Trans-Actions #7

June 1997


National Gender Lobby Day Bears Fruit

The lobbying effort sponsored by GenderPAC in May drew about 60 transfolk.  Their efforts succeeded for the first time ever in obtaining written statements of support from elected federal representatives.  Said GenderPAC’s Riki Anne Wilchins, “Now that we’re `on the map,’ all kinds of things become possible. We owe a real debt to the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for supporting our efforts to gain this breakthrough.”

Lobbyists concentrated their efforts on gender-violence, and supported their efforts with data from the first National Study on TransViolence, conducted by GenderPAC.  They also cited the Cambridge, MA jury verdict acquitting William Palmer of the murder of Chanelle Pickett, to underscore the injustice routinely accorded transgenders.  They also quoted the prestigious Leadership Council on Civil Rights (LCCR)’s annual report, which, for the first time, specifically mentioned transviolence: “…Trans-gendered people have been assaulted, raped, or murdered; these crimes should be included in the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.”

At press time, eight federal congresspeople had signed a letter to Janet Reno asking for an investigation into violence against transgender people.  Said Alex Beckles, Legislative Assistant to Rep. Ed Towns, the first Congressmember to sign a statement on trans-violence, “Ed Towns feels strongly that no American — be they gay or straight, black or white, or transgendered — should be the target of violence or have to live with the fear of violence, and we were glad for the opportunity to sign on to such a letter.”

DOJ Representatives Meet with Transgender Activists

Representatives of the US Department of Justice and Attorney General JANET Reno met in May with representatives of the GLBT community to discuss violence and bias-related crimes against differently-gendered people.  The meeting was requested by GenderPAC in a letter sent to Janet Reno following the bombing of the Otherside bar in Atlanta, pointing out that the Otherside was well-known by local citizens for its bisexual and transgender clientele.

The meeting, in which GenderPAC’s Dana Priesing, Tonye Barreto-Neto and Riki Anne Wilchins represented transgender concerns, focused on a three-step approach:   First cover trans-violence under existing Hate Crimes legislation. Second,  develop policies to deal with such violence.  Third, push policy and information down to the street level, so that officers on the beat recognize and prosecute transviolence just as they currently do with elder abuse or spousal assault.

Poll Results:  64% of L/G say YES to TG Inclusion!

On December 10, 1966, The Advocate (a leading Gay/Lesbian magazine) ran a poll with the following question:  “Should gay and lesbian civil rights groups make an effort to support the cause of transgender rights?”   The pull results were published in the February 4, 1997 issue, and were 64% Yes, 23% No, it’s not our struggle, and 13% I’m not sure.  It seems safe to say, finally, that transgender inclusion has gained the favor of the majority of gays and lesbians.

Lambda Literary Awards include Transgender

The Lambda Literary Awards include a category for transgender books for the first time this year. The list of nominees is:  Body Alchemy, Loren Cameron, Cleis; Gender Shock, Phyllis Burke, Anchor, Honey, Honey Miss Thang, Leon E. Pettiway, Temple University,  Lieutenant Nun, Catalina de Erauso, Beacon, and finally Transgender Warriors, Leslie Feinberg, Beacon.  Definitely a must read list for transgender readers!

Transgender Pride Participation Grows

The San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade on Sunday, June 29, will see for the first time anywhere a motorcycle contingent for Transsexual Men.  The Tranz Men’s Motorcycle Club will proceed the FTM and ETVC groups, in what promises to be a spirited participation in the annual celebration of outness and pride.  In the Boston Pride march, a contingent from the Tiffany Club, an organization for crossdressers founded in 1978, joined in gay pride for the first time in the club’s history.  Smiles on the intrepid girls holding the Tiffany banner threatened at times to swallow the group preceding them, and veteran Pride marchers reveled in the reflected glow.  Also making it’s Pride premiere was an FTM group representing the American Boyz, Enterprise, and Officer’s Club.

Transviolence Survey Results Announced

48% of Respondents Report Assault

Results of the 1st National Survey on TransViolence have been published. GenderPAC — with support from the Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project of NYC — announced that 48% of it’s 402 respondents reported having been victims of some kind of assault (including assault with weapon, assault without a weapon, sexual assault, and rape).  In addition, 60% reported being a victim of harassment or violence, with 95% of the worst incidents involving at least 2-3 perpetrators.

