Following on the footsteps of a watershed year, 2006 saw increased visibility and political gains for the U.S. trans community. Here are some examples:
1.Â With the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act, California became the first state to outlaw gay panic or trans panic defenses to justify violence.
2.Â Several jurisdictions, including Washingtonâ€™s Metropolitan King County (Seattle), and Boise, Idaho added gender identity to anti-discrimination laws.
3.Â Although the passage of anti-discrimination laws are significant, a Transgender Law Center study suggested they may not be enough to impact the economic health of local trans communities. Despite a decade of San Francisco anti-discrimination laws, nearly 60 percent of respondents reported experiencing employment discrimination and earning below $15,300 annually.
4.Â Half a dozen transwomen ran for election this year and attorney Kim Coco Iwamoto was elected to Hawaiiâ€™s Board of Education, becoming the nationâ€™s highest ranking openly trans official.
5.Â The New York Times published a piece on lesbians who transition to male. The article was flawed but it was one of the few times the worldâ€™s most respected newspaper covered FTMs issues.
8.Â By coupling a beauty shop owner and a pre-op MTF, Danish film Soap argued love can rewire sexuality.
9.Â Independent documentaries explored the diverse trans community. Cruel and Unusual exposed the difficulties facing transwomen in menâ€™s prisons, Transcendence portrayed the worldâ€™s first transgender gospel choir, and Susan Strykerâ€™s Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton CafĂ© commemorates the 1966 transgender resistance to police brutality.
10.Â Elizabeth Stark and Kami Chisholmâ€™s FtF: Female to Femme examined lesbian femme as a transgender expression, while Sam Feder and Julie Hollarâ€™s Boy am I explored lesbian responses to dykes who become transmen, and Jeremy Stanfordâ€™s Transtasia documented the first transsexual beauty contest.
11. Other documentarians utilized the short film genre to explore their subjects, Barbara Rosenthalâ€™s Finding Peace examined trans veteran Janice Josephine Carneyâ€™s struggle to overcome the Vietnam War, a film about Utahâ€™s trans community, Home is Where the Heart Is, was directed by trans state legislature candidate K. Jennifer Jackson Prince.
12. On the small screen the thrill of seeing a transgender man on The L Word was short lived when the FTM character Max was portrayed as an angry, aggressive assimilationist. A transitioned Alexis Arquette debuted on VH1â€™s Surreal Life and Lifetime Television movie based on the death of Gwen Araujo, and her motherâ€™s struggle to bring her trans daughterâ€™s killers to justice. All My Children introduced daytime TVâ€™s first transgender storyline and quickly received criticism about the characterâ€™s portrayal.
13.Â Academia was blessed with two essential anthologies: The Transgender Studies Reader, edited by Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle and Transgender Rights: History, Politics, and Law, edited by Paisley Currah, Shannon Minter and Richard Juang. Two very different books examined the transitions of a lesbian turned straight manâ€”Dhillon Khoslaâ€™s Both Sides Now and the superior Testosterone Files by Max Wolf Valerio (who became the first male published by Seal Press).
14. Pagan Kennedyâ€™s The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth Century Medical Revolution, provided a biography of the first FTM. Work by trans writers could also be found in numerous anthologies, including The Full Spectrum (edited by David Levithan and Billy Merrell), Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (edited by Mattilda, a.k.a Matt Bernstein Sycamore) and Self-Organizing Men (the first book from editor Jay Sennettâ€™s new trans publishing company Homofactus Press).
15.Â Kate Bornstein offered hope for the alienated with Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws, while Alicia E. Goransonâ€™s Supervillanz delivered a trans action-adventure. Drag King Dreams, Leslie Feinbergâ€™s first novel since the indelible Stone Butch Blues, failed to live up to its promise, but author T Cooperâ€™s sophomore release Lipshitz Six, or Two Angry Blondes, did not.
Check in next week for a preview of whatâ€™s to come in 2007.
Trans writer Jacob Anderson-Minshall can be reached at email@example.com