Mycroft Masada is a nonbinary trans and queer Jewish leader with 30 years of experience who moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland (Montgomery County near Washington DC) from their lifelong home of Boston in 2014. A TransEpiscopal Steering Committee member and former Congregation Am Tikva board member, Mycroft is particularly called to pursue LGBTQ+ and fat justice, and is an advocate, organizer, consultant, educator, trainer, writer and artist. They are married to Julia McCrossin, the mas(s)culine fatshion blogger, and with her they co-parent a dogter. Their central online home is MasadArts.blogspot.com.


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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Boston's Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire ~ 78th anniversary (1942 - 2020)

Tonight is the 78th anniversary of the fire in Boston’s Cocoanut Grove nightclub, which took the young lives of my paternal grandparents Adelaide (Addie) and Theodore (Ted) Wasserman (pictured, probably on their honeymoon in Bermuda), and great-aunt Sarah (Sadie) Levin. Sadie’s husband, my great-uncle Benjamin “Ben” Levin, was with our party at the Grove, but survived. (*Yes, Sadie was a Levin who married a Levin!) 

My father and his two brothers were orphaned, and two of their cousins lost their mother; my father was two, and his brothers were in infancy and seven. On the night of Saturday November 28th 1942 -- havdalah (the end of Shabbat) of Thanksgiving weekend that year -- corruption and other choices led to the deaths of almost 500 people, and injured more than 160 others. May their memories be blessings -- ones that call us to pursue justice, justice -- and blessed be the True Judge.

When my father's parents and aunt were killed, they were much younger than even their youngest grandchild my brother is now.  And my brother Ted was named after this grandfather.  The Wassermans had recently moved from Portland Maine to Brookline Massachusetts -- a suburb of Boston where my father, and much later my brother and I, spent part of our childhoods. 

Another of Adelaide's sisters, Lillian "Libby" (Levin) Finn, and her husband Irving Finn, were part of the family party in Boston that night, but as usual Libby and Irving chose to go to a performance at Symphony Hall instead.  They began to find out about the fire after they left the Hall and saw all of the emergency vehicles.  Libby wrote a letter about the night not long afterwards, which I hope to read someday.  Libby and Irving adopted her sister Addie's three orphaned sons, their nephews.


Two months after the fire, on January 31st of 1943, Adelaide and Sadie’s eldest brother, Major Clarence “Clarry” Levin, was killed by a German landmine in North Africa, during World War II. Brothers Harold and Dr. Sydney Levin survived for many years.  


Today there are very few Grove survivors left -- one died just this year -- and much of what they and their fellows knew has been lost.   


And I do believe that this is a social in/justice story -- and indeed, I believe that all stories are – especially as the fire was largely the result of corruption and other choices within and between the club management and the City, and the deaths and injuries largely due to the club’s furnishings releasing extremely toxic gas when overheated.  And this is the primary reason why there has been so much silence around the Grove.  And as far too often, even though many positive changes resulted from the fire, the corruption and silence has led to the forgetting and thus repetition of history -- for instance, the Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island's West Warwick in 2003.  Too, climate change is increasing and worsening wildfires, in California and elsewhere in our country and world.  

However, the 70th anniversary of the Grove fire in 2012 inspired more acknowledgement and even some action, including the formation of the Cocoanut Grove Coalition -- though I'm not sure how active they've been since.  


In 2013, for the 71st anniversary, there was an official ceremony at the site followed by a reception at a nearby hotel, and I attended both with my father; this included survivors and their families as well as the unveiling of a street sign saying “Cocoanut Grove Lane”, which joined a plaque in the sidewalk that had taken many years to install and had long been the only marker.  There was also an official event for the 75th anniversary, three years ago in 2017.


