Join Janet Mock, Me and Other Trans Women Writers   Janet Mock, trans activist and author of the New York Times bestselling book Redefining Realness has gathered up a great group of trans women writers to celebrate Women’s History Month, talk about our craft, and interact with all of you this Wednesday, March 26! In on this conversation will be Toni Newman, Ryka Aoki, Janet Mock and me! It’s such a great honor for me to be included along with these great trans women authors. This is going to be a great way to learn more about trans women writers and get to know us better. Or, as the event page puts it: Join #RedefiningRealness author +Janet Mock for a live, intimate conversation with some of her favorite trans women writers in celebration of Women’s History Month. They’ll be on-air discussing their books, writing and craft. Watch live and join the Q&A via Google Hangouts and broadcast on YouTube. If you’ve been reading Autostraddle for a little while, you’re probably already familiar with Janet Mock. She’s an activist, speaker, author and Piers Morgan slayer. Aoki is a “writer, performer, and educator who… was  honored as a member of the “Trans 100” list as one of 100 groundbreaking trans advocates from around the country, and named as one of “11 Trans Artists of Color You Should Know in 2013” by the Huffington Post.” Newman is the author of I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman, which is the first memoir written by an African American trans woman. This is an amazing bunch of talented and inspirational women that will each bring their own unique flawlessness to the table. The chat is happening this Wednesday, March 26 at 8pm Eastern and you can either join in on the Google Hangout, or you can watch it later on Youtube. This is going to be a great conversation, complete with readings from the writers and discussion and questions submitted by viewers. Plus, you can enjoy it from the comfort of your own home. Make sure you check out the event page, RSVP and submit your questions! You might remember a previous chat that she hosted back when her book first came out and landed on the bestseller list. If you enjoyed that chat, enjoyed reading Redefining Realness or enjoy the work of any of the other trans women writers involved (including me!), this is the perfect event for you. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to have your questions answered by some truly talented trans women! Again, this conversation will be happening live at 8pm Eastern on March 26 via Google Hangouts. So get out your laptops and join in. This will be my first time doing something like this, so I’d love to see a bunch of friendly Autostraddle faces joining in the conversation!  ” - tonid


John O'Connor, Director of Equality California, on the Future of Full LGBT Equality (AUDIO) John O'Connor, Executive Director of Equality California (EQCA), the largest statewide LGBT advocacy organization fighting for full equality for LGBT persons in California, appeared on my radio show to discuss LGBT equality after the victory for same-sex marriage in California, as well as important issues for LGBT equality in 2013 and the future. John has been Executive Director of Equality California since January 2013. Before coming to EQCA, his experience included serving as Executive Director of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, Program Director of the David Geffen Foundation, and National Director of the Gill Foundation, and working with former California First Lady Maria Shriver at the California Museum. O'Connor is a graduate of Georgetown University. Together with its allies, Equality California has successfully sponsored more than 91 pieces of pro-LGBT legislation. The latest focus of Equality California is on improving the lives of LGBT Californians by fighting for LGBT youth, fighting against youth suicides, bullying, and anti-transgender harassment and discrimination, and protecting LGBT elders against abuse in nursing homes. The "T" in "LGBT" has sometimes been forgotten in the fight for full LGBT equality, and as an African-American transgender woman, I know how important equality is for my transgender brothers and sisters (especially the youth) trying to survive and live in the United States. In 2013 Equality California has co-sponsored Assembly Bill 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act. According to the Transgender Law Center, another co-sponsor of the bill: AB 1266 will ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students, and will allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities, sports teams, programs, and facilities in accordance with their gender identity. ... California law already prohibits discrimination in education, but transgender students are often still unfairly excluded from physical education, athletic teams, and other school activities and facilities because of who they are. This exclusion negatively impacts students' ability to succeed in school and graduate with their class. For example, physical education classes help students develop healthy fitness habits and teach values like teamwork and fair competition - and P.E. credits are