Showing posts from September, 2017

Bugs Bunny: Transgender Inspiration... or Insult?

Cartoons have been a staple in culture since the 19th century. They have been used to show the hypocrisy and corruption in our political environment, economic policies, and religious beliefs as well as for general entertainment to escape those same problems in our culture. In the world of cartoons, no idea is safe from criticism and no subject is taboo. Over the years many cartoon characters have crossdressed, mostly to escape the shenanigans of the episode's antagonist or strictly for a laugh. But one character throughout the history of cartoons embraced the practice of cross-dressing unlike any other. That character is Bugs Bunny. I'm pretty confident that Bugs is such an icon in modern culture that I don't have to detail the extensive history of the character. However, a brief summary should be appropriate.

Bugs was created in 1940 and appeared in various episodes of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies produced by Warner Bros. During the golden age of animation his popular…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Alexis Arquette

Alexis Arquette was an accomplished American transgender actress, underground cartoonist and activist. She was born July 28th, 1969. She is the sister of other well-known Hollywood celebrities David, Patricia, Rosanna and Richmond Arquette and the daughter of actor Lewis Arquette and Brenda Mardi.

Her first acting gig was in 1982 in the music video for "She's a Beauty" by The Tubes. She made her debut on the big screen in an uncredited role in the film Down & Out in Beverly Hills in 1986 as an androgynous character. The earlier part of her career was spent performing as female impersonator Eva Destruction. Later she appeared in a plethora of films and television shows, including Last Exit to Brooklyn, Pulp Fiction, The Wedding Singer, Threesome, Lords of DogtownBride of Chucky, Buffy the Vampire SlayerXena:Warrior Princess, Roseanne, Felicity, Californiacation, and Friends where she worked directly with her then sister-in-law, Courtney Cox. Overall, Arquette had…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Alan L. Hart

Alan Hart was a transgender American physician, researcher, and novelist. He was born in October of 1890. His father died when he was very young and his mother remarried when Hart was only five years old. For the early part of his formative years, he was allowed to present as a boy and his gender expression was supported by his family. When his grandparents died, he was even listed as their grandson in their obituaries.

When he was twelve, his family moved to Albany, New York where he was forced to dress as a girl in order to attend school. However, he was allowed to write essays under his chosen name as authors commonly used pseudonyms, including names of the opposite gender at the time. He tended to write about masculinized female figures, often portraying them as athletes.

Hart attended a variety of colleges from 1912-1917 including Albany College, University of Oregon, and Stanford. In 1917 he received a Doctorate of Medicine degree but was dismayed that it had been issued in his…

Kristelle's Story: A Mockingbird Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Staying in a suicide watch facility is like living in a ghost town. Nurses, doctors and counselors are surrounded by the living dead. Broken souls trudge through the halls, begrudgingly clinging on to life. The mood at a funeral can't even rival the air of sadness that haunts these places, and I was just the most recent arrival in this dismal abyss. My doctor was a man of short stature. Other therapists and counselors I had visited with over the years were easily manipulated and hardly effective. This guy saw through me. He could tell when I was avoiding a subject or dancing around a question. Rather than coddling me he confronted me. He explored my family life, and my history. One question he asked was "Why do you keep burning all these bridges?". He thought he had me at a loss...he didn't realize who he was to. "Tell me doctor," I replied, rising to the accusation, "How can you burn a bridge that was never built."
He tilted his head in intrigue…

Kristelle's Story: Jumper at the Break of Dawn

I was on edge, literally and figuratively. My mind was racing, my heart was broken and my soul was longing for leaving. The rain was pouring down and I was surrounded by darkness, with flashes of lightning occasionally lighting the sky followed by the applause of thunder. I had resigned myself to death and was set to jump off the overpass onto the train tracks below. Just then, the rain stopped and I heard a car door slam shut. I turned to look and found a man in a raincoat getting out of his car. A woman was in the passenger seat on her cell phone, looking on with a concerned look on her face. The man cautious approached and finally spoke up. "Hey what you doing out here?! It's been pouring down for hours now!".I turned away from him and  tried to gather myself with little success. I wiped my face of water and turned in reply. "I'm trying to kill myself do you mind?! It's kind of a private moment!" He relaxed himself and more casually approached but ma…

Ancient Transgender History: Hermaphroditus

Mythology. The ancient stories of our ancestors. These stories remind us where we came from and who we once were. Like all stories, the art of the storytelling within these myths imitated the life of the ancients. They are filled with elements that reminded our ancestors of the reality that surrounded them, and these stories gave an explanation to the experiences one might encounter within their life in ancient times. And for the same reason, these myths still hold cultural significance today.

Hermaphroditus was a minor deity in Greek mythology. And is the basis for the word hermaphrodite, (an outdated term to describe someone who is intersexed.) S/he was born the son of Aphrodite and Hermes and was the patron god of unions, androgyny, sexuality, and fertility. One account of the tale suggests that Hermaphroditus was also linked to the institution of marriage. The account explains that because they embodied the physical sexual qualities of both men and women, they represented the bon…

Kristelle's Story: Table of Contents

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Holly Boswell

Holly Boswell was an American transgender woman and activist, advocate and organizer who carried out most of her work in North Carolina. She was an author and is credited with creating the first transgender symbol of the emerging transgender movement in 1993.

