Thursday, February 26, 2015

Trans Faces #15 Rihanna Nicole...A woman that not only survives, she thrives!

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

We as humans have an innate capacity to survive, and even thrive in the face of adversity. As a society of people with dual souls and the stigma forced onto us by mainstream society, we often lose site of our strength to survive. Least we forget, being trans is an ultimate act of survival.

Rhianna Nicole is one sister who knows all too well about survival, but despite the obstacles of life and being trans, she is overcoming those obstacles even in the most Illiberal places like Alabama.

While we debate, and encourage Hollywood on a national level to be more inclined to consider trans actors for transgender characters, we must be weary of boxing ourselves into such a small category. We as trans society would achieve greater achievements encouraging the entertainment industry to be more open to casting transgender actors period, for any role.

That is exactly what Rhianna has done for conservative Alabama. Instead of waiting for an attractive transgender character, she opted to follow her dreams period; and audition for a local improve comedy traveling troupe. The result, a constant reminder that as a people we have the capacity to survive and thrive in the face of a magnitude of adversity. A comedian, she will also be the host of the upcoming, and highly anticipated Trans Hip Hop Fashion Exhibit. An event designed to encourage the talents of transgender people to not be limited to what is expected but to truly let their talent's shine.

Before the show gets underway, TMP caught up with the host of the Trans Hip Hop Fashion Event for an up close and personal interview with our sister Rhianna Nicole. Now, it's time for TMP readers to know a survivor that thrives.

1.   TMP:  You've often say that talent has no gender. Elaborate on that for our TMP readers.

Rihanna Nicole: What I mean't by that is that talent comes from talented people. Key word being people. I want the world of entertainment to know that we as a trans community are here and are as equally talented as the rest of the world. We deserve a chance to showcase our talent and be recognized as human beings; Talent has no gender...So, if it's entertaining, its entertainment! We will and should be able to showcase our talents on the same scale as anyone in the cis gender community.

2.  TMP: You will be hosting the upcoming Trans Entertainment Hip Hop Fashion exhibit. What can viewers look forward to in the event extravaganza?

R.N.: The Trans-Entertainment Hip Hop Fashion Event will showcase transgender people with exceptional talent. It will highlight beauty, music, and fashion talents of extraordinary individuals. Showing the world that transgender people are equally gifted as their peers.
The show will exhibit up and coming fashion designs, worn by some of the most exotic, attractive, trans-men, and women models in the world. The event will premiere multiple trans-gender hip hop artists who will perform original tracks written themselves.

3.  TMP:  In a recent video, you explained who Ri Ri is; addressing sexual abuse in your life. How important is it to our trans society that we begin having open discussions about sexual abuse, and mental illness, that affects so many in our community?

R.N.:  Sexual abuse is a plight faced by many adolescents whom identify as transgender. This is a topic that should be openly discussed throughout the community. By telling my story, I feel that it could impact the lives of so many other young people whom could be facing the exact, similar situation that I was.
I view mental illness as a direct link to sexual abuse. Many young people become emotionally unstable upon repeated sexual assaults, and grow to distrust other's in society. By telling my story, and how I have risen from it, I feel that individuals who are in similar situations, or have experienced this can hope to one day release the pain and suffering; and embrace who they were created to be.

4.  TMP: You recently auditioned for a non-trans role in a play. How important is it that trans-people be considered for non-trans roles, in your opinion?

R.N.: I believe that beauty and talent has no gender. Trans-men and women deserve to be treated as equals in the audition room. I feel that auditions such as mine will empower Tran’s people, and encourage self-confidence. I am very confident in my talent, and I hope through my advocacy that other transgender people will realize the potential they possess to succeed in life. Its very important for us to try out for non Tran’s roles. It lets people know we are here.

5.  TMP:  What can we do to promote unity within trans society?

R.N.: The digital age has led to the interconnectivity of society, and also has increased the divisions of social groups. Transgender men and women are seen on social media tearing each other down or demeaning others whom are forced into less desirable career paths.

As Transgender people, we must all realize how the mainstream world views our lifestyle, and seek to build each other up; versus tearing each other down. I have the sincerest goal that through my involvement with Trans Entertainment Network, we will build a platform that will allow the trans-community to grow increasingly unified towards its goals of world-wide social acceptance. Individuals are entitled to their opinion, but increasing awareness towards the plight of our transgender brother's and sister's will allow others to focus on ways to help, versus looking for ways to tear each other down. I look forward to improving the unification of the trans-community in the years to come.