required, so students cannot graduate without them. The Transgender Law Center further explains: Co-authored by Senators Mark Leno and Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Toni Atkins, the bill is backed by a coalition of leading organizations, including Transgender Law Center, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Gender Spectrum, Equality California, ACLU of California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, statewide teacher and parent organizations, and dozens of other organizations. A.B. 1266 successfully passed both houses of the California state legislature and was just signed into law today, Aug. 12, by Gov. Jerry Brown. By signing this law, Gov. Brown continues his leadership on issues of equality and support for transgender students in their efforts to succeed in school and graduate on time. With a brand-new physical location for Equality California, John O'Connor and his new management team (Deputy Director Jack Lorentz, Chief Administrative Officer Rikimah Glymph, Chief of Staff Tony Huang, and Communications Director Jesse Melgar) are marching forward to create a strong California and defending LGBT rights and protections, especially transgender rights. In our interview, John O'Connor talks about his vision for the future of Equality California and the continued fight for full LGBT equality. He states that the mission is full equality for all LGBT persons and nothing less. Equality California phone team warriors (photo by Josh Steichmann) Listen to the live interview with John O'Connor:   Current GLBTQ Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with ToniNewman on BlogTalkRadio To all my transgender brothers and sisters: Stay encouraged, and remember that there are a lot of people fighting for your equality and rights and protections. We are God's children, created by Him, and we deserve fairness and equality, just like any other American citizen, and nothing less. To find out more about Equality California, please go to or contact Communications Director Jesse Melgar at”
  Masen Davis, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, Talks Transgender Equality   Get Gay Voices Newsletters: Subscribe As Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, Masen Davis brings over two decades of leadership and activism in the movement toward LGBT equality. Since beginning this role in 2007, Davis has expanded the Transgender Law Center's annual operating budget from $385,000 to $1.4 million, thereby increasing the richness and expanding the impact of the organization's multidisciplinary programs. Masen received his B.A. from Northwestern University and his M.S.W. from UCLA. Now that Proposition 8 and DOMA have been overturned, the LGBT community has claimed a big victory, but the fight for full LGBT equality moves forward. We have youth suicides, bullying, transgender discrimination and high rates of unemployment among transgender people, especially transgender people of color. Our fight for full equality within the LGBT community is far from over. My conversation with Masen Davis is important because we must not forget our transgender brothers and sisters trying to live authentic lives. The Transgender Law Center's motto is "making authentic lives possible. Toni Newman: Who is Masen Davis? Where are you from? Give us a little bit of your background. Masen Davis: Well, I'm originally from the Midwest. I grew up in a family with a Methodist minister for a father and grew up all over Missouri as we moved around to different churches, and then went off to school in Chicago before coming out to California in the mid-'90s and have been between Los Angeles and San Francisco ever since. I came out into the LGBT community about 20, 25 years ago at this point (though it's hard for me to imagine sometimes!) and then came out as transgender in my mid-20s and have been active in the community ever since. That's been about 16 years now, and it has been a real honor and joy to be able to be an activist full-time over the last six years while I've been at Transgender Law Center. I just can't imagine a better way to spend my time on this Earth, and I'm really appreciative of everybody who is able to be out as themselves as a transgender person, and those like yourself who are really bringing voice to the issues that so many of us face. Newman: What is the Trangender Law Center, and what is your core purpose? Davis: Well, the Transgender Law Center is a civil rights organization advocating for transgender and gender-nonconforming people throughout the United States. We started off as a project of the National Center for Lesbian Rights back in 2002, and we were focused on addressing the discrimination that transgender people faced in almost every institution in California at the time. And since then, we've been able to pass and help pass a whole slate of really strong laws in California and decided a couple of years ago to extend our work nationwide. So we now hear from about 2,500 transgender people across the country each year who are contacting us to get support for the challenges that they are facing, anywhere from issues impacting the ability to be themselves