The survey presents a sobering picture of the abuse transpeople face. In part, the results show:

Verbal Harassment   78%

Sexual Harassment   23%

Assault (all kinds) 48%

Assault w/o weapon  19%

Sexual Assault/Rape 18%

Assault w/weapon    11%

Attempted Assault    9%

To receive a complete copy of the survey results (@55 pg.), enclose $5 for shipping and handling to GenderPAC, Att: Wilchins, 274 West 11th St.#30 NY, NY 10014

Religious Radicals Attack American Airlines

American Airlines, recipient of IFGE’s first “Partners in Diversity” award, has been singled out by radical religious hate groups for an anti-gay campaign.  The radical religious hate groups sent a manifesto the airline’s president that categorized gay men and lesbians as “immoral, unhealthy and destructive to individuals, families and societies.”  The anti-gay groups, including American Family Association, Family Research Council, Concerned Women of America and Coral Ridge Ministries, demanded that American Airlines drop its support for its lesbian and gay customers and employees. The hate groups have announced they will attempt to flood the airline with letters of protest.

In recent years, American Airlines as well as hundreds of other American corporations have recognized the diversity of their consumers and employees.  American was the first airline to adopt a written non-discrimination policy which includes gender identity.

Menace Joins HWA in Campaign Against IGM

The Transexual Menace have joined with Hermaphrodites With Attitude (HWA) in conducting a series of educational demonstrations at various gatherings of pediatricians and urologists.  Gatherings drawing demos included the New York Academy of Medicine as Psychiatrist Dr. Judith Chused presented a paper on the diagnosis and “treatment” of a 5 year old gender-variant boy diagnosed with Gender Identity  Disorder (activists distributed leaflets describing Psychiatric Abuse of Gender-variant Children and defining  “GenderPatho-Philia” as “an unnatural need or desire to pathologize any gender behavior which makes you uncomfortable”).

Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, in a demo drawing news media crews from Newsweek, ABC’s Prime Time Live, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and Rolling Stone, among others.   Said HWA spokesherm Cheryl Chase, “Africans remove children’s genitals for their own cultural reasons, and we accuse them of acting not only irrationally, but barbarically. We remove children’s genitals for our own cultural reasons, and because the surgeons are licensed and use sterile techniques, we call their actions scientific.”

Transsexual Visible at White House

Chalk one up for transsexual visibility at the White House.  When Jewelia Margueritta Cameroon learned in March that she was part of a 49-member team at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to receive a Hammer award from Vice President Al Gore’s National Performance Review Board for improving government efficiency, she composed an unusual thank-you letter to the vice president.  “Your prestigious award is particularly important to me because it affirms that I, a transgendered (transsexual) women, am regarded by you as a valuable person,” wrote Cameroon, who was known as Richard Green while earning honors at OSHA. Although Cameroon wanted to meet Gore personally, White House staff begged off, reasoning that her gender activism was irrelevant to her job performance.  But the OSHA staffer is still thrilled.  “It is important,” she wrote, “for others to see we are capable persons who can make valuable contributions.”

Last Call for ICTLEP

According to Phyllis Frye, the 6th annual ICTLEP Annual Convention on transgender law and employment policy may be it’s last.  Phyllis cites fatigue and lack of support for her plans to withdraw from making the prodigious effort required to pull off a successful major event on an annual basis.  At this year’s event, held July 11th and 12th 1997 in Houston, speakers will include Reginald E. Jones of the EEOC, and. Kerry Lobel, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.


Chattanooga TG Wins Lawsuit against Harassing Cops

A federal jury found three officers guilty of arresting Michelle Weaver without probably cause.  She had filed suit against six officers and asked for $1 million in damages.  Weaver, who takes hormones and dresses as a woman., was awarded $2,261.

Weaver has filed another case, and is now suing an officer and the city of Chattanooga.  In the lawsuit, Weaver charges discrimination, malicious prosecution, harassment, abuse of process and violation of his constitutional rights.   She contends he is being harassed for her alternative lifestyle.  She has been arrested six times on 11 misdemeanor charges in the past two years.  Eight of the charges were dismissed.

Protesters Demo against HRC in Philly

Although HRC is cooperating with – if not actually including – transgender folk at a national level, it appears that local HRC representatives are somewhat less accommodating, at least in Philadelphia.  TG activists leafleted a black-tie HRC benefit crowd outside the Philadelphia Transit Museum in March.  HRC security reacted aggressively, threatening arrest and seizing pamphlets from the hands of attendees before they could read them. After the dinner, trans activists returned to leaflet the “Moving Toward Equality” Dance Party, sponsored in cooperation with the “Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Awareness Days” at the University of Pennsylvania.  Trans folk in Philly say that inclusion and/or cooperation by HRC at the local level has yet to occur there.

