEST DEFENSES

Some excellent and inexpensive remedies exist.  But one must understand why they work and that making them effective requires some personal diligence.

At the first sign of a cold, hyper-hydration can be very effective for most people.  To do this, drink an average size glass (6-8 ounces) of warm water every 10 minutes for an hour.8 You might feel as if you will slosh back and forth after this.  You very likely will feel an accelerated need for urination.  Fluids want to pour out of you.  But something else happens too.  The blood vessels, being enriched with water also help to diffuse water into various interstitial tissues and membranes throughout the body including those of the nasal cavity.  It helps to break foreign bodies that may try to lodge there.  Warm water is preferred over cold because the body must otherwise heat the water you take in, heat that would be better suited for the elevation of temperature it really needs in combating infection.

The thing to understand if you hyper-hydrate is that you can’t put it off.  Do it immediately.  If your first sign of a cold happens when you head out the door to an important activity, take a thermos.  Time is the critical factor in using this method.  If the infection becomes too embedded as a result of inaction, this trick will be less likely to avail anything for you.

If you encounter throat soreness, gargling with salt water does help to break up the stringy mucous that settles in the pharynx and helps to settle the pharyngeal salivary glands that produce them.  Some adults have found a single aspirin, gradually dissolving and trickling down into the throat effective against the pain of an adult sore throat, a trick used by tradesmen in cold rainy environments.  But its effectiveness also requires contact with the tissues of the pharynx and a thick layer of mucous won’t allow that.  If you elect to use aspirin, it’s best to gargle first.

Two factors have been noted for combating colds: temperature and time.9 It’s why saunas have worked to promote health.  But what if you don’t have a sauna?  Nearly everyone has access to hot water.  The Joint Commission for Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) for many years set the accepted range for domestic hot water in hospitals:  106-120 degrees Fahrenheit, though in recent years this has been tightened to 110-120 degrees.  Over 120 degrees is considered scalding temperature.10

This is important to know because rhinovirus has a very tight optimal temperature range that’s a little lower than the core body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 Celsius).  Its range is 91.4 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit (33-35 Celsius).  The typical range of temperature in the nasal cavity falls within that optimal range. 11

The outsides of the eyes often experience a cooler temperature than the core body temperature.  During cold months some warming can be anticipated for pathogens within the tear ducts including the portions joining with the nasal cavity.  In which case one would do well to check the condition of one’s eyes first thing in the morning, and if symptoms start midday to check them then as well.  You might notice stickiness in the corner of the eye and the lower eyelid, and possibly some whiteness like pus if there’s anything bacterial involved.  In this case, simply rubbing the eye won’t help.  Instead, flush the eyes to wash them.

Eye flushes work very well when showering.  Water temperature that’s good for this is at the low end of the older range set by JCAHO: 106 to 110 degrees.  This elevates the temperature beyond what rhinovirus finds friendly, yet low enough to do no harm to the eyes.  It’s the range one would experience with a nicely warm shower.  Your eyes won’t be harmed at this temperature.  They would encounter a higher temperature just walking around Phoenix or Las Vegas on a hot day.

Some shower nozzles, however, force a stream of water too sharp for this purpose.  If that’s the case, it helps to bounce the stream from the shower head off the back of a clean hand into the eyes.  This should work for most municipal systems with chemically treated water.  If the domestic water system has become contaminated, or if you’re away from home, you still have recourse another way.

  

AN ALTERNATE APPROACH

It helps to keep a 4 ounce bottle of normal saline solution designed for eyewash.  Most grocery chains and drug stores sell this from regular shelves.  It requires no prescription.  After all, it’s sterile salt water balanced to reasonably match the salinity of most bodily fluids.  Let the bottle sit in warm water for a while to bring it into the temperature range best for flushing the eyes.  You can use a microwave to heat water in a cup till warm and insert a bottle of normal saline for a few minutes, shaking the bottle periodically.  Check the temperature on the inside of the forearm to verify that the temperature is warm but not hot.  Wash your hands thoroughly.  Then apply like you would eye drops without touching the tip of the bottle to your hands or your eyes.  Flush out any gunk into a clean tissue or handkerchief and then flush again.  This will not only clean the eyes and interdict pathogens at the most common point of entry to the nasal cavity, but will also soothe the eyes themselves.

A warm saline solution can also be effective snuffed up the nose or as nose drops.  The principle behind this is much the same as what’s used in eye flushes, washing loose mucous and pathogens.   For home made nose drops you can dissolve ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of warm water, then apply to the nasal cavity through a nasal irrigation kit.12

Aside from eye flushes, application of a hot pack to the face and forehead can elevate the temperature of the sinuses beyond the range of the virus.  Some people like to use a combination of hot and cold packs.  The cold packs in this case drop the temperature to below the optimal range of the virus and may be preferred if you happen to experience pain.  Use whichever works best for you.  But do it as early as you can.

 

MAKEUP PRECAUTIONS

If possible, it’s best to not wear makeup while engaged in tackling cold symptoms.  Eye makeup, especially mascara, can become easily contaminated with nearly anything as surely as the La Brea Tar Pits can swallow up a mastodon.