and to have the correct gender marker on their identity documents. We get a lot of calls about employment discrimination, a lot of calls about health care access, and a lot of people contacting us about issues in schools and in their families. Our motto is to "make authentic lives possible." We really believe that all of us as transgender people deserve to be fully ourselves in whatever way that manifests, and our goal is to help make it a little easier for all of us to just be who we are. We've mostly focused on creating law, so through policy work and legislation, and forcing law through our legal services, and then we also work on making laws really real in the lives of transgender people by creating groundbreaking and kind of pilot projects like the Transgender Economic Empowerment Initiative, a jobs program in San Francisco, and Project H.E.A.L.T.H., increasing access to community health services for low-income folks. So we've been quiet in San Francisco for a number of years. I think that we've been a lot more visible in the last few as we've been doing more public work at the national level, and we're very proud at this point, I believe, to be the largest transgender advocacy organization in the United States and continue to gear up to, you know, keep pushing things forward. Newman: Now, what laws are you sponsoring in 2013 that you think are the most beneficial to transgender people in California as well as the nation? Davis: In California we have three bills that we've been doing some work on that I think are really important. One is A.B. 1121, which would make it a lot easier for transgender people to change the gender marker on their birth certificate. To be honest, we've done a number of tweaks to this over the years, but in California you still have to get a court-ordered gender change in order to change your birth certificate, and then publish that in the newspaper. And as you know, Toni, that can be really expensive and challenging for a lot of transgender people to accomplish, so the new bill that we've put up now would create an alternate process, so people don't have to go through the court system, and to end the process where people have to pay oftentimes a lot of money to publish their name change in a newspaper. This one's been really important to me, just because I see how hard it is for low-income trans folks to go through the court process, and I really hope this makes it a lot more affordable and easier for everyone to have an ID document that matches who we really are. The second law is one that is the first time that this kind of law has been introduced, I believe, in the United States, and it is A.B. 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, and this is one I'm pretty excited about at this point. We hear from transgender students around the country who say that they are having a hard time making it through high school, because they don't have a bathroom they can use safely, or they can't attend and prepare for gym class, and as a result they're getting health problems and oftentimes not getting the credits they need to graduate on time. So the School Success and Opportunity Act is designed to ensure that in California, transgender students have access to the facilities and the activities that correspond with their gender identity, so that would mean that, basically, transgender girls in school are treated like other girls, transgender boys are treated like other boys, and they'd have access to gym class and restrooms that reflect the way they're going to school in the school day. This has been the first time we've seen this kind of bill go forward in the United States. We've been really impressed by how much success it has, in large part because of the parents and the trans youth who are speaking up for themselves and sharing their stories. That's made a really big difference. Both of these bills have passed the Assembly in California, and now we're on to the Senate, and we're really hopeful that they'll be passed and signed into law by the end of the year. So the third one is one that we are not sponsoring at this point but we're supporting and I really want to encourage people in California to really speak out for, and that is A.B. 332, which would order police and prosecutors to stop using condoms as evidence of sex work. I don't know about you, but I know especially in some areas like Los Angeles, as I talk to trans women, especially transgender women of color, so many are harassed by police and, if they're actually carrying condoms, accused of being involved in sex work, merely because they want to protect themselves. And this is, one, just part of the overpolicing of transgender people that we've got to stop to begin with, but, two, it's is just really unhealthy to create any incentive for transgender people to not practice safe sex by having condoms. So I think this is a really important [bill], to stop this practice of using condoms as evidence of sex work, so that we can actually take care of ourselves and our partners. Newman: The Transgender Law Center has joined with Equality California and its new executive director, John O'Connor, in sponsoring several