Tag Archives: transgendered

The Beauty Queen


Twitter exploded the second Olivia Jordan was crowned Miss USA. Her gown for the evening wear segment sparked controversy (aside from Donald Trump’s comments about Mexican immigrants during that same time). The dress polarized the Internet. Some loved it, while others hated it and thought she should not have won based on the dress. The dress was pink and strapless with a flowing skirt that had slanted lines of ruffles. In an interview with The Huffington Post Live, Jordan stated it was the dream dress of her five-year-old self.

A beauty queen’s dress is purely aesthetic and superficial. Her wardrobe choices are less important than who she is as an individual and what she represents. That ideology applies to Hailie Sahar, a pageant winner, whose story of triumph over adversity can be overlooked if the viewer only looks at the surface.

At In The Meantime’s pre-pride party, she dazzled the audience with her charm and hand placement-ography (choreography for a beauty queen’s hand). See her as the crowd saw her. First her dress, gray, and chic, paired smartly with an ornate gold necklace. Her sash for Miss L.A. Pride 2015 accentuated her figure. Then, her arms, bare and thin, then her flash of red hair. The spotlight caught her face at an angle that gave her the glow of a pregnant woman. She smiled, waiting for Karamo Brown to finish. They both were handpicked to be Brand Ambassadors for BrothaFest. Many of the people in the audience did not know (from only looking at her) that she was born in the wrong body and transitioned into her female body.

In a sit down interview, Sahar discussed the difficulty of being transgender, biracial, and young in L.A., being abused at a young age, and how she has overcome numerous obstacles to be a role model for girls like her.

What did it mean for you to be asked to be the Ambassador for BrothaFest?

It was touching to be asked to be an Ambassador for BrothaFest. I felt humbled. It meant that I was doing something good in life. It told me that I have a duty to be a role model as a transgender woman. Also, I saw it as a blessing.

Also, you were this year’s Miss L.A. Pride. Tell us about that experience.

It happened out of nowhere. One of the previous contestants called me the day before the pageant. I didn’t know too much about it. That experience was another blessing. Once I got there, I knew what it was working toward. And, being in the Parade was overwhelming. There were people crying and waving at me in the convertible that I was in. It furthered my belief that I had a duty to be a role model for others.

What were the components of the pageant?

There was a cocktail dress round, evening dress round, and Q&A round. The question that I was given was what was the most pivotal moment in your life as a trans person. I grew up being abused. Not too many people know that. I was also a preacher’s kid. Not too many people know that either. In that environment I was confused. I would go to church and a family member was abusing me. For me, to come out of that and be the person that I wanted to be in a religious and strict household that was my most pivotal moment. That’s why I want to tell my story. People might see me and say she’s beat or beautiful. But, no matter what I’ve been through or you’ve been through, you can still persevere and don’t let the situation mold you into a negative person.

What is it like to be transgender, young, and Black?

It is a lot of hard work. It takes discipline. As a minority and being biracial and transgender, you have to go through obstacles and then find your way in the world. As a trans person, it is often difficult trying to get people to understand who you are.

People don’t know what it means to be trans. They do not fully understand that your biological makeup can be different from your physical body. I have a doctor that I go to and l learned that there are studies looking at chromosomes when babies are born. Sometimes a child can be born in the male form, but the baby thinks in the female state. There are so many diversities of how people are born. People are visual. They trust that because you are born with a male body, you are male. But there is more to a person than their sexual parts. They are shallow-minded and see physical parts and identify that person as what they see.

Why did you come out as trans when you could pass as a biological woman?

I feel that it is a blessing to be passable. A lot of people don’t have that blessing to pass and be beautiful. I’m not saying that to be overly confident. When God gives you these gifts, you use them. I want to use my beauty and intelligence to uplift others and give back to people that do not blend into regular society. They will see someone like me and know that there are people like them that can be successful and achieve what they want in life. I’m Black and trans and am doing what I want to do. I like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock because they are going about it in a classy and elegant way. They are intellectuals and carry themselves well.

Who is the private Hailie?

I am a shy person and a workaholic. I have a hard time showing people my true self as I am. They might take me not opening up as being a diva, but that’s not the case. It takes a while for me to open up. Then you’ll see I’m a big kid. I love amusement parks and don’t take things too seriously.

Is the transgender community in L.A. connected or disconnected and how so?

In general, the transgender community is a bit disconnected. A lot of trans people are afraid because they do not know how they will be treated after they come out. They might be ridiculed. But I will say, this year there have been a lot of people in the public eye like Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner, Isis King, and Janet Mock. People like me; we see more of it. I see it in the city and when I meet girls like myself, I see a spark in their eyes as we talk about the movement.

Do you have any trans mentors that have helped you during your transition?

I did not have a trans mentor to help me during my transition and do not now. In that sense, the trans community is detached. There is not a lot of help. I thank God that I have the mother that I have and my brother. My mother has helped me in my journey.

Last year, there was a huge scandal concerning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and with the words “tranny” and “she-mail” being used. What are your thoughts on those words?

She-male is a pornographic term like cock or the p-word [or the female anatomy]. These words are used in a sexual environment. The word tranny is equivalent to the n-word. When someone says tranny, I hear the n-word. A lot of people are not educated. A lot of Black people aren’t educated [on the history of the n-word]. Also, a lot of trans people aren’t educated [on the history of the word tranny]. They go along with it and use it, not knowing that it means something sexual.

What would you like to leave our readers with?

I am following all my dreams. I am working on some acting projects, getting more into music, and doing more pageants. Follow my journey on Instagram at Hailiescommet and on Twitter at 213sahar.

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A Writer’s Year in Review

English: Hollywood Boulevard from the top of t...

Hollywood Blvd. from top of Kodak. (Credit: Wiki)

At the start of 2012, I experienced two major transitions: being accepted into a fiction writing program and moving from Long Beach to Inglewood. I knew the writing program would help me advance within writing, however I didn’t know what to expect. I had a publishing deal with a small publishing company, but I thought, why not workshop my book to get more eyes on the book. Their suggestions took the story from surface to being able to exist above the page. The story itself did not changed; I brought more of the contrast between race, immigrant life, religion, and identity out in front of the reader.

Beyond having breath breathed into my book, in 2012, I:

  • Read at the West Hollywood Library on 12/8/12
  • Was invited to read at the City of West Hollywood’s Pride Festival, “One City, One Pride” taking place in June 2013
  • Was invited to White House Briefing for Black LGBT Emerging Leaders 2, 24, 2012
  • Was invited to read at Soulful Salon, for In The Meantime, a LGBT community organization
  • Started writing for Campus Circle Magazine
  • Started writing for Qulture
  • Started writing for GBM News
  • Interviewed Frenchie Davis, DJ Danjazone (LMFAO’s Tour DJ), Diana King, DDm, and Orikl
  • Wrote my first poetry review for a literary journal
  • Submitted a fiction piece to one of my favorite literary journals
  • Read at my first book fair, West Hollywood Book Fair
  • Was published in the anthology, For Colored Boys
  • Started working as an Editorial Assistant for a academic publisher
  • Went to 10 author readings

On New Years Eve 2013, with a group of friends, I wrote down on paper what I did not like about 2012 and I burned it. With each new piece I completed, part of me was afraid to branch out and take my writing career to the next level (writing for a major magazine and be able to freelance write/edit for other publications). The paper turned from white, to egg-colored, to ashes in the fire pit in East L.A. While watching it burn, I reflected back on other details of 2012: I learned that I would be working for LAist.com (for the Spring term) and I made it to the Semifinalist round for the Point Foundation Graduate Scholarship. Also that I got the courage to submit new poetry to four literary magazines and I pitched an article idea to Essence magazine. No New Year’s Resolution to lose fat or be a better person, I want to reserve all my energy into writing. And whether or not all of those opportunities fall into place, I will keep striving to become a better writer and be part of the writing community.

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janet mock: 21 century woman

Remember the name janet mock. she’s about to the next literary giant.

A friend told me to go to her blog, Musings On Love, and read the first entry. It reads … “You have until the age of 28 to decide between his dreams or yours,” a girlfriend of mine warned while having drinks last night. “You’ve got two yearsI was having a carefree evening fueled by rounds of alcohol and predominantly light conversation. This girlfriend, who’ll remain anonymous, said based on her experience (tied in with her own regrets as an over-accomplished single woman in her mid-30s) in a nutshell that there’s no such thing as having it all and specifically if I want to be with Aaron, I have to give up my dreams to support his.” The entry is dated Sunday, September 13, 2009 with the tags gender and relationships. Those few sentences were beautiful and made me want to read more. I did and entered Mock’s life. Mock is a writer and editor for People.com, interned at In Style magazine, received an MA in journalism from New York University, and is dating a very handsome man. In all a perfect life, what every woman wants. The death of Tyler Clementi forced her to reevaulate her life and come out per se. Mock was born in the wrong body. Her new memoir, Fish Food: A Memoir, unveils the story of a girl “who sacrifices nearly everything to become the person she knows she’s destined to be.” Mock grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. She transitioned freshman year of high school with her family’s support. Her book is yet to be released.

Click here to read the article published on her in Marie Claire (June 2011 issue) by Kierna Mayo.

Check out her It Gets Better video below:

It Gets Better – Janet Mock Reveals Trans History

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Notes on Shoe Shine Boxes: Another Essex Hemphill poem

A young woman wearing pink high-heels at Helsi...

Image via Wikipedia

HOMOCIDE: For Ronald Gibson by Essex Hemphill

Ronald Gibson, 20, was found shot to death in the 2700 block of Arizona Avenue, N.W. Police said Gibson was wearing a dress and high-heeled shoes at the time of his death. According to Homicide Det. Lloyd Davis, Gibson, also known as “Star,” hung out during the past two years in the area near 14th and Fairmont Sts., N.W., an area frequented by drag queens who solicit sex for money. Detectives say they have no suspects and know of no motives in the case.
 The Washington Blade, 1/8/82

The poemHOMOCIDE: For Ronald Gibson by Essex Hemphill

Grief is not apparel.
Not like a dress, a wig
or my sister’s high-heeled shoes.
It is darker than the man I love
who in my fantasies comes for me
in a silver, six-cylinder chariot.
I walk the waterfront/curbsides
in my sister’s high-heeled shoes.
Dreaming of him, his name
still unknown to my tongue.
While I wait for my prince to come,
from every other man I demand pay
for my kisses. I buy paint
for my lips. Stockings for my legs.
My own high-heeled slippers
and dresses that become me.
When he comes,
I know I must be beautiful.
I will know how to love his body.
Standing out here on the waterfront/curbsides

I have learned to please a man.
He will bring me flowers.
He will bring me silk
and jewels, I know.
While I wait,
I’m the only man who loves me.
They call me “Star”
because I listen to
dreams and wishes.
But grief is darker.
It is a white dress
that covers my body.
It is a wig
that does not rest gently
on my head.


Published in Blacklight Vol. 4, No. 4

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Toni Newman Interview with DJ Baker about LL Cool J and Eddie Murphy and other Celebrity Clients

Taken during MyCokeFest at Centennial Olympic ...

Image via Wikipedia

DJ Baker interviewed Toni Newman today on his 900th show, the Da Doo-Dirty Show. The Da Doo-Dirty Show is the longest running LGBT urban daily syndicated radio program on the internet. In the interview Toni Discusses her life on the street in Harlem and many of the clients she had as a transgendered prostitute including LL Cool J, the smooth rapper, known for licking his lips during concerts and interviews.

Click on the link below to hear the interview. The link goes to Podomatic.

The Da Doo-Dirty Show is an hour long. To skip to Newman’s interview scroll to 56:40 mark or listen to the whole Da Doo-Dirty show. In the show DJ Baker discusses:

  • Celebrity Apprentice and who goes home
  • Who’s joining the X Factor
  • Will Smith playing a slave in a Quentin Tarantino “Spaghetti Western
  • Oprah’s OWN Network
  • 50 Cent canceling his headphone line
  • Gay-bashing outside a Texas Gay Club
  • And out music news

Toni Newman Interview Discussing LL Cool J, Eddie Murphy, Brian McKnight, and many others (This is the interview link)

If you like DJ’s radio show  also check out his late night show below.

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Author Spotlight: Toni Newman and I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman

I first heard about Toni Newman from a press release from BlackNews.com. Newman was promoting a play about escorting and S&M. What stood out in the press release was a small sentence on her book, I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman. Then Newman popped up on my favorite website Crunk and Disorderly.Today I logged onto Facebook and saw Shahid Manning interviewed Newman on his show “Interviewing Hollywood.” Interviewing Hollywood is an online show featuring controversial and up-close and personal interviews with talent in Hollywood.

In the interview they talk about Newman transitioning from a Play Girl male model to a full figured woman, hormone treatments, prostitution, homelessness, life as a black transgendered woman, Isis King from America’s Next Top Model and celebrity clients, and she names names. The is NSFW. See the interview below:

Interviewing Hollywood’s Interview with Toni Newman Part 1

Interviewing Hollywood’s Interview with Toni Newman Part 2

Interviewing Hollywood’s Interview with Toni Newman Part 3

For my controversial and up-close and personal interviews with Manning’s “Interviewing Hollywood” show go to his website MSE Foundation. At the website you can see more of the incredible work they do and become members to get news and interviews before anyone else.