6.  TMP: What are the many shows that will take place for the first annual, Trans Hip-Hop Fashion exhibit?

R.N. : Musical talents will be provided by Bella B Cash, Nikki Andro, Mzz Amirra O, BDot Zillenger,  Danyelle D’Shaie and SteezoDaChamp, just to name a few.
Designs showcased by Avaianna, Alexis Lovee and Garrick Mack, and a host of beautiful transgender models from all over the map.

7.   TMP:  Who are the players involved, and where can the community go to find out more about this event?

R.N.:  The show is being put on by Trans Entertainment Network.  Stan Lucas, Teke Staley, Janet V. Richard, and your's truly, Rihanna Nicole. Our goal is to show the world that transgender people are as equally talented as anyone else, and provide avenues for themselves in mainstream entertainment.
The community can find out more about this via social media platforms including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Radio advertising by Zabrina and Dj Doseville on Be100 of Atlanta. TEN will be in the studio March 5th from 4-8 pm on air, and streaming live on Special thanks to DebAntney, owner of B100 for the opportunity.

8.   TMP: You've been described as a comedian, how much of that is true, and is that what we can expect from Ri Ri on stage during the Trans Hip-Hop Event?

R.N.:  I am a multi-talented person. Comedy is one of my many talents. Hopefully, the night of the event will come across to the audience. But my main objective is to ensure everyone is having a great time.

9.  TMP: How important is Christianity in your life?

R.N. : I believe that it is important for people to have core values, or some-what of a spirit guide. I just don’t identify as Christian. I do have a strong personal relationship with God. You have to have a foundation...if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything. I’m a firm believer in Karma...what you put out in life is what you will get back...I’m very respectful of the right to have your own religious belief. I don’t discredit any religious denominations. I don’t just identify as Christian.

10. TMP: I like to ask, if you could tell the world something about Rihanna Nicole, and you knew everyone would listen, what would you like them to know about you?

R.N. : I love helping others, before my path to entertainment took shape, I was in school for nursing, and a licensed CNA. Making a difference in the lives of other people brought lots of joy; and now through my entertainment career, I can make a positive impact on the lives of millions while advocating for Transwomen and men all across the globe.

More often than not in life, opportunities aren't given. They require us to take a leap of faith, and jump for what we believe in and desire from life. In this time of turmoil, within trans society, we must remember how strong of a survivor we as a people are. Rhianna Nicole is living proof that we can not wait for society to tell us we are ok, we can not wait for the lgb community to get to us, we can't wait for the entertainment industry to make room for us. We create our society, we as with any human on earth, must take that leap of faith to live our truest self.

Rhianna Nicole Fan Page

Rhianna Nicole You Tube Channel

Rhianna Twitter



Monday, February 23, 2015

Trans Faces #14 Tony Zosherafatain: The Face Behind The Film..."I Am The T"

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

In every generation a story must be told, it is often up the storytellers to speak for the countless voices of our world. In our generation those story tellers are often film makers: the writers, producers, directors, and actors that bring a story to life. This post Academy Award interview is of a man that does just that, bringing voices to the countless unseen, unheard, trans men from around the globe. He is a voice for trans men of color, an often more unheard voice in our community.
Tony Zosherafatain is a man like many with a duality of spirit, but he is also Greek/Iranian. A duality of race that also gives him a unique perspective on what it means to be a trans man of color. Even in his upcoming documentary series, Tony will be featuring trans men from ten various countries and cultures. Cultures that are usually overshadowed by American and Western European countries. As in his life from working with those with disabilities, and a nurse practitioner student, he is the champion of the unheard voices of our society."I am the T: an FTM documentary", chronicles the lives and transitions of trans men in ten different countries. Production began in November 2014 in Norway, and will continue in the following countries: Malaysia, Canada, Thailand, Lesotho, Germany, the Phillipines, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Australia. Individual country segments will be released independently. The full-feature release date is scheduled for 2018.
The first segment was filmed in November 2014 in Norway, and features the story of Isak, a 28 year old trans man who had recently began transitioning. Isak's story (screened at this workshop) portrays both the challenges he faces as an FTM, and the triumphs over adversity that characterize finding one's gender and broader self. " I am the T" plans to grow into a documentary series that chronicles the stories of hundreds of trans* identified people around the world. The mission of "I am the T" is to shift the tide of trans representation in the media to one that is more subjective and culturally-inclusive. 