That means if your eyes become infected with a pathogen, you can easily transfer it on the tip of liquid eyeliner or a mascara brush.  That means, if you become sick it’s best to replace eye makeup and to avoid using a new batch till you’re past any symptoms.  If you absolutely have to use it as in obligatory stage work, discard it afterwards.13

For the same reason, never share eye makeup.  Don’t take any chances on infecting a friend or coworker.

 

PERSONAL RESULTS THROUGH THE USE OF WATER

This writer used to experience colds every month except for summer, or an average of 9 colds per season.  At my age a cold can easily turn serious, becoming a severe chest cold or bronchitis leading to pneumonia.  With these techniques I have been able to reduce colds to an average of 1 per season and in many seasons I’ve succeeded in eliminating them entirely.  I’ve also found initial cold symptoms knocked out in a matter of hours, even when working in environments where sick children liberally spread their contagion.  Today it takes a particularly virulent strain to pass these defenses I have practiced and the costs of performing them regularly have been negligible.

I typically flush my own eyes whenever I enter the shower to bathe.  But in 1994 I did something else to acclimatize myself to cold weather before travel.  I regularly took what’s called a Scots Shower, also called, Scottish Shower.

The Scots Shower employs alternating hot and hold.  After an initial steamy shower, close down the hot water valve for 15 seconds till the water feels just uncomfortably cool.  Resume the hot water to bring up the body temperature for a couple of minutes and then go for another cool down for 30 seconds with water a little colder than before.  Repeat this till you can go over a minute with a cold shower.14 The idea is to build resistance.  This was necessary for me because I was traveling to the former Soviet Union in November when there’s a lot of sleet and snow at the onset of winter.

I emphasize this:  the techniques described here do not cure the common cold.  What they do instead is interdict rhinovirus and other pathogens from entry and buildup in the nasal cavity where they find the optimal conditions for replication.  The body has its own defense against viruses through its own interferon, whose development is particular to each strain.  Nobody has produced a laboratory interferon that will tackle every strain of virus.15 I discussed what I was doing with my own physician and he confirmed that the effectiveness is much like a security guard stops a bad guy from entering into a theater to plant a bomb.

 

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

Not all viruses can be knocked down with these techniques.  They don’t apply well to influenza.  They don’t apply to other airborne pathogens like tuberculosis where bacteria transfer through sputum.  Some cases may even require isolation of a patient from others.  Some pathogens may require gowns, gloves, and medical dust mask.  In certain strains, goggles or even a full plastic face shield may be required.  Hospitals mark rooms set up for isolation, reversing air flow so that pathogens don’t escape the room by force of air handlers.  This is done by relying upon an exhaust fan to draw outside air from the hallway or through a filter.  These special techniques go far beyond what anyone can do to head off a common cold.  It takes a doctor to determine what precautions are indicated.

If a cold goes directly to the chest, one can gain relief from an expectorant to facilitate the expulsion of phlegm.  Some expectorants today also come with decongestants.  They’re sold over the counter in pharmacies; however there are now restrictions on how much you can buy in the course of a month.  A pharmacist will want to check your purchases through your driver’s license or identification card, simply because cold remedies have been abused by manufacturers of designer drugs.  But if you aren’t winning in a couple of days or if symptoms worsen, you need a physician.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends seeing a doctor under the following conditions:

  • If your oral temperature rises higher than 100.4° F
  • If cold symptoms persist over 10 days
  • Unusual or severe symptoms.16

Severe symptoms include excessively high fever or pain, or breathing becoming obstructed.  If your color turns blue and you feel like you can’t get enough air, you may do well to suspect pneumonia and get to a doctor as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment.  If a physician prescribes a regimen, especially one of antibiotics or antiviral medication, follow the instructions exactly.

Fortunately, most colds don’t automatically signal something dire and with adequate prevention, one may avoid an infection becoming dire in the first place.  The responsibility is yours.  These techniques with water are cheap and readily available in most places.  They enable anyone to stop a dreaded invader in its tracks, saving time, jobs, and even friends, especially those of us who can’t afford to miss a day of work at all.

______________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  A variation of the American flag in the colors associated with sickness including grey (as in deadness), and pale sickly green (like the Greek word for pale χλόρο or “chloro” as used in the Apocalypse of John to describe the color of the horse of the 4th horseman).  The canton is a detail of a public domain diagram of the rhinovirus (Wikimedia) and the background is a tearful eye  from a public domain image (Flickr).