Man Dressed As Woman Shot, Beaten at Park

In Louisville, a crossdresser ended up in intensive care at University of Louisville Hospital after being shot and beaten at Shawnee Park.  Louisville police said officers patrolling the park at about 6:30 a.m were flagged down by someone screaming for help. Police found Jackie Willmer, 19, with a gunshot wound in each arm and in the lower back. Willmer, who was found dressed as a woman, had also been beaten.  Police are unsure of the circumstances behind the attack, and have only a sketchy description of the assailant.

Chanelle Pickett: Jury Acquits, Judge Convicts

The jury in the trial of William Palmer for the murder of transsexual Chanelle Pickett convicted Palmer of simple assault and battery, acquitting of murder or manslaughter.  The judge, however, imposed a sentence in excess of that requested by the prosecution, saying “the defendant should kiss the ground the defense counsel walks on”, sending a clear message to observers about the inadequacy of the verdict.  He sentenced Palmer to two years prison term followed by five years probation.

Palmer admitted to assaulting Pickett. The medical examiner testified to death by strangulation, but the defense employed an “expert witness” (who also testified for the OJ Simpson defense) who succeeded in undermining the jury’s confidence in that testimony.  Some observers noted that the prosecution’s arguments for first degree murder lacked credibility, and that the talent in the courtroom was grossly stacked on the side of the defense.

The local GLBT community erupted in outrage at the verdict, and a demonstration at the sentencing was well attended by activists and extensively covered by media.   Two previous demonstrations had been held during the court proceedings, and a vigil shortly after the murder in December 1995 drew 250 people.

Oregon Transexuals’ Rights Threatened

In April, members of Oregon’s transexual community spoke at a State Senate Committee hearing against a proposed bill in the Oregon Legislature that would exclude transexualism from protection as a medically recognized condition or one perceived to be a disability.  Oregon law is presently based on the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which includes transexualism as a protected disability.  Another proposed bill threatens employment protections for transexuals that were won last year for the first time under the state’s disability protection laws. Wording for the proposed legislation lumps transexualism together with pedophilia, voyeurism, kleptomania, and pyromania as conditions excluded from disabilities that are protected.


Missouri TransParent Under Seige by Christian Groups

Transgender parent Sharon Boyd recently suffered a setback in her battle to see her own children when a Missouri Court of Appeals held that Ms. Boyd constituted “an endangerment” to her own children because of her transgender status.  Ms. Boyd’s case takes on added significance because of new bills introduced in the Missouri State Legislature.  One of these closely follows the ruling in Ms. Boyd’s case, and would deny custody or adoption rights to anyone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.  Another targeted directly at transparents has already passed the Missouri Senate.

Ironically, Ms. Boyd, a self-described “squeaky clean” evangelical Christian, is under attack from groups ranging from the “Christian Coalition” to “Focus on the Family.”  Ms. Boyd is an honor’s graduate of the US Air Force Academy, who has served in the Army, the Air Force, and military intelligence, before emerging as a much-decorated Major following 12 years of military service.

Ms. Boyd plans to appeal the case as long as her limited funds hold out.  Her ex-wife has denied Ms. Boyd even telephone contact her two sons, aged 7 and 10, since 1992.

Judge Throws Out Charges Against TS Cop

A set of 45 departmental charges against transsexual Hoboken police lieutenant Janet Aiello was thrown out by a Superior Court judge.  Aiello had been suspended for six days for ignoring orders from the chief and for neglect of duty in an escalating disagreement over the date and conditions of her return to work in 1995, after she took eight months off and legally changed her gender.

But the Judge ruled that what the city called orders were more like requests, and that in any case Lieutenant Aiello’s failure to answer then was not unreasonable considering the difficult circumstances surrounding her return.  Lieutenant Aiello, a 24-year veteran, did come back to work in 1995, but has been on sick leave since October.  Her plight received national media coverage.


Egyptian Transsexual “Son” Inherits

In May, an Egyptian court ruled in favor of a transsexual whose brother claimed she should now inherit like a daughter.   The Egyptian court in Alexandria ruled on the question of transsexual inheritance in the case of a deceased millionaire with two sons, who would normally split the inheritance in half under Islamic law. But when one son underwent gender reassignment surgery after the father’s death, the other went to court claiming that the TG offspring should receive only a daughter’s share, or 1/3 of the estate.  The court dismissed the case, leaving the TS to inherit as a son, because she was still a male when the father died.