1. TMP: You've previously mentioned that your reasons, four years ago, to do the documentary film "I am the T" was that you've noticed the lacking of trans men in media. Why do you feel personally that was the case compared to trans women?

Tony Zosherafatain: At the time that I created the idea for the documentary, trans representation was severely lacking; trans stories were not a media priority. As a trans man who was not yet out, I couldn’t find images of trans masculine people to help me realize who I was. Since 2010, we’ve had the emergence of trans women of color such as Laverne Cox and Janet mock in the media, which has helped the trans community move forward. I think representations of trans men in the media have lagged behind, for a variety of reasons. One reason is because many trans men may want to live as stealth. I think another reason is due to male privilege. For many of us, it may be easier to be accepted into society because we are transitioning into the gender that controls society. I think the media also finds it hard to grasp trans male stories because traditionally, being trans has been associated with MTFs, and with good reason given that it was trans women who spurred the LGBT movement at stonewall.

2. TMP: In your opinion, how has that changed, and has it changed fast enough?

Tony Z.: I think that media representation of trans men has changed, but at a slow pace. For example, the only trans male on TV used to be Max from the L word, which was a horrible representation of the FTM experience. Since then, we’ve had a trans male character played on Transparent, and better films featuring trans men. However, trans male representations are not fully inclusive. In the MTF community, there are trans woman of color who are spearheading the movement, but for FTMs, we are only mostly seeing white trans men being represented. The FTM community needs to share the power of representation with trans men who are of color, disabled, feminine, queer, and those who can’t/don’t want to medically transition. In this way, I think the media will realize that there is much more to our identities; that we are as complex as any other human population.

3. TMP: Who is your partner in the project and how important is it that we recruit more trans men of color in film?

T.Z.: From the beginning, it was important that I recruited trans people for this documentary. As a trans man of color myself (half-Iranian), I wanted to recruit as many other under-represented trans men as possible given that a lot of films about our community are directed by cisgender people. Right now, I have a videographer and editor named Aiden, who is half-Mexican and half-black. I also have an editor and production assistant who is a first-generation American trans man. Another team member, our Graphic Designer, is a trans man who hails from Malaysia. We also have a cisgender production advisor who helps us gain perspective so that we can portray FTM stories in a way that changes the way cisgender people view trans masculine stories. I think it’s very important to see more trans men of color in our community. Trans men of color aren’t being prioritized for representation projects, which is a disservice. I think increasing the racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of trans male representation will inevitably lead our community forward. It’s powerful to see a trans man from an oppressed minority thriving. That sends a message of hope to trans youth of color.

4. TMP:  Tell our TMP readers if you will, what was your motivation behind creating this documentary? Why specifically did you choose to show a variation of cultures in this film?

T.Z.:  The motivation behind creating this documentary is rooted in my experience as a first-generation American trans man. Neither of my parents were born in the U.S.-my dad is from Iran and my mom is from Greece. When I began transitioning, it was even more difficult to find trans men from my specific cultural heritage. If we can show a variation of trans men from different cultures, it will send a powerful message: that the trans experience is universal. I think that creating a diversity of representations in the FTM community can only serve to reassure trans men from these backgrounds that they exist and that they are worthy of visibility. 

5. TMP: How many nations are represented in the complete series?

T.Z.:  There will be a total of ten countries represented. Because of time constraints, we will most likely create a two part documentary series. Each part will include five countries so that we can give each participant’s story adequate coverage.

6. TMP: Through this journey, what lessons have you learned about trans-society and the various cultures involved?

T.Z.:  I’ve learned more than I ever would have imagined. The first is that many cultures that we deem “discriminatory” against trans people are actually more complex. For example, I dug into my own background, found that the Iranian government is accepting of trans people and covers trans surgeries. On the other hand, someone who lives in a country that is seen as “very liberal” may not actually create an easy transition process for an individual person. For example, Isak (the participant we filmed in Norway) hasn’t had the simplest time accessing hormones or finding social support. I’ve also realized that there are many shared experiences between trans men in different cultures, many of them relating to bodily experiences, such as binding, taking testosterone, and struggling with internalized dysphoria.

7. TMP: I see you are an avid hockey player. Do you still play?

T.Z.:   I had almost forgotten about hockey because of retirement, haha. I’ve been playing since I was eight, and I think having access to this sport helped me figure out my gender in some ways. It helped me escape the constraints of being assigned to the wrong gender by allowing me to partake in a sport that is seen as traditionally “masculine”. I played a year in college at Wesleyan University until I sustained a shoulder injury that ended my career. Occasionally, I still play in adult pick-up leagues. 

