Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Former Homophobic Bully Comes Out As Gay, and Apologizes

This was fascinating.

As reported at Logo's New Now Next site,

"a former middle-school bully revealed that he’s now gay, and wrote an open letter of apology to the classmate he tormented with anti-gay remarks." This former bully, "James," wrote,

"If you’re in my situation, please don’t resort to verbal abuse over things that scare/ frighten you, be strong, talk to people in a civilized manner, and open up to them.

I know I’m gay, I think I bullied Nate so much because I was afraid of being like this, I wanted to be the strong straight kid my dad always wanted."
"James" wishes he could apologize to the boy he harassed:
"Again I can’t apologies [sic] to Nate now, but if I could I would want to tell him this: I’m sorry for all the verbal harassment I put you through, the truth is I always thought you were pretty cool and sort of attractive, and that frustrated me."
That stopped me in my tracks. The kid bullying Nate thought Nate was attractive?!? And that was what fueled much of the meanness??? WOW.

Let that sink in for a moment.

"the truth is I always thought you were pretty cool and sort of attractive, and that frustrated me."


"James" goes on to address those who are being bullied right now and hopes they can stay strong.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, those who bully you or insult you are most often then not having an identity crisis,” he writes. “I’m here for you now, and want to know that you’re perfect just the way you are.”


What a shame "James" couldn't have figured that out sooner, without making Nate's life miserable.

Here's to epiphanies for all the kids and teens who are acting like bullies!


Monday, April 27, 2015

The 2015 L.A. Times Festival Of Books - Highlights, and a Publishers Weekly Shout-Out

What a great festival!

Left to right, on the YA Stage: Adam Rex, Melissa de la Cruz, Me(!) and Pseudonymous Bosch

My panels of PB and MG superstars were amazing, the audiences enthusiastic (and smart!) and overall a great book-loving time was had by all. Some of my highlights:

1. The seven-year old in the audience asking Salina Yoon if the trees in her Bear series weren't the same trees as in her Penguin series. (This after Salina had said the two worlds don't overlap.) Salina admitted they were the same trees, and had even considered giving one of the Bear-book trees a scarf (a penguin-book theme.) The young person who asked was delighted, and the 100+ people in the audience were too. Everyone applauded the young reader.

2. Starting the introductions of my MG panel with Adam Rex, Melissa de la Cruz, and Pseudonymous Bosch by saying, "Okay, let's start with the hardest name to pronounce first..." And Adam jumping in and saying, "It's Adam, Lee. Adam." Everyone cracked up (including me!) and it was a hilarious and fascinating ride from there.

3. Getting to spend time with friends and kid lit industry peeps including Jo Knowles, Martha Brockenbrough, Suzanne Young, Steven Reigns, Julie Strauss-Gabel, Aaron Hartzler, Greg Pincus, Rita Crayon Huang, Michael Bourret, Dan Santat, Ken Wright, Holly Goldberg Sloan, and my awesome agent, Danielle Smith! (Who took the perfect photo above - thanks, Danielle!)

4. Hearing Jacqueline Woodson say, of her stunning Brown Girl Dreaming, "I wanted those mirrors on the page." YES!

5. Learning that Japan at one point was ruled by female shamans. (Marie Mutsuki Mockett shared this in her life-affirming panel on books about dying that also featured my friend Claire Bidwell Smith) I want to know more about that untold history!

6. Getting to see my friend and Open This Little Book author Jesse Klausmeier showing Levar Burton her picture book's dedication... to him. Awesome moment!

A shot I took on Jesse's camera for her, uploaded to her Instagram account

7. Oh, and this lovely shout-out in Publisher's Weekly for the festival featured my awesome panel of PB superstars!


Friday, April 24, 2015

A Companion to Wolves - Fantasy With Human-Animal Bonding and A Gay Cultural Plotline

A Companion to Wolves by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear

A Companion to Wolves is the story of a young nobleman, Isolfr, who is chosen to become a wolfcarl -- a warrior who is bonded to a fighting wolf. Isolfr is deeply drawn to the wolves, and though as his father's heir he can refuse the call, he chooses to go.

