Archive | February 2017

Michael / Joanna / Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark; An American Hero

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Micheal Clark, US Navy / Joanna Clark, US Army

I have been reading of one of the most remarkable people transgender people ever born; Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, formerly Joanna Michelle Clark, formerly Michael Clark.

Michael Clark was born on 16 June 1938 in Pontiac, Michigan, USA. From 3-years-old he found he felt he was different from other boys, he preferred the company of girls, and even tried to emulate them. “I tried to talk and act like a girl instead of a boy,” said Michael in an interview, “I believed I was one of them – even though I knew I had a male anatomy. When I started going to elementary school, the other boys called me a sissy because I walked without ‘macho’ stride and carried my schoolbooks like a girl.”

By the time he reached junior high school, Michael tried to discuss his transgender feelings, but could not make them understand. Obviously there was a great deal of prejudice at the time, and Michael tried to be what he perceived as normal, joining the US Naval Cadets while in High School. When he left school in 1957, he went into the USN full-time as an avionics technician, eventually rising to Chief Petty Officer and an Instructor/Evaluator in anti-submarine warfare, scuba diving and sea survival in Hawaii, and serving on active duty in Vietnam.

Michael married his first wife in 1961, still trying to prove he was ‘normal’. However, although fathering a son, he could never satisfy his wife, and of course suffered the frustrations of not being sexually fulfilled himself, which led to him throwing himself further into his Naval career. The couple divorced in 1972, and he never saw his son again.

Still blinded by the prejudice of others, Michael married again, and this time found a partner who was not only sympathetic to his plight, was to be instrumental in changing his life.

“My new wife was a girl that I really intensely loved as a person. I still love her today. We liked the same things – hiking, concerts. But she needed more from me than I could give. And she started having a guilt trip over our situation, thinking she was at fault. Finally I said to myself: ‘My God, I’m reining this beautiful woman’s life by keeping my secret from her.’ So I broke down and told her I was a transsexual – a woman trapped in a man’s body. Instead of making me feel ashamed, she talked about what we had to do.”

Clark’s wife encouraged him to tell his parents, who far from rejecting him as he feared, all too fully understood (good parents know, dears). Thereafter he underwent psychological evaluation, which must have been groundbreaking for the 1970s, as it confirmed that Michael was a woman inside.

The downside is that someone blew the whistle about Mark’s evaluation to the US Navy. He was discharged upon the spot, and although it was an Honourable Discharge, it left Mark “angry and bitter”. And quite rightly so; Mark had often been commended, had excelled in everything he did, his work undoubtedly saved lives, and he can thereby be considered an American Naval hero.

Michael Clark underwent hormone therapy and in June 1975 underwent gender reassignment surgery, emerging under her new name of Joanna Michelle Clerk. She then divorced her wife, and moved in with her parents in San Juan, California, and got a job as a clerk-typist. In 1976 she enlisted in the US Army as a Staff training assistant, acting supervisor Fort MacArthur. She rose to Sargent First Class in the WACS, but after the authorities became aware of her background, Joanna was dismissed from the Army Reserve 18 months later. This time Joanna decided she was not going to take it lying down a second time and took the US Army to court. It was eventually settled out of court with a stipulation that details of the settlement not be made public. However, it is known that Joanna received an Honourable Discharge, with credit for time served in the Reserve.

This put Michael / Joanna Clark in the unique position of having served in the US Navy and the US Army, as both a man and a woman. The only person in history to have done so. But there was more to come…

Having realised all too painfully how transgender rights are trodden upon, Joanna Clark successfully lobbied in 1977 for replacement birth certificates and driving licenses to be made available for transgender people in California. She wrote Legal Aspects of Transsexualism, an important document which continues to be referenced by the law fraternity in the USA to this day. She founded the ACLU Transsexual Rights Committee, which she chaired for many years, working endlessly for the legal rights and status of TS persons. In the early 1980s she worked with transgender campaigner Jude Patton as a TS advisor.

