29 June 2006

NEWS 29 June 2006

Dear Readers,
Thank you for visiting my blog. I am happy that so many people have visited my blog (over 5500 hits since Dec 2005).
I have opened a new blog which is called 'One from the heart' which will be more of a personal blog, with features like Girl Talk! (Part 2 is posted), and my own articles will be published. Thus Malika's Transgender Blog will be a more of a news and information blog .
Please leave your comments as they give me a possibility to understand what you like or dislike about my posts.


28 June 2006

Transgender MP fights toilet 'apartheid'

Italian transgender MP Vladimir Luxuria gestures during a news conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome in this February 22, 2006 before her election.

ROME - Among the most pressing orders of business for Europe's first "transgender" lawmaker may be fighting over which toilet to use in the Italian parliament.

Italian transgender election candidate Vladimir Luxuria gestures during a news conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome February 22, 2006. The 40-year-old from Italy's main communist party is a candidate in the country's general election in April.

Elected last month, Vladimir Luxuria said on Thursday she was opposed to toilet "apartheid" after a centre-right lawmaker suggested the creation of a special, third lavatory for all transgender politicians.

In Italy, and all of Europe, that means just Luxuria.

"I didn't expect politics to sink this low," Luxuria, a 40-year-old drag queen and defender of gay rights said in an interview with the online edition of Corriere della Sera daily.

Born Wladimiro Guadagno, Luxuria prefers to be referred to as a she and expressed a general preference for women's bathrooms. She suggested women reacted better than men did.

"There are many difficult moments in the life of a transgender and even some embarrassing ones, like the use of public bathrooms. Maybe we go to the ladies' toilet because the men get embarrassed," Luxuria said.

Italy's first transgender lawmaker Vladimir Luxuria, who entered parliament under the Communist Refoundation party's banner, waits for the results of the vote for Italian lower house speaker Fausto Bertinotti at the Montecitorio Palace in Rome April 29, 2006.

The transgender toilet, Corriere said, was suggested by a newly elected lawmaker in the lower house of parliament, Lucio Barani, a member of centre-right opposition.

Barani said in a statement it would avoid embarrassment.

Luxuria, who has dressed in low-key women's suits since entering the world of politics, is keen not to be considered a novelty along the lines of porn star Ilona 'Cicciolina' Staller who sat in the assembly in the 1980s and was famous for her impromptu stripteases.

Among her campaign issues was a promise to seek legal recognition of civil unions by homosexual couples.

"The apartheid of urinary segregation is not an issue that moves me particularly," Luxuria said. "I don't want the privilege of having a toilet all to myself."

It is not the first time that Luxuria has found herself under attack by the centre right.

Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of Italy's wartime fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, attacked her on state television when she was asked by Luxuria whether she wanted to lock up homosexuals.

"Meglio Fascista che frocio ! " Better a fascist than a faggot," Mussolini snapped.

See the Video clip of the above discussion in Italian:
duration: 1:06

20 June 2006

Begum Nawazish Ali - Pakistani Transvestite Tv Hostess

Ali Salim's Alter Ego
Dressed to shock, the Begum has it her way
Begum (Mrs.) Nawazish AliBorn a boy, Ali Salim long prayed to God to make him a girl. Years later, he is the most famous female TV identity in this devoutly Muslim, male-dominated country, even though his physiology remains unchanged.

Salim’s chiffon-wearing alter ego, Begum (Mrs.) Nawazish Ali, has become an overnight star, using style and pomp to confront prickly topics with Pakistani politicians, Islamic religious figures and celebrities, posing questions that more established journalists routinely steer clear of.

He is very reminiscent of Dame Edna, Australian Barry Humphries’ famous alter ego for the stage and TV, but Salim says that his character was not inspired by the more slapstick Australian. “I have heard about Dame Edna and have also gone to his (Humphries’) Web site, but I am not motivated by his show,” he said. “I do it in my style and he does it in his.” However like Dame Edna, Salim’s teasing and sarcasm has allowed him to tackle head-on the discrimination women face in Pakistan’s male-dominated society. “My show is about empowering women psychologically,” Salim told the Associated Press on the set of his popular show filmed in Karachi. “I am trying to show people that there is no difference between men and women. I have no gender bias. Men and women are equally capable of doing all the same things, except for their reproductive roles.”

Since it first aired eight months ago, ‘The Begum Nawazish Ali Show’ has built up a massive following, particularly among younger Pakistanis such as college graduate Saima Kareem, 23, who says that Salim “Is asking hard questions of people who otherwise remain untouched by TV shows.”

Begum (Mrs.) Nawazish AliWhile very popular, Salim’s show has ruffled some feathers in a country where Islamic customs generally frown upon cross-dressing. “We decided to create a larger-than-life character to host a talk show where the host would be flirtatious and look good allowing her a strong footing with her guests,” Salim explained. “She can intimidate her guests and break through their tough exteriors to reach the inner person that he or she is.” On the set of a recent show, film producer Rashid Khawaja pondered whether his host could be cast as a heroine for a future movie. Deeply immersed in his character as Mrs Nawazish, Salim curled his lip and suggestively replied: “Well, I don’t want a small one, I want a BIG one,” before clarifying the remark with, “I don’t mean that kind of role, I mean a role in the film.” Naimatullah Khan, a former Karachi mayor and Islamic political leader said that he did not even know Salim was a man when he went on the show. “Although I had the chance to say what I had in mind, I do have reservations on the way he conducts himself and talks,” Khan said. “I don’t think it is good to perform like this. It is not acceptable in our society.”