The people of this wintry land depend on the wolfcarls to protect them from the threat of trolls and wyverns, though the supernatural creatures have not come in force for many years. Men are growing too confident. The wolfhealls are small, and the lords give them less respect than in former years. But the winter of Isolfr’s bonding, the trolls come down from the north in far greater numbers than before, and the holding’s complaisance gives way to terror in the dark.

Isolfr, now bonded to a queen wolf, Viradechtis, must learn where his honor lies, and discover the lengths to which he will to go when it, and love for his wolf, drive him.

What's queer about it? As Isolfr is bonded to a female wolf, when that wolf mates with a male wolf (who has his own bonded male warrior) then our main character and that male warrior will be mated as well...

My thanks to the Anonymous commenter on my Gay Fantasy bookshelf for the recommendation. Note that in author Tamora Pierce's review she shares that "There is some raw, completely justified in terms of the culture, sex. This is definitely for mature teens and adults, not middle readers!"

Add your review of "A Companion to Wolves" in comments!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I'm On Faculty at #LA15SCBWI, The 2015 SCBWI Summer Conference!

I'm excited – it's one of my favorite events of the year, and this time round, not only will I be leading the awesome SCBWI Team Blog (looking at you, Martha Brockenbrough, Jolie Stekly, Don Tate and Jaime Temairik!) I'll also be on faculty!

I'm delighted to share that I'll be moderating the SCBWI Success Stories panel on the main stage (in front of an audience of over 1,000 of our fellow writers and illustrators!) Friday July 31, 2015 from 5pm-6pm. It's called "Tips On How To Realize Your Dream" and I'll be talking with Martha Brockenbrough (Hi there, again, Martha!), Mike Curato, Stacey Lee, Lori Nichols and Anna Shinoda.
It's going to be awesome!

Also, brilliant out-of-the-box strategist, illustrator and author of both Picture Books and MG Novels Jim Averbeck will join me in leading a Monday morning August 3 intensive:

I . Lee Wind/Jim Averbeck – Your Plan for an Effective and Successful Blog: Audience. Content. Discoverability. Synergy.

With exercises, examples, and workshopping feedback you will target your audiences, figure out what you’ll blog about (and how to keep it interesting), strategize reaching your readers, and find the synergy with your writing and/or illustrating. From Twitter hashtags and Facebook likes to book trailers and out-of-the-box content that can plug you into the kidlitosphere, you’ll leave this workshop with a customized plan of action to make your blog a turbo-charged career engine! Assignment: Select your two favorite kid lit blogs – and be prepared to share what you like about them. If you don’t know off the top of your head, spend some time checking out the blog roll and

This is for a much smaller group, and will be a very hands-on workshop.

And of course, once more I'm incredibly honored to be hosting the LGBTQ Q&A, also on Friday evening at 7:30pm.

It's going to be a remarkable conference. If you write and/or illustrate works for children or teens, I hope you can join us!

Learn more about the conference schedule (and the rest of the amazing faculty) here.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Sometimes You're A Caterpillar... And Sometimes You're A Snail - A Great Short About Privilege and Diversity

I thought this was great.

Thanks to Chescaleigh and Kat Blaque for making it for us all to learn from and enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2015

What the Hell? - Alabama Judge Who Fought Marriage Equality Wins "Letter From A Birmingham Jail" Award.

Birmingham is in Alabama. So, evidently, is irony. (image from here.)

Okay, I don't normally rant, but really, this press release I just received really pissed me off!

"April 16, 2015 -Today, Rev. Williams Owens, President and Founder of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP), announced that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore would receive their first ever “Letter from a Birmingham Jail Award” in recognition of Justice Moore’s principled stand in defense of traditional marriage."

... “Justice Moore is an example for all of us,” stated Rev. William Owens, President of CAAP. “By making a principled and persuasive stand for marriage, Justice Moore has singled himself out as someone who is ready to defend our most cherished values and help lead this new civil rights movement. By his words and actions, he has helped preserve marriage, the family, justice, and the spirit of democracy. This is what it means to be a ‘Letter from Birmingham a Jail Courage Award’ recipient. [sic] We hope that his example inspires others to take similar action to defend marriage in their own communities.”