8.  TMP: Working with those with disabilities is a humbling experience, and during the time you lived in Massachusetts, you tutored those with disabilities. How has that shaped your view of your dysphoria?

T.Z.: This is another great question. I think that disability rights and trans rights are intersectional.
People who are disabled fight to have their bodies respected and are often the targets of physical violence, discrimination, and often have to prove that they are indeed human. That resonates with many trans stories, and one could even say that dysphoria is a debilitating emotional and physical disability. I think that just like the disability rights movement has changed the way we see the concept of ableism, the experience of dysphoria can be changed if we are given the unequivocal acceptance to become ourselves.

9. TMP: Do you still feel that trans men are an outside voice and how can we as a society change that?

T.Z.:   I definitely think trans men are an outside voice. I think we do have to be aware of male privilege and not try to take up too much representational space; however, if we portray our stories in a way that challenges societal norms about masculinity, gender, and beauty, then I think we can really challenge the reasons behind transphobia. I think we as a society can improve that by changing the ways we see gender by accepting that one’s sex isn’t pre-determined by genitalia. I think we also need to shift away from the idea that gender determines personality, sexuality, social roles, and one’s life destiny.

10. TMP: I like to ask, if you could tell the world something about Tony Zosherafatain  and you knew everyone would listen, what would you like them to know about you?

T.Z.: That I have been through many struggles in my life, as a trans man, as a first-generation America, as a man of color, but, honestly I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’m very proud of my backgrounds. My life experiences have made me mentally resilient and I can relate to people on a more human level. Though I’ve been the target of discrimination, I try not to judge humanity. I’m critical of systemic discrimination, but believe that people can change for the better. With "I am the T", I want to show people life through a trans man’s eyes so that even conservative viewers no longer doubt that we are just as human as anyone else.

It has been a pleasure getting to know this man of many talents, a pioneer in film for trans voices, a nurse, and a champion for the disabled. It is our pleasure to announce that this interview is part one of a series TMP will cover about the director, and the film "I Am The T'.  Tony has also teamed up with TMP as a guest blogger, where he will be chronicling his experiences filming in Norway. Tony and the film "I Am The T", will also partner with TMP in the coming month for TMP's 'Spring Into Unity Campaign." A collaborative effort amongst several trans entities to promote, encourage and nurture unity within trans society.

You can find I am the T on social media:
Instagram: @iamthetfilm




Sunday, February 22, 2015

Trans World News 2-22-15

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

Death, death, and more death seems to be the recurring theme in trans news this week. Like previous weeks we have had a mix of great news only to be reminded of the horrors trans society faces with yet more murders and suicides.

We were horrified again in a new way when a parent of a transgender child was murdered. Golec, a gender queer was reportedly stabbed to death by their father Kevin Golec on Feburary 13th. The father even lied to the police, attempting to lead them in the direction of the local trans support group young Golec attended, by insisting that a cult had murdered their child.

Golec has joined the infamous list of the dead that has been to hard for most to even keep up with. Several bloggers have literally dedicated their time just to inform everyone of the recent deaths and up to date outcomes. Many are expressing growing depression within our society during a time that no trans person can log on social networks without reading of yet another death in our community.

February 15, 2015Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46, West Miami, FL – Murdered for unknown reason – Suspect(s) still on the loose

February 14, 2015Bri Golec, 22, Akron, OH – Murdered by father – suspect caught

February 10, 2015Penny Proud, 21, New Orleans, LA – Murdered by stranger – suspect(s) on the loose

February 1, 2015Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, 33, San Fransico, CA – Stabbed to death – suspect(s) on the loose

January 31, 2015Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, Los Ageless, CA – Murdered by boyfriend, suspect caught

January 26, 2015 Tyra (Ty) Underwood, 24, Tyler, TX – Murdered by boyfriend, suspect caught

January 17, 2015Lamia Beard, 30, Norfolk, VA – Murdered possibly by stranger, suspect(s) on the loose

January 12, 2015Ms. Edwards, 23, Louisville, KY – Murdered possibly by stranger, suspect caught

Sadly I am hear to report that even this list is already outdated, as we have even more names to add to the list. Last Sunday, a 15-year-old transgender teen named Zander Mahaffey committed suicide — but not before composing a heart-wrenching note explaining their decision to do so on his Tumblr.