bills here in California. Equality California is the largest statewide LGBT advocacy organization in California working to secure full and lasting equality for and acceptance of LGBT people. How did that come about, these two organizations coming together to co-sponsor bills that are beneficial mainly to transgender people? Davis: We've actually had a pretty good relationship with Equality California over the years. It's interesting: If I look at what's going on in other states, oftentimes there are challenges getting the state equality groups, which are predominantly, or at least historically have been predominantly, gay and lesbian, it's been hard to get a lot of them to really take on some bigger transgender projects. I will say I feel really fortunate in California that our state equality group here, Equality California, has been generally very receptive to introducing transgender-specific legislation. I think part of that is because they've actually had transgender people on their board, and their leadership has specifically had relationships with transgender people. That's really helped them to understand how important this issue is. So we've partnered with Equality California now for a number of years on different pieces of transgender legislation, which is one of the reasons we have really good protections now, at least on paper, when it comes to transgender people at work, at school, in housing, and even in our insurance coverage. So it's been neat to work with John as the new leadership of Equality California, and to see that they are continuing this history of support for the transgender community. I think they see that while we've had a lot of progress around gay and lesbian rights, equality for transgender people still lags behind, and that we just have to work together to change that. What I really hope is that this kind of model can be increasingly replicated in other parts of the country, because we have so many states that have almost no protection throughout the U.S., and I do think if the LGB(-and-sometimes-small-T) groups worked more intensely with the transgender-specific groups that we would move that forward a lot more quickly. Newman: Why do you think so many trans women, especially trans women of color, live below the poverty level and have high rates of unemployment? Davis: I think there are a lot of reasons, Toni, and I'd be interested to kind of get your own perception of that. It is interesting. You talked about coming out about 15 years ago, and I came out around that time period, and at the time, I think so many -- almost all -- of us who were transgender assumed that we would lose our jobs and might not do very well once we came out as transgender. And I do think that that's improved for a lot of transgender people. ... But we know from some of the research that's been done both in California and nationwide that while transgender people in general are twice as likely to be unemployed, twice as likely to live under the poverty line, when it comes to transgender people of color, they are four times as likely to be living under the poverty line, so that the intersection of transphobia and racism is just really deadly, and we've got to figure out, how do we make sure that all of us are able to take care of ourselves and our families? If you look at what African Americans and Latinos in general in California face because of racism, I believe there are a lot of barriers still to employment, and way-too-high poverty levels. When you add that to somebody being transgender, it can just be really challenging. I think, though, at the same time that there's a lot of resiliency I see, especially in African-American and Latino trans communities, having come up in L.A. myself, seeing how tight people are and how much support. I think that there's a lot of folks who are beating the odds and are really working to change things. And I've been really impressed by some of the work that's happened. For example, I think about some of the activists like Bamby Salcedo in L.A., who went back to school and has talked publicly about the experience of getting a bachelor's degree and what that has been like. I think it creates a new role model for other trans women to see that there are a lot of options, and that there are opportunities to get an education and to get into the workplace and to stand up and fight for all that we need as a people. Newman: So do you believe that education could turn the poverty and high rates of employment around for transgender people? Davis: I think there are three things that I think that are especially important, and one is family acceptance, because we know for any of our trans youth, if they have families that accept them as they are, whether or not they agree or understand, if they can actually accept their kids, and our youth are able to stay in their homes when they're young, that makes such a big difference. And then education. We did a survey on the state of transgender California a few years ago, and we found out that what seemed to make a big difference about how somebody was doing economically was whether or not they had two years of college. So they didn't