By the late 1980s, Joanna’s life became more spiritual and in 1988 she took her vows as a Nun and founded the Order of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a non-profit Episcopalian order. She transferred to the Order of St Michael of the American Catholic Church in 1997.

In 1990 Sister Mary Elizabeth founded AEGIS; AIDS Education Global Information System, the largest HIV/AIDS online information and website and BBS, which supplies reference material, information and an online meeting place for people worldwide.  Sister Mary Elizabeth has won several awards for her work fighting for LGBT+ rights, and HIV/AIDS awareness, and in 2005 was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

As Michael Clark, Joanna Michelle Clark, and as Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, this is a truly remarkable woman, who despite giving everything she has done her utmost, often pushing the limits of endurance, and often for others with little thought for herself, remains nonetheless humble. Someone I think we can all, whatever our gender, can look up to.

“Of all the things I’ve done in my life, military-wise, or working with children, I don’t think I’ve had anything in my life that I’ve had more passion for. I really can’t put it into words. When you see letters from people and you know that you’re helping them, that’s what it’s all about.”

sistermaryelizabeth

Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark

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It’s 2017, Jeremy ~ not 1975

aaa-acorbyn

Does he choose to be a doddering old fart?

Watched too much of It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum?

Jeremy Corbyn (67) is leader of the Labour Party, leader of what is (allegedly) the official opposition in the UK parliament, and appears to be stuck firmly in the 1970s.

Speaking from his offices at the start of LGBT History Month – because Labour exploit everything and everybody to get themselves noticed – in a rambling and waffling speech, the Labour leader spoke of people who “chose to be gay, chose to be lesbian”, quickly wrapped up his speech, and disappeared without taking any questions.

In the video of the speech, posted on the Pink News Facebook page, distinct murmers are heard amongst the invited guests as he comes out with the gaffe.

The Labour Party have since given a statement to Pink News, saying that “Jeremy clearly doesn’t believe that being gay is a choice. He obviously meant people should be able to choose how they live their lives.”

I have problems with that. The first of them is that Jeremy Corbyn was not talking off the top of his head; he was reading from a prepared speech, typewritten on four (yes, four, told you he was waffling) sheets of A4 paper. As the leader of the opposition and one of Britain’s largest political parties, one would imagine that Mr Corbyn has a press office and advisors. So did he run the speech past them first, and if so, if he did not spot his gaffe, how come they did not? If he did not ask anyone to proofread his speech, then I would equally ask why not?

But my main issue comes with the Labour Party response to complaints about his mistake, and that is the magic word is missing; “sorry”. Jeremy Corbyn did not comment on his speech himself, but instead a spokesperson did so on his behalf, saying he did not mean what he said. Neither Corbyn nor that spokesperson have actually said “sorry”.

I am not for one moment accusing Jeremy Corbyn of being a homophobe ~ well, not an intentional one at least. But he is a straight man of the older generation, and as much as he would hate to admit it, I suspect that his views on sexuality have been somewhat coloured by the culture and times of his younger days. I personally am old enough to recall (just ~ shaddup you lot) television and movies in the 1970s, with the likes of Frankie Howerd, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtry, John Inman, Dick Emery, Danny La Rue, etc, playing camp “mincing poofs” ~ the BBC sitcom “It Ain’t Half Hot, Mum” even had Windsor Davies calling the concert party “poofs” every episode ~ and we were all supposed to, and did, laugh at that. Even that odious fucking Nazi and very unfunny ‘comedian’ Jim Davidson had a go at it.

Okay, okay, so I am one of the biggest camp mincing poofs going. But that’s just me, darlings. I can’t help being FABULOUS!!!.

But all the same, those TV shows and movies did a great deal of harm by ingraining inaccurate stereotypes about gay men and others within the LGBT community, which we still live with unto this day.   And know what?  That was 40 years ago.

Anyone can make a mistake, particularly if they have been brought up in that kind of culture. But see when they do make such a mistake? I expect them to put their hands up, admit they made a glaring mistake, say “sorry”, mean it, and endeavour not to do it again.

