Tag Archives: transgender

A Bi Bank Robber, His Trans Wife, and a Documentary to Love

There is something alluring about John Wojtowicz, the real-life man who inspired Al Pacino’s legendary character in Dog Day Afternoon. He’s a colorful braggart, an early and abrasive LGBT rights activist, a mama’s boy (in his words), a bank robber, a sexual liberationist, and a lover of both men and women. More than anything, Wojtowicz, whose real story is immortalized in the brilliant new documentary The Dog, is an incurably romantic criminal, and the “who” and “what” components of his story aren’t nearly as interesting as the “why” of it all.

Filmed over the course of 10 years by codirectors Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren, The Dog (which hits theaters today and iTunes August 15) interweaves extraordinary archival footage of the robbery, 1970s-era interviews, early film of what was then simply the gay liberation movement, recollections from gay activists who know Wojtowicz, and a decade of interviews with the man himself.

Wojtowicz was an unlikely gay rights pioneer in New York City, at a time when he says gay couples couldn’t publicly hold hands, even in the famously queer Greenwich Village. Once, when he did hold hands with another man, a police officer called Wojtowicz a “faggot.”

His response? He grabbed the man and “tongued him” right there on the street.

But that would be a life-long M.O. for a man who as an early LGBT advocate would embarrass even other activists with his coarseness, vulgarity, self-aggrandizing, and yes, his unabashed sexuality. He loved sex. He had his first gay sexual experience while serving in the Vietnam War. He left his first wife to immerse himself in gay culture, got involved with the Gay Activists Alliance shortly after the Stonewall riots, and though mostly in the background, in 1971 helped organize one of the earliest same-sex marriage protests, when seasoned gay activists and groups like GAA didn’t want to touch the issue.

But Wojtowicz, who was nicknamed Littlejohn (he says it’s because he has a “little prick”), believed in love and marriage.

“When I love somebody, I want to marry them,” he says in the film. A message that resonates with marriage equality activists today, but one that was unusual in 1971.

He fell in love with a transgender woman, back when the word “transgender” wasn’t commonly employed and pronouns usage was rarely what we’d call politically correct today. He wanted desperately to marry Liz Eden, and so the two had a wedding ceremony — she donned head-to-toe white, and her veil towered nearly a foot above Wojtowicz. Footage of the wedding shows up in The Dog and helps remind us what a romantic this guy is, without reservations about gender.

He was openly bisexual without using that word. Though he’s hardly a great role model, with cheating on his lovers and his bank-robbing ways, when he loved, he loved.

Eden had been living as a woman but desperately wanted gender-reassignment surgery. Wojtowicz fought it at first — when the two met, Eden was still going by Ernie and performing in drag — but when Eden became suicidal he changed his mind and supported her medical transition in a big way. A very big way. In August 1972, he attempted to rob a Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn to finance his new wife’s surgery. That effort resulted in a 14-hour hostage situation that was broadcast live on TV and eventually left his partner in crime, Sal Naturale, dead, shot by police during their bungled escape.

Wojtowicz went to prison. Three years later, Eden sold the story to Sidney Lumet, who made the critically acclaimed film Dog Day Afternoon, in which Al Pacino plays Wojtowicz. The film had a huge impact on Wojtowicz. Fellow prisoners called him “The Dog,” in part because they couldn’t pronounce his last name (it’s WAHT-a-witz). The Dog embraced that persona and left prison as that man.

But not before falling in love again, with Georgie Heath, a gay man he met at Lewisburg Pennitentiary. Heath performed drag but identified as a man. Still, Wojtowicz calls Heath his “third wife.”

There’s plenty more to The Dog than can be summed up in a review: a mother who is as close to her son as can be; a developmentally challenged brother who is beloved; The Dog himself, now dying of breast cancer and skin cancer, getting thinner and thinner in every shot but never losing that wonderful libidinous spirit; footage of Eden, who died young of AIDS.

It’s a rose-colored trip down memory lane of a larger-than-life guy who, even in celluloid, continues to seduce just about anyone who sits down to watch The Dog.

I must watch this! Sounds fascinating.

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Debi Jackson reading “That’s Good Enough”

Debi shares the story of her daughter, who transitioned from male to female when she was four years old. She challenges the ignorant comments she hears. 

Who else is crying their eyes out?! Love this lady.

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…and then they came for the trans* people.

…and then they came for the trans* people.

Written by Mhairi McAlpine in Europe, Gender, Greece, Internationalism, Kyriarchy,Sexuality

 

“Operation Zeus in August last year marked the start of an ugly reminder of a European past that we thought we had long buried.  Nearly 60 years after the end of the Second European War, migrants were round up from the streets of Greece and shoved unceremoniously into internment camps.  In May, women working in the sex industry were pulled from the streets, forcibly tested for HIV, publically humilitated and imprisoned.  In March, they rounded up drug users from the streets of Athens and put them too into camps.  Last month in Thessaloniki they came for transgendered people.

On the 30th of May, the Greek authorities stepped up their cleansing of the streets of the undesirables.  The daily checks of papers, papers, papers whenever someone non-white encounters a police officer sees numerous migrants hauled to police stations, and manyimprisoned in one of the hellholes that pass for the detention camps of Greece.  In April alone 10, 000 people were stopped in these checks, and there are currently 5, 000 languishing in the official camps with an unknown number in temporary facilities such as police cells and shipping containers.  Last month Dendias announced a doubling of the capacity of these camps, although with no commitment to closing the alternative facilities.

Greek citizens, drugs users, homeless people and women working in the sex industry, have also been targeted under these sweeps where they are hauled to police stations, forcibly tested for HIV and in some cases imprisoned among with the migrants in the internment camps.  As the graffiti is cleaned off the shop facades in anticipation of the summer tourist influx, the streets are being cleansed of undesirables.

On the 30th of May, a new group of undesirables was identified.  Trans gender people. For the last week, daily raids have been taking place in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city.  Under the pretense that of checking that the person is not involved in the sex industry trans people are being rounding up and arrested.  Their details are taken and they are detained for several hours.  On release they are warned that if they did not “return to normal” they would be arrested for public indecency.

This is not the first time that trans people have been targeted in Greece, in August last year, 25 trans women were arrested and force to undergo HIV testing and charged with prostitution offenses, in April, finally, the last of this group was acquitted.  This is however a new and sustained campaign against trans people, some of whom were stopped driving their cars and accused of sexual impropriety.

In May, the official broadcast to publicise Athens Pride was banned as it included a lesbian kiss, while in Thessaloniki, the  Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Church described Pride as an “unholy and unnatural event”, urging citizens not to take their children and indicating that he would like to see the event shut down.  At the end of last year gay men were repeated assaulted by member of the Golden Dawn, sometimes armed with knifes, in the wake of the violent and vicious rabble that saw the opening of the play “Corpus Christi” besieged by Nazis.  One MP from the fascist Golden Dawn attacked a journalist, punching him in the face and screeching after him as he escaped “You run away you faggot, you ass-muncher“, while the police silently watched.

This new escalation follows a familiar pattern of harassment, false imprisonment, detention, and arrests.  The experiences of migrants, drug users and women in the sex industry are all testimony to the deliberate targeting of marginalised groupings.   The pink triangle isn’t just a cool emblem, but a reminder that we’ve seen it all before.  We said never again – only it IS happening again….and one-by-one the people who may have spoken up disappear.”

 

This deeply saddens me. How can parts of the world (I’m also talking to you, RUSSIA!) still be SO ignorant and full of hatred?! Makes me so grateful to live in the UK.

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Transgender student shoved out of Union toilets

A transgender student has been verbally abused and pushed out of the Union’s female toilets. The incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday morning, during Fruity. Alexis, a Microbiology student who is currently transitioning to become a woman, was shouted at and shoved in the chest by two girls. Alexis spoke to Leeds Student about the incident: “I’m very angry at those girls. I know better than anyone that I don’t look like a girl yet. Misgendering me is something I expect, but grabbing my breasts and shoving me is completely unacceptable.”

Security were called to the scene and spoke to the girls in question. A Union spokesperson told this paper: “As a Union we support the right of transgender students to use the toilets in which they feel most comfortable. A member of our security team explained the situation to the two females and they said that they understood.” Alexis added: “It’s wrong for a natural-born girl to insult a trans girl, especially one who prefers to dress more masculine, simply because she likes to. We’re doing the best we can – you’re lucky to have been born that way, and we can dress however we please, just like you.”The second year student did not wish to take any further action but added: “The security staff were excellent, and I really appreciate what they did”. The Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Society (LGBT) currently has two dedicated Trans* welfare officers. The society said: “The welfare of our members is the number one priority of our society and we’ve been working closely with the Union to raise awareness of the added struggles that Trans* people face.” In January 2010 a Better Union forum passed an idea to introduce gender-neutral toilets.

The Union’s Equality and Diversity officer, Charlie Hopper, said “Since the idea to create a gender neutral toilet passed in 2010 the Union has made progress in ensuring support for Trans* students, including Trans* awareness training for staff”

LGBT’s trans welfare officers can be contacted on lgbt_welfare@leeds.ac.uk.

Words: Lucy Snow

 

Who on earth acts like this? I would be so embarrassed to be associated with or related to someone who is so biggited. You would have to be seriously uneducated and unhappy with your own life to do that.

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