There is so much to be offended by here;

the presumptive posturing that they speak in one voice for the African American and religious communities,

the co-opting of the "new civil rights movement" to be about equality only for heterosexual people of color,

the false claim that keeping people you don't like from having marriage is "preserving" it,

likewise the denigration of any family that doesn't look like their heteronormative ideal,

the twisting of 'justice' to celebrate a judge urging officials to disobey a law giving equality to more people,

using the term 'spirit of democracy' as coded language to celebrate prejudice,

but I think what may rankle the most is that they've named this award after an amazing letter written by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Letter From A Birmingham Jail."

Maybe Rev. Owens and his group should re-read that historical document, because it includes the famous line:

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

Injustice - continuing institutionalized prejudice - against LGBTQ people is a threat to justice for everyone else, including people of color, the disabled, immigrants, and religious communities.

In the United States of America, we hold an ideal that children and teens in school recite as our Pledge of Allegiance daily: "With Liberty and Justice For All." I said it all the years I was in school. My husband said it when he was in school. And our daughter says it every morning. We believe in it.

It's hard to find a more succinct statement of what threatens that vision than
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
As simple - and powerful - as that.

You can read Dr. King's letter in its entirety here.

And you can find out more about how Justice Moore, Alabama's top judge, has been "calling for state officials to defy a marriage equality ruling" in this article at

Thanks for reading, and standing up for equality for everyone!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Join Me This Weekend at The LA Times Festival Of Books!

It's a free celebration of books and reading, this April 18 and 19, 2015 at the USC campus near downtown Los Angeles.

I'm honored to be moderating two great panel discussions at the festival:

On Saturday, April 18, 2015 in the Andrus Gerontology Center,

TELL ME A STORY: The Art of Children's Books (Conversation 1043)


Jon Agee

Jon is the author/illustrator of many books for children, including "It’s Only Stanley," along with a series of popular wordplay books, among them, "Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!" His stories — of mysterious painters, hard-luck magicians, guffawing grumps and forgotten astronauts — have been called quirky, absurdist and above all, humorous. His sophisticated wit appeals to children and adults alike.

Jon will be talking about (and signing) his latest book, "It's Only Stanley"

Bob Shea

Bob is the author-illustrator of several picture books, such as "Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great," and the Dinosaur Vs. series. He has also created animations, graphics and logos that have been seen on PBS, Nick Jr. and Noggin. He and his wife run their own graphic design company called Perfectly Nice, and their son Ryan inspired the character Dinosaur.

Bob will be talking about (and signing) his latest book, "Dinosaur Vs. Mommy"


Salina Yoon

Salina is the award-winning author/illustrator of nearly 200 books for children, including "Penguin and Pinecone," "Penguin on Vacation," "Penguin in Love," "Penguin and Pumpkin" and "Found!" She lives in San Diego with her family.

Salina will be talking about (and signing) her latest book, "Stormy Night"

Please note this panel, an "indoor conversation" requires a free ticket, which you can get here

And on Sunday April 19, 2015 on the YA Stage,

MIDDLE GRADE FICTION: Extraordinary Adventures 


Melissa de la Cruz

Melissa is the author of many best-selling novels, including the Blue Bloods series and the "The Ring and The Crown." She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

Melissa will be discussing her latest novel, "The Isle of the Lost"

Adam Rex

Adam is the New York Times best-selling author and illustrator of "Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich." His other books include "Fat Vampire," "Pssst!" and "Smek for President!" He also illustrated the Brixton Brothers series, "Billy Twitters and his Blue Whale Problem" by Mac Barnett and "Chu's Day" by Neil Gaiman. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. Adam wrote the remarkable "The True Meaning of Smekday, which was made into the movie "Home" which is currently in theaters.

Adam will be discussing (and signing) his latest novel, "Smek For President!"


Pseudonymous Bosch

Pseudonymous is the author of the New York Times best-selling Secret Series and "Bad Magic," which School Library Journal praised as "a clever and playful novel ... a delight to read." He loves rich chocolate and fine cheese. His identity is a closely guarded secret.

Pseudonymous will be discussing (and signing) his latest novel, "Bad Magic"

There's so much else going on at the festival, with a number of my very talented friends (looking at you, Martha Brockenbrough, Suzanne Young, Aaron Hartzler, Tim Federle, Catherine Linka, Claire Bidwell Smith, Sonya Sones, and Jacqueline Woodson!) who'll be speaking about their books and moderating other panels. Here's the link to the full list of authors and performers, listing the sessions they'll be part of.  And here's a link to the schedule.