Dressed in character (a sleeveless, low-necked, blood-red chiffon gown) for an interview with The Associated Press, Salim said that he grew up surrounded by women; his divorced mother and her friends. “Ever since I was a child I used to fantasize about growing as a woman,” he said. His role models included former prime ministers such as Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, Margaret Thatcher of Britain, “and all other famous women of that time”.

Begum (Mrs.) Nawazish AliSalim said that his character helped put a modern face on a nation of 150 million people, which usually captures global attention through coups, earthquakes and war. “Begum Nawazish Ali represents the aspiration of all the Pakistanis who want a modern, progressive Pakistan,” Salim said. “She is the face of an enlightened, moderate Pakistan.” Salim said he plans one day to marry but only once he finds a partner of equal intellectual capacity. “I am a man performing as a woman,” he explained. “I don’t have a boyfriend or a girlfriend either.” Khalid Farshori, a senior media commentator in the weekly magazine Akhbar-e-Jahan, said that Salim’s show was groundbreaking and that it would encourage other channels to “come out with brilliant ideas to amuse viewers, who were fed up with the monotonous shows that we have here.”

Salim said he gets nothing but praise from his viewers, even after they realize he’s not really a woman. “Not a single piece hate mail or a threatening call,” he said. “Now people greet me on streets and show me love and respect.”

See an Episode (in Hindi) 30 mins in all

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

12 June 2006

Transwoman Behind the Matrix Movies

"Matrix" and "Matrix Reloaded"
Director Larry "Lana" Wachowski
Following all the stories about ''Matrix'' co-creator Larry Wachowski allegedly taking hormones to prep for an upcoming sex change operation come reports from sources that say distributor Warner Bros. may be doing an alteration that will take a lot less work. For the third ''Matrix'' film , it seems the writing and directing credits for Chicago native Larry and his brother and partner, Andy Wachowski, will merely be listed as ''The Wachowskis.''

''That certainly would solve any gender issues that might be pending,'' a "Matrix" insider said Monday.

An in-depth story in the current National Enquirer goes into all the gory details of Wachowski's split from his wife, Thea, the onset of an S&M relationship with a dominatrix (who reportedly calls him ''Lana''), his penchant for wearing women's clothes and lingerie and his recent appearance at the Cannes Film Festival--wearing earrings, full makeup, etc.

Neither Warner Bros. nor a rep for the Wachowskis would comment on any aspect of this story.

pic: Lana with a journalist and Lana with brother Andy at the Matrix DVD release.

06 June 2006

India's eunuchs seek new way

By Sanghamitra Chakraborty in Tamil Nadu

Sudha is dusky and wears a salwar kameez, a traditional dress for women in India, but no make-up.

She is a eunuch (or "aruvani" as they now prefer to be called) and represents a group of transsexuals seeking respect for their identity and greater acceptance in society.

"While transgender people must protect their identity, we are willing to do our bit to gain acceptance," says Sudha on the sidelines of a community festival in southern Tamil Nadu state.

"If necessary we will dress down, tone down our speech, even desist from the commonly misunderstood practice of 'clapping' and negotiate with people in work and social settings."

Since most hijras end up being stereotyped as cross-dressing men, feared for their lewdness and aggression, the aruvanis face many day-to-day challenges, linked with their identity.

New tactics

For most hijras, as Indian transsexuals are called, their physical appearance is an extension of their transgender identity.

Lavish doses of make-up, flowing wigs, harsh, staccato clapping and aggressively sexual speech and body language are tokens of belonging, entrenched at an early age by community leaders.

Sudha(right) and Aruna(left in the picture) her friends want hijras to change tactics to win acceptance.

Eunuch groups now participate in community-led inter-personal communication sessions regularly in what they see as a pragmatic way to learn how to negotiate with the mainstream.

"We are focusing on the aruvani being a woman in day-to-day life, not just in front of the mirror at home," says Sudha.

Bharathi Kannamma, a journalist, says the communication sessions seem to be addressing the problem.

"Earlier, when aruvanis were teased or harassed, they fought back often by shouting and using foul abuse. This created a bad impression in the minds of the general community," she says.

Spreading awareness

A trainer, Rajakumari, says eunuchs are much more in control of their lives after attending the sessions.

We aruvanis have achieved in the past two years what was left undone in the past 20 years. Wait and see what young aruvanis can do
Aruna, transsexual

"When people mock or tease them, they don't take off in a rage as they understand that the public can be ignorant or insensitive," she says.

There is more on the minds of the aruvanis than celebrating their yearly festival in the village of Koovagam in Tamil Nadu.

"We're fighting for our right to live and work with dignity as other women do. The violence against transgender people must stop," says Sudha's friend Aruna, who marched along with 500 other transgender protesters.

"They lead many self-help groups working in Tamil Nadu, spreading awareness about safe sex and HIV to hundreds of transsexuals, many of whom are sex workers or beggars."

Delhi-based historian activist Mario D' Penha says there is a "huge debate" raging in the eunuch community "about the right path to integration and whether they should be seen as eunuchs or women".

Not recognised as females by law, these castrated males face a very real identity crisis. Once their surgery has taken place they are no longer considered male and there is no legal framework in place to deal with them.

One of the most important aspects of the training is to impress upon the community the need for safe sex.

Since many of them are extremely vulnerable to HIV, given their social isolation and low literacy levels, short films, documentaries and modern parables are used to improve social skills and to highlight health issues, such as the need to use condoms.

"From living on the fringes of society, they are not only working towards 'mainstreaming' themselves, but are now focusing on expression of their hidden talents that can contribute to them being accepted as citizens in their own rights," says Dr R Lakshmi Bai, chief of a local HIV prevention project.

Aruna is hopeful about the future.

"This is the way to go. We aruvanis have achieved in the past two years what was left undone in the past 20 years. Wait and see what young aruvanis can do."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/06/05 14:54:00 GMT