Renault Airs Anti-Transsexual Ad

Renault recently aired a television advertisement in which a young man whose girlfriend is transsexual must renounce her in order to get the keys to his brother’s Renault Clio.  The script reads “Your woman of the evening is not really a woman…”, portraying the relationship with the transsexual as shameful.  Kim Perez of La Association de Identitad de Genero, a transsexual political organization, is asking Americans to write the Spanish devision of the auto manufacturer.

Human Rights Court Rules Against Trans-Parent

FTM Stephen Whittle and his partner lost their struggle to have Stephen legally recognized in the UK as the father of their donor-inseminated children.  The European Court of Human Rights’ decision affirms the UK’s refusal to register Stephen as the father on official birth certificates, thus denying him any parental rights. Stephen, registered as a female at birth, underwent SRS in the 70’s and has lived as a man since 1975.

At one point, Whittle’s family’s right to inhabit their neighborhood  was challenged by an anonymous letter, but neighbors rallied in his defense.  Press coverage of the case was largely supportive of the couple. They said in a joint statement, “We may not have won the battle, but we have certainly won the battle for hearts and minds. If our publicity has made life better for one other transexual, it will have been worth it.”

Progress in Buenos Aires

“Transvestite” activists (which includes TS, drag queens, etc.) in Buenos Aires are making progress in the effort to put a stop to police harassment and abuse of transgender folk.  Activist Lohanna Berkins demanded of a Statutory Convention member to know why transvestites were still being arrested even though the new city’s Constitution had repealed the repressive Police Edicts (see last issue).  The official made a public promise to take their complaints to the city government, which she did.  At a resulting meeting in May, Lohanna and others met with the Buenos Aires government undersecretary and presented their case to the authorities and advisors.

Meanwhile, a court case against three transvestites in which they were charged with “resistance to authorities, aggravated damage and injuries” was dismissed by a court of three female judges.  After hearing testimony that the girls had been beaten and denied their basic rights under the law, and medical statements confirming that the three had been severely beaten, the judges ordered an investigation of the Police stations involved.

Sri Lanka  Lags Behind

On April 12, a prominent businesswoman in the capital city of Colombo was arrested because “she’s really a he”, according to Reuters.  Police planned to charge the man with impersonation, receiving $500,000 in loans with false documents, and cohabiting with another man in what appeared to be a marriage.


Intersex Genital Mutilation Exposed

Intersex Genital Mutilation – IGM – has become a high-profile media story, thanks to articles in the New York Times and Newsweek.  The stories have been largely sympathetic to the arguments of intersex activist Cheryl Chase and others who have been conducting demonstrations at pediatric conventions around the country.   With support from the Transexual Menace, GenderPAC and other activists, Chase and her Intersex Society of North America have succeeded in raising the question of whether intersex folks benefit from genital surgery during infancy.   Says Cheryl, “Every major city has at least one hospital doing IGM.  It’s time to lift the veil on operating rooms in hospitals down the street from where you live.”

Saturday Night Live Savages Transexual Once Again

SNL’s Norm MacDonald is no friend of the transgender community.  Just months after his infamous “everyone in this story deserved to die” comment on the Brandon Teena murder trial verdicts, MacDonald commented in his news update segment about transexual Sharon Boyd’s child custody case, saying, “Hmmm…I wonder who’s going to win this one, the mother of the 2 children, or the guy who had his penis twisted into a fake vagina.”  If you’d like to express your opinion on Mr. MacDonald’s politics, call Mr. Andrew Brewer, NBC Standards & Practices, (212) 664-4458, or Mr. Dan Ferguson, SNL Public Relations (212) 664-3733.

In Closing…

Boys would be girls…

According to a story printed in the San Francisco Chronicle, a study taken by Carvel about what people wish for when they blow out the birthday candles found that 61% of all boys younger than age 10 who want to be superheroes want to be catwoman.

Notable Quote:

“the people who are picketing the AAP at the moment do have a point…  ”

“I wonder whether we shouldn’t be rethinking the philosophy for early vaginal reconstruction for adrenal hyperplasia.”    – David Thomas, MD, pediatric urologist at St. James’s University Hospital and Infirmary in Leeds, England