It does get better and this week several high profile trans people demonstrated that very fact. The biggest this past week was very own Aydian Dowling who is appearing in an upcoming April issue of FTM Magazine. Publisher Robert Ballard, wanted to recreate the iconic image of Adam Levine's pose for Cosmopolitan Magazine four years ago. The result; the trans male physique going mainstream.

Former US Navy Seal, Kristin Beck, who became a trans society national role model after coming out and releasing her memoirs,
has announced that she's running in the Maryland primaries to unseat U.S. Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, the longest-serving Maryland representative and House Minority Whip.
According to The Hill, Beck filed the appropriate paperwork Monday, which now shows up on the Board of Elections website for Maryland. Beck was part of SEAL Team 6, the Navy's elite counter-terrorism unit, and retired in 2011 after a 20-year career. Now, Beck says she's ready to serve her country elsewhere by starting out in the Democratic primary for the House.
"For the last two or three years, I have been watching Congress very closely, and the reality is that the whole process has broken down and our representatives have simply dug in their heels," Beck told The Huffington Post. And while Beck is a fan of House Minority Whip Rep. Hoyer, she's stated publicly that it's time for future generations to step up and take the baton.
Last year, Beck was set to run for the House in Florida, but ended up changing her mind. She moved to Maryland instead, where her mother is located. For now, Beck's campaign website is still incomplete, and her campaign is run by volunteers, as she hasn't yet filed the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, meaning she can't yet raise any funds, reports The Baltimore Sun.

Seem we as a society have our work cut out for us in the coming weeks to raise campaign funds for our future congress woman.
Unfortunately Lavern Cox has had to reschedule her upcoming UAB speech for later this fall, stay in touch with Lavern Cox for the rescheduled date.
Here @ TMP,  I am glad to invite you to the new TMP Forum  , where you will be able to post topics, pictures of your transition, answer other topics, and get the conversation going to unite our society. Also every weekend TMP will add a trans themed film, documentary or tv series on TMP's new TMP Movie Pick page.  Starting this week with the first guest blog post on TMP's new Guest Blog Page. The new Guest Blog page is where in the next couple of weeks TMP has teamed up with several other Trans entities to kick off a Spring Forward To Unity Campaign, coming in March.
Seeing one of our idols Jenny Boyland, brings to mind how far we as a society have come in ten years, but with the number of murders and suicides we are reminded of the work that is yet to come. Unity is the key for our community and as you will see on TMP in the coming months, I hope TMP will become a symbol of the possibilities Unity can bring.
Stay strong...Stay blessed....Stay Trantasically Fabulous.



Friday, February 20, 2015

Defining Who We Are VIII: Is Transgender Society Unity, Under Siege From Within?

By Sabrina Samone, TMP
Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson

World wide Transgender society is under siege. If you think we are at war, you may not find many within our society to disagree. The call for visibility is at an all time high. The dangers are even higher, but it's a call that has been made before in the past, and is now true for transgender society. Our pioneers threw the first stone to ignite 'The Stonewall Riots'. The LG movement, then mobilized at a grass roots level, but it may have not been until the leadership of Harvey Milk and his call from the steps of  the San Francisco city hall when he said;

 “Gay brothers and sisters,… You must come out. Come out… to your parents… I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! To sit on the front steps — whether it’s a veranda in a small town or a concrete stoop in a big city — and to talk to our neighborhoods is infinitely more important than to huddle on the living-room lounger and watch a make-believe world in not-quite living color. I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up, and let that world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would imagine. I was born of heterosexual parents. I was taught by heterosexual teachers in a fiercely heterosexual society. Television ads and newspaper ads — fiercely heterosexual. A society that puts down homosexuality. And why am I a homosexual if I’m affected by role models? I should have been a heterosexual. And no offense meant, but if teachers are going to affect you as role models, there’d be a lot of nuns running around the streets today."

Imagine today the words of the Great Harvey Milk if the words "gay brothers and sisters", were trans brothers and sisters, and that the words heterosexual and homosexual were replaced with cisgender and transgender. Being transgender and being ostracized and cut off from families, loss of jobs, a second puberty, and your life being on the line, are not a choice. As in the late 70's, we now live in an era with little representation in media. We are not fully represented in politics or sports, yet there are countless willing participants in our community. There are far too many misinformed cisgender people about what it means to be transgender. There are too many of us in trans society, sitting on their porches or concrete stoops of privilege. Be that privilege of passing, race, gender, etc., there are far too many people around the world that still say that they have never met a transgender person. Many are having conversations about yet another tragic trans death, all while standing next to one unknowingly.

