Meet a former decorated Marine who is leveraging Silicon Valley to establish the first all-inclusive online resource for Transgender Americans.
Born Mark Marquis, Kris (short for “Kristen,” her chosen name) grew up in a suburban town outside of Houston, Texas in the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s, where one didn’t question something as taboo as feeling gender misplaced. “There wasn’t a lot known about this topic, and it was horribly taboo to discuss,” recounts Kris of those early years in life. “The environment around me cast a shadow of fear to not talk about these things, so I buried it.”
Questioning his own gender and gender norms with no outlet for expression, Kris fled Houston after high school graduation to join the military. At the age of eighteen, he was stationed on a Marine base in 29 Palms, California. Still living full-time as Mark, Kris was thrust headfirst into the mega-macho world as a rifleman in a Marine Infantry Division. At twenty-three Kris exiting the military honorably after 4 years of service, worked a few years then returned to college graduating from McCombs School of Business in Austin with degrees in Data & Information Systems in addition to Marketing.
“No matter how driven or how much I buried myself in other activities, I was always conflicted with my gender identity,” she says. “It’s something that never goes away.” When, finally at the age of 27, Kris decided to seek out guidance to address her feelings she found it near impossible to locate the proper local help, going from therapist to therapist in search of someone who specialized in gender identity issues. After an exhaustive search, Kris found The Rosenberg Gender Clinic in Galveston, Texas where she went for therapy for 6 months, before being referred to an endocrinologist to begin hormone treatment at the age of 28.
“I’ve gone off of hormones and gone back on them again, back and forth, ever since. It’s been a long road to finding my own balance.” Now at 42, Kris lives androgynously, though she is still seeing doctors and still taking hormones. When pressed to specify gender, she states, “I’m in between. Predominantly, I’m gender fluid, but I mainly identify as female.”
Now settled in California’s Bay Area, and working in tech software, Kris is certain about the need for accessible quality care for parents of transgender children, and transgender and gender fluid Americans.
Kris has founded Genderis.com. The purpose of Genderis is to modernize access to quality care and services, creating a safe place where people can find the resources and support they need in one organized service; everything from counseling and qualified physicians to electrolysis and beyond. “People can’t find the right care, and sometimes when they do, they are often looked down upon or treated badly. This is a problem!” states Kris.
Genderis aims to provide people with a modern directory of the right doctors, therapists, estheticians, a full suite of services and professionals who are compassionate and trans-friendly.
Professional resources that will be available through Genderis membership will be vetted for and by our community. These professionals know about the transition process, they are accepting, and they and their staff are knowledgeable. Professional health and wellness resources found through the Genderis website provide environments where patients and clients can be themselves to see a provider, and not feel judged, but feel welcome, critical to finding balance and to minimizing the overwhelming trend of suicide rates.
“All people deserve to have access to quality professional care and to be productive members of society, and transgender people are no different,” insists Kris. Operating out of Silicon Valley with developers in tow and a growing number of advisors by her side, Kris is sparing no expense to make Genderis the comprehensive online resource it needs to be.
The Genderis online application will offer levels of Care Package Subscriptions, Local Resources and Care Management Dashboards for its members.
Currently on board as an advisor for Genderis is Dr. Vivienne Ming, PhD and Chairperson of the Neuroscience department at UC Berkley. Dr. Ming is also the founder of startup, Socos – providing cognitive learning science solutions for students. She has given TED Med Talks, and had been a regular guest of The Oprah Show.
Kris is asking that members of the LGBTQ community visit http://genderis.launchrock.com/ to gain some information about Genderis and to sign up for the mailing list to be notified for the site’s official launch.
NYC's West Village legendary comic performer, Lady Bunny, is back with a month-long run of her blend of raucous, irreverent comedy in the form of the one-woman-show TRANS-JESTER at the Stonewall Inn, opening August 31st and running Wed-Sat at 7pm. Trans-Jester's 1st run from April to July brought out a wild mix of celebs like Susan Sarandon, Rupert Everett, Andy Cohen, Patricia Field, Anohni, Bianca Del Rio, Michael Musto, and John Cameron Mitchell.
In addition to new parodies of selections from Adele, Rent and Bruno Mars to hilarious, effect punctuated by zany Laugh-In style zingers, Bunny has widened her repertoire to include insightful social commentary. (Well, she thinks it's insightful, anyway.) Targetting the current overemphasis on political correctness, Bunny breaks down some of the latest buzzwords that we're all supposed to remember for every for every occasion as we "evolve." Sometimes, Bunny feels, that we're actually evolving away from common sense! Take the new name for our community--LGBTIA. Does anyone even know what that means?
While Bunny shies away from politics in this performance--because one train wreck on stage per night is enough and we all need a break from this toxic election--she doesn't shy away from gender politics and the new pronoun we're forced to learn every time Will Smith's son puts on a dress. After Caitlyn Jenner reached out to Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz to become his "trans ambassador", Bunny feels that it's time for the gloves to come off while addressing that car crash. You don't want to miss Bunny doing Cait's twisted version of My Favorite Things.
Bunny may also shock you with revelations about her own gender identity. "She" asks pertinent questions about cultural appropriation prior to declaring her undying love for black cock in a vulgar version of Uptown Funk which has left recent audiences in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London reeling with mirth.
Theater queens rejoice! In her loooooong career in nightclubs, Bunny has never delved much into show tunes, but in Trans-Jester, Bunny brings it on home with a show-stopping finale featuring two classics from Gypsy and Follies. The eclectic evening also resurrects songs by country star Lynn Anderson, Millie Jackson and even an original tune which pokes fun at the dating life of whatever sex it is you want to call this "Lady".
Back by popular demand, the show is now back for one month from August 31st-October 1st. Performances are from Wednesday to Saturday at 7PM. Please note: no shows on Thursday September 8th and September 9th. Stonewall is an intimate venue, so please reserve now to guarantee seats! The tickets are a low $19.99--as cheap as her humor--and there may be tickets for cash only at the door after the online sales close nightly at 5:30PM. (There usually are.) There is a two-drink minimum and the drink prices range from $7:50 (beer) to $12 (well drinks). There is no drink maximum, and Bunny's singing will drive anyone to drink. Doors open at 6PM and seating is first come, first serve.
Please note: This show is raunchy. Not politically correct by definition--that's the whole point. So if that's not your cup of tea, you should honestly skip it. Or prepare to grab a drink and laugh, cheer and possibly even be challenged by a salty old kook who isn't afraid to express herself from a viewpoint which is often unique.
Trans-Jester is written by Lady Bunny and Facebook sensation Beryl Mendelbaum.
53 Christopher Street
New York City, NY 10014
All shows at 7pm
Tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2594512
We are hopeful that this will contribute to a shift in the Caribbean as a whole, where 10 countries still have remnants of colonial sodomy laws. But the laws are only part of what needs to change. We need a stronger movement across the region that can push for a change in societal attitudes. This historic win will push us forward!
~ Kenita Placide, Caribbean Advisor of OutRight Action International.
The Belize Supreme Court today made a historic ruling in favor of gay activist Caleb Orozco, and has struck down the country’s anti-sodomy law. This is the first case launched in the Caribbean and the first case where the sodomy laws have been overturned.
The case was brought to court in 2010, heard in 2013 and the ruling came today, August 10, 2016. The long process has been spearheaded by Caribbean allies, activists, advocates, academics, and legal experts.
Orozco challenged the law claiming that it infringes on the ‘Protections of the Fundamental Rights and Freedoms’ of the individual guaranteed by Belize’s constitution.
Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, presiding over the court, accepted Orozco’s challenges on all counts, including:
“The decision today is deeply fulfilling, I am elated for myself, but more so for all of LGBTIQ people in Belize. The Supreme Court set a historic precedent in the country, and in the Caribbean more widely, by upholding the dignity and equality of all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation. Though I know much has yet to be done to change attitudes in my country, this is a momentous step, and I could not be more proud,” said Orozco, in response to the ruling.In the groundbreaking decision, the court also extended its positive ruling to declare that the definition of “sex” in Section 16 (3) of the Constitution, outlining anti-discrimination, also includes sexual orientation.
“We are hopeful that this will contribute to a shift in the Caribbean as a whole, where 10 countries still have remnants of colonial sodomy laws. But the laws are only part of what needs to change. We need a stronger movement across the region that can push for a change in societal attitudes. This historic win will push us forward!” Stated Kenita Placide, Caribbean Advisor of OutRight Action International.Orozco, who serves as Executive Director of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM), challenged Section 53 of the 1981 Criminal Code of Belize claiming it to be unconstitutional, and violating his right to human dignity, privacy, equality before the law, and freedom of expression. Section 53 states that ‘every person who has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any person or animal shall be liable to imprisonment for ten years.’ While the exact definition of ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ is unclear, is has been interpreted to encompass anal sex between two men or between a man and a woman, regardless of consent. Notably, Section 53 of the Criminal Code is a remnant of Belize’s colonial past. The code was amended in 1944, before that time only non-consensual sex between two persons of the same sex was criminalized.
Although the law was seldom enforced, is has been argued that the simple presence of the law has contributed to harmful effects in broader society and fed into the homophobic rhetoric of the Church. Belize is a country where the highly religious public is openly hostile towards LGBTIQ people, and social stigma and animosity against the community is high. The Roman Catholic Church of Belize, the Belize Church of England Corporate Body, and the Belize Evangelical Association of Churches were all interested parties in the litigation and rallied against Orozco’s challenge.
Since filing the case Orozco has been subject to even greater public humiliation, threats, and bodily harm, including bean beaten over the head with a metal rod and having his teeth broken. The word “Orozco” has even been added to the list of homophobic slurs yelled at gay men on the streets.
Despite the personal attacks, Orozco recognizes the importance that the case has carried for the LGBTIQ society in Belize.
“Taking the case to court was a call to action for the LGBTIQ community in Belize and beyond. The community started coming together and organizing, recognizing that standing in silence and allowing injustices to prevail could no longer be the norm. We had support from so many people from within the country and internationally; this victory is all of ours to share. We have won in so many ways; we are stronger than ever before, but we are nowhere near done,” Orozco added.Today’s decision is a landmark moment in Belizian history, and for the Caribbean, and signifies a commitment from the government to protect the privacy and rights of LGBTIQ Belizeans. However, much work has yet to be done to ensure that society follows suit and that discrimination against LGBTIQ people diminishes.
According to Maria Sjodin, Deputy Executive Director of OutRight Action International, this challenge extends beyond the borders of Belize. She states,
“The court ruling in Belize means that the number of countries that criminalize same-sex behaviour is now down to 72, and hopefully this downward trend can continue. But it is important to remember that laws are only part of what impacts people's lives - the fight to change societies must continue worldwide and this can only happen with strong LGBTIQ movements.”
Maria Sjödin, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1 (917) 415-5022
Rashima Kwatra, email@example.com, +1 (917) 859-7555