State Court Holds Against TG Parent
Response to New Yorker Brandon Article
NY Times, Time Magazine & Newsweek Cover Gender Identity
GenderPAC Board Endorses GID Reform
Queer Groups Support Call for APA Meeting
GenderPAC Board Diversifies
European Court Finds UK in Violation Over TG Issues
LCCR and AVP Speak Out on TransViolence
On the Lighter Side
[St. Louis, MO: 12 Mar 97] A DIVORCED transexual father, now legally female, lost joint custody of her two sons, ages 10 and 7, after a ruling by a state appeals court in St.Louis. The woman, Sharon Boyd, also may not see the boys again unless a St. Charles, MO judge decides that the visits would be in the children's best interest.
"This is a unique situation, and it is imperative that evaluations of the parents and children are made prior to the children's face-to-face reunification with the father," said Judge Paul Simon, writing for the 2-1 majority in the Missouri Court of Appeals.
The original divorce decree granted primary custody to the mother, but allowed the father telephone contact with the children and unsupervised visitation for 2 weeks in the summer and on alternate holidays. However, the boys' mother, who lives with the children in St. Charles, has not allowed Sharon, who lives in suburban Washington, D.C. any contact with the boys for 4 years.
In his minority opinion, Judge Kent Karohl noted that the trial judge who granted the divorce had found the father "loving and caring" toward the boys, who "had a significant bond with their father."
Ms.Boyd said that she will appeal the ruling to the full appellate court, adding, "If we cannot win this case, it will set a dangerous precedent for gender-variant parents. The onus will be on us to prove that we aren't an endangerment to our children."
Taking Dunne to task for perpetuating gender stereotypes, as well as treatment of Brandon Teena as a lesbian, the letter reads in part, "John Gregory Dunne's story, 'The Humboldt Murders,' perpetuates harmful stereotypes about lesbians and transgendered people... Next time Dunne wants to write about something he so clearly does not understand, the editors might suggest he ask someone who does. People in Brandon's situation need education and to know that they are not alone. No one is served by Dunne's vilification of Brandon Teena or his stigmatization of transexual people."
The case involves an infant whose penis was accidently severed by a doctor. The individual was then raised as a female. The original study published in 1973 suggested that sexual identity is neutral at birth and is determined by socialization and exposure to the binary world of boys and girls. The study reported that the child appeared to have accepted the new identity and was happy in the female role.
The follow-up study, which involved the individual as an adult, reveals that the patient did not accept his female identity. "Despite everyone telling him constantly that he was a girl...and his being treated with female hormones, his brain knew he was a male," said Dr. William Reiner, who wrote an editorial to go with the report.
At the age of 14, Joan, unaware of her past, refused to continue living as a girl. Finally, confronted, her father broke down in tears and told her of the accident and its aftermath. Rather than being devastated, Joan was relieved. She became John, requested male hormones and began phalloplasty to try rebuilding his male genitals. At 25, he married a woman and adopted her children. Surgical reconstruction was only partially successful, resulting in little sensation in his penis; but, John says he is happy with life as a man.
"[The study's findings] aren't going to help this problem," said Cheryl Chase, founder of the Intersex Society of North America. "Instead, clinicians who treat intersex children will start assigning more of them as males, and doing a different sort of horrible intervention... They can't conceive of leaving someone alone."
Other professionals quoted in the article cautioned against inferring too much from this isolated case. Said psychologist Dr. Barbara Mackoff, "From a distance, this looks like a paradigm to address the question of... male and female differences. But I don't see this tragic story as a way of helping us to define gender identity."
This story was also featured in Time, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.
The statement, which draws on a position developed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the transgender Law Conference, attempts to chart a middle-course, stating: "NGLTF is sensitive to the differences of opinion within the transgender community on GID and the implications of GID on insurance payments, civil rights and other issues of concern to transgender people. Thus, instead of supporting wholesale GID eradication, we support GID reform. Reform means another diagnosis -- possibly medical -- that does not pathologize transgender people or gender-variant youth and children."
The statement concludes "...we believe no one -- whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (hermaphrodite) -- should have to accept being pathologized as mentally ill in order to attain wholeness, completeness and civil equality."
The letter sent from NGLTF's Executive Director, Kerry Lobel, to APA President Dr. Harold Eist, also called for a meeting to discuss the issue which has drawn fire from queer activists because of its use to stigmatize gender-variant adults and to force treatment on gender-variant children.
Said GenderPAC Board President, Tonye Barreto-Neto, "Some of us count on a medical basis for treatment to get surgical reimbursement. Others feel strongly that they shouldn't be forced to accepted a diagnosis as mentally ill just because of who they are. We think NGLTF's statement has carved out a balanced approach to a sensitive issue."
[The NGLTF statement, from Executive Director Kerry Lobel, is available on request from TContagy@ngltf.org]
Said IGLHRC's Syndey Levy, "We have not fully developed our position yet, but it is apparent to us that GID is also used to stigmatize and 'treat' gender-variant children. In our view, a meeting with the APA on this issue is entirely appropriate."
Continued NCLR's Shannon Minter, "The use of GID as a back door to 'correct' pre- homosexual and pre-transgender children is a terrible abuse, one which often damages the young people for life. And while treatment is being forced on unwilling children, trans-youth and adults who desperately need help are routinely denied medical care, insurance, or reimbursement based on the same 'disorder.'"
Representatives from the three organizations will be:
BiNet USA: Stephanie Berger
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: Betsy Gressler
National Center for Lesbian Rights: Shannon Minter
Contact:Stephen Whittle, S.T.Whittle@mmu.ac.uk
This is a ground-breaking decision in that, for the first time, all 3 articles have been tied together by the Commission, and the majority verdict is the largest ever.
The case will now be sent to the European Court of Human Rights sometime in the next year, unless the new British government (to be chosen May 1st) decides to pre-empt the most probably unfavorable decision of the Court.
"Another sexual minority that is subject to violence is `transgendered' people, an umbrella term that includes transsexuals, cross-dressers, intersexed people (also known as hermaphrodites), and others whose sexual identity appears ambiguous. Transgendered people have been assaulted, raped, or murdered; these crimes should be included in the Hate Crimes Statistics Act."
Said GenderPAC's Washington representative, Dana Priesing, "LCCR includes among its members most of the established civil rights organizations. It is a milestone that LCCR now recognizes the problem of trans-hate crimes, and is willing to speak out on it, and GenderPAC applauds them for this step. Those in our community, who -- through their advocacy and support -- have helped humanized and depathologized us, have helped make this happen."
Meanwhile, the National Coalition of Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Projects issued its annual report, highlighting gender- based violence and declaring" "NCAVP believes that violence against transgendered persons is pervasive and grossly under-reported."
The report went on to state: "During 1996, incidents involving 117 transgendered persons were documented, representing 3% of all victims. 105 of the 117 victims were living as females and 12 as males. NCAVP is presently working with GenderPAC, a national advocacy and action group for transgendered communities, on the distribution of a survey specifically focusing on violence against transgendered individuals."
On the Lighter Side...
Both have a lot of fun with her role, including their first scene in which Russell, recognizing his old friend, grabs Grier's crotch, not for the magic wand, but for the derringer Malone always hid there.
This is a trans-positive portrayal of a strong woman from beginning to end, thanks to veteran director John Carpenter. Maybe Holiday Inn should have hired Grier and added a few Uzis to their high school reunion ad.
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