At times like this in warfare, a tactical maneuver to efficiently deal with numerous opponents is to divide and conquer. Over this past week while yet another trans-woman of color was murdered, her life being ridiculed on black mainstream online media; a white trans woman, a former blogger and S.C. resident, thought she was giving major advice when she posted that trans-women of color should watch out for their surroundings as her only words of wisdom. She dances on the borderline of even blaming her sisters of color for being in a dangerous work environment, prostitution. Ignorant of the fact that, that was not the case for half of the eight victims who've been murdered in the past 30 days. A prominent trans man within the community told me about an ongoing attack (or a potential hot seat as stated by the perpetrator) from a trans woman who criticized him for his presumed lack of support for trans women. She demanded that he represent trans women, ignorant to the fact he does. I've witnessed the ramblings of one mixed raced trans woman of color attack a prominent trans woman of color blogger about her, as she viewed, her militant black American support. Ignorant at the fact that she is urging mainstream black America to think about their trans sisters and brothers of color. Again, at times of war, a tactical maneuver to efficiently deal with numerous opponents is to divide and conquer.

Unity, is a choice we as a society can choose. Will there be a utopian world of complete unity? No, but that does not mean we should not strive for it in order to help change laws, protect the lives of those yet to come, and to one day see even more trans people represented in the media. We as a society must be careful in our attempts to gain understanding from a different segment of our society, that we don't alienate another and aid in the divide and conquer of war. We can not expect all trans people to be the same, yet each and everyone of us owe it to our community to see a society in need of unity, and do each of our parts to attempt to reach beyond our immediate comfortable surroundings to a brother or sister in another segment of our society, remembering our common denominator.  If we are to be a unified community worthy of discussion at the table of mainstream society. Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, Taja DeJeus, L. Edwards, Penny Proud,Yazmin Vash Payne, Bri Golec, Leelah Alcorn, Andi Woodhouse, deserve our unity, their lives say 'fix society' and part of fixing that society starts with ours.

Visibility should be the death of the trans hierarchy, which basically is saying; that though I've received support, encouragement, guidance, and direction through my transition, that now that I have completed my transition, there is no need for me to return the support, encouragement, guidance and direction to others. That mentality has added zero to the equality of who we are, but kept us in the medieval mindset of mainstream society. It is the height of social selfishness when you take from a society that has guided you and give nothing back in return. There was someone who supported you through your completeness. There was a community providing literature to know who you are. There were support groups to share with like minded people. Without the visibility of those of the past that have provided for many of us today, we would still be searching to know who we are or worse, felt there was no one to 'fix society'.
When we are accustomed to something we no longer fear it. When the world knows of trans people they will no longer fear us. When your family and friends know a trans person, they will no longer fear us. When your towns and cities know a successful, happy trans person, they will no longer fear us. When our politicians make laws concerning our lives they will know the lives they are affecting. Visibility is hard, can be dangerous, but it is necessary for the seamless transition to be fully equal and to have our seat firmly planted at the table of the world.

Unfortunately even with visibility, a community that can not support each other will have little respect or hope in gaining support from those that don't understand. There can't be a transgender person alive that does not realize we need more unity even amongst ourselves. Then why are we still urging it within trans society? Why are there still trans people who know no trans person outside of their race? Why are there trans people of "passing privilege" adding to the discrimination of those without? Why are there trans men on the TERF's side against trans women? Why are there trans women against the visibility of trans men, who have only recently been given the media attention and visibility that trans women have had far more years of? We should be glad as women to see the men shine and take a seat at the table of trans society. The visibility of both sexes matter and is necessary.

There is no room at the bottom of the barrel of the world's minority groups for racial hate or ignorance. Hate is something I honestly say I can't understand. Since I was a child I could never imagine hating an entire community of people. Being multi-racial I tackled my ideas of race in pre-school. I realized early the one drop rule;  a sociological and legal principle of racial classification that was historically prominent in the United States asserting that any person with even one ancestor of sub-Saharan-African ancestry ("one drop" of African blood) is considered to be black. I  also learned what it meant and felt like to be told, "not black enough." Seems representing my duality is something I learned long before dysphoria set in lol.
We as trans society can do so much more to reach across the isle of race and be an example to the rest of society, sadly we are not even halfway there even amongst ourselves, and we dare sit at the table of the world and say give me equality!