necessarily need to have a bachelor's degree, but if someone had basically an AA degree or two years of community college, their financial status was so much better in the long run. So if somebody can get a GED or graduate, get into college, even a couple of years, and then get some support to get into the workforce, which is, I guess, my third thing... I do think workforce programs that help trans people navigate some of the barriers we face, whether that's just the fact that sometimes we have to come out to our employers, we have to learn what to do when somebody might harass us at work or we deal with somebody who is bigoted or biased, I think the help getting into the workforce and navigating those challenges can be really helpful. In L.A. you've got at the [L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center] the TEEP that Drian Juarez runs, the Transgender Economic Empowerment Project; I think [that] can be really be helpful once somebody gets their foot in the door. But we've got to have family support, we've got to get some education, and we need to at least get into the door to get our first job and stay there for a while so we get something on the résumé. And I think if we could do those things, things are better. Newman: Do you have anything else to say before I let you go? Davis: The last thing I will say is one thing that many people don't realize is that a legal case was settled last year that resulted in transgender people being covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and what that means now is that transgender people anywhere in the United States, even if they are in a state that's not very supportive, can now file a complaint with their local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office if they're discriminated against at work. We have to get the word out that we actually do have basic protections, and that employers are on the hook for treating us well. * * * * * Equality in the LGBT community has advanced so much over the years, but our fight is not over. As long as there is discrimination in the LGBT community, the fight must move on, and we cannot forget our transgender brother and sisters. I applaud so many trans men and trans women for lifting their voices and being visible in 2013, but we must continue to fight and eradicate discrimination and transphobia. For all the trans people of color, we are here and fighting to make things better for us all. God loves us all, and you are entitled to an authentic life full of love, peace and joy.   This Blogger's Books from I Rise-The Transformation of Toni Newman by toni newman       Follow Toni Newman on Twitter:
LGBTQIA Pride Thursday, June 20, 2013 Toni Newman is a 1985 graduate of Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. She is currently studying law with plans of becoming a lawyer defending the Transgenders and their rights. For the last twenty years, Toni has been making Male-to-Female (MTF) transformation. For ten years, she worked as a professional mistress with a female mistress and male master. They were known as THE EROTIC PROFESSIONALS with celebrity clients. Together with her business partner, Alton Willoughby, Toni has written a teleplay and screenplay about the trio's escapades as escorts. It would be her greatest wish to be the first African American Transgender to have her script made successfully into a feature film.”
Not All Memoirs Are Created Equal: The Gatekeeping of Trans Women of Color’s Stories June 5, 2013   32 It’s no secret that the queer and LGBT community often only speaks trans women of color’s names after our sisters are long gone. Often times, we know nothing about these women, holding them up as martyrs/symbols to fight for stronger hate crime legislation (although most TWoC murders are unsolved, from Marsha P. Johnson and Brandy Martell to Lorena Escalera) and gain empathy, resources and fundraising that’s funneled into the further mainstreaming of this movement. When I walk into queer and gender studies spaces on campuses across the country, I’ve witnessed people theorize about these women’s lives. But we often know nothing about their lived experiences, about how these women survived and loved and gave and fought this racist, classist, misogynistic and femme-phobic world. We need to begin giving these women the space and resources during their survival, during their active lives, to tell their stories, to share their insights, to speak up for themselves. Reading their names once a year is not enough. That’s why I am so grateful that Lovemme Corazón, a 19-year-old trans woman of color, wrote her memoir Trauma Queen, which was released this week by the trans woman of color focused publisher, biyuti publishing. “I’m really happy that this is concrete, tangible evidence that I have lived and what I have survived,” Lovemme says in a video on her tumblr page. Lovemme discusses depression, child sexual abuse, rape, violence and sex work. This is her lived experience, one that mirrors that of many of my sisters, the sisters who are overwhelmingly represented in reports like the one released this week from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which