Trans-Actions 4

It’s finally happened.   The New York Times, that venerable and most highly respected of all daily publications, has placed its stamp of approval on the transgender movement.  In an article on September 8, the Times defined transgenderism and outlined the TG movement as a struggle for respect and protection by persons who are not necessarily categorizable as ‘he’ and ‘she’.  The article, instigated by Riki Anne Wilchins working with guidance from Robert Bray of NGLTF, finally legitimizes the transgender movement in a world-class forum.

It’s a movement now, folks.

Around the country, things are hopping.

Gender Shocker

Phyllis Burke’s new book Gender Shock provides ammunition for the call to end “Gender Identity Disorder”, relating case histories of young children abused by parents, doctors and psychologists in the name of “curing” the gender “problem”.  This book challenges the APA’s categorizing of GID, claiming that the category is used to justify the subjecting of young gender-transgressive children to various forms of aversion therapy.  The book details cases of children incarcerated in prison-like institutions, and treated with drugs and electroshock “therapy” in the absence of any counseling.

Math Teacher Does Drag in Class

The transgender movement seems to be gaining ground all over, as reflected in courageous individual acts of gender transgression. In Santa Rosa, CA, a 58-year-old math teacher and father of 10 came out on the job and wears a dress to class every day.  Diane Giles began dressing full-time in women’s clothing this past summer, with wife Anne’s support.   Diane visited her family in Quincy, IL, and attended her 40th high school reunion in a dress.  According to the “Southern Voice”, said “I’ve known about it all  the time we have been together.  I’m glad the hiding, the  worrying, and the concern for the mental health of Diane is over.  This is  the person she is.”  School administrators are reported to have said that Giles can teach in a dress  as long as it does not interfere with “his” duties.

High School Sophomore persecuted for wearing a dress

In Burlington, VT, a young man has caught the national spotlight by insisting on his right to wear a dress to high school.  Matt Stickney been physically assaulted, suspended from classes, and for a time went into hiding.  He became the focus of intense media coverage as the drama of his cause caught popular sentiment.  After running away from home, Matt has been remanded into state custody.  His foster parents are reported to be less than fully supportive of his right to wear a dress.  The Transexual Menace will, buy the time this is printed, have demonstrated in Burlington in support of Matt, under the guidance of the local queer organization OutRight Vermont.  Meanwhile Matt is pursuing legal redress with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union in Vermont.

TS Ordination Question to be considered

The effort of a transsexual Presbyterian minister to have her ordination affirmed will again come before the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta on Oct. 22 after the Committee on Ministry recommended approval for the second time Sept. 11.  Last year, the presbytery, the local governing body for the Presbyterian Church (USA), declined the committee’s earlier recommendation that it affirm the ordination of Erin Swenson, a family therapist ordained in 1973 as Eric.  After some members said the matter had theological implications that would resonate nationally, the presbytery sent the request back to the committee for further study.

Cambridge HRC Endorses Gender Protections

The Cambridge Human Rights Commission unanimously endorsed an amendment to the Cambridge HR Ordinance providing protection from discrimination on the basis of gender.  For the amendment to become law, it must be approved by vote of the Cambridge City Council.  A vote is expected by year’s end, and a majority of city councilors have already agreed to vote in favor of the amendment.

The amendment (penned by this author) adds “gender” to the list of protected classes (sex, race, religion, etc.). It also defines gender as “the actual or perceived appearance, expression, or identity of a person with respect to masculinity and femininity”.   Since the ordinance provides for the establishment of same sex facilities such as dormitories, the amendment also defines ‘same sex’ as “occupying the same social and identity roles as another with respect to being male or female.”   This could constitute the first time that a definition of sex based on something other than physiology becomes law.

Meanwhile San Francisco, believed to be home to about 6,000 transsexuals,  is considering broadening municipal employees’ insurance to cover sex-change operations.

Seattle Upholds TS Discrimination Complaint

Seattle’s human rights department appeals panel has unanimously overruled it’s director and set aside a finding of no probable cause in TS Margaret Deirdre O’Hartigan’s discrimination complaint against Seattle Bisexual Women’s Network. Ms. O’Hartigan filed the complaint after repeatedly being denied participation in SBWN meetings because she is TS.

Northern California Transsexual Suffers Civil Rights Violation

Whatever progress the transgender movement is making, there will probably always remain many people out there rooted in past attitudes.  Last July, a Sacramento-area transsexual woman visiting “Water World” in Sacramento found herself confronted by three park rangers, one sheriff deputy, and three park employees including the general manager.  They told her that there had been a complaint.  The sheriff, referring to her as “a guy in drag,” accused her of lewd conduct for using the women’s restroom and told her to leave the park. When told that her driver’s license states her to be female, the sheriff’s response was “whoever issued you your driver’s license didn’t check you out good enough”.  All these accusations were made in the public eye, and in front of her son and friends.  We haven’t heard the outcome of this one.

Missouri Court to Hear Transsexual Custody Case

In a somewhat strange case, the Missouri Court of Appeals will soon hear the case of a transsexual seeking custody of her children.  The children’s father Sharon has been living as a woman, and underwent SRS.  The mother seeks to deny visitation and temporary custody rights to Sharon for their two sons, age 9 and 6.  Both sons have been diagnosed with psychological problems.

Last year, a  County judge granted the wife primary physical custody, with weekend temporary custody and some small unsupervised visitation for Sharon.  In a highly questionable ruling, however, Sharon could not cohabit with a transsexual or sleep with another woman during those visits.  Sharon seeks to eliminate such restriction, as she has apparently been lucky enough to find a TS partner.  We’ll wish Sharon the best, and suggest that this might be an opportunity for ICTLEP to do some good.

Transgender Murder in Hawaii

We’re received reports of another TG murder, this time in Hawaii. 22-year old Army member Anthony Briscoe is charged with second-degree murder and if convicted will face a mandatory life prison sentence with the  possibility of parole.  The victim was Thomas Hall, 33, reported as a transvestite, though such reports are notoriously unreliable.  Witnesses testified to having seen Briscoe with Hall shortly before hearing Hall screaming, and seeing Briscoe’s car at the scene.   Police said Hall suffered facial and head injuries from being beaten with a brick, and died the following day.

French TS Woman Fights for Fatherhood

In Strasbourg, France, a transsexual woman took Britain to the European Court of Human Rights Tuesday to win recognition as father to the child of hir long-time female companion.  The child was born in 1992 through artificial insemination.  Apparently the Registrar General gave the father’s name to the child but refused to recognize and register hir role as father to the child.  The European Commission of Human rights, which screens cases for the Strasbourg-based court, had declared the case admissible.  The court will deliver its verdict at a later date.

“Admirers” Discovered by Researchers

If you’ve ever wondered whether research leads or follows social evolution, perhaps this story will help you to arrive an understanding.  Toronto’s Clarke Institute of Psychiatry reports that researchers have identified a distinct psychological group of men who are sexually interested in transvestites and transsexuals. Ray Blanchard, head of clinical sexology at Clarke, said these men, called gynandromorphophiles, are “heterosexuals of some stripe” and more common than believed.  Blanchard and his research team reached their conclusions by analyzing a transsexual voice mail service.  While admitting the research is “primitive,” Blanchard concluded these men are masculine and heterosexual men seeking to play a dominant role with men who dress and act like women but retain their male genitalia.  Of course, transsexuals have known this for years.  Guess we just didn’t have enough credentials to be heard.

In an interesting, unrