Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #102, Summer 2003.

by Monica F. Helms

I was going through my morning routine, getting ready for another day at Tapestry Towers. Only a few months ago, we all thought we would lose our jobs because of the lavish spending of the editor, Dallas Denny. However, Dallas used her beguiling ways to convince a Saudi sheik to float a multi-million-dollar loan, which in reality should be considered a ?gift,? as she has no intention of paying it back.

As I adjusted my skirt and slipped into my flats, I heard what sounded like a knock at the door. Rounding the corner into my living room, I saw the strangest thing?the air in front of the door appeared distorted, like ripples in a pond. The ripples increased in intensity and air started rushing into the center. The turbulence was so intense that papers flew off the table and into the opening.
?Hey! That was my column!? I knew Dallas wouldn?t accept the excuse ?A hole in my living room ate my paper,? since I had already used the-dog-ate-my-paper excuse. ?Damn! I have to go into that mysterious hole and retrieve my column.?

Cautiously, I stepped closer to the ever-widening opening. Because of the wind, I could barely keep my balance; my hair stuck out in front of me. Then I was sucked through the opening. Swirling, swirling. It looked just like what I?d seen on the TV shows ?Sliders? and ?Stargate, SG1.? [Monica?s not quite old enough to remember ?The Time Tunnel??Dallas]

I found myself dumped onto the floor of a dirty, abandoned office suite. Wind blew through smashed-out windows, and a thick layer of dust covered everything. Stepping to the window, I viewed the landscape before me. A metropolis lay in ruins, like a scene from a
post-apocalypse movie.

As the horror of what I saw sank in, I suddenly realized where I stood. ?Oh, my God. I?m in Dallas? office in Tapestry Towers!? Looking around, I confirmed it. The desk was the same one Dallas had brought up by a crane through the window. It was her office, all right.

I examined the decorations on the wall. There were rows and rows of pictures, all of Dallas. Wiping the dust off one, I saw that it read ?Dallas Denny No. 10, 2225-2292.? The pictures were in sequential order, beginning with the original Dallas. ?Well, I?ll be. The rumors were true!? I had heard Dallas wanted to have herself cloned so she could continue to run the magazine into the future. She would never trust anyone else to take over for her.

On another wall, I spotted a Tapestry front cover. ?Issue #1000? Summer? Is it still a quarterly? Wow, that?s 225 years into the future! But by the looks of things, I?m much further into the future than that.? There was something strange about the cover. ?What? Transspecies Tapestry? What?s going on here??

I searched the room for a clue. I found it in a huge book entitled The Harry Benjamin Interplanetary Standards of Care for Species Identity Disorder. ?Ah,? I thought. ?This should explain things!

Reading, I discovered that as humans had ventured to other planets, we had encountered new species of intelligent life. As we discovered more and more new species, some people began to feel they should not have been born human. From this, a whole new industry came into existence. SRS now stood for ?Species Reassignment Surgery.? Of course, there were those who only wanted to be a different species on weekends, while others felt they were ?species neutral.? Youth had coined the phrase, ?species queer.?

Then I caught the glimpse of a clean, white sheet of paper tucked into the corner. ?My column!? Indeed, I had found part of one of my old Transgender Tapestry columns.

New Veterans Organization

As the transgender population grows, so does the number of transgender military veterans and active duty service members. The Don?t Ask, Don?t Tell policy that doesn?t help gays, lesbians and bisexuals doesn?t work at all for transgendered active duty service members.

If one is caught crossdressing in the military or is discovered to be transsexual, the military uses various means to get rid of that person. The process is never easy or pleasant.

Transsexual veterans look toward the Veterans Administration for medical services promised them when they were in the service. In some locations, they are finding VA medical facilities provide excellent service, including hormone therapy and psychological counseling. But at other facilities, transsexual veterans are refused all medical services. This inconsistency occurs because each facility individually interprets the laws and policies regarding the treatment of transsexuals.

These problems were initially addressed by the Veteran?s Affairs Committee of the National Trans
gender Advocacy Coalition?but as more and more issues affecting transgendered active duty service members and veterans came to light, it became clear a committee could not adequately address the problem. In January 2003, some members of NTAC?s VA Committee decided to form a new national organization, the Transgender American Veterans Association.

Being a national organization allows TAVA to bring in more people, form coalitions to address veterans? issues more fully, and acquire its own grants and funding.

In the first month of its existence, TAVA not only attracted more than 50 members, it became a national partner with the Library of Congress? Veteran?s History Project. This project was established to gather as many stories from living veterans as possible and store them for all time. The U.S. loses 1500 veterans a day?and along with them, their stories.

Two other national GLBT veterans? organizations, and the American Veterans for Equal Rights, are also partners on this project; both have also become coalition partners with TAVA. TAVA is dedicated to preserving as many stories from transgendered veterans as possible, and to helping AVER and collect stories from gay, lesbian and bisexual veterans.