shows that trans women of color are yet again the most vulnerable to survere violence and murder (with trans women of color homicides rising 13% from last year’s report). The topics Lovemme is vulnerable and strong enough to share with us are difficult to hear. It’s even more difficult to experience, feel, internalize and then go out in the world and share while still in the midst of survival. Our community also shames trans women of color into silence in a myriad of ways, one of which involves systematic exclusion and an overwhelming lack of representation. Last year, I attended a panel discussion at Barnard College on trans women’s literature and stood witness as folks in the space, mostly white, basically dismissed the genre of trans memoir, as if it were so 2000 and late.  As a lover of literature, of books and a writer who is working on a memoir that would be categorized as “trans memoir,” I was twitching in my seat hearing these shortsighted comments. What seemed to be glaringly missing from these comments was the fact that trans memoir has been dominated by a certain story, that of an older white trans person. From the 30-plus books I have on my self that would be categorized as trans memoir, only four of them are from trans women of color: Ceyenne Doroshow’s Cooking in Heels (2012) Ryka Aoki’s Seasonal Velocities (2012) Toni Newman’s I Rise (2011) The Lady Chablis’s Hiding My Candy (1997) After that panel, I sought counsel from my dear sister reina gossett, who moderated the discussion and highlighted the workings of white supremacy and the fact that not all people, specifically trans women of color, are granted equal access to write, share and publish their stories. This unequal access to publishing has left a gaping hole in this genre and the imaginings of what we say is possible for trans people on the margins. Many trans folks have been able to hear their story told through other trans folk in literature who have represented them and resonated in some way. Yet the stories that have dominated this genre have nothing to do with me. I, a young, poor-raised, multi-racial trans women, did not have access to stories because the stories I craved did not exist, and the ones that did exist are consistently being erased. And because I didn’t have examples of women like me who made it through it was difficult to imagine a future beyond what I was living. When we discuss resources (sitting space and time, pen, paper, computers, wifi, internet, editors, publishers), we must realize that everyone doesn’t have equal access to those resources. Some of our stories have yet to be told. Some of our stories aren’t just about gender. Some of our stories are about the shaming of our color, about the way the world views us as less valuable, about how we’re told to pull ourselves up and when we resort to the necessary acts of  survival, we’re told to be quiet. Some of our stories are about how even in spaces of community we’re silenced. I have hope that access will slowly change this paradigm, that smaller publishers like biyuti publishing, the Red Umbrella Project and Topside Press (which is publishing the incomparable Ryka Aoki’s upcoming novel) will help add more diverse trans voices to our bookshelves. I personally can’t wait to add Lovemme’s book to mine. I hope you add it as well.”
Toni Newman & Kye Allums Honored   WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina – Wake Forest University will honor basketball stand-out Kye Allums and Wake Forest alumni, author Toni Newman among others as part of the University’s 50th anniversary celebration featuring “Faces of Courage,” on Thursday, Nov. 8th, 8-9:30 p.m. at the Annenberg Forum. Kye Allums, the first openly trans NCAA Division I athlete, will speak about his experiences followed by an event slated to honor Toni Newman of Wake Forest’s class of 1985. The event is sponsored by Wake Forest’s LGBTQ Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and OUTLaw. Watch a 2010 video of Allum’s ‘coming out’ press conference below. And visit Ms. Newman’s writing on WG, here.    ” - Wild Gender
New Allegations That Mauricio is Cheating on Kyle Richards The heartbreak continues for Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards. Yet another woman has come forward saying she’s had sexual relations with Kyle’s husband Mauricio Umansky, and these claims might just be the most shocking yet! Transgender stripper Toni Newman claimed to Star that she and her escort partner engaged in a wild sex romp with Mauricio. “We had many high-end clients between 2003 and 2005, Mauricio being one of them” Toni said. Although both Kyle and Mauricio have continuously denied that he’s a cheater, and Mauricio has denied Newman’s claim, the details Toni shares with Star sure do raise a lot of questions. Find out all the specifics in the latest issue of Star, on newsstands now! MORE LINKS See Which Real Housewives Came Out to Support Kyle Richards Read Mauricio’s Denial Here