  1. “Common Colds: Protect Yourself and Others” Centers for Disease Control , CDC (accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html
  2. Ibid.
  3. Harry Mobley. “How do antibiotics kill bacterial cells but not human cells?” Scientific American (n.d., accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-do-antibiotics-kill-b/.
  4. Lee Ventola, MS. “The Antibiotic Resistance Crisis” NCBI (April 2015, accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4378521/.
  5. As described by a local physician in 1992.
  6. Any college anatomy course will confirm this.
  7. “Salivary Glands and Saliva” Vivo Pathophysiology (n.d., accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/pregastric/salivary.html.
  8. Hyperhydration was recommended by a Seventh-Day Adventist physician in 1994.
  9. Noted by a registered physical therapist near Loma Linda in 1988.
  10. Known by the author who worked as a hospital engineer for over 20 years.
  11. Foxman, Ellen F.; Storer, James A.; Fitzgerald, Megan E.; Wasik, Bethany R.; Hou, Lin; Zhao, Honguy; Turner, Paul E.; Pyle, Anna Marie; and Iwasaki, Akiko. “Temperature-dependent defense against the common cold virus limits viral replication at warm temperature in mouse airway cells” PNAS 112, No. 3, p. 827 (January 20, 2015, accessed September 6, 2017) www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1411030112.
  12. Carol DerSarkiassen. “12 Natural Treatment Tips for Cold and Flu” WebMD (June 14, 2017, accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/12-tips-prevent-colds-flu-1#1
  13. Kristin Colling Jackson “Get Over A Cold Faster With These 7 Beauty Tips” Bustle (November 14, 2014, accessed September 6, 2017) https://www.bustle.com/articles/48585-get-over-a-cold-faster-with-these-7-beauty-tips-what-makeup-to-ditch-and.
  14. “What is a Scottish Shower?” wiseGEEK (n.d., accessed September 6, 2017) http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-scottish-shower.htm
  15. “Interferons: Boundless.com (n.d., accessed September 7, 2017) https://www.boundless.com/microbiology/textbooks/boundless-microbiology-textbook/immunology-11/innate-defenders-138/interferons-704-6649/.
  16. https://www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/index.html

Bathroom Insanity as Trans Man Forced to Show his Privates

By The TMPlanet

 

A Hudson County, New Jersey, transgender man says he was forced  to show his prosthetic penis to a security officer at a New Jersey store after he was accused of shoplifting earlier this year, a lawsuit claims.

“I need to see what’s in your pants,” the security officer said during the May 12 incident, as reported by Daily Voice, at Food Fair on Market Street in Paterson.

The man begged for help and felt scared, humiliated, intimidated and abused, according to the report. He sought help from a cashier but got nowhere – in fact, the cashier was called to do an inspection.
“Shockingly, rather than wait for a female police officer to arrive, a female cashier was called to conduct an invasive inspection,” Daily Voice quoted the suit.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees, according to nj.com. The officer, identified as “John Doe” and wearing an Essex County sheriff’s uniform, was working security when he approached the man about 10 p.m. and allegedly made the demands.

The officer told the man and the store manager he would call a female officer to inspect the transgender man’s pants, the suit claims. The trans-man tried to leave, even though the officer insisted he allegedly needed to inspect his pants.

“During this inspection, the plaintiff showed the cashier the prosthetic penis and his vagina,” according to the report. As the man walked out of the restroom crying, the officer said, “I am so sorry,” the lawsuit states.


*Originals reports of this story by New Jersey media outlets mis-gendered, and incorrectly acknowledged the difference between a trans man and trans woman, by stating a trans-woman with a prosthetic. It’s been re-written to give the respect our community deserves.

Nicki Andro: Straight Out of Stonewall

By Sabrina Samone

They say, that time heals all wounds. Sometimes that can take years, but here we are. Though we have come a long way as a trans community in the last ten or so years, we are also aware we have much more progress to make. Fifty-five years ago, within some one’s lifetime, black and white were still segregated, gay and lesbian’s still hid behind fake marriages and congregated in secret locations. Those days during the Motown sound, there were very little mentioning of interracial dating, and there were only occasional mentions of people changing genders, like Christine Jorgensen .

It would be another twenty years before the urban sounds of Motown morphed from disco to the hip hop beats of Afrika Bambaataa, known now as the father of hip hop. The industry became quickly synonymous with aggressive male masculinity, street gangs, prison and day to day hardships of life in urban slums. It would be in this patriarchal system’s climate, that women like MC Lyte, Salt n Pepa and Queen Latifah struggled to emerge. They struggled, yet successfully changed the face of hip hop with out compromising themselves as women, unlike some of the top female artist of today, that use sexuality to gain attention. These women were tough, in your face and was not about to degrade themselves or other women to have their voice be heard. I could go on about how I admire those early female pioneers of hip hop, but this is not a story about them, but about the potential new face of hip hop.

Over the years hip hop has become commercialized and embedded into nearly every aspect of American pop culture. It’s now universal among most cultures, religions, etc., yet remains extremely homophobic and transphobic. Many TBLG hip hop artist have tried making their name in music, just as those like P-diddy and Snoop-dog once did, but denied. This attitude from the hip hop industry may have gone unchecked or addressed until recent supporters like Macklemore demonstrated in the hit song ‘Same Love‘ , a time of change is needed.

Now with artist like Azealia Banks, Cazwell, Fly Young Red & gender queer and trans artist like Mykki Blanco, Katastrophe, & Katey Red, the walls are being broken down, one rhyme at a time.

Artist like Katey Red and Katastrophe may have taken the “shock” out of transgender rappers within the hip hop industry, but it’s newest crop of transgender hip hop artist are demanding it’s respect and claiming it along the way. Nicki Andro, is among a new genderation of hip hop artist, with lyrics and rhyme the founding fathers of hip hip would stand and take notice. I have been extremely impressed by her voice and message and it’s time my TMP readers get to know the new face of hip hop, Nicki Andro.

1. TransMusePlanet: Representation of Trans people in the media has been a long, and hard road. Recently we have established our presence in news, the fashion industry, film, art, television, and in literature. How ready, do you feel, is the need for the Trans voice in hip hop music?