It should be an amazing two days...

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Some Gertrude Stein To Celebrate National Poetry Month

Listen to this recording of our Lesbian Icon Gertrude Stein reading her poem, "If I Had Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso"

The work really struck me as so brave - and so like Picasso in it being an almost cubistic portrait in words.

You can learn more about Gertrude Stein and her love, Alice B. Toklas, here.

Here's to the power of poetry!


Friday, April 10, 2015

A Hero At The End Of The World - A Queer Romance Fantasy Adventure

A Hero At The End Of the World by Erin Claiborne

Seventeen-year-old Ewan Mao knows one thing for certain: according to prophecy, it's his destiny to kill the evil tyrant whose dark reign has terrorized Britain for as long as he can remember. Although he's just a normal boy, deep down Ewan is confident that he has exactly what it takes to be a hero. But when Ewan's big moment comes and his best friend, the clever and talented Oliver Abrams, defeats the villain for him, Ewan's bright future crumbles before his eyes.

Five years later, while Ewan is living at home and working a minimum-wage job, Oliver has a job as an Unusual in the government's Serious Magical Crimes Agency, the life he and Ewan always dreamed of. A routine investigation leads him and his partner, Sophie Stuart, to uncover a dangerous and powerful cult... one that seems to have drawn his former best friend into a plot to end the world.

Note that there's both a "het and LGBT" romance and the book features "two protagonists of colour."

Interestingly, this novel was funded by a successful kickstarter campaign, designed to get three novels written by authors of fan fiction published. My thanks to blog reader Julie for the recommendation! Julie "enjoyed every second of this novel" and described it as "kind of Douglas Adams meets Neil Gaiman in a Harry Potter-esq story staring a queer protagonist (Ewan Mao)"

Add your review of "A Hero At The End Of The World" in comments!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I'm the Cybils Featured Blogger for April!

This was really nice.

Check out the interview with me here, at the Cybils blog.

My thanks to Melissa Fox and the whole Cybils team for the opportunity!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Tina Wexler (ICM Partners): Agent Looking For Diversity


That's the idea. And this series is an effort to do just that.

For now we're focusing on agents, and today's post features agent Tina Wexler of ICM Partners.

Agent Tina Wexler

Here's Tina's bio:

Tina Wexler is an agent at ICM Partners, focused on middle grade and young adult fiction and non-fiction. She is particularly interested in modern folklore, non-linear storytelling, magical realism, humor, weepies, and most anything with a feminist slant. Current and forthcoming titles include Teddy Mars, Almost a World Record Breaker by Molly Burnham, Nightbird by Alice Hoffman, The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman, and Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. She holds an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College and is the mother of two boys. @tina_wexler

Our interview:

Lee: Hi Tina!

Tina: Hi, Lee! Great to see you at #NY15SCBWI, and thanks again for organizing the LGBTQ Q&A.

Lee: Of course - it's really one of the highlights of the SCBWI conferences for me - and these conversations feel very much an extension of those Q&A sessions - letting people know not just that it's okay to write diversity but that it's wanted. And I really appreciate your doing this interview, to talk on this larger stage about your interest in Diversity in Children's and Teen Literature!

Tina: Thank YOU for including me in the conversation.

Lee: There's been growing discussion about how the 5,000 or so traditionally published books a year don't reflect the actual diversity of our world, including the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement and the stunningly low numbers of representation revealed in "Children's Books by and about People of Color Published in the United States," put out by the CCBC (The Cooperative Children's Book Center)

To start us off, of the submissions you get, let's say in the past year, how many of those projects included some kind of diversity of characters or theme?

Tina: By submissions, you mean queries, correct? If so, it’s a relatively small percentage, if I’m only counting those queries that speak specifically about diversity. But that percentage is steadily growing. And indeed, I like to think the percentage is already far higher than it may seem. Like if I get this pitch: “Two teens are forced to decide what and how much they’re willing to sacrifice when their families forbid them from pursuing a relationship.” I could assume that, because it’s not stated otherwise, the two characters are a boy and a girl, white, middle class, Christian---and in most instances when I’ve requested the manuscript, I’d have been right to assume so ---but I don’t want to make those kinds of assumptions. I prefer to hope.

Lee: Let's unpack that a bit: Are you seeing many stories featuring protagonists of color?

Tina: I am, but not nearly as many as I'd like. That’s a real hole on my list. Queriers, please help me remedy that!

Lee: You heard it here!

How about LGBTQ characters, and please break that down - are you seeing lesbian characters? gay? bi? trans*? questioning? queer or gender non-conforming?

Tina: The majority of queries that mention LGBTQ characters cast those characters as friends/best friends, enemies-turned-allies, siblings, or adult neighbors, which is great, but I’d love to see more LGBTQ characters in the role of protagonist. As of now, I only have two forthcoming titles with LGBTQ characters as protagonists: a middle grade novel told from the dual points of view of a transgender girl and a bi-polar boy, written by Donna Gephart, and from Brandy Colbert, the author of POINTE, a YA novel with a protagonist who is questioning if she’s bisexual, to be published by Little, Brown. Certainly, there is room on my list for much more.

Lee: How about characters with disabilities?

Tina: I represent Shane Burcaw’s YA memoir, LAUGHING AT MY NIGHTMARE, about his life with spinal muscular atrophy. The book was a finalist for ALA's Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, and Shane’s tremendously active on Tumblr, with over 500,000 followers. Perhaps because of the book’s success and his visibility online, I’ve been receiving more queries about characters with disabilities than I have in past years, where the numbers had hovered just above 1%. I’m really happy about that increase and hope it continues.

Lee: Are you seeing other types of diversity in the works submitted? - And please share any specific categories that spring to mind.

Tina: I've long been vocal about wanting to see more socioeconomic diversity in kid’s books. More stories where the kids babysit or have a job at the DQ or struggle to complete their homework while putting dinner together because both parents (or the remaining parent) work outside the home, overworked, underpaid and put on wonky shifts that aren’t conducive to helping with homework or making a wholesome dinner (or any dinner) at night. Stories with kids who order off a menu by looking at the price, should they get to go out to eat in the first place. Anna Breslaw’s upcoming debut with Razorbill is a great example of what I’m after here.

Other things I’d love to see more of: diversity of religion. I'm part of an interfaith family, and perhaps because of that, the richness---and complications---its brought to my life, I'm very interested in religion and faith and their depiction/exploration in children's literature.

I also represent a number of authors who are not American (and authors who are American but who write characters who are not). I receive a good deal of queries from and about other nationalities, and I’d like to see more.

Lee: How about the creators? Are you seeing under-represented writers and illustrators submitting to you?

Tina: Lee! I’ll leave the profiling to TSA. ; )

Lee: (laughing) Okay! There's a lot of discussion about who has the 'right' to tell the story of an under-represented type of character. What's your take?

Tina: This post by Skila Brown puts into words how I feel far better than I can.

Lee: Thanks for that link! [Goes off to read it, comes back.] "Are you brave enough to try?" Yes. Yes!

When you're submitting projects to editors, do you think stories with under-represented characters take more 'selling' on your part?

Tina: No. I tend to submit and sell to like-minded people, editors who are also intent on changing the status quo so that the marketplace more accurately reflects the richness of our world.

Lee: I love hearing that!

I often feel the sense of ‘otherness’ is transferable. That from my own experiences being marginalized (for being Gay, being ill as a teen, being Jewish, being an Atheist, etc…) I feel tremendous empathy for people who are marginalized for other kinds of ‘otherness’ as well.
Can you share what’s driving your desire to see more diversity in Children’s and Teen books?

Tina: I was raised in a household with an alcoholic, and like many kids in that environment, I carried with me a lot of secrets and unnecessary shame. Secrets, shame and silence---constant companions to most kids who have lived with a feeling of "otherness." Books were safe spaces, and I want books to be safe spaces for all kids, where they can see themselves represented in respectful and authentic ways, and where they can learn how to feel and express empathy for one another.

Lee: Thank you for sharing that. Tell us about some books that highlighted or included diversity that you loved and that inspired you (maybe even ones you wish you represented). What’s a Picture Book favorite?

Tina: BIG RED LOLLIPOP written by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats
MONDAY IS ONE DAY by Arthur A. Levine, illustrated by Julian Hector

Lee: Middle Grade?

Tina: BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson
EL DEAFO by Cece Bell

Lee: Young Adult?

Tina: I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
ORCHARDS by Holly Thompson

Lee: Okay, here’s your wish list moment. What are you looking for? Put out the call...

Tina: I'm looking for middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. I’m here, on this site, because I want more diverse voices, diverse in all the ways named above. I have a fondness for characters with a sharp wit who don’t always have a ready comeback, characters who feel things deeply but are often oblivious to the world around them. I like contradictions. I like unreliable narrators. I like ambitious story structures and stories that reward me for paying close attention. I want to laugh. Most of all, I want the story only you can tell---whoever YOU are.

Lee: And for writers and/or illustrators reading this who feel a resonance with what you’ve shared and who want to submit to you, how should they go about that?

Tina: They can send a query to twexler[at]icmpartners[dot]com with the first five pages of the manuscript pasted below the query. Please, no active links or attachments, as they tend to get caught in SPAM.

Lee: Getting the world of Children’s literature to better reflect the diversity of our world -- the world kids today are growing up in -- is so important. Thank you so much for working to make things better!

Tina: Thank you for providing the opportunity. It’s very much appreciated.

Thanks Tina! Look for another AGENT LOOKING FOR DIVERSITY interview on the first Monday of next month. Until then, 

Illustrate and Write On!

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Art Of Wishing and The Fourth Wish - A Paranormal Romance Duology with a Bi Love Interest And Gender Fluidity

The Art of Wishing and The Fourth Wish by Lindsay Ribar

The Art of Wishing

Margo McKenna has a plan for just about everything–from landing the lead in the school play to getting into a good college. So when she finds herself in possession of a genie’s ring and the chance to make three wishes, she doesn’t know what to do. Why should she put her life into someone else’s hands?

But Oliver is more than just a genie–he’s also a bisexual sophomore in Margo’s high school, and he’s on the run from a murderer. As he and Margo grow closer, she discovers that it will take more than three wishes to save him.

A whole lot more.

The Fourth Wish

Here’s what Margo McKenna knows about genies:

She’s seen Aladdin more times than she can count; she’s made three wishes on a magic ring; she’s even fallen head over heels in love with Oliver, the cute genie whose life she saved by fighting off his archenemy. But none of this prepared her for the shock of becoming a genie herself.

At a time when she’s trying to figure out who she wants to be, Margo is forced to become whomever her master wants. Everything she’s taken for granted—graduating from high school, going to college, performing in the school musical, even being a girl—is called into question. But she’s also coming into a power she never imagined she’d have.

How will Margo reconcile who she is with what she’s becoming? And where will she and Oliver stand when she’s done?

This novel explores gender bending and fluidity...

My thanks to Dahlia Adler for mentioning the Bi and Gender aspects of this Duology! Add your review of "The Art of Wishing" and/or "The Fourth Wish" in comments!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mia Yamamoto - A Transgender Heroine

I loved learning about Mia Yamamoto!

A transgender woman, MIA YAMAMOTO was born Michael Yamamoto in Poston Relocation Camp, Arizona, 1943. She graduated Cal State University with a B.S. in government in 1966. As Michael, she was struggling with her gender identity and decided to join the Army, in which she served from 66-68. She was awarded many medals such as the National Defense Service medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Vietnam campaign medal.

After the army she went back and attended UCLA’s school of law, where she co-founded the Asian Pacific Islander Law student association. In 1984 she opened her own practice, and has been working as a lawyer ever since. As a lawyer Mia was finally able to afford therapy, and then began her journey of self discovery and affirmation as a trans woman. However, she was only able to find negative representations of the transgender community. Mia tried to find her way through her transition with the arts, learning to dance and play music. She also came to the realization that it was up to her to make a change and difference for the transgender community.

You can go here to watch a five-minute excerpt of Mia's oral history testimony. In Mia's own words:

"You gotta to fight for your future sometimes. And it's worth it. I think it can be an exhillarating, uplifiting, and liberating experience, to fight for yourself. Because once you do, basically you're fighting for everyone like you. And that's worth doing."

Thank you Mia, for sharing your story! And thanks to The Lavender Effect for preserving Mia's place in our LGBTQ history!