Book Blurb: “I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman is the true story of Toni Newman’s transformation from an internally conflicted male to a proud, pre-operative transsexual,” according to Newman’s website. “Born the eldest son into a strict Christian family, Toni reveals knowing early on in life that she “was a different bird born in the wrong body.” With crisp detail, humor and compassion, Toni tells her story of being a “sissy boy,” a scholarship student, a business professional, an escort, a drag queen, a NYC prostitute, an LA dominatrix, and finally, a transsexual attending law school in order to help her transsexual sisters in need.”

Work for hire photo of Isis King.

Image via Wikipedia


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The Creative Spark: how to unlock the creative process and inspire: read michelle tea

“There is no finer investment for any community than putting milk into babies” — Winston Churchill.

Community is important to me as a writer. I had to create community (an online community) through YouTube and blogs. No money. No formal writing education. Living in Backswamp Florida no literary festivals came my way. I scoured the internet for writers whose work inspired me and allowed me to see writing as a living thing. Writing as a method of storytelling. With sounds, colors, and experiences. Michelle Tea is one of those writers I pretend sat in creative writing class with me and we read and

Sister Spit - Michelle Tea

Image by cathredfern via Flickr

listened to each others work.

How I discovered her I can’t remember. But it was on YouTube. The video clip, Michelle reading at Sizzle, a monthly literary series held at Femina Potens Art Gallery in San Francisco on Market Street. The piece, a 30 year-old queergirl visits her mother in Florida after a devastating hurricane hits her city. The narrator is sleeping with her mother’s 24 year-old neighbor Aidan. Aidan’s going into the military and Aidan’s sister is 17 and pregnant. The group, with two hicks Marcus and Hank, are driving to karaoke night at a Chinese restaurant.

Michelle Tea Reading at Sizzle

I listened to that clip while I wrote. I turned it up high while I showered, while I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, all I could afford to buy. The language and style put me in the scene, in the car, in the restaurant.

Read the excerpt below:

Holy goddamn, Angela said, her snout pressed up against the glass, her eyes picking out shapes in the dark. There’s a boat, she narrated. There’s a couch, there’s fridge or something—a stove? Her hands with their chipped and bitten nails were folded under her belly, cradling the thought of it. How long you think it’ll take to get normal here? Not that it was ever normal, but you know. She gave me a look, like we were in on knowing that this place wasn’t normal, the two of us together in a vehicle of boys who thought this road was the whole world, more or less.

Additional excerpt:

Something about the layout of the karaoke place felt like a really bad brothel. The carpet was chunked with geometry and spattered with oblong cigarette burns; it rolled down a hallway that sprouted private rooms and dead-ended where the hurricane had ripped a chunk of the back wall off. The proprietor shrugged and pointed—I’m still the luckiest! I’m still here! Our room was lined with Naugahyde benches, the covers split, revealing a bulk of foam stuffing. A table was piled with binders listing songs, and a remote control that plugged the songs into the system. The proprietor demonstrated: “The Greatest Love of All” chimed into the room, joined by a video of sheep in a meadow. One sheep turned to face the camera, chomping on grass. It looked alarmed. Everybody’s searching for a hero. The words lit up across the pasture. Never found anyone who could fill my dreams. The proprietor left with a wave.

Michelle, a staple in the San Francisco lit community, is curator of her own reading series, Radar and a founder of a touring poetry/spoken word troupe called Sister Spit. Michelle and Sini Anderson, Sister Spit co-founder, “gathered together a group of some of the most notorious, talented, and just frickin’ interesting women and dykes, and went on tour all over the U.S, according to Sister Spit’s website.

I went through all of Michelle’s videos on YouTube. One of my favorites is titled Passing on the Pen, April 15, 2008 (PART 7). The video forced me to reevaluate some of the chapters in the book and go back and really think about what I was writing and how to pull in the reader.

Michelle Tea Reading at Passing on the Pen

Sister Spit is on tour now. Joining Michelle is Dorothy Allison, Justin Vivian Bond, Cheryl Dunye (Cheryl wrote, directed and starred in her first film which was the first African American lesbian feature film The Watermelon Woman), Erin Markey, Cassie J. Sneider, Kit Yan (an Asian American transman from Hawaii).

Check out Sister Spit for more information.

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