Comment #2- Response to KOKUMỌ: artist and activist by Tess

Let me begin by saying that I enjoyed your presentation on Kokumo. Her video, “There Will Come a Day” is powerful, sincere, and genuine. After your presentation I found myself thinking about how Kokumo’s video shows a different form of “coming out”. I am taking a Homophobia and Coming Out class on the consequences of coming out in one way or another. In Kokumo’s video she had to come out as transgender woman in order to feel faithful to her partner. She felt like she could tell him because she had already been through sexual reconstruction surgery, but her partner did not see her for who she was, instead he saw her as the sex assigned at birth. The dangerous faced by LGBTQ’s in everyday life is heart- rending.

After class I showed it to my roommates and my partner. We began discussing the repercussions of coming out as a trans individual. After discussing the video and the dangerous with coming out as a trans person I connected it back to Gwen Araujo’s murder/trial, Throughout the conversations I found myself thinking back at Gwen Araujo’s murder, Tyra Hunter, and Fred Martinez. In all three murders we see transphobic violence occurring because of the stigma society places on trans people and masculinity. The videos ending is open to interpretations, but because of everything we have read, seen, and heard throughout the course we can assume that the woman was killed after telling her partner she was a trans woman. If we go back to Talia Bettcher, Shorton C. Riley, and Jin Haritaworn readings we see how violence, physically, mentally, and or socially all are subjected when coming out a LGBTQ. Bettcher’s piece on “Evil Deceivers and Make Believers” talks about the double mind of disclosing ‘who one is’ or coming out as a pretender or masquerader (Bettcher,283). Going back to Kokumo’s video I am assuming that her partner felt betrayed and loss of masculinity. The idea of having to come out as transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, etc. is a western idea that unfortunately comes with physical, mentally, and emotional violence.


Discussion Questions: Sex and Diversity, Sex Versus Gender, and Sexed Bodies

1. Joan Roughgarden raises the question, “whether variation within species is good in its own right or whether it is simply a collection of impurities every species is stuck with” (pg. 147). When I was reading her question I couldn’t help but to find myself rereading her question. The words, “stuck with” had me wondering what she meant by having your impurities “stuck with you”. How did you come about Roughgarden basic question?

2. Throughout the semester we have been distinguishing the difference between sex and gender. Joan Roughgarden makes it simple and defines sex as being a mixer of genes when reproducing. She then defines gender as society’s understanding of sex, “male” or “female”. When you were reading the section titled- “Gender Defined”, what did you think about all her examples of different species that don’t follow gender conformity?

3. Roughgarden says, “Changing sex has been suggested as a better way of obtaining a heterosexual pairing than moving somewhere else to find a partner of the opposite sex when traveling around is risky” (pg. 153). This reminded me of Kokumo and her video called, “There Will Come A Day” and how transgender violence will always continue even after genital reconstruction surgery. What are your thoughts about getting a sex change to fit into society’s categories?

Tuff (Trans United Family and Friends)

For this week’s reading on “The Romance of the Amazing Scalpel: “Race,” Labor, and Affect in the Thai Gender Reassignment Clinics” by Aizura Aren I felt strongly about the sense of family support and how GRS in Thai turned into a free market capitalism. “Aizura interviews both Thai and non-Thai trans woman, surgeons, and clinic staff to reveal the political and racial economies of gender reassignment clinics” (Aizura, 496). Aizura looks at race and the “uneven distribution of care as a signal of the neoliberal privatization of transnational medical tourism” (Aizura, 496). Thailand is well known around the world for its GRS and its surgeons. The clinics in Thailand provide services for many foreign visitors; because of the high demand and well known surgeons these clinics have been able to raise their prices.

Some of the people Aizura interviewed experienced Thailand to have been the best place to have had their GRS and others feeling less than someone else who paid the same price for their GRS. In the case of Som, describing difficulty with the aftercare procedures and feeling that she couldn’t expect the same services as a non-Thai, or white patient. Another person Aizura interviewed was Emma, a Vietnamese who had been living in Australia for twelve years when she had her GRS in Bangkok in 2006. She went to Thailand to have her GRS and stayed in one of Bangkok’s premier medical-tourism hospitals, having surgery by one of the best surgeons. Emma was traveling alone and after her surgery and recovering she decided that going to Thailand was the worst choice. She described her experience as annoying and difficult. “Dr. ___ is very busy and it’s difficult to get him to come see me. I am very annoyed. Also, the nurses do not come to see me. I ring and it takes half an hour for them to come…” (Aizura, p. 498). On the other hand, Karen’s experience was marvelous, a white trans woman living in Brisbane, Australia. She describes her experience to have been supportive and positive. Nurses were by her side 24/7 for whenever she needed something.

The reason why I picked the TUFF organization to talk about is because fact that the health care system does not cover GRS allows for GRS to become a free market and with organizations like Rostovsky someone’s life could change.