Before visibility can achieve full equality for trans society, we as a society must address, and correct the things that divide us. One can not achieve equality if one doesn't know how to give it. It is not up to the trans activist to do this. It is not just up to the trans celebrities to set an example. It is not up to the blogger to bring it up. Support of others within our community can't be limited to a Facebook post. We, trans society, each man, woman, and the gender fluidity in between is responsible for our own actions concerning unity. Here and now, we are the writers for our society. We determine the direction trans people 50 years from now will follow. Will it be a society unified, or a society that still can't achieve their seat in the world because they haven't learned how to even give a seat to their own?

Join us with more discussion about this and many more topics @



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Trans Faces #13 Aurelius Mark Angel/Dj Soul Manifest: ...The Music Man

By Sabrina Samone, TMP

During the time of this interview, Aurelius and I were engaged,  officially as of March 1 2016, they are no longer my partner. Yet, he remains a multi talent trans man, that is worth the readers here get to know. I will always wish him well, and success in our new lives without each other.

This Valentine's weekend would not be complete unless I mention the man that has renewed my heart and spirit. After an amazing week of celebrating our love for one another, as I often do, and sentimentally reflecting on how we met, our first day, the day he proposed, where he then smiles and replies, " we go" lol. It's one of those girl things he often teases me about, but yet he listens intently as I reflect on every detail of the day he proposed; the chill in the Charleston W.V. air, the waves of the Kanawha River splashing onto the boardwalk, the clear W.V. sky revealing millions of stars, how he nervously kneeled reading his hand written, proposal poem, while shaking with ring in hand.

Over the past, nearing two years, since we first had a chat online (March 15 2013, lol), I'm surprised that each day that I think I could not love him more, the next brings our hearts even closer than either of us ever imagined. I've come to know a man that is proud, a genius intellect, a man of God, a wild sense of humor, and the hardest working man in trans society. The male opposite of me in so many ways, he is a leader, an advocate that craves no applause. His very struggle with West Virginia law has changed the law for the better for every other trans person there to come. I'm amazed at the time and concern he takes with trans-men from so many places that come for the typical advice one seeks as they begin their journey. His passion for music, art, and photography.

Recently, 'Big A', as I call him, has joined with me here on TMP to smooth the rough corners, and our continued drive to be a voice in the community, as editor. He's the music man and currently in the process of creating a CD of songs. A jewelry designer, not too mention his talents at personal training, and renovating homes.

This Valentine's, I got a second year to spend with my soul mate, and there is no better time to share with my readers why this man is my personal favorite among Trans Faces (or any face for that matter) it's your time to get to know Aurelius Mark Angel aka Dj (drop the beat) Soul Manifest.

1. TMP: How important is trans visibility to you, and why do you feel it's important to set an example of self acceptance to a younger 'genderation'?

Aurelius Mark Angel: I think trans visibility is very important. We have the "LGBT" community which we are lumped into but receive no support from, so I feel we as trans people have to set a a good example both in and within our communities. It doesn't have to be anything radical. Just being the best you can be is a way to show the world that we do exist, and that we are like everyone else. It's important for the younger generations to see that others came before them and made it, and they can to.

2. TMP: We as trans people struggle with loving who we are, but do you feel there is an difference between loving oneself and accepting oneself?

A.A.:  Well, I think you have to really accept yourself in order to be able to love yourself. I think it's definitely a struggle for trans people to come to terms with our situation, however I also feel a great strength from such a journey is inevitable. It is in our strength and courage that we really realize the extent of our power as trans people. We are beautiful people!

3.  TMP: How was coming out to family for you, and what is the one thing you appreciate from them?

A.A.: My mom was actually the one that approached me when I was 15. I didn't know anything about the trans world, even though I grew up in NYC. I hung out at gay clubs and bars, but never identified with being gay. Later on, in my late 20's, is when I came out to my dad as trans. My mom had already passed away when I was 16. My family, for the most part, are very supportive. I still have some that refuse to use correct pronouns but I choose to limit my contact with these people. If I don't respect me no one else will. That's the one thing I can say about my family that I appreciate; all the ones that matter have been supportive and respectful of me.

4.  TMP:  You lived a few years in West Virginia, when some think of W.V. they may not think liberal and accepting. How was the atmosphere for you?

