Bran Van 3000 singer, transgender activist latest NDP byelection candidates
By BJ Siekierski | Aug 19, 2013 4:21 pm
The Toronto-Centre byelection got a little more crowded on Monday as
well-known transgender activist Susan Gapka became the third aspiring NDP
candidate — only a day after the party got a pop star-turned entertainment
lawyer to run for them in the Montreal riding of Bourassa.
With former journalists Jennifer Hollett and Linda McQuaig having already
set up an intriguing internal competition for the NDP’s Toronto-Centre
nomination, Gapka’s addition offers the party an opportunity to try to get
the country’s first transgender MP <
http://www.theguard ian.com/commenti sfree/2013/ may/17/transgend er-mp-voices- heard>
“Thanks to urging of friends and colleagues I’ve decided to run for #TorCen
#NDP nomination. Looking forward to an exciting campaign,” she tweeted on
Having lived on the streets for years and battled most of her adult life
with gender identity issues before going on to co-found the influential
Trans Lobby Group and getting a political science degree from York
University in 2009, Gapka’s redemption story is a compelling one.
But so far her success as an activist — most notably pushing to get
provincial funding in Ontario restored for sex reassignment surgery <
http://metronews. ca/news/toronto/ 572495/toronto- activist- susan-gapka- battles-for- transgender- human-rights/>
— hasn’t been matched at the ballot box.
Gapka ran for Toronto city council in the Rosedale-Toronto Centre <
http://www.susangap ka.org/> ward in 2006 and 2010, getting fewer votes the
second time around.
That broke her heart, she told the Toronto Star <
http://www.thestar. com/news/ gta/2013/ 02/24/toronto_ activist_ battles_for_ transgender_ human_rights. html>
It won’t be much easier for her federally.
There is less than a month to go before the NDP’s Toronto-Centre riding
association holds its nomination meeting on September 15 <
http://www.ipolitic s.ca/2013/ 08/12/toronto- centre-ndp- sets-date- for-nomination- meeting/>
, and Hollett <
http://www.ipolitic s.ca/2013/ 07/25/hollett- quick-out- of-the-gate- in-toronto- centre-but- ndp-nom-not- a-given-party- insists/>
and McQuaig <http://lindamcquaig .ca/category/ news/> have already put
serious effort into drumming up support for their campaigns. Journalist,
pundit and author Chrystia Freeland is vying for the Toronto-Centre Liberal
In the north Montreal island riding of Bourassa <
http://www.cbc. ca/news/politics /canadavotes2011 /myelection/ ridings/043/> ,
meanwhile — another seat the NDP are hoping to snag from the Liberals in
the upcoming four fall byelections — they may run Stéphane Moraille <
http://lussierkhouz am.com/en/ SMoraille. html> , an entertainment lawyer
better known as the female voice in Bran Van 3000’s nineties hit “Drinking
in LA” < http://www.youtube. com/watch? v=OQsQZvsR_ QI (Preview) > .
Though she’ll have to compete for the nomination with Larry Rousseau <
http://www.radio- canada.ca/ regions/ottawa/ 2013/08/13/ 006-larry- rousseau- politique- federale- bourassa. shtml>
, a regional vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, her
name recognition could come in handy in Bourassa.
Former Montreal Canadien Georges Laraque is running for the Green Party,
while Emmanuel Dubourg — a member of Quebec’s National Assembly — is the
likely Liberal candidate.
All four are of Haitian origin in a riding where people of Haitian origin
are estimated to make up one-fifth of the residents.
The Conservatives have been quiet in Toronto-Centre and Bourassa — both of
which are considered Liberal strongholds.
© 2013 iPolitics Inc.
‘It goes back a few steps’ says Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
By Justin Ling
Published Mon, Aug 19, 2013 4:14 pm EDT
With Stephen Harper’s finger on the reset button, the fate of the federal
trans rights bill appears again stalled by the Parliamentary process.
The Prime Minister will soon be walking down to Rideau Hall to ask the
Governor General to prorogue Parliament until October. The practice — a
commonly used tactic to reboot the legislative session which has been used
for more nefarious reasons in the past — will frustrate C-279, which was
limping towards the finish line in the Senate.
The bill, which seeks to add gender identity as a ground for human rights
protection under the Criminal Code of Canada, has had a long and arduous
trek to the upper chamber. Its nearly 10-year history of being introduced —
and ignored, defeated, and killed on the order paper — nearly drew to a
close in June, but the Senate failed to get the bill passed through third <
http://dailyxtra. com/canada/ news/c-279- vote-stalled- conservative- senators- mitchell- claims>
and final reading in the red chamber before the summer break. This, despite
three marathon sessions in committee to get the bill passed.
But with prorogation, the bill does not die. It goes back to the first step
of its journey through the Senate, at first reading. From there, it will
have to be debated on the floor, studied at committee, and passed, before
it can finally get royal assent.
The whole thing is like Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day.
A spokesperson for James Cowan, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate,
said that it’s all “hypotheticals ” of what could happen to the bill once it
starts from the beginning.
“If you could use a metaphor of snakes and ladders — it goes back a few
steps,” he says.
The snakes, however, are hidden throughout the process. If certain Senators
so choose, they can bog the bill down in committee and delay its otherwise
But Liberal Senator Mobina Jaffer <
http://dailyxtra. com/canada/ news/senate- releases- anti-bullying- strategy> ,
chair of the Human Rights Committee in the Senate, is a “perpetual
optimist” and figures that Conservative support for the bill means that its
passage will be sooner rather than later. The bill proved popular in both
parties during its time in the chamber and on committee.
“There are enough of us on both sides that genuinely believe [in the bill]
that it should go through,” she says.
And when the Senate returns, the committees will be reshuffled — Jaffer may
no longer be chair. The committee, which will be more Conservative to
reflect the increased Tory presence in the chamber, may not be as friendly
to the bill as its current iteration.
If the Senators so choose, they could expedite the process by referring the
bill to the committee immediately, by unanimous consent. The committee
could decline to hear any more witnesses and get the bill back to the floor
But on that, Jaffer is more of the glass-half-empty mindset. “If that was
going to happen, that would have happened earlier.”
Since there is no Government House Leader in the Senate — Harper has not
replaced Marjory LeBreton, who resigned as captain of the scandal-mired
ship — Xtra reached out to the Senate Conservatives&# 39; whip office, but did
not receive a reply at the time of writing.
Copyright © 2013 Pink Triangle Press
Vancouver Queer Film Fest: Hijra struggle gathers momentum in Queens! Dance
A film by David Atkins. In Hindi with English subtitles.
by Charlie Smith on Aug 19, 2013 at 7:59 pm
[Photo: Mukta (centre) commands attention in Queens! Destiny of Dance.]
Anyone who’s spent a fair amount of time in Mumbai has probably encountered
a pack of Hijras harassing passersby for money.
These eunuchs are among the most despised underclass in India’s most
glamorous city, as much for their aggressive begging as for their gender
It shouldn’ t come as a surprise that Bollywood films have traditionally
Queens! Destiny of Dance, written and directed by David Atkins, attempts to
change that perception in a fantastical film full of surprises.
Starring Seema Biswas (Midnight’ s Children) as the housemistress Amma,
along with a large number of hijras, it’s set in a luxurious palace
compound where these transwomen have created their own community.
Amma’s favourite, Mukta, is a hulking, often brooding, and exceptionally
talented dancer who fled an abusive father.
Mukta’s overwrought acting coupled with an unrealistic plot line and
melodramatic editing give the first section of the movie a campy
feel—almost like a bad Akshay Kumar comedy.
But the arrival of Nandani, a gorgeous and angelic teenager, alters the
dynamic, particularly as she begins supplanting Mukta as the new object of
Much to my surprise, I began to care about Mukta’s fate about a third of
the way in after initially writing off this film. And by the end, it’s hard
not to be bewitched by how this triangle is settled beween Amma, Mukta, and
Queens! Destiny of Dance isn’t subtle about highlighting the perils of
dicrimination. Of course, Bollywood is rarely known for understatement
unless it’s a film starring Aamir Khan.
And for those who love colourful Indian saris and luscious dance scenes,
there’s plenty of that to go around.
Queens! Destiny of Dance screens at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival at
the Vancity Theatre on Monday (August 19) at 8:30 p.m.
© 2013 Vancouver Free Press
Rae Spoon gets personal on new album
My Prairie Home delves into painful past growing up in Alberta
By Mike Bell, Calgary Herald
August 19, 2013
There’s an astounding level of comfort and confidence you need to have to
be as completely, unflinchingly open about who you are and where you came
from. Greater, still, to be able to put it out there to the world as your
art, something that will precede you, represent you and, perhaps, outlive
That’s never been a problem for Calgary-born, Alberta-raised Rae Spoon,
whose life and experiences growing up on the prairies as a transgendered
individual have often been the subject of their songs and storytelling over
an eclectic and often inspiring decade-long career.
So to deem Spoon’s latest project My Prairie Home — a soundtrack and score
to the forthcoming musical documentary, which will be released this fall by
the National Film Board — their most profoundly personal, painfully honest
and remarkably engaging effort yet says more than you can imagine.
“The album came to be after the documentary was proposed or figured out. I
think I knew from the get-go that it wasn’t going to be, ‘This is about
someone else,’ you know? I think I just stopped worrying about it and that
I would just go for it,” says Spoon over the line from their Montreal home.
And there’s little to indicate the artist, who wishes to be referred to
with gender-neutral pronouns, left anything out, anything off of the table,
about their upbringing and experiences.
On My Prairie Home <http://raespoon. bandcamp. com/releases> , Spoon directly
addresses growing up in a household that was strictly evangelical, in a
region that is often considered smack dap in the nation’s Bible Belt, and
touches upon everything from their abusive father — something they still
must contend with, as a visit to Spoon’s blog reveals — and a loving mother
and grandmother to the loss of a sibling and, of course, the struggles with
religion and questioning of identity.
At times, such as on the brutally heartbreaking and God Was On Your
Shoulders, it can be a difficult listen, but it speaks to their skills as a
songwriter that it’s also one of the most beautiful and appealing tracks on
an album brimming with them.
Spoon says they understood that with this project they were walking a fine
line between the personal and universal, more so even than past albums.
“The worst thing that can happen is to write something to you that’s
intensely personal but that other people don’t get the communication,”
“That’s my main worry, if you write something that’s very personal and
people … can’t absorb it, that’s not what I would call an artistic
success, because making art and putting it out there is a form of
Making matters even more challenging was that they wanted the album to be
able to stand on its own, with its own “narrative arc,” while also being an
integral part of director Chelsea McMullan’s film.
McMullen approached Spoon with the idea almost four years ago — with the
only insistence being that Spoon include their earlier song Love Is A
Hunter, which Spoon re-recorded — which gave the musician more time than
usual in which to craft it with their producer of choice, Calgary’s Lorrie
Perhaps that’s why the album succeeds as an artistic statement in its own
right, one that also further pushes Spoon’s musical identity. As such it
features aspects of the country and folk sides they first came to be known
for at the beginning of their career, while also exploring elements of the
more electro direction of past acclaimed releases like 2012 I Can’t Keep
All of Our Secrets and incorporating other influences such as “grunge
music,” pop and gospel.
It’s been a trademark of Spoon’s career, something they credit to working
outside of the mainstream music industry, releasing their records on
smaller labels — such as their current one, local indie label Saved By
Radio, which Spoon calls a “great home for this record” — and generally
following an artistic path all their own.
“In a weird way I’ve kind of been lucky to keep doing what I want and
changing and not interacting (with the industry). I have a lot of control
over my own career, which turned out to be a really good thing, and I’ve
been able to keep it going, which I think is really hard sometimes when
you’re working with people who want you to stay the same,” Spoon says.
“Once you start making money off of something, if it’s a business, the
smart thing to do … for me, would have been to stay playing country
Or to stay playing music, period. Instead, Spoon has also branched out into
other artistic realms, with the film, of course, but also writing, such as
last year’s award-winning novel First Spring Grass Fire, which they’re
currently writing the followup to.
Spoon also says they’re working on the score to another film, which they’ll
somehow have to juggle with that prose writing and the upcoming tour which
will cross Canada in the fall including an eventual hometown performance
Oct. 10 at the Calgary Folk Music Festival’s new Festival Hall.
“I don’t know what’s next,” Spoon says before offering a light laugh.
“I feel lucky that this is my job so I’m just going to keep it going as
long as possible. It’s always been my goal to do music and art as my job,
so I’m doing that, and I’m happy.”
Rae Spoon’s new album My Prairie Home is available now.
© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
Vancouver trans comedy The Switch wraps pilot shoot
Director describes ‘light, witty, magical’ transition tale
By Natasha Barsotti
Published Sun, Aug 18, 2013 9:00 am EDT
Writer Shevon Singh describes The Switch, the brainchild of Amy Fox, as an
The pilot, which just wrapped up shooting at the end of July, follows Sü, a
thriving software manager who suddenly finds herself out of work, openly
trans, and crashing on her ex’s East Van couch.
“What it’s really about is transitioning, and so in a very practical way,
we follow Sü as she transitions from male to female, or as she completes
that transition and starts to own her new identity,” director Monika
“I feel it has tremendous universality, because I know it’s rare that the
story of someone transitioning from male to female gets told, especially in
a light, witty, magical way.
“But I feel as though every person who has gone through any life crisis —
from immigrating to a new country, getting divorced, experiencing the death
of a loved one —all of those are really painful experiences that blow up
your identity, and then you have to go through what we lightly term
transitioning, but is really the reassembly of your identity,” Mitchell
Many viewers will be able relate to Sü (played by Julie Vu) as she looks at
life through the filter of her new identity. “She’s finally given herself
this gift of owning her new identity,” says Mitchell, “and she struggles
not to put it back in the closet, so to speak.”
Despite bumping up against the heaviness of marginal living and multiple
oppressions based on race, class, queerness and more, Sü is an optimist.
“She is the person we all wish we could be when we fall on such hard
times,” Mitchell says. “Even when she makes mistakes, or does things that
are goofy, or just flat-out stupid, you’re behind her, because life gave
her lemons and she’s making some kind of crazy, fabulous, pink lemonade
with a splash of vodka.”
In addition to the pilot, Fox and the creative team behind The Switch are
looking to develop six more half-hour episodes for season one, and a short
documentary called A Different Trans 101.
For updates on The Switch, visit welovetheswitch. com
Copyright © 2013 Pink Triangle Press