transdada

poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The quiet warrior 
Activist Sir Jesse of Decatur speaks at trans conference


“Doesn’t it take a man to get hit in the head, skull cracked, and still come back to march fifty-four miles for freedom?” the teacher asks his class of alternative school students in Decatur. The man the teacher references is U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was a pioneer of the black civil rights movement alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King.

It’s a lesson that activist Sir Jesse of Decatur, known to his students as Mr. McNulty, hopes his class takes to heart. Because of their age and various life circumstances, McNulty says that the odds are stacked against most of his students in their pursuit of happiness and prosperity. Their attitudes and opinions typically buck society’s mores, and bucking the system doesn’t usually make life easy.

McNulty can relate.

At least a little spectacle follows Sir Jesse of Decatur to most places he goes. As a transgender man, he acknowledges that other people are naturally curious about him, but he is empowered enough to demand the same respect given anyone else.

***

What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl?


When Brian Sullivan — the baby who would before age 2 become Bonnie Sullivan and 36 years later become Cheryl Chase — was born in New Jersey on Aug. 14, 1956, doctors kept his mother, a Catholic housewife, sedated for three days until they could decide what to tell her. Sullivan was born with ambiguous genitals, or as Chase now describes them, with genitals that looked “like a little parkerhouse roll with a cleft in the middle and a little nubbin forward.” Sullivan lived as a boy for 18 months, until doctors at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan performed exploratory surgery, found a uterus and ovotestes (gonads containing both ovarian and testicular tissue) and told the Sullivans they’d made a mistake: Brian, a true hermaphrodite in the medical terminology of the day, was actually a girl. Brian was renamed Bonnie, her “nubbin” (which was either a small penis or a large clitoris) was entirely removed and doctors counseled the family to throw away all pictures of Brian, move to a new town and get on with their lives. The Sullivans did that as best they could. They eventually relocated, had three more children and didn’t speak of the circumstances around their eldest child’s birth for many years. As Chase told me recently, “The doctors promised my parents if they did that” — shielded her from her medical history — “that I’d grow up normal, happy, heterosexual and give them grandchildren.”

****

Archbishop backs Tutu on gay stance


Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane says his church condemned homophobia and preached the message of "open and loving support" for gay and lesbian Anglicans.


This follows his predecessor Desmond Tutu's remarks -- quoted in his authorised biography -- that he was "ashamed to be an Anglican" following the Anglican church's decision not to change its stance on gay and lesbian issues some years ago when George Carey was the head of the Anglican church and Archbishop of Canterbury.

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