A.A.:   I was hesitant to move to WV after living in NY and other major cities my whole life. I knew that, at the age of 33, it was past time to start my transition. I wouldn't live much longer if I didn't make some changes. I dreaded the thought of trying to transition in WV but it actually went a lot smoother than I thought. I went through the local phone book and dialed all the Dr.'s till I found one that had experience with trans hrt. I got my letters from my local Dr.'s and had surgery down in Florida shortly after that. My WV hrt doctor even performed a srs related surgery for me. Shortly after that I had all I needed to petition the court to legally change my gender on my birth certificate. It took a year and 3 different lawyers to get WV law changed so they wouldn't require bottom surgery for trans people to get their documents changed. It was worth it! I thank God everyday I can live my life in freedom.

5. TMP:  The one thing that stood out to TMP, is your contribution on a state level for the welfare of all W.V. trans people to come. Could you tell TMP readers, what was that process like and how has it changed documentation for transgender people in W.V.?

A.A.:  It was a difficult process because I faced a lot of discrimination from the first 2 lawyers I dealt with. I even had one return my money and tell me I would never win. I wanted to go rub it in her face we the law finally passed. I was very proud to have been part of helping things be easier for those to come. It's about time there were more laws passed in our favor. By getting trans issues in the court system we are educating mainstream people about our situations and that they are valid. With this bill WV passed, WV residents who wish to change their gender on their birth certificates will no longer be required to have genital surgery.

6.  TMP:  How lengthy was the legal process of setting a new gender documentation template in W.V.?

A.A.:  Well, once I started actually working with an LGBT friendly lawyer who came recommended through The Sylvia Rivera Law Project, things went smoothly from there. With this particular lawyer it took 6 months, but I spent a year total with the runaround I got from the other lawyers. Once the papers were filed it was really a matter of getting everyone's signatures. The Office of Vital Statistics didn't really put up a fight. We had provided evidence from other states which had a similar law in place. The only thing that stands out in my mind is the Director of Vital Statistics saying that he "didn't want any pregnant men running around WV", that's why they still require sterilization. Still not the greatest.

7. TMP: You've recently caught the attention of a satellite radio station featuring new dj's. What inspires you to make music and specifically the type of music you do?

A.A.:  I love music! I come from a background of musicians and artists. My dad is a classical guitarist and artist, and my brother can really shred on a guitar. There's just something so freeing and satisfying about making music. Knowing that I can make something that some one else will listen to and really enjoy, the way I enjoy music, is really exciting to me. I love a lot of different styles of music. My faves lately are indie and electronica. I like the energy and urgency of EDM. It's also the most fun to me to make because you get to experiment with so many different layers of crazy sounds. It's just a lot of fun and I hope my music continues to spread!

 8. TMP: Where would you like to see your music go this year?

A.A.:  I am planning on putting out an album soon in the next few months. Also, I am experimenting with new software and with adding my own vocals from my poetry, so I'm eager to see where this direction takes me. I know I want to constantly keep changing and growing. I like to push myself.

9.  TMP:  I'm honored that you are also an editor here at TMP, but this is not your first round of being an editor. Tell our readers your history as editor and the magazine you launched several years ago.

A.A.:  Thank you, I enjoy working as editor for TMP. I like getting to know a lot of people's stories. It's nice to know we have a place like TMP where we can come for support and knowledge of the world around us. I think it's important our community have that so they don't feel so alone. Yes, I edited and produced Soul Manifest magazine from 1991-1994. I was a literary art magazine geared to the gothic underground. It featured short stories, poetry, art, book and film reviews, as well as music reviews. I accepted contributions from all over the world and it was a wonderful opportunity to get to know people and experience new outlooks. I have always enjoyed working in the media. I like that I can be a part of something where my creativity is being appreciated.

10. TMP: I like to ask, if you could tell the world something about Aurelius Mark Angel and you knew everyone would listen, what would you like them to know about you?

Aurelius Angel/Dj Soul Manifest:  I would like them to know that I am a decent, goodhearted person. I would like for them to know the hardworking, disciplined side of me. More than anything I would hope that people could see the passion I put into living my life. I try to live my life in a way that I think life should be lived; with purpose and on purpose.

I'm so glad my readers have gotten the chance to know my Valentine and the talented man he is. So I'm hoping the community can support our brother's music and stop by his following links, to follow and purchase these great mixes.

To Follow Aurelius Mark Angel/Dj Soul Manifest
Facebook Dj Soul Manifest Page
Google Plus DJ Community
Dj Soul Manifest Twitter
DJ Soul Manifest on Nimbit (music for purchase)
Dj Soul Manifest on Tumblr
Dj. Soul Manifest on SoundCloud
The Soul Manifest Jewelery Collection