In January 2014, I moved to Gaithersburg Maryland (Montgomery County, bordering DC) after a lifetime in the Boston area, to begin living with my spouse Julia (who has always lived in this area, and needed to remain here).  I have missed my usual annual visit(s) to the Grove site, where I would leave flowers and/or other small gifts.  My father continued to visit, but then moved out of state to join my brother -- who is a firefighter and an EMT.  My father and I have been visited Boston a few times since we moved, and he has visited and photographed the Grove site.  

These two photos are by my father, Bill Wasserman, a lifelong professional photographer (who doesn't have a website).  



I have been angered and saddened to learn that since I moved, luxury condos have been built on the Grove site -- and how much more so that their management, some tenants and others have added insult to injury by complaining about having to remember the Grove fire, and have managed to have the commemorative plaque removed and moved down the street.  But, I am glad to hear that this mishigas prompted the mayor to announce that he supports the installation of a full-on memorial.  Too, an old friend of our family called the mayor's office to complain about the plaque's move, and the person who took the call said that they have been receiving a lot of calls about it and most if not all were also complaints. 

A great thing that happened in the last few years was that I connected online with Jessica Pollard Lantos, Research and Outreach Coordinator at Documenting Maine Jewry, because she found this blog post through Googling about the Grove (I'm not sure if her comment or the other will still appear here, after this update). Her grandparents and parents were friends and neighbors of my grandparents, in Massachusetts and Maine -- indeed, her grandfather was called from Portland to Boston to identify my grandfather's body. Jessica has her father's World War II journal and photographs, and has posted them on Facebook, and two entries mention my family (one when he hears about the fire, and the other when he hears about the death of his fellow soldier Great Uncle Clarry). She has written an article about the fire for DMJ's newsletter, and I look forward to reading and sharing it. As she says, while the Grove was never a Jewish place or filled with Jewish people, the loss of Jewish and other lives there was a significant loss for the Jewish communities in Auburn and Portland Maine.


And just last year, Jessica discovered that her mother had a photograph of my late grandfather, and gave it to my family -- to the left of Ted is Theodore Bernstein, who also died with his wife, Amelia, at the Grove (the Bernsteins lived less than half a mile from the Wassermans in Portland).

There is a new documentary about the Grove fire -- Zachary Graves-Miller's Six Locked Doors : The Legacy Of Cocoanut Grove; my father, another family member, and a friend of mine attended a Boston Public Library event about it last year.  And, not too surprisingly, "Six" is not the only movie about the Grove in progress.  

There is also a newish play about the Grove fire -- James Hansen Prince's "Inferno : Fire At The Cocoanut Grove 1942", which premiered on the 72nd anniversary in 2014; 
Prince's grandfather-in-law Jimmy Jenkins died at the Grove (and Jimmy's aunt Mary Tittle was 103 at the time of the premiere!).  I have heard some good things about the play, and hope to at least read it soon.  

And I intend to read the old and new books about the fire -- especially now that eBook technology is making them much more accessible; though it turns out that a photo labeled as having Sadie in the background and Adelaide and Ted in the fore is incorrect about at least the latter.  Over the years, I have also been to presentations about the Grove at the Brighton and Boston Public Libraries.  

I will continue to work on this blog post, as well as a fuller piece about this part of our family’s story -- though I think a truly full version may need to wait until after more people pass away.  And I don't know how much information I will ever have. Alas, the trauma of the fire intensified the existing issues in our family, as in many others.  Which is a large part of why I feel so strongly about something that happened many years before I was born, and about family members, family friends and others who I never met.  


It is also fascinating and challenging for me -- as a transgender person and advocate -- that the Grove anniversary is a week after the international Transgender Day Of Remembrance (TDOR, November 20th); too, all of November is Trans Month.  And November is also Native Month -- and Thanksgiving Day is also the Day Of Mourning for many Native / Indigenous people and communities. 

ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, דין האמת.
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam, dayan ha-emet.
Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, the Judge of Truth, the Just Judge.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet, Blessed is the True Judge.

Friday, October 9, 2020

May Monica Roberts' memory be a blessing!

May Monica Roberts' memory be a blessing! As we say in Judaism. And one that calls us to pursue justice, justice.

I came home late yesterday afternoon and checked Twitter, to see if there were any trending hashtags I wanted to use in my next posts there and here. And saw “Monica Roberts” trending under Politics, with more than 2,000 Tweets. I hoped -- against hope, especially at this point in 2020 -- that it was good news. And then I clicked -- and saw that “our” Monica Roberts had passed away on Monday. She was only 58. I don’t yet know what happened. 

And I don’t yet remember if she and I ever met, offline or on. Maybe at the Philadelphia Trans Wellness (formerly Health) Conference? I know we were in a few on- and offline spaces together, over the years. And some of my closest colleagues were close to her, and I mourn with and for them. And of course I knew Monica through her truly amazing work, as a Black trans leader for social justice, and oh so much more. 

Like so many, I especially appreciated her blog, TransGriot. Which I read particularly to better understand the lives and deaths of my many trans siblings murdered in this country (and the rest of our world) every year -- most of them young Black women. (The photo here is the one Monica used for her blog, and her profile picture here on Facebook -- Eric Edward Schell’s Pride Portrait of her.

She had a feature there called the Shut Up Fool Awards, featuring foolish politicians who especially needed to shut up, due to their transphobia, racism, and other foolishment. And of course many of us were looking forward to that feature more than ever this month and week! At least we can laugh about that, imagining what she would have written! 

And as glad as I am to see how much Monica is being appreciated in death, I have to say that more of that should have happened when she was alive. Including from myself. Most Black trans women are appreciated little if at all during their lifetimes. This is also too true for Black trans men and Black nonbinary people. And other trans people of color -- especially our Latinx and Native/Indigenous siblings, and other intersectionally oppressed trans people. And this is all true to a large extent within the trans community, as well as without.

“Give us our roses while we’re still here!” Our living and our dead call out to us, every day. Reminding us that the Transgender Day Of Remembrance (November 20th) is not nearly enough. (Neither is Trans Week or Month (both also November), or our other annual trans “holidays”.)

You were a rare rose, Ms. Roberts. And you inspired many of your sisters, brothers and other siblings into leadership and other roles in this vital work. May even more of we your extended family answer your call to pursue justice, at the intersection of trans and racial and other oppression. Speedily, soon, and in our time. Amen!

  

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

GET YOUR FLU SHOT (if you can)!

I GOT MY FLU SHOT THIS MONTH!

For only the second time ever -- the first was last Fall. I am pro-vax, but it took me a long time to realize that I, like the great majority of other people, should and could get flu vaxxed every year. I plan to keep getting it every year. 

I’ve had the flu at least once as a child/youth, young adult, and young middle-aged person. And it meant at least a week in bed, and at least a week more at home, and not being able to do much the whole time -- plus lots of other unpleasantness. And it could mean permanent damage and/or death -- even though I’m almost normatively “healthy”, still young, pretty privileged, etc. 

And I need to protect my spouse, especially as she has disabling chronic illnesses, though she gets a shot too. That’s one of the primary reasons to get a shot if you’re in the majority that can -- to help protect the minority that can’t, and all those who have more than enough health challenges already.
Too, this year it’s more important than ever due to CoViD-19! 

We have Kaiser (Mid-Atlantic), and can get a free flu shot anywhere at their facility here in Gaithersburg (Maryland; Montgomery County next to Washington DC) literally 24/7 -- not somewhere you should go during CoViD if you don’t have to, but they do have a drive-through shot option. 

I do get at least a few days of mild flu-like symptoms, and some pain in the upper arm where I got the shot. But at least I know the shot has been done correctly and is working. And if I take good care (which can be a big if, as I’m a caregiver), I am back to Abby Normal within a week. 

Nu, get your flu shot if you possibly can! Todah rabah (many thanks)!!
  

Monday, August 3, 2020

At least 25 trans people have been killed in the US & PR in 2020

Erev tov, good evening. Although there is a great deal of good news about my trans sisters’, brothers’ and other siblings’ resilience and resistance, many of their lives are still being stolen -- at least 25 of them in 2020, and others have been assaulted or are missing. Most of the US victims are Black, most in Puerto Rico and the rest of our world are Latina/x; most everywhere are women and young.

And though overall reporting has improved, the reality has also been worsening, and in a particular way since 2016.

🕯 Dustin Parker, 25, McAlester, Oklahoma, January 1st.
~~~
🕯 Neulisa Alexa Luciano Ruiz, age apparently unknown, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, February 24th.
~~~
🕯 Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, Moca, Puerto Rico, March 5th.
🕯 Monika Diamond, 34, Charlotte, North Carolina, March 18th.
🕯 Lexi, 33, Harlem, New York, March 28th.
~~~
🕯Johanna Metzger, 25, Baltimore, Maryland (an hour from us here in Gaithersburg), April 11th.
🕯 Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32, and Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21, Puerto Rico, April 21st -- Serena and Layla were together at the time.
🕯 Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 31, Puerto Rico, April 13th -- killed in prison.
~~~
🕯 Nina Pop, 28, Sikeston, Missouri, May 3rd.
🕯 Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, San Antonio, Texas, May 6th.
🕯 Jayne Thompson, 33, Mesa County, Colorado, May 9th -- killed by police.
🕯 Tony McDade, 38, Tallhassee, Florida, May 27th -- also killed by police.
🕯 Selena Reyes-Hernandez, 37, Chicago, Illinois, May 31st.
~~~
🕯 Dominique “Rem'mie” Fells, 25, Philadelphia, Pennsyania, June 9th.
🕯 Riah Milton, 33, Liberty Township, Ohio, also June 9th.
🕯 Brian “Egypt” Powers, 43, Akron, Ohio, June 13th.
🕯 Brayla Stone, 17, Little Rock, Arkansas, June 25th.
🕯 Merci Mack, 22, Dallas, Texas, June 30th.
~~~
🕯 Shaki Peters, 32, Amite City, Louisiana, on July 1st.
🕯 Bree Black, 27, Pompano Beach, Florida, July 3rd.
🕯 Summer Taylor, 24, Seattle, Washington, July 4th -- killed by someone driving into the Black Lives Matter protest they were participating in, which has happened to several dozen BLM protestors this year, though most have survived.
🕯 Marilyn Cazares, 22, Brawley, California, July 13th.
🕯 Dior H Ova / Tiffany Harris, 32, the Bronx, New York, July 26th.
🕯 Queasha D Hardy, 22, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, July 27th.

In addition to gun violence and police brutality, trans people are at high risk for CoViD-19, HIV and other STIs, addiction, incarceration, family and partner abuse, mental illness, suicide, healthcare discrimination, poverty, homelessness, and more -- how much more so when we are in other oppressed groups. We still lack full legal protection in most states, and several states have anti-trans laws or bills -- and the Trump administration continues to undo trans rights progress nationally.

Too, little attention is given to the many murdered, missing and assaulted Native / Indigenous people -- especially girls, women, and/or Two Spirit people.

May all of my trans siblings’ memories be blessings -- and call us to act! May we make Black trans lives matter more! May we schlep ever closer to tikkun olam, world repair, at the intersection of LGBTQ+, climate, racial, immigration, spiritual, fat, disability, and all other rays of the rainbow of justice! AMEN!

(Attached is a collage I made -- photos of everyone except Lexi, Penélope, Selena and Tiffany, and my photo of a trans symbol pendant / tealight / river rocks, on a purple background.)

#BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #LatinxLivesMatter #LatinxTransLivesMatter #NativeLivesMatter #NativeTransLivesMatter #TwoSpiritLivesMatter #TransLivesMatter #TDOR #TDOR2020 #TransDayOfRemembrance 


Monday, July 13, 2020

21+ trans people have been murdered in the US & PR in 2020

Erev tov, good evening. Alas, although there is much good news about my trans siblings’ resilience and resistance, many of their lives are still being stolen. More have been killed at this point in the year than ever before.

At least 21 of them, and I am seeing initial reports of at least a few more. And there have been several assaults, and disappearances. Most of the US victims are Black, most in Puerto Rico and the rest of our world are Latina/x; most everywhere are women and young. And though overall reporting has improved, the reality has been worsening, and in a particular way since 2016.

🕯 Dustin Parker, 25, McAlester, Oklahoma, January 1st.
🕯 Neulisa Alexa Luciano Ruiz, age apparently unknown, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, February 24th.
🕯 Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, Moca, Puerto Rico, March 5th.
🕯 Monika Diamond, 34, Charlotte, North Carolina, March 18th.
🕯 Lexi, 33, Harlem, New York, March 28th.
🕯Johanna Metzger, 25, Baltimore, Maryland -- an hour from us here in Gaithersburg, April 11th.
🕯 Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32, and Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21, Puerto Rico, April 21st -- Serena and Layla were together at the time.
🕯 Penélope Díaz Ramírez, 31, Puerto Rico, April 13th -- killed in prison.
🕯 Nina Pop, 28, Sikeston, Missouri, May 3rd.
🕯 Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, San Antonio, Texas, May 6th.
🕯 Jayne Thompson, 33, Mesa County, Colorado, May 9th -- killed by police.
🕯 Tony McDade, 38, Tallhassee, Florida, May 27th -- killed by police.
🕯 Selena Reyes-Hernandez, 37, Chicago, Illinois, May 31st.
🕯 Dominique “Rem'mie” Fells, 25, Philadelphia, Pennsyania, June 9.
🕯 Riah Milton, 33, Liberty Township, Ohio, June 9th.
🕯 Brayla Stone, 17, Little Rock, Arkansas, June 25th.
🕯 Merci Mack, 22, Dallas, Texas, June 30th.
🕯 Shaki Peters, 32, Amite City, Louisiana, on July 1st.
🕯 Bree Black, 27, Pompano Beach, Florida, July 3rd.
🕯 Summer Taylor, 24, Seattle, Washington, July 4th -- killed by someone driving into the Black Lives Matter protest they were participating in, which has happened to several dozen BLM protesters this year, though most have survived.

In addition to gun violence and police brutality, trans people are at high risk for CoViD-19, HIV and other STIs, addiction, incarceration, family and partner abuse, mental illness, suicide, healthcare discrimination, poverty, homelessness, and many other things -- how much more so when we are in other oppressed groups. We still lack full legal protection in most states, and several states have anti-trans laws or bills -- and the Trump administration continues to undo trans rights progress nationally.

Too, very little attention is given to the many murders of, assaults on and disappearances of Native / Indigenous people -- especially girls, women, and/or Two Spirit people.

May all of my trans siblings’ memories be blessings -- and call us to act! May make Black trans lives matter more! May we schlep ever closer to tikkun olam, world repair, at the intersection of LGBTQ+, climate, racial, immigration, spiritual, fat, disability, and all other rays of the rainbow of justice! Amen!

(The attached image is a collage I made today -- photos of everyone except Lexi, Penélope and Selena, with my photo of a trans symbol pendant / tealight / river rocks, on a purple background.)

#BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #LatinxLivesMatter #LatinxTransLivesMatter #NativeLivesMatter #NativeTransLivesMatter #TwoSpiritLivesMatter #TransLivesMatter #TDOR #TDOR2020 #TransDayOfRemembrance ⚧💔🕯

Friday, June 12, 2020

12+ trans people have been murdered in the US/PR in 2020

Boker tov, boker or (good morning, morning light) -- and mourning light.  Today is Friday June 12th of 2020 (20th Sivan 5780) -- the twelfth day of LGBTQ+ Pride Month.  And at least twelve of my trans sisters, brothers and other siblings have been murdered this year here in the mainland US and Puerto Rico, joining dozens in the rest of our world.

And there have been non-fatal attacks, including on Iyanna Dior in Saint Paul, Minnesota on June 1st. Most of the US victims are Black, most of the Puerto Rican and worldwide ones are Latina/x; most everywhere are women and young.  And none of this is new -- though overall reporting has been improving, the reality has also been getting worse, since 2016 and long before.

Yesterday I began to see initial reports of at least two more murders, of Black trans women.  But for now, this is the list:

Dustin Parker, 25, McAlester, Oklahoma, January 1st (New Year’s Day).
Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, February 24th.
Yampi Méndez Arocho, 19, Moca, Puerto Rico, March 5th.
Monika Diamond, 34, Charlotte, North Carolina, March 18th.
Lexi, 33, Harlem, New York, March 28th.
Johanna Metzger, Baltimore, Maryland (an hour from us here in Gaithersburg), April 11th.
Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, 32, and Layla Pelaez Sánchez, 21, Puerto Rico, April 21st; Serena and Layla were together at the time.
Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Puerto Rico, April 13th.
Nina Pop, Sikeston, Missouri, May 3rd.
Helle Jae O’Regan, 20, San Antonio, Texas, May 6th.
Tony McDade, Tallhassee, Florida, May 27th*.

Too, very little attention is given to the many murders of, assaults on and disappearances of Native / Indigenous people -- especially girls, women, and/or Two Spirit people.

We also lose many trans siblings to suicide -- the attempt rate in our community is over 40%.  And there are unreported trans deaths, and reported deaths where the victim is not identified as trans. Trans people are not included in even basic civil rights laws in most states, and several states have anti-trans laws or are attempting to pass them -- and the Trump administration continues to undo trans rights progress on a national level.

Trans people are also more likely to die of CoViD-19 -- how much more so when they are in other oppressed groups.

And while I say little here or elsewhere about the death details -- primarily to avoid further traumatizing my trans followers, especially those living at similar intersections as the victims -- it is vital to say that the great majority are shootings, and that this is yet another reason we desperately need gun control, and it is an LGBTQ+ and racial justice issue.  *Too, Tony McDade, a Black trans man, was killed by the police, and he is far from the first trans person -- especially Black/of color -- to die that way.

May all of my trans siblings’ memories be blessings -- and call us to act!  May we act to make Black trans and queer lives matter more!  May we schlep ever closer to tikkun olam, world repair, at the intersection of LGBTQ+, climate, racial, immigration, spiritual, fat, disability, and all other rays of the rainbow of justice!  Amen!

(The attached image is a collage I made with Adobe Spark yesterday -- photos of everyone except Lexi and Penélope.)

#BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #LatinxLivesMatter #LatinxTransLivesMatter #NativeLivesMatter #TwoSpiritLivesMatter #TransLivesMatter #TDOR #TDOR2020 #TransDayOfRemembrance


Sunday, March 1, 2020

"OTHERWISE CHRISTIAN 2 : STORIES OF RESISTANCE" INCLUDES A PIECE BY ME!


OC2 is a nonfiction anthology edited by Mx. Chris Paige -- personal reflections by 30 transgender (binary and non), intersex, and Two Spirit authors of many racial and spiritual identities!

You can order OC2 now -- and their siblings OtherWise Christian : A Guidebook For Transgender Liberation, Christian Faith & Gender Identity, and In Remembrance Of Me : Bearing Witness To Transgender Tragedy (with more books in the works)!

Main webpage
Table of Contents
Pre-orders for the Kindle e-book (Amazon)
Paperback pre-orders (Square)
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

#OtherWiseChristian #OtherWiseChristian2 #TransAndSacred #NonBinaryAndSacred #IntersexAndSacred #TwoSpiritAndSacred #SacredOtherWise #YouAreLoved #YouAreNotAMistake #ClaimYourStory #ClaimingOurStories