?Okay, that?s Page Three. Where?s the rest? I?d better keep looking.? Checking around the office, I noticed a door. Curious, I opened it and peered into darkness. I thought I caught a glimpse of white on the floor, but I needed a light to see whether it was another page of my column. Pulling a flashlight from my purse, I shone it on the floor; indeed, I found another page. [You?d be surprised
what Ms. Monica keeps in her purse. I once caught a glimpse of an entrenching tool?Dallas]

After picking up Page Two, I moved the light around to see what treasures Dallas might have hidden in the room. On the far back wall, I could see what appeared to be a refrigerator covered with dust. ?Dallas?s kitchen?? I thought. But as I stepped closer, I noticed something familiar about
the ?refrigerator.?

?It?s the WayBack Machine! What the hell is it doing here? Dallas was suppose to give it back to Mr. Peabody after I was through using it for issue #100.? I brushed dust from the handle and cracked open the door. A stench of dry decay nearly made me gag. As I opened the door wider, a skeleton fell out at my feet.

Florida Redeems Itself

Remember hanging chads? No, they?re not a gay sixties rock group. How about voting irregularities in the governor?s race, or Orlando and St. Petersburg not adding protection for transgendered people, or Dade County trying to remove protection for sexual orientation? Does the name Jeb Bush ring a bell? Yes, these wonderful things happened in the Sunshine State. However, with all that sunshine, there was little enlightenment in Florida, until...

On February 21, 2003, there was a bright ray of sunshine in Florida. Circuit Court Judge Gerard O?Brien finally handed down his ruling in the child custody case of Michael Kantaras vs. Linda Kantaras, in a document of more than 800 pages. No wonder it took more than a year for the decision. It?s about the size of War and Peace.

The war is over, and peace reigns in the Kantaras household. Michael has custody of his two children.

The Kantaras decision has been hailed as one of the most significant victories for transgendered people in recent memory, a positive ruling after adverse decisions in the Littleton, Gardiner, and Oiler cases (the marriages of transsexuals Christine Littleton and J?Noel Gardiner were ruled invalid by the high courts of, respectively, Texas and Oklahoma. Crossdresser Peter Oiler was fired by the grocery chain Winn-Dixie for wearing women?s clothing away from work?Ed.).

?Chromosomes are only one factor in the determination of sex and they do not overrule gender or self-identity which is the true test or identifying mark of sex,? wrote Judge O?Brien. ?Michael has always, for a lifetime, had a self-identity as a male.? ?It?s
a complete victory for Michael Kantaras, and it?s a victory for all transsexuals,? said Kantaras? attorney, Collin Vause.

Claudia Wheeler, Linda Kantaras? attorney, cautioned in her closing argument that a decision favoring Michael Kantaras would be ?like a barnyard door coming open. If Michael can be a male because Michael thinks he is a male, and because of some surgery, your honor, then we?re headed for big trouble. It will create utter chaos.?

Karen Doering, Michael Kantaras? co-counsel and staff attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called Wheeler?s remarks ?just silly.? ?I think this is a very, very positive sign. This is the first case to thoroughly examine the medical aspects of transsexualism.?

Now, I?m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV (or on TS, for that matter), but, it doesn?t take a lawyer to see the importance of this decision. As Karen Doering pointed out, a Circuit Court Judge made a decision based on extensive medical scrutiny of what it means to be transsexual. This intense dissection of the lives of people who go through the transsexual process needed to be documented in a court of law. In the future, lawyers will use O?Brien?s 800-page document to argue their cases, and more than likely will be successful at it. It?s Christmas in February, and Judge O?Brien has given us the gift that will keep on giving. Don?t forget to send the man a thank you card.

?What the ...!? I nearly had a heart attack right on the spot. As I shoved the skeleton off my feet, I directed the flashlight at it. ?That?s not human. Could it be one of those new species we had encountered?? But, no. Something looked familiar with this skeleton. Then it hit me. ?Oh, my God. This is Mr. Peabody!? Sure enough. The doggie tag confirmed it. ?I can see now?Dallas never gave the WayBack Machine back to Mr. Peabody.? One will never know why.

I had to find the other two pages of my article. Back in the main part of the office, I spotted another page under Dallas? desk. Three down and one to go.

Human Brutality Highlighted

In another courtroom on the opposite side of the country, a picture of brutality and hate came to light in the murder trial of four men accused in the beating October 3, 2002 death of Gwen Araujo. Standing trial in February were Jaron Chase Nabors, 19; Michael William Magidson, 22; Jason Cazares, 23; and Jose Antonio Merel, 23.

Press coverage of the trial was heavy in California, but especially heavy in the Bay Area, where the trial took place. Nabors turned state?s evidence and painted a horrible picture of the events of that fatal night. The four men knew Gwen as Lida, and when she appeared at the same party they attended, they became angry because they knew she was born biologically male.