She was born in November of 1950 and studied English literature at Oberlin College in Ohio. Many of her family members were religious and she endeavored to follow in their footsteps until she realized that her deepest sense of spirituality existed in nature. This and her background in literature and performing arts led to a movement of free gender expression in Asheville, North Carolina in 1980. She founded the Asheville Phoenix Transgender Support Group, the first open transgender support group in the southeast corner of the United States and organized innovative seminars at transgender conferences starting in 1991. In 2000, she built a year round retreat facility for people who questioned their gender identity or their spiritua…

History Transcending: Transgender Beauty Pageant Contestents

Beauty pageants have been a staple in American culture since 1921. The contests gather women from each state( and in state contests from various localities within a state) to determine which is the most beautiful. Over the years the contests have evolved to include talent portions and question rounds where the contestants are asked questions regarding current events and policies. Additionally, many contestants and winners are chosen based on noble ambitions, charitable contributions, and acts of community service. But at their core, every beauty pageant is about beauty.
Throughout history, the most popular beauty pageants have only included female contestants, prohibiting transgender women from competing in any pageant organized by The Miss Universe Organization. It wasn't until 201 that a petition convinced Donald Trump (oddly enough) to change the rules after the organization disqualified the Miss Canda contestant Jenna Talackova after learning she was transgender. Th…

Kristelle's Story: The Darkness Before Dawn

December 26th, 2012. The darkest night of my life. I had been staying in hotel rooms for awhile, paying for it with the remnants of an inheritance I  had after paying for cosmetology school. The 24th I had realized the money had run out and of course the next day was Christmas. That Christmas was my first one on my own, completely alone. It was also the last night I had in the hotel room unless I was able to pay for another week. Of course, I wasn't going to be able. I had tried contacting friends and family that Christmas day, just to see if I could get out of the room and have some company on Christmas. No one responded, no one answered my calls. Not even a simple "Merry Christmas!". The next day I went to class, exhausted from a lack of sleep and anxiety from wondering what I would do for shelter that evening. I wore it well though. No one was aware of how depressed I was, and I felt that no one really cared. So I went through the day as if nothing was wrong.The schoo…

Kristelle's Story: The Closet is a Dark, Dark Place

I was at a point in my life where everything was falling apart. My family relationships were very strained,  my love life was... well broken, and I was having an identity crisis on multiple levels. On the one hand, meeting my father had proven fruitless. I had only met the shell of a man that was once my father, and I was facing the harsh reality that my questions would never be answered. On the other hand, I had reached a point with my gender confusion where it was affecting my ability to function in life. I was so depressed I wanted nothing to do with anything or anyone. I spent many days in bed, crying and having thoughts of how sad everyone would be if I died. The only happy moments were when I was alone and able to dress like my true self. It wasn't nearly what I truly wanted,  but it was just enough to get my mind off the misery for awhile.I had left my first job, and was in and out of other jobs that I had no interest in, I was only there to mask the pain I was feeling and …

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Candy Darling

Candy Darling was a transgender American actress best known for her work as one of Andy Warhol's Superstars. She was born James Lawrence Slattery Jr. As a baby born male, Candy won a most beautiful baby contest, but because of a mistake by her mother.... won as a girl. At the age of 17, Candy's mother confronted her child about being seen regularly in a gay nightclub in drag. Candy left the room briefly and returned en femme. Her mother spoke of the moment in an interview, stating "I knew then... that I couldn't stop Jimmy, Candy was just too beautiful and too talented."

She began hormones sometime between 1963-1964 and was performing under a variety of stage names at that time. There is some debate as to how she came to the name Candy Darling, but the most popular (and likely accurate) comes from fellow Warhol Superstar and transgender actress Holly Woodlawn, who believed she arrived at the name because of her love of sweets and because a close friend of hers cal…

Profiles of Transgender Courage: Jacqueline Dufresnoy (a.k.a. Coccinelle)

Jacqueline Dufresnoy was a French transgender actress and activist. She was born in Paris, France in 1931. She was the first widely publicized transwoman in Europe during the post-WWII era that had received a successful gender reassignment surgery.

In 1953 she debuted as a transgender stage girl, taking on the stage name Coccinelle ( the French word for ladybug). In 1958, she received her vaginoplasty from Dr. Georges Burou. She later stated in an interview that Dr. Burou had "rectified the mistake that nature made, now I am a woman on the inside and outside". She knew the procedure had been a success when she awoke and Dr. Burou simply said "Bonjour Mademoiselle!".

Dufresnoy became a very successful entertainer often being compared to various famous cisgender starlets during the same era. She built a modest discography (A collection I am currently scouring the internet for!) A few of her songs appeared in a variety of films from 1959-1968. 

Coccinelle also worked int…