Toni Newman Writer, law school student, and author, 'I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman' I Discusses Being Transgender and God's Child in Ebony's November 2012 Issue In the November 2012 issue of Ebony, which features President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on the cover, there is an article under the Spirit Quest section called "Transgender and God's Child," written by Michelle Burford, founding senior editor of O, The Oprah Magazine. Ms. Burford interviewed me about how I overcame homelessness, poverty and constant rejection and despair while transitioning from male to female with no support at all. The simple answer is my strong, deep faith in God and my ability to realize that if God is for me, anything is possible. The conversation between Michelle Burford and me was a very intense discussion of faith, religion and God. Can one be transgender and loved by God? The answer is yes, but it took me almost 20 years to find happiness, joy, self-love and the love of God as an African-American transgender woman. Members of minority transgender communities, so stricken by drug abuse, sexual exploitation, explosive suicide rates, high rates of homelessness and a lack of access to education, all because of despair and rejection, are in need of some higher power just to sustain themselves in all the darkness. Once I began my transition and realized that I was all alone in my pursuit of my true gender identity and my happiness, things became very dark all around me. I lost my friends and family and all those I believed loved me unconditionally and truthfully. While in the darkness, I was tempted to overindulge in alcohol and drugs to make myself feel happier for the moment, but my constant faith kept me strong and moving forward. Faith is a firm trust in and loyalty to God or some higher spiritual being. I have traveled all over the United States, and I have realized that all that transgender people of color need is a chance to be, and chance to find themselves an opportunity to move forward in society. Finding opportunity in the darkness of transition was my greatest obstacle. I believe that education and finding your spirit quest are the keys to survival for transgender people of color. I wrote my memoir, I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman, to enlighten and educate the world about what it is to be an African-American transgender woman. Here are ten helpful guidelines for transgender people, especially my minority sisters and brothers: Finish high school or get your GED. Always be independent and the captain of your ship. Don't let others define who you are or pressure you into doing things that you are uncomfortable with. Follow your journey wherever it may take you. Stimulate your mind, whether it be through vocational or technical training or community college or university. Find strength within yourself through whatever you believe in as a higher power or spiritual being. Consult with a trusted physician or health-care professional about drugs for your transition process. Research thoroughly and carefully the drugs you'll need to take to transition from one gender to another. Don't depend on others, or on drugs or alcohol, to make you feel better, validate you or give you happiness. God is love, and love is for everyone. Love yourself for who you are, and always, always demand respect from your partner and associates. Remember that true love does not cause pain, humiliation or degradation. Michelle Burford is currently co-writing 2012 Olympic champion Gabby Douglas' autobiography, Grace, Gold & Glory: My Leap of Faith: The Gabrielle Douglas Story, due Dec. 4, 2012 and available for pre-order on   This Blogger's Books from I Rise-The Transformation of Toni Newman by toni newman       Follow Toni Newman on Twitter: Interviews Transgender Author Toni Newman”
I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman, Available Now On Amazon Published on October 9, 2012 by Derek Feniger   Available now on Amazon, I Rise: The Transformation of Toni Newman; this is the first memoir written in America by a member of the African American transgender community. It is gut-wrenchingly honest, factually supported, and well written.  Dr. Marc Weiss Ph.D., Former Associate Professor of Urban Development, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University wrote the foreword to this memoir, is a best-selling author, and a former member of the Clinton administration.  The editor to the book is Kevin Hogan, Former Assistant Professor and Graduate of Boston College with Masters Degree in English Literature.   I Rise is the true story of Toni Newman’s transformation from an internally conflicted male to a proud, pre-operative transsexual. Born the eldest son into a strict Christian family, Toni admits knowing from her earliest days that she “was a different bird born in the wrong body.” With laser-guided sincerity, curiosity, and above all, 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.   From cross-dressing and Bible Study classes in Jacksonville, North Carolina, to writing and studying while tending to the fetish fantasies of Hollywood’s A-list, I Rise is far from a tale of fitting in. It is instead a unique and mesmerizing study of finding oneself in a world where gender and beauty can be hard fought for and earned. And Toni Newman, more than anyone else I know, deserves to be proud of her identity. Through the complete loss of friends, family support, employment and shelter, Toni was never deterred from seeking the path that was right for her.   