What I do not expect is for the leader of a major political party to make such a mistake in a carefully-written speech, for such an auspicious occasion, with neither themselves nor anyone else in their party picking up on it and correcting it, or after having made that mistake, not having the guts to actually say “sorry”.

Speaking of LGBT activism overseas, Jeremy Corbyn stated “After all, an injury to one is an injury to all.”  Quite so, Jeremy ~ so learn from your own words.

I also question one claim that Jeremy Corbyn made in his speech, that he was instrumental in ‘saving’ a gay centre from the neo-Nazi National Front. Corbyn claimed that in the 1970s there were derelict buildings, one of which was taken over by gay activists as the “North London Gay Centre”. He went on to claim that the National Front were going to attack the centre, and he and other community councillors gathered the local community to chase the NF off.

I had never heard this story, but it did ring a bell of the reports I have read about the courageous “Brixton Faeries” and such a centre in south London. The South London Gay Community Centre started life when some gay men broke into a boarded-up shop on 78 Railton Road, Brixton, London in 1974. They remained there for the next two years before being forcibly evicted in 1976. During that time they highlighted not only LGBT rights, but the poverty and rampant racism (including a great deal of which came at the hands of the Metropolitan Police) which existed in Brixton at the time.  A group from the centre – the Brixton Faeries – took activism against homophobic and racist pubs.  They stood by their community, and their community stood by them. When the NF did indeed come a-marching down Railton Road to picket the centre, it was the local Union Place Community Resource Centre who supported the gay centre, and sent the NF packing.

Far be from me to ever call Jeremy Corbyn a liar, but a search of the internet turned up nothing for a North London Gay Centre, and I would suggest that his memory is playing tricks on him. If that is the case, and he made no attempt to check his facts on that first, then I would seriously suggest his suitability for the leader of the opposition, or even (“Shudder!!!”) a future British Prime Minister.

Of course, it may well be I who is mistaken. And if either Mr Corbyn or anyone else can enlighten me as to this north London centre, then I will admit I was wrong, and I’ll say sorry, and mean it ~ because that’s what nice people do when they are in the wrong, Jeremy.

I do not for one moment attempt to hide my antipathy towards the Labour Party, collectively or Jeremy Corbyn as their leader. Labour have betrayed their working class support and roots ~ particularly true here in Scotland ~ and Jeremy Corbyn has made so many u-turns that he is now spinning erratically in the road, he wouldn’t know a socialist if one bit him on the bum, and enforcing a three-line whip on his own MPs to vote in favour of the Tory government taking the UK out of the EU was nothing short of cowardly and hypocritical in my opinion.

But when the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition in 2017 can make comments about people choosing their sexuality ~ and fails to say sorry, and whose memory appears to be failing them, then they are either an out-of-date anachronism, or they are just simply past it. Either way, their suitability for any public office has to seriously be called into question.


The story in Pink News and the video can be found here:

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/02/02/labour-obviously-jeremy-corbyn-does-not-believe-being-gay-is-a-choice/

“Turing’s Law” Passed in England and Wales

_0000TuringGood – but not good enough.

Thousands of deceased gay and bisexual men in England and Wales convicted of sexual offences for partaking in gay sex when it was still illegal were pardoned posthumously when the Policing and Crime Bill received Royal Assent on 31 January 2017.

The Act is known as Turing’s Law, recognising the ill-treatment of the gay computer scientist Alan Turing, who committed suicide in 1954 after his conviction for Gross Indecency. Turing was given a posthumous Royal Pardon in 2013, but the new Act pardons 50,000 to 100,000 men convicted of Gross Indecency with Another Man or Buggery before 1967.

Justice minister Sam Gyimah said it was a “truly momentous day… …We can never undo the hurt caused, but we have apologised and taken action to right these wrongs.” This is the same Sam Gyimah who last year infamously ‘filibustered’ a Bill in the Westminster Parliament; speaking out its alloted time and thereby preventing a vote being taken upon it.

