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A Dyke Around Town: Mercy enjoys Thais, Transgender history
A Dyke Around Town: Mercy enjoys Thais, Transgender history
by Mercy Moosemuzzle - SGN Contributing Writer

Mercy and Cuteness joined some of their opera buddies for the New York Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast of Thais. Mercy had chatted earlier with her friend Justice Gatekeeper about the filmed performances. He had been disappointed in the darkness of one of the movies, Peter Grimes, and concluded that the transmissions are not a successful hybrid. Justice felt the producers could have used the technology more thoughtfully. Another equally passionate comrade, Assonance Blankverse, shares Mercy and Cuteness' joy in the medium. She appreciates being able to see singers' faces, and hear vocalists who rarely come to Seattle.

An example of that is Renee Fleming, the fantastic soprano who played Thais in this production. Assonance explained that it is rare for a singer to have the clout to negotiate to sing this role. She assumes Fleming wanted to sing it for its challenges. The vocalist herself acknowledged in an interview during intermission that it shows off her strong middle voice well. The last soprano to play it at the Met was Beverly Sills. Thomas Hampson was also strong as Athanael. He described the role as a fundamentalist trying to keep his sexuality under control, but finally swinging to the other extreme. The sets were remarkable.

Mercy and Cuteness went to Leavenworth for some winter play with 12-year-old Equality and a group of age mates she has known since preschool. The parents are also long time friends. Mercy enjoyed watching middleschoolers sled and throw snowballs. The need to see snow was less urgent this year, since the city has had an unusually high number of days with the white stuff on the ground. Mercy enjoyed watching the cold weather from a warm spot, once the group got to their destination safely. It was a good time to catch up on DVDs.

Mercy has been enjoying reading Susan Stryker's Transgender History. Stryker is a Transsexual woman and a thorough historian. The evolution of concepts and language about gender and increasing acceptance for people who feel misplaced in their sex makes interesting reading. Mercy was interested to discover there were three other spontaneous street protests before Stonewall: the disturbance at Coopers, the Dewey's incident and the Compton's Cafeteria riot. Stryker explains reasons the marginalization of Transgender people was worse than it was for straight-appearing Lesbians and Gays.

The book recounts the tension between second wave feminism and the Transgender movement, such as the expulsion of Beth Elliott from the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Feminist Conference, and pressure on Olivia Records to fire Sandy Stone. It also follows the lobbying Transgender people did to be the T in LGBT communities. Mercy learned that Transsexuals - particularly poor, Transgender women of color - have a particularly high rate of HIV incidence because of various barriers to health.

Stryker outlines the process of Transgender people being more integrated with feminism and Queer theory in the '90s. The internet made it possible for Trans people to form a worldwide movement. The most recent battlefront was Congressman Barney Frank removing Transsexuals from the Lesbian/Gay amendment to the federal Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). He had polled his colleagues and felt the amendment wouldn't pass with that group included. Organizations in more than 300 communities reacted by insisting Transsexuals be added back in again. It was too late.

Mercy looks forward to Seattle Opera's Pearl Fishers. Ms. Moosemuzzle is also looking forward to the Met encore broadcast of La Rondine.
 

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