Nabors revealed detail after gory detail of the events that night. He
told of beatings, blood on the couch and carpet, a dent in the wall where Gwen?s head impacted it, of the
four men wrapping Gwen in a comforter, then dragging her out to the garage. There, they wrapped a
rope around her neck and slowly twisted it. To make sure she was dead, Cazares whacked her on the head twice with a shovel. The four then loaded Gwen in the back of a pickup and drove four hours to Silver Fork Road in El Dorado, a place where Cazares and Magidson had camped before. There, they buried Gwen in a shallow grave. At that time, Nabors said he couldn?t believe someone would ever do that, would be so
deceitful as to pretend to be a woman. He then said, ?Jose said he was so mad he could still kick her a couple more times.? Afterwards, they stopped at a McDonald?s for breakfast.

At the time I wrote this column, the trial was still under way. I?m willing to bet that by the time you read this, the outcome will not yet have been decided. Gwen Smith, the creator of the Remembering Our Dead website and event coordinator for the Transgender Day of Remembrance, pointed out to me that the coverage for this trial has exceeded the coverage garnered by the Brandon Teena murder trial. It may even exceed the coverage of the murder trial of the men who killed Matthew Shepard.

Here in the 21st century, the brutality one person inflicts on
another hasn?t diminished. The four men who killed 17-year-old Gwen Araujo could have easily been the ones Balboa ordered to send his wild dogs to kill the two-spirited people in Central America, or could have lit the bonfire under Joan of Arc. The only difference is that today we can witness the brutality in living color, right in our living rooms, while eating our evening meals. How convenient.

?One more page. Ah! There it is, on top of Dallas? trophy case.

Hey, look! Dallas finally did receive the Virginia Prince Award. Well, maybe not the original Dallas. It?s dated 2113.?

Civil Rights AND Great Mexican Food?

At the time this article was being written, the Senate and House of the State of New Mexico both passed a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender
identity. Both bills are similar, and when the two legislative bodies can decide on the final wording, Governor Bill Richardson has stated he will sign it.

Voting along mostly party lines, Senate Bill 28 passed with a vote of 22 to 18. One Democrat, Sen. Lidio Rainaldi (D-Gallup), joined all Republicans present in voting against the measure. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-Albuquerque).

Linda Siegle of the Coalition for Equality in New Mexico stated that the process began in 1991. She said she feels it?s time to add protection for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people to the state?s Human Rights Act.

Most New Mexico senators feel a need to attract business to the state, and Governor Richardson has made this a high priority for his administration. Sen. Allen Hurt (R-Waterflow) directed a statement toward the Governor in an interview with reporter Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican: ?Your Democratic Senate just sent you a bill that will keep business out of the state.?

Terrell includes in his article a quote from Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon: ?These are American citizens who are entitled to the same protections you and I are,? he argues. ?To be an American, you need to be non-discriminating.?

In the course of this bill being
discussed, some of the senators made some humorous comments?or at least, I found them humorous. These also appeared in the New Mexican. Sen. Mary Jane Garcia (D-Dooa Ana), discussing the role of clothing in
gender identity, stated ?We?re not gay. We?re not men. We just feel comfortable in our pants suits.?

Sen. Clint Harden (R-Clovis), discussing gender and prejudices, said ?I?m a male. There?s nothing I can do about it. Well, I guess there is, but I choose not to.?

Sen. Joe Carraro (R-Albuquerque) remarked, ?Many men such as I who consider ourselves macho have many feminine traits??

If the bills can be combined into one acceptable piece of legislation which is signed by the Governor, then New Mexico will join an elite club of three states that have passed bills protecting their transgendered citizens. Of course, the way the Republican wind is blowing in Minnesota these days, once the dust settles, New Mexico may be one of just two states protecting transgender people.

(After writing this piece, I?m craving some good Mexican food. Anyone for tacos? [How ?bout some ribs??Dallas])

Great...I have my column, but how do I get home? A lot of good it does me to be here in the future. I brushed the thick dust from Dallas? comfortable leather chair and sat down to think. ?Hey, wait! The WayBack Machine! Damn. What do I use for power??

Then I remembered: the WBM takes just two C batteries to operate, cells exactly like the ones in my flashlight. ?I?ll need some light to see what I?m doing.? I pulled a lighter out of my purse, grabbed the hefty Harry Benjamin Interplanetary Standards of Care, and rushed into the dark room where the WayBack Machine had been sitting for more than two hundred years. The book made a bright flame in the middle of the room as I inserted the batteries in the Wayback?s battery compartment. When I heard the familiar sound of the WBM kicking on, my stomach began to churn.

Just as I was about to step into the machine, I thought, ?I need to bring a souvenir from Dallas? office.? I rushed out of the room. One minute later, I came back, holding a large plaque in my arms. ?Yeah. I can?t wait to show this Virginia Prince Award to Dallas; it?s an award she won?t be earning anytime soon.? I stepped into the WBM, set the controls, and headed home.