Nicki Andro: I think Hip Hop is ready and is welcoming us with open arms, but we aren’t executing the best methods to approach it. There are many transgender rappers that posses a lyrical arsenal that cannot be denied by true hip hop fans, but who don’t have the connections to be heard, and many of us don’t get support from our own community, that could be crucial in elevating us to a higher spotlight. Many of the trans rappers that do have a spotlight get a bit too graphic on their trans experiences, and although there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, we must understand that hip hop is known to be a transphobic and homophobic culture for the most part. It would take a lot for them to respect us, and the best way to do so is to make them listen to us, not  make them turn our songs off because we are sayi8ng things they aren’t used to hearing in a rap song. We should start off with music that appeals to many groups as opposed to only one group. We must earn their respect first, then anything goes.

 

2. TMP: The hip hop industry has been labeled for years as a misogynistic genre of music. It has been hard for it’s cis-gender women to find acceptance. What are some of the prejudices you’ve experienced?

N.A.: There have been many experiences I can bring up. Many men have been interested in making
music with me, while thinking that I am a cis-gender woman, then completely back out when I tell them I am transgender. I have also lost many rap battles because I am transgender. I haven’t experienced any negativity from anyone within the hip hop culture while they thought I was cis-gender, which has made me believe that the misogyny aura has been reduced. I will say, however, that although I have only experienced such prejudice from the straight women and men of the world, cis-gender people have also been the biggest supporters of my music.

3.  TMP:  Being Trans can be difficult in any culture, but it can be harder in some more than other, due to religious beliefs among others. What is your experience been like, coming out Trans, in a Haitian Catholic community?

N.A.: My experience has been horrible. Being in a Haitian/Catholic family, I had been taught at a very young age to hate the LGBT community before I even understood I was part of it. So, growing  up, I often had thoughts of wanting to be a woman, and felt guilt, disgust, and self-hatred every time those thoughts crossed my mind. That self-hatred also lead me to numerous suicide attempts. For 30 years, I thought I was a weird man with homosexual tendencies, but I had no idea that I’m transgender, mainly because I didn’t feel comfortable allowing my mind to explore that possibility. Many Haitian people see me as the worst thing anyone could ever be. My ex fiancée, a Haitian woman, had told me that if we had a son, she would kill him if he was gay, but would let him live if he was a serial killer. Also, I have been constantly blamed for being the cause of many people’s sorrows, and my truth has caused my mom to get ridiculed often by other Haitian people. But I would say, but I would say that the most difficult part of it all is knowing that my truth would cause me to lose connections with family members. My love for them is too immense.4. TMP:  In 2014, you were about to be married and your truth was still unknown to family. You ended the marriage and came out as transgender. What were some of the challenges you’ve had to overcome with family?

N.A.:  I face challenges such as having to prove my sanity to my family. My story is unusual, in the sense that I was a very manly man through my entire life. Nobody saw anything in me that would make them think I was not a straight man. I was a good actor, but nobody could see the torment I was fighting inside, the constant feeling of existing but not living. So when I called off the wedding, nobody understood why at first, since my ex-fiancee and I seemed to be in good terms. A month later, I announced that I was transgender, and from then I have been labeled as crazy by many family members, even to this day. I think my revelation wouldn’t have been as bad if I had been known as a gay or feminine guy and then came out as trans. This belief that I have lost my mind created an environment of family members praying and hoping, and also trying to insult or shame me, thinki8ng that such actions will make me “snap” out of it. It’s painful to witness. It’s almost as if I had died when I came out, and am forced to constantly see my family mourn my death, wasting too much time desperately trying to resuscitate the old me, not being able to accept that he is gone. The old me is gone for good.

 

5. TMP:  One of your recent songs, ‘Distant Hearts’, deals with the death of transgender people. You state, that the death of Leelah Alcorn and the countless murders of trans women of color were your inspiration. Why is this an important message for a hip hop audience, in your opinion?

N.A.: I felt that this message was important not just for a hip hop music audience, but for everyone that doesn’t know much about us. All that people see is the “end result” but not the journey. Many people assumed that Leelah Alcorn was oversensitive because they only saw the outside, but every transgender person can relate with what she was dealing with on the inside. When Leelah left, I was very touched by her story, how she had un-accepting, religious parents like me. How her parents would still not refer to her as a female even after her departure. I was emotional when I got on my laptop, and all of the words to that song just started coming to me non-stop. Many parents believe that we trans women, can take their mental abuse because we have other “people like us”, as my mom often telss me, that uplift us. But they don’t know the common lack of support in the trans community. On the song, I spoke about ,my experiences of how my own black and transgender communities seem to harm me more than those outside, and how we working together, can make all of us become stronger. I feel that bigots support each other with hate more than we support each other with love. I wanted to contribute to a positive change, just as Leelah wanted. She said her “death needs to mean something,” and I am glad to see that many of us have shown her that she means a lot to us.

6. TMP:  How important do you feel it is for the other persecuted minority groups, such as African American’s, Latino’s and Women, to stand in solidarity with the Trans Community?

 

N.A.: I feel that this is extremely important. Latinos, African Americans, and Women, all face discrimination, and if they took the time to get to know our transgender community, as they ask of themselves, they would also see that we are likely to face the same discrimination. Women have fought for years for equality, and that in itself should make them want to support us, to help us thrive in our own fight for equality. The African Americans and Latinos are a minority group in this country. They are singling out people within their own community because of gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, gang affiliation, or other things. I believe this make those communities, or any community, weaker. Unity is strength.

7. TMP: Do you feel that the growing number of transgender rappers can change that perception through music?

 

N.A.: Yes, I believe so. Music is very influential. It can persuade someone to do good or bad thing, or to have positive or negative feelings toward any person or thing. Once transgender people are common in mainstream hip hop, our influence will be extreme. All it takes is for some of us to be cosigned by someone who is well respected in hip hop, and that will suddenly ,ake people want to hear what we have to say, they will pay attention, because a respected member of hip hop noticed us. When those days come, we will have a very powerful platform to raise awareness.

8. TMP:  What are some of the other issues you address in your lyrics?

N.A.: I address the corruption of real hip hop, how the poetry side of rap is no longer appreciated the way it used to be. Also, I address how  what we as trans people go through can make someone change for the worse, and how we must try our best to not let that happen. I often address transgender stereotypes in either serious or joking manners. I address the petty competition found within the trans community. All in all, my songs are created from real feelings, and there are many more issues I plan to rap about once I create the right beats for those subjects.

 

N.A.: Nicki Andro is someone who is very loving, caring, and giving, because bringing a smile to someone’s face brings her joy. She has no issue taking shine away from herself to share if with someone. She isn’t selfish, and when she makes it, she will continue supporting everyone, especially her trans sisters and brothers.

These days, Trans culture has penetrated every genre of our society; govt., pop music, movies, fashion, literature, television, and now, along with a new crop of transgender rappers like Amirra Daye Smith, who Nicki often collaborate, they are among a new wave that will change the face of hip hop. It’s time…that the hip hop industry’s long standing reputation of transphobia and homophobia be abolished. Until then, it will be continually fueling the anger of a new genderation of hip hop artist, not like the ones that longed to be ‘Straight Out of Compton’, a place of poverty, but by the anger of those forced, ridiculed, labeled and disenfranchised like no culture in the human race has had to endure. A voice of anger to be accepted by the hip hop industry is screaming, ‘Straight Out Of Stonewall.’, and it will no be silent.


The Machine and the Circus: Why Caitlyn’s Not Going Away

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

It’s too easy to say she knows not what she does.  Caitlyn Jenner has come to be known as much for a litany of missteps as her record of athletic heroism.  She’s also terrified of them, as much a child of image as of privilege, evident in her confession that she worried terribly about tripping over her skirt at her first appearance as Caitlyn at the ESPY Awards in 2015.  She worried about leaving a first impression of being a dumb klutz, resulting in a public perception of ineptitude as a qua-transgender trait.1

 Many of us perceive Caitlyn as someone who has done much worse than falling onstage.  Some have even issued some heated damnation like this one from Parker Marie Molloy:

 

“tl;dr Caitlyn Jenner is trash, an embarrassment. @JennyBoylan @Caitlyn_Jenner”2

 

It comes down to a common and growing sentiment from the trans community.  None of us asked for Caitlyn Jenner as a “spokesperson” and many of us have felt keenly alienated by her.  Many of us would prefer that she simply cease, desist, retire to her Malibu cloister, and shut up.  But that isn’t going to happen.  Caitlyn’s not going away and a closer look tells why this is so.

 

RECENT OUTRAGE

Caitlyn most recently faced transgender outrage this past month when Ashlee Marie Preston railed a profanity-laced rant of denunciation in her face with equal condemnation of Trans Chorus L.A. for “complicity” in accepting money from Caitlyn without criticism.  She said, “It’s really (expletive) that you continue to support somebody… that does everything with the military, that’s erasing our (expletive) community. And you support it.”  When Caitlyn said, “You don’t know me” Ashlee retorted, “Yes I do!  You’re a (expletive) fraud and a fake!”3

Ashlee’s anathemas didn’t represent an accusation that Caitlyn isn’t a real transperson. Few have ever denied that.  Instead she represented a growing belief that Caitlyn doesn’t really back the Trans community like she claims, despite her raising money for Trans causes including Trans Chorus L.A.  It’s a belief rooted in politics, a predominantly Left-leaning community confronting the fact that Caitlyn has been a lifelong Republican and a Trump supporter in the 2016 election.  Caitlyn’s not the only trans Republican, of course.  The U.S. Transgender Survey sampled 4% of transpeople either being Republican or leaning toward the GOP.4 Using the 1.4 million figure The Williams Institute offered as an estimate of how many transpeople exist in the United States that would make 56,000 transpeople supporting the GOP either directly or indirectly.5

Every transgender supporter of the GOP has had to wrestle with what every transgender critic of the GOP has warned since before the election: execution of the anti-transgender 2016 Republican agenda.  It’s an agenda codified in its own platform, backing anti-transgender legislation and opposing the guidelines for trans acceptance issued from the Obama Administration:

 

“We emphatically support the original, authentic meaning of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. It affirmed that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” That language opened up for girls and women a world of opportunities that had too often been denied to them. That same provision of law is now being used by bureaucrats — and by the current President of the United States [Barack Obama] — to impose a social and cultural revolution upon the American people by wrongly redefining sex discrimination to include sexual orientation or other categories. Their [sic] agenda has nothing to do with individual rights; it has everything to do with power. They [sic] are determined to reshape our schools — and our entire society — to fit the mold of an ideology alien to America’s history and traditions. Their [sic] edict to the states concerning restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities is at once illegal, dangerous, and ignores privacy issues. We salute the several states which have filed suit against it.6

 

Caitlyn did criticize Trump’s decision to exclude transpeople from the military.  She tweeted on July 26:

 

“There are 15,000 patriotic transgender Americans in the US military fighting for all of us. What happened to your promise to fight for them?”7

 

Yvonne Juris quoted Caitlyn in People Magazine to say:

 

“Over the past two years I have met the most inspiring trans people, and I can testify to the trans community’s incredible resilience and perseverance in the face of enormous discrimination and hate… We are strong, we are beautiful, and we will win. The President must ask himself which side of history he will be on — and reverse his position immediately.”8

 

But after such vehement criticism of Trump, she was caught going out in public with that hat declaring support for Donald Trump; with the Trumpist slogan, “Make American Great Again,” emblazoned upon her brow like the Mark of the Beast.  Many who still supported Caitlyn suffered jaw-dropping disbelief, even rage at such blatant insensitivity.  Her actions even sparked condemnation even from the Kardashian clan, according to TMZ, saying she “betrayed the transgender community,” “flaunting her pro-Trump views in a ‘heartless’ way”, promoting transgender rights “selectively and only when useful to her,” and that the Kardashians “want nothing to do” with Caitlyn Jenner.9

That had to hurt.  The same article featured an update in which it was claimed that Caitlyn said she “now hated Donald Trump and claims that her wearing the pro-Trump hat was a big stupid mistake.”  But her actions have left her in a far worse position than ever, losing support from those closest to her.  Ashlee’s tirade at that Trans Chorus L.A. concert was only the topping on a bitter pie thrust into her face a-la-Soupy Sales.

 

REPRISE OF A DISABILITY

Clearly, Caitlyn Jenner needs to take a serious time out for some real self-assessment before she manages to alienate everyone she holds dear.  She needs to re-address her own limitations.  Caitlyn has often had to live up to heroic expectations due to her reputation as a sports hero.  She knows those limitations are there.  What she fails to do is take these limitations to their logical conclusion and act proactively so they don’t detract from her message.

Much of it originates with her dyslexia.  She has publicly described her dyslexia in her book The Secrets of My Life and in online video.10 Dyslexia had rendered Caitlyn a poor student in school.  It’s a learning disability which can be overcome with proper training.  But her dyslexia wasn’t diagnosed till she reached junior high school and she had been stigmatized as “stupid” by her teachers.11  Her school experience left her short changed in reading skills and in fear of ridicule.  It led her to crave friends and sometimes caused her “do desperate things.”  Though she said she has improved, she admits that these traits remain.12 But athletics vindicated her.  Athletic competition instilled in her another trait:  to fight inferiority with superiority as an expression of her own ego.13

That trait, apart from her life of privilege, has shaped her life and thought.  But such expressions of ego also have a downside.  They have a way of getting into the way when least expected.

Caitlyn might rightly have called wearing that MAGA hat a “big stupid mistake.”  But wearing it isn’t the first mistake she made in that fiasco.  She should have gotten rid of that hat a long time ago and not just because of the GOP platform.  She should have recognized that wearing it would anger many transpeople and harm her public image more certainly than tripping on stage at the ESPYs.  She should have understood that she wouldn’t recognize what that hat says at first glance and would lead her into a trap of absentmindedness by continuing to wear it.

It’s difficult for those who haven’t worked with dyslexia to appreciate.  The words “Make America Great Again” wouldn’t have registered in a flash like they would have for the rest of us who are native English speakers and think nothing about reading a slogan at a glance.  She simply doesn’t have that same capability.  Because of dyslexia she even hates reading from a teleprompter because her slow rate of reading forces her out of sync with the rhythm of speech expected on camera, triggering flashbacks of bad memories of being ridiculed in childhood when called upon to read in class.14

She would have been as oblivious to that slogan on her forehead like the quintessential old man who can’t see his glasses on the end of his nose.  But if the fact of dyslexia and subsequent lacunae in her learning should translate into a need to eliminate ahead of time those items that would arouse widespread misunderstanding and embarrassment, what does that say for her sense of logic?  It represents a failure to take premises essential to language and behavior to their full conclusion.

It isn’t that the rest of us don’t fail the same way.  We do.  But anyone in the limelight, as Caitlyn has been most of her life, has to act proactively to prevent repercussions resulting from public perceptions of inconsistency and her assistants need to bring this to her attention before she goes out in public.  It’s part of the celebrity’s public relations tightrope.

 

THE MEAN ESTABLISHMENT

But another factor must have contributed to Caitlyn’s disconnect:  her longstanding relationship with reality television.  Reality television feeds from Hollywood hype.  Ethics become skewed into a proposition that right action is what generates the most ratings and income for those who invest in the show, much in the same way that corporate ethics proposes that right action is that which generates optimal business.  For reality people, that boils down to the idea that there’s no such thing as bad advertising so long as it grabs attention.