There are some however who do not think the Act goes far enough Scottish National Party (SNP) MP John Nicholson, who tabled the Bill filibustered by Sam Gyimah, asked what provision there will be for those men still living. The Prime Minister, Theresa May, replied that men still living could make applications for pardons. In 2016 Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the SNP administration in the devolved Scottish Government is about to introduce their own legislation, under which men still living will be automatically pardoned, along with those deceased, which Mr Nicholson was very quick to point out.

There are very good reasons for doing this. Many of the men convicted are now very elderly and simply physically unable to go and get the forms and fill them out, or indeed fill them out online. A caller to LBC Radio on 1 February 2017 also highlighted another potential problem. He stated he was a gay man who had been convicted, served time in prison, and had subsequently changed his identity. Should he have to apply for a pardon, that would mean having to use his original identity. If the pardon was automatic for living persons, there would be no need for him to run this risk of being exposed.

The Act must be welcomed, as must the upcoming legislation in Scotland, but there is still fault on both sides of the border. Many, myself included, feel that a ‘pardon’ is insufficient, as it still assumes guilt. What is needed is for all convictions completely quashed and a clear apology given, to both the deceased and the living.

There may even be an argument for monetary compensation for those living. After all, many of them faced imprisonment, violence from police officers/prison officers/fellow inmates (including rape in many cases), some fines, most lost their jobs, and were ostracised by family, friends, and society in general.

Those are lost lives, stolen by the state, and those men affected and still alive deserve a HUGE sorry – preferably along with a big, fat cheque.

And while LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell maintains that the Act will pardon men convicted of sexual offences “under discriminatory anti-gay laws between 1885 and 2003”, I question if that is actually the case. I cannot find anything in the Act which mentions men convicted of “underage” gay sex between 1967 and 2001. To explain, the gay age of consent was set at 21 in 1967. It was not until 1994 that it was lowered to 18, and in 2001 it was lowered again to 16, to bring it into line with the age of consent for heterosexuals. This means that there are a great many men still alive today who were convicted of having sex with a “minor”, with all of the attendant stigma that carries. Are they to be pardoned? And if not, why not?

We should never forget the words of Tom Robinson:

Have you heard the story about Peter Wells,
who one day was arrested and dragged to the cells?
For being in love with a man of eighteen;
the vicar found out they’d been having a scene.
The magistrates sent him for trial by the Crown;
he even appealed but they still sent him down.
He was only mistreated a couple of years ~
cos even in prison they “look after” the queers.
(Tom Robinson, “Glad to be Gay”, original version)

All in all, the Act is a step in the right direction, but with all the deaths, the heartache, the loss of liberty, loss of family and friends, ostracisation, violence from the authorities, prison inmates and members of the public alike, loss of livelihoods and much, much more which anti-gay UK laws produced, neither the new Act nor the upcoming legislation in the devolved Scottish Government go nearly far enough to addressing past wrongs.

Get the cheque books out, Theresa and Nicola.

She’s Baaaaack…

aaa-agenderqueerHELLO DARLINGS!

Wow! I cannot believe how long it has been since I was in here. So what’s been happening?

Well, I went into something of decline, and then the Festive Season caught up on me, and what with work, I really did not have a lot of time for social networking.

During my decline I did at one point consider killing Xandra off, reckoning that I created her, so I can destroy her.

HA!

Not a chance. No way did “HE” (my male alter-ego) create Xandra; I am my own creation, and I had to have an “out” sooner or later. “HE” could delete this account all he wants, but there’s no way that would be ‘killing Xandra’, and “HE” knows it. It would be trying to kill part of himself ~ a partial suicide in fact. And it wouldn’t work, because as long as “HE” exists, I exist, and “HE” knows it.

It’s actually very bad of me to have these thoughts. I’m a very naughty girl and deserve a sound spanking ~ PLEASSSSE!

Of course I have also watching lots of movies starring Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Pine, Heyden Christensen, etc, ~ but that’s purely because I admire their acting abilities. It IS I tell you. Stop laughing you lot.

So, I do hope everyone else has been behaving themselves in my absence. Well, as well as you can behave. 😉

Luvs

Xandra xxxx