Sunday 17 June 2012
She was born George Jamieson in the Liverpool docks, but later modelled for Vogue and seduced Omar Sharif. Now, in the latest chapter of an extraordinary life, April Ashley, the first Briton to have a sex change, has been awarded the MBE for services to transgender equality.
The recognition in the Queen’s Birthday Honours has thrilled the 77-year-old. “It’s unbelievable and wonderful and especially fantastic to receive it in the year of Her Majesty’s Jubilee,” she said yesterday, at home in Fulham, south-west London. She declined to speak until she had finished watching the Trooping of the Colour.
Duncan Fallowell, her biographer, said: “It makes me proud to be British. Proud of an establishment that can make such an award, perhaps a rather eccentric award.”
The story of Ashley’s journey from the docks of Liverpool to international high society is worthy of a novel. Born George Jamieson in April 1935 (hence the name he would later take), his father, Frederick, was a cook in the Navy and his mother, Ada, worked in a bomb factory. Childhood wasn’t easy: his mother often hit him with a belt for wetting the bed, and his father drank heavily – and also called men “darling”, unheard of in 1940s Liverpool.
George knew from the age of three that he himself had something different about him, and, in an attempt to quell this difference, he joined the Merchant Navy, aged 15; it was a failure and, by 18, he had attempted suicide and had had electro-convulsive therapy.
George fled to Paris in 1955 and reinvented himself as Toni, becoming a hostess at Cabaret Le Carrousel. Among those he hung out with were Jean-Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway and Nina Simone. And then, in May 1960, having saved £3,000, George presented himself at a clinic in Casablanca and was the ninth person to undergo Dr Georges Burou’s pioneering surgery. George’s unwanted penis was removed, and he was given the ability to have an internal orgasm. The operation lasted seven hours.
Returning to London, April found her striking looks quickly attracted attention: she was photographed by David Bailey and hung out with Peter O’Toole, who would hit anyone who caused trouble. She then landed a part in The Road to Hong Kong, a Bob Hope and Bing Crosby film. But her secret was revealed when a friend sold the story to The People for £5. “The greatest harm that did to me was that I have never been able to get work in Britain again,” she says. “I’ve been forced to live abroad to get work.”
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/14/national-center-for-trans_n_1599641.html
This month we’ve shared a Voice to Voice conversation between author Whitney Joiner and the ACLU’s Chris Hampton and one between Jason Cianciotto and Sean Cahill, authors of the new book “LGBT Youth in America’s Schools,” as part of our anti-bullying program currently running on The Huffington Post.
Today we bring you a conversation between Harper Jean Tobin, the National Center for Transgender Equality‘s Policy Counsel, and Evan Morris, a high school student in Montgomery County, Maryland.
As Policy Counsel, Harper Jean coordinates all aspects of advocacy on federal administrative policies and regulations for NCTE. When she is not engaging with federal agencies and the current administration, she works to provide information for the public about laws and policies that affect transgender people. Harper Jean’s writing on transgender equality and other issues has been published in the Harvard Kennedy School’s LGBTQ Policy Journal, Notre Dame’s Journal of Legislation, the Yale Law Journal Pocket Part, the Columbia Journal of Gender & the Law, the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law, and others. She received degrees in law and social work from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and is an alumna of Oberlin College.
Evan is a member of the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League’s (SMYAL) Youth Advocacy Program, which supports and empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Washington, DC metropolitan region.
Harper Jean and Evan’s conversation coincides with the release of NCTE’s “Know Your Rights At School” guide a brand new resource that outlines the rights trans and gender nonconforming students have in schools and how to file formal complaints. NCTE notes that it does not provide legal services, but instead encourages anyone who cannot resolve issues through the complaint processes discussed in the guide to seek legal counsel.
Here Harper Jean and Evan discuss their personal experiences with being trans in school, bullying, intrusive questions and more.
Harper Jean Tobin: I want to start out by saying how psyched I was to connect with you through SMYAL and how impressed I am by the work you’re doing to raise awareness of the need to support trans youth and all LGBT youth. I know that when I was in high school I was involved in activism around a lot of different issues of racial and economic justice and youth rights, but not specifically around the issues that I faced as someone who, I guess at the time you would have said was gender nonconforming.