When a minority community so stricken by drug abuse, sexual exploitation, explosive suicide rates, and lack of education, has a voice rise out of it as courageous and profound as Toni Newman’s, you do everything you can to make sure it’s a home run heard the world over.   Order your copy today:     Chapter 7 (The Erotic Professionals) within book I Rise has been turned into Feature film:  Heart of a Woman ( Directed by British Film Director Keith Holland starring Angelica Ross, Rachel Sterling, Daniel Sobieray, Elisabeth Rohm, Aerin O’Connell, and Leslie Jones.   Memoir I Rise:The Transformation of Toni Newman has been nominated for two Lambda Literary Awards in categories of Memoirs and Transgender Nonfiction.  This is the 24th annual Lambda Literary Awards.  The Lambda Literary Foundation Celebrates Excellence in LGBT Literature since 1989. …   Memoir I Rise makes the All Time Top 25 Best Transgender People Biographies List at #24. …
Heart of a Woman: The Transgender Female Journey The male-to-female transformation is one that begins very early for most transgender people, with a feeling in the heart and the soul. The common thread I have found among most male-to-female transgender people is that they felt different ("I am in the wrong gender") from their very earliest memories. From my earliest memories, I remember my heart and soul beating to a different drummer and feeling that I was a different bird. "Heart of a woman" adequately describes what transgender women experience internally and the emotions and feelings that go along with that experience. It is such a natural transistion once the individual decides to walk this difficult journey. I applaud Matrix co-director Lana Wachowski for being true to herself no matter the obstacles. The difficulty comes in accepting the call of gender identity and being honest to oneself. The biggest obstacle is finally making that transistion and telling the public (family, friends, coworkers) the decision to change genders. Having been raised in the Deep South in a Christian tradition, I am very aware of the teachings of the Bible and the strict values that are taught as being necessary for good Christians to uphold. I have studied the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and consider it a source of encouragement and guidance. But I am so amazed by the major controversy over comments made by Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy regarding his stance on gay marriage. First and foremost, Mr. Cathy has a constitutional right to believe what he wants, and to state his beliefs. His beliefs do not have to coincide with mine, but as a business owner, I am baffled that a businessman would speak for his whole company, which is made up of individuals of various belief systems, sexual orientations, and gender identities. In a July 19 blog for the Washington Post, Gregory Thomas writes: [A]ccording to an interview published Monday in the Baptist Press ... Cathy says his Atlanta-based company is "very much supporting of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit." Cathy also said on Ken Coleman's radio show in June that people advocating for same-sex marriage are "inviting God's judgment on our nation." "As it relates to society in general I think we're inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake out fist at him and say, 'We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage,'" Cathy said. "And I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to try to redefine what marriage is about. As humans on the planet, and as people, we should always seek love and acceptance of one another. I respect Christian beliefs, but there is seldom respect for my beliefs. Must we all believe the same thing and do the same thing to be accepted and loved? There is not enough room for difference and individuality. I am an individual first, with my own beliefs and thoughts, and should be accepted for my originality. It baffles me how so many claim to speak for God and spread hate and discord under the banner of Christianity. God is love, and the best description of love that I have found is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Tolerance and acceptance are what we need as a country and as people on this Earth. I have lived on this Earth as an African-American male, as a gay African-American male, and as a transgender African-American woman, and I am happiest now, with my heart full of love -- my heart of a woman. Let's all love one another and treat each other with love, as God has instructed us all to do while living on this Earth. My memoir, I Rise, has been adapted by British director Keith Holland and writer Alton Demore into a feature film called Heart of a Woman, with actors Elisabeth Rohm, Rachel Sterling, Daniel Sobieray, Angelica Ross, Aerin O'Connell, and Leslie Jones. For more information, visit   This Blogger's Books from I Rise-The Transformation of Toni Newman by toni newman       Follow Toni Newman on Twitter: