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Transgenders Community

Carl, Jazzmun and Michael, UGLA Mixer

From national headlines to local activism, the Transgender community is coming out and making waves. Fortunately, the Transgender community, while still facing more battles ahead, is receiving increased political and societal support.

Part of the coming-of-age, is how an individual and the trans community as a whole, will be addressed. From nationwide bathroom battles to “Jerry Springer” and Caitlyn Jenner to “Transparent,” "Enquiring minds want to know” the who, what and why.

From a strictly informational standpoint, “Transgender is an umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.” Further, “Trans” is sometimes used as shorthand for “transgender,” or “transitioning.”

And, like early on for gay men and lesbians, “The ways that transgender people are talked about in popular culture, academia and science are constantly changing, particularly as individuals’ awareness, knowledge and openness about transgender people and their experiences grow.”

Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance (UGLA), a non-profit, grassroots organization headquartered in Northeast Los Angeles, is helping to educate LGBT folk, and the community at large, on what is happening in and to the Trans community. At its February Mixer, UGLA hosted Lisa Marchbank, Executive Director and Lindsey Deaton, Artistic Director, of the TransChorus of Los Angeles (TCLA), as speakers. And, in May, Jazzmun Nichala Crayton, Michael Brewer and Madeleine Liebert, the creative and producing collaborators of “In Full Bloom…transcending gender,” were the speakers.

Lindsey spoke passionately about her own transitioning from a man in his late 50s to a woman. In 2015, she founded TCLA and with the goal to “fiercely empower Trans and gender non-conforming people to love their voices and by using them, change the ecology.” Earlier, Lindsey founded the Diverse City Youth Chorus in Cincinnati, Ohio, which encouraged young people, however they identify, to say “this is a place where I am accepted for who I am and everything that I bring."

Lindsey’s music credentials include being a graduate of Juilliard School of Music in New York City and a conducting apprentice to Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. She has guest conducted the San Francisco Ballet, the Louisville Orchestra, the Spokane Symphony and numerous orchestras at the Aspen Music Festival. Lindsey is married to Joan her wife of 36 years, has two daughters Mary and Joci, and runs regularly with her pooch Roosevelt.

Transgenders Community

Jazzmun, Madeleine, Bill and Michael, collaborators "In Full Bloom"

TCLA has forged an important relationship with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA). With this amazing support, TCLA has been able to perform at various venues to raise funds and promote awareness. On May 7, TCLA joined with GMCLA and VOX Femina, a womens’ choir “diverse in culture, age, race, belief and sexual identity,” in a performance at Schoenberg Hall, UCLA. Also, on May 17, TCLA marked the “International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.” This growing effort is a "Global Celebration of Sexual and Gender Identities."

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Jazzmun Nichala Crayton is an African American Trans/Gender Non-conforming Queer Person of Color residing in Hollywood. She can be seen in major motion pictures such as “The 40 Year Old Virgin” with Steve Carrell and “Blast from the Past” with Christopher Walken and Brendan Frasier. On television she has had recurring roles on “Big Shots,” “CSI-New York,” NYPD Blue,” “Nip/Tuck” and “ER.”

Transgenders Community

Lindsey Deaton, Director TransChorus Los Angeles

Jazzmun is the writer and producer of “In Full Bloom,” a stage play and documentary which explores the transgender experience through stories, dance and spoke word. She is currently a HIV Testing Counselor at Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT) where she works directly with transgender women of color who are living or affected by HIV. Jazzmun is a member of the Transgender Advisory Council for Los Angeles.

“In Full Bloom…transcending gender, (IFB)” allows “13 trans- and 2 gay actors to tell their own, as well as others' stories, thereby humanizing a misunderstood at best, and persecuted at worst, segment of our society.”

IFB premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and played at the Seattle Translations Transgender Film Festival and the National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina in 2015. It also screened at Jordan High School in Long Beach as part of the Jordan High School Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) community outreach program. This was followed by a screening at Crossroads High School, Santa Monica, an outstanding school for music, drama, visual arts, film, writing and dance. APAIT sponsored a screening at the Renberg - Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Theater in West-Hollywood. Michael Brewer is Director and Cinematographer and Madeleine Liebert is one of the producers.

It is not surprising that it is in the arts where support for the LGBT community continues to find spark and fuel. On a national level, TV, film and stage continue to give top awards to LGBT oriented and inspired material. At the grassroots level, Los Angeles is leading the way in educating the public about our lives. During UGLA’s 2015 Northeast Los Angeles LGBT Pride event, music by LGBT composers Aaron Copland, Benjamin Britten, Leondard Bernstein, Eve Beglarian, Byron Motley, Denise Dimin, Gian Carlo Menotti and others was featured.

There is no doubt that the trans community is moving away from the sensational and punch-line stereotypes. However, the path forward, while not easy and not always defined, is now being supported and spotlighted by the national media, the Democratic Party, and individuals and groups at grassroots level.

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Will all in the human race please stand-up.

Carl Matthes

Transgenders Community

Carl, Jazzmun and Michael, UGLA Mixer