Evan Morris: Thank you! I’m honored to be speaking with you. The work of the National Center for Transgender Equality is incredibly important, for me specifically the Model District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students, which I used a lot in speaking to my school about my needs.
Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/14/national-center-for-trans_n_1599641.html
Learning from Brazil, our author shows we can grow stronger, more creative, and help people trapped in unhealthy relationships free themselves from those who have power over them.
By Stephen Lerner
June 11, 2012
I was raised in a country where tradition, custom, and economics often define who is on top, who is in charge and who is powerless. My world was turned upside down in a recent trip to Brazil. Maybe it was the all-night plane flight, and the late nights driven by that powerful Brazilian drink Cachaca. Maybe it was the heat and the passionate people from CONTRAF and the Sindicato dos Bancários de São Paulo (more on who they are later) who taught me so much.
They shared something with me that could alter the lives of Americans who aren’t afraid to have their system and world rocked. I witnessed and experienced role reversals, energy and passion that would shock most people in the United States. Through their experiences and vision they convinced me a better world is possible.
I am going to share lessons from Brazil that could change our futures, that, once learned, can bring new meaning to our lives. And techniques that, when practiced over time, can increase our strength, improve our creativity and help hundreds of thousands of people trapped in unhealthy relationships free themselves from those who have power over them. Who knows–maybe one day crazy bank executives will be reined in by bank workers sick and tired of their bosses getting rich crashing the global economy.
To understand the context for these lessons, a little background on Brazil is useful. Until 1986 it was ruled by a military dictatorship. Now, Brazil, with 300 million inhabitants, has just passed the United Kingdom to become the 6th largest economy in the world. It is governed by the Workers Party and its immediate past president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was a former metal worker and union leader. Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s current and first woman president, was part of the student movement that opposed the military dictatorship and had been jailed and tortured by the military in her youth.
How is it that Brazil has moved from a military dictatorship to a vibrant democracy where jobs are being created, wages are rising and bold action has been taken to combat poverty? How did Brazil go from a country were demonstrations were suppressed, and protesters arrested, tortured and murdered to a country were a former autoworker could become president? Rita Berlofa, a leader of the Brazilian bank workers union, described the change this way at the recent SEIU convention in Denver:
By David Sirota
Posted on Jun 17, 2012
Major food corporations face a quandary. They are under Wall Street’s constant profit-growth pressure, but they can’t substantially raise product prices because the food market is so cost sensitive. Therefore, to entice us to spend even more on eating, Big Food has lately been trying to extend the biological limits of consumption by challenging one of the most basic structures of American culture: the traditional meal schedule.
For the last few decades, food companies had aimed their marketing at single meals, pushing to inflate portion sizes. That initiative was wildly successful. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported, the average restaurant meal in the United States is now an unfathomable four times larger than it was in 1950. That has translated into “Americans now consum(ing) 2,700 calories a day, about 500 calories more than 40 years ago,” according to the Atlantic Monthly.
One predictable result of this trend is an obesity rate that’s poised to top 40 percent and that already costs the nation hundreds of billions of dollars in additional health care expenditures. The other result is that the super-size campaign has become a victim of its own success. Indeed, food companies are coming to realize that, in terms of per-meal product sales, they are quickly approaching the point where the human body simply cannot—or will not—accommodate any more calories in a single sitting. That has left Big Food fretting about a profit-making path forward—and that’s where the innovators at Yum! Brands come in.
Known for ignoring public health concerns and pioneering weapons-grade junk food, this conglomerate’s subsidiaries have most recently given us the cheeseburger-stuffed pizza (Pizza Hut), the Dorito-shelled taco (Taco Bell), and the “Double Down” (KFC)—a bacon and cheese sandwich that replaces bread with slabs of deep-fried chicken. So it should come as no surprise that with the three meals hitting their caloric max-out point, Yum! Brands has been leading the effort to add a whole new gorging session to America’s daily schedule.
The campaign is called “fourth meal” and was originally launched in a series of Taco Bell spots telling kids that “everyone is a fourth mealer—some just don’t know it yet.” Now, new “fourth meal” ads are once again popping up all over television, insisting that “sometimes the best dinner is after dinner.” The ads are backed by an eponymous website and a “cravinator” smartphone app that helps binge-eaters select their junk food of choice.