Trans United Family and Friends Organization by a senior

Tuff (Trans United Family and Friends) is a non-profit organization that sets out to raise funds for FTM and MTF medical procedures that many transgender and gender variant individuals in the United States cannot afford. This organization was started by Jacob Rostovsky, a 22-year-old transgender male. He began this organization as a senior at Point Scholar at American Jewish University in 2013. Rostovsky came out as trans at the age of 10 years. His family was wealthy enough to help him afford hormone treatment and undergo top surgery. However, Rostovsky also knows how unfortunate and expensive coming out as trans and transition could be that he began funding the TUFF organization on his own until he raises enough money to earn its 501(c) fund the winning recipient’s surgeries (Lindsay, 2013). Benjamin Lindsay states, “Rostovsky says that once living as the sex he identified with he was able to live life positively and support the trans community. “Rostovsky says he has known since age 15 that he wanted a future aiding the trans community, and after realizing the benefits of his own surgery, he knew that funding surgeries is his exact calling. TUFF is still in the beginning stages, but Rostovsky has hopes to fund one lucky applicant’s gender reassignment surgery by September 2013”.  The recipient who wins Rostovsky fund will have to just as involved in the trans community and give back.

Creator of the Tuff fund


Link to TUFF website:

Link to Jacob’s website:


PLAG-San Francisco

Mission: “The mission of PFLAG San Francisco echoes that of the national organization. PFLAG SF promotes the health and well being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends, through support to cope with an adverse society, education to enlighten an ill-informed public, and advocacy to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. PFLAG SF provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity and act to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity”.

PFLAG is consisted of volunteers and offer support through personal experiences and help parents with trans children to help understand and support them.


Link to PFLAG’s website:




Violence (blog post #1)

Throughout the semester we have been studying about different ways in which society views, reads, and categorize transexuality. Inside the nine readings we have done and videos watched outside of class a key concept I find significant in the course is violence. When you hear the term violence, physical harm comes to mind, but while reading “Sexile”, “Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossing”, watching Screaming Queens, and Transgression violence consisted of mental deterioration. Within the two readings and videos we see how transgender individuals fall victims of society, the law, and their nations. When focusing on trans studies, it is important to look at how we as a society label and try to categorize individuals into groups. Doing so could lead to violence, discrimination, and a target.

In Jaime Cortez, “Sexile” we read how Adela Vasquez was seen as a bastard child from birth because she was born from a single parent. Cortez writes, “I couldn’t wait to grow up because I knew that when I turned 10… my dick would fall off… my pussy would grow and finally I’d become a complete girl” (pg, 6). Here we see Vasquez officially stating she felt like she was born with the wrong body parts. Vasquez mentions that whenever a bully would pick on her she would seduce him and then blackmail him. Because dressing as a woman was illegal in Cuba, Vasquez decided to migrate to the U.S. because she was a “fag” (pg, 22). Vasequez and other trans individuals were taken to an army base where the bus with the migrates were welcomed by an angry mob ready to attack the trans. Violence waited outside the army base gates ready to attack any tans individual setting out. Unfortunately, Vasquez had to leave the base until the next morning, but because of the angry mob an officer offered to conceal her in an army truck until they passed the mob. To no surprise, the officer stopped the truck and exposed Vasquez to the mob. Vasquez remembers “fists, colors exploding in her head, and then nothing” (pg, 25). After making it to the U.S. Vasquez had to turn to sex in order to survive. This reminded me of the violence trans sex workers faced in the tenderloin, but had to still go out every night in order to make money to have a place to sleep and food to eat.

In Alisa Solomon, “Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossing” we read about violence both physically and mentally. In Solomon’s reading we read about Christina Madrazo, a transsexual woman from Mexico seeking asylum in the U.S. Madrazo did not receive asylum because she was trans and had two misdemeanor on her record. Madrazo was put into immigration detention where she says she was raped by a guard. Most of these detainees do not understand English and aren’t guaranteed attorneys. Trans are kept in solitary confinement for protection, but end up being locked up in a cell with no light or fresh air. INS personnel offer sex in exchange for early release, warning of transfers, or threats of deportation. Although the personnel don’t have access to these things the detainees don’t know that. As in the video Transgression we hear how Norma Ureiro was a victim of violence within the INS and physically abused by her parents. Ureiro says, “I was going crazy”.

Unfortunately, violence in the trans community is recurrent, but often unheard. Violence is a common factor in bibliographies of trans identified individuals. There aren’t many laws protecting hate crimes from making the trans community an easy target for violence. We often hear stories LGBTQ individuals committing suicide, running away from home, being forced out of their homes/communities, and or taken advantage of. In the cases Solomon and Cortez talk about violence is used against tans of color. Trans of color are easier to fall victims of violence because of their social class, lack of resources, and vulnerability. We heard how Norma Ureiro became victim of the Immigration system after being caught illegally in the U.S. We also saw how Adela Vasquez from “Sexile” was a victim of rejection and violence. Because of these stories I believe violence is a key concept for this course because we have heard and read different ways in which individuals of the trans community have fallen victims of violence physically and mentally.

Leticia Cervantes: Introduction


My name is Leticia Cervantes. I am a third year student majoring in Criminal Justice. I am looking forward to learning about transgender identities and communities since I am part of the LGBT community and would love to gather some knowledge about this topic. I’m excited about the blogs that will be posted throughout the semester. I really enjoyed the questions and comments brought up in todays lecture. Hope to get familiar with a couple of you throughout the semester. Have a wonderful rest of the week!