But Caitlyn Jenner no longer has a reality show.  After bad ratings in the Season 2 of I Am Cait, her show slipped ker-plop into the dark and moldering grave of cancellation.15 The show violated a fundamental tenet about reality television: you must appeal to the viewer on a gut level because the typical viewer isn’t a big reader of anything more complicated than a gossip magazine.  Season 1 milked the tawdry anticipation that Caitlyn might “get it on” with Candis Cayne just as much as the novelty of a sultry Caitlyn Jenner bursting upon the world.  However, Season 2 consisted of a lot more philosophical discussion concerning transgender issues.  Heavyweight ideologues like Jennifer Finney Boylan and Kate Bornstein didn’t help it because they’re too cerebral.  With such philosophical loftiness in play, few apart from transpeople might be interested in tuning in at all.  Season 2 might have offered real value in concepts, but reality television operates on the grist of brain rot.

Media appearances aren’t just the realm of agents and model managers, they’re also the realm of publicists and investors.  Nobody makes it big in Hollywood without an entourage of professional star-makers who must also be star-keepers if they want to keep their jobs.  That also extends into book deals.  Caitlyn logically isn’t capable of pulling off a book like The Secrets of My Life by herself.  She needed the help of Buzz Bissinger who’s a Pulitzer Prize winner.  She also had a crew of editors and transcriptionists all of whom she acknowledges.16 Likewise she can’t pull off a reality show singlehandedly.  Otherwise we wouldn’t see a list of people in the credits like we do.

In which case, much of the public Caitlyn Jenner story has been orchestrated by forces above and beyond Cailtyn Jenner.  It’s as if she had walked on the set of The Truman Show but signed her consent on the dotted line in advance with compensation consisting of diminishing returns.  Does that mean Hollywood orchestrates every detail?  Nope.  Did these Hollywood forces orchestrate the incident with the “MAGA” hat?  That’s highly unlikely.  Caitlyn’s story has been a big, unfolding story of a transwoman who continues her own evolution and Hollywood has yet to really catch up with her.  For that matter, Hollywood really hasn’t decided what to do with Caitlyn except thrust her into the dubious role in which everyone has been made to look upon her as a community spokesperson, a role she has addressed in repeated disclaimers.17

But expectations laid upon her are at least as imposing as the teacher who orders her to the front of the class to read a page of Shakespearean poetry.  It’s an expectation with a crisis of its own:  failure results in isolation, ridicule, and a deepening loneliness.  After all, the star-making moguls can also become the meanest star-breakers.

 

COMMUNITY STAKES

In the years since Caitlyn first came out, something terrible has happened in the trans community and it isn’t the first time either.  Caitlyn has had to do an immense amount of growing in a very short time because Hollywood demanded she do so.  Transpeople have likewise echoed that demand, often noting her privilege of race, fame, and wealth as detractors in addition to her politics.18 Many of us have rejected her as our own because of those detractors.  But like it or not, she is one of us and Hollywood knows it.

This transpires in a time in which we as transpeople have called upon Hollywood to cast more trans actors and to stop using typical males and typical females in trans roles.  We have confronted “transface” like the “blackface” of the early 20th century that ridiculed Blacks with shoe polish instead of hiring real Black talent.19 Caitlyn’s the first transperson readily embraced by the Hollywood establishment who in turn put her, and consequently all transpeople, in its own screen test to determine the palatability of using transpeople at all.  Rightly or wrongly, Hollywood confronts us in the person of Caitlyn Jenner and her success or failure will also be ours.

In which case, Caitlyn’s response to Ashlee at the Trans Chorus L.A. concert, “You don’t know me,” was the wrong response.  A better response would have been rhetorical in itself, saying, “You’re absolutely right, Ashley.  And I have withdrawn my support of the Trump civil rights agenda.  I want to make amends.  Will you help me?”

And if she did, what should be Ashlee’s response, or ours?  Too many times when one of us suffers defeat or faces an inconsistency of our own, what do we do?  We gloat.  We ridicule.  We condescend with anathemas.  We reject.  We even hate.  This has been the unsavory character of the trans community displayed again and again, fueled with political ideologies that build walls instead of bridges much of the time.  They’re the sort of politics that run on a far more basic level of local trans society than the butting heads of Democrat donkeys and GOP elephants.

But if your adversary prospers, be glad that prosperity is possible; and if your adversary falls, consider. 

 Let’s say that Caitlyn becomes as isolated and as lonely as many of her critics seem to want.  Let’s say that Hollywood’s screen test of the trans community through Caitlyn Jenner fails and so lose their inclination to depict other transpeople in a favorable light.  It could negatively impact other great trans performers and their agents.  Hollywood might be more inclined to revert to its practice of transface in a reversal of trends alongside the reversal of civil rights in the Trump/Pence era.

It appears to this writer that the widespread practice of gloating, condescension, and ridicule is maliciously out of place.  A more appropriate response should be one of compassion.  When any of us transitions, that person seeks a new life.  If that new life isn’t one in which the transitioning person realizes greater freedom to exercise compassion, the gains are far less than we think.

And if the star-making machine that Hollywood is becomes the star-breaker that holds Caitlyn Jenner whom they acclaimed the “spokesperson for the trans community” up to the world as a pathetic dope, why should we as transpeople accept such Hollywood’s manipulations as pawns in its circus of meanness?  If we do, then we become pathetic dopes even more.

Because though we believe we don’t need Caitlyn, we do need one another and she is one of us.  If Caitlyn falls should our reaction be, “good riddance”?  Or “well deserved”?  Are you kidding me?  That would amount to tragedy, a closing of doors in isolation of one who tried the only way she understood and under circumstances most of us don’t comprehend any more than she comprehends ours.  Loneliness is a terrible state.

For the trans community the stakes behind our actions are higher and more personal than we think.  Ashlee’s actions are forgivable and understandable.  I hope Caitlyn can forgive her.  And I hope Caitlyn comes to terms with her political inconsistencies.  I, for one, believe Caitlyn really does want to benefit the trans community and Trump’s civil rights policies have been forcing her into a reassessment that she still hasn’t taken to its conclusion.  She hasn’t because her own disability and subsequent educational failings have prevented her from easily recognizing it.  One day I think she will.  It may come sooner.  It may come later.  But like when she realized that she’s a woman and chided herself as to why it took her so long, 20 her partisan epiphany may come just as slowly.  And when it happens, I hope we haven’t become too jaded to embrace her as a sister.

But Caitlyn’s not going away precisely because Hollywood will make sure of it, whether for better or for worse.  It’s not up to any of us to determine what Hollywood does with her.  It isn’t even up to Caitlyn anymore.  The Hollywood machine and the ensuing circus parades like the manipulative “bull” that goes on forever even after cash cows come and go.  It takes a lot to withdraw from the “bull” and embrace the real.  It takes even more for those who have never even been to a Hollywood model’s go-see or actor’s audition to confront our own reality in a milieu of fantasy and hype:  the need to reach out, even if nobody else will.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS THIS OR ANY OTHER TOPIC ON OUR SITE, PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON THE TMP FORUM AND FOLLOW MORE ON UPCOMING FIRST TIME AUTHOR LYNNEA STUART @ TRANSPIRE.

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REFERENCES:

Featured image:  A pixilated mirror of a public domain image of Caitlyn Jenner (Wikimedia).  One might not distinguish the real from the imaginary, or even whether either is real at all.

 

  1. Jenner, Caitlyn with Bissinger, Buzz. “The Secrets of My Life” (April 2017) Grand Central Publishing, Hachete Book Group, New York City.  ISBN: 978-1-4555-9675-1, p. 60.
  2. Parker Molloy. Tweet (February 11, 2017) https://twitter.com/parkermolloy/status/830553253020594176.
  3. Daniel Reynolds. “Activist Calls Caitlyn Jenner a ‘Fraud and a Fake’ at Trans Fundraiser” (August 27, 2017, accessed August 31, 2017) https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2017/8/27/activist-calls-caitlyn-jenner-fraud-and-fake-trans-fundraiser-video
  4. James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. “The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey.” (2016) National Center for Transgender Equality, Washington D.C., p. 237  Web version: http://www.transequality.org/sites/default/files/docs/usts/USTS%20Full%20Report%20-%20FINAL%201.6.17.pdf.
  5. Flores, A.R., Herman, J.L., Gases, G.J. & Brown, T.N.T “How Many Adults Identify as Transgender in the United States?” (2016, The Williams Institute, accessed August 30, 2017) p. 2. Web version: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/How-Many-Adults-Identify-as-Transgender-in-the-United-States.pdf
  6. Republican National Platform Committee. “Republican Platform, 2016” (presented to the delegates of the GOP National Convention August 2016).
  7. Caitlyn Jenner. Tweet (July 26, 2017) https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/742771576039460864.
  8. Yvonne Juris. “Caitlyn Jenner Says She Accidentally Wore Pro-Trump Hat After Trans Ban – and Promises to ‘Get Rid’ of It” People (August 5, 2017, accessed August 30, 2017) http://people.com/politics/caitlyn-jenner-apologizes-to-trans-community-for-wearing-maga-hat/.
  9. a.) “Kardashian Family: Caitlyn’s a Transgender Traitor” TMZ (August 4, 2017, accessed August 30, 2017) http://www.tmz.com/2017/08/04/kardashian-family-calls-caitlyn-transgender-traitor/.
  10. Jenner, “The Secrets of My Life”, p. 32. For the video, see Ilyashov, Alexandra.  Caitlyn Jenner Tells Her OWN Story For H&M (July 20, 2016) Web:  com: http://www.refinery29.com/2016/07/117375/caitlyn-jenner-video-hm-olympics-collection-2016 . Retrieved June 8, 2017.
  11. Ibid, p. 32.
  12. Ibid, pp. 30, 31.
  13. Ibid, pp. 49, 50.
  14. Ibid, p. 70.
  15. Elizabeth Wagmeister. “Caitlyn Jenner’s ‘I Am Cait’ Cancelled After 2 Seasons at E!” Variety (August 16, 2016, accessed August 20, 2017) http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/i-am-cait-cancelled-caitlyn-jenner-season-3-e-1201838490/.
  16. Op cit, pp. 316-318.
  17. Steinmetz, Katy with D’Addario, Daniel. “Person of the Year: Short List No. 7:  Catilyn Jenner” Time (2015, accessed June 11, 2017) http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2015-runner-up-caitlyn-jenner/.
  18. Op cit, p. 192.
  19. Kwame Opam. Casting cis actors in trans roles has reached its breaking point” The Verge (September 20, 2016, accessed August 30, 2017) https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/20/12983104/trans-actors-hollywood-representation-jeffrey-tambor-emmys-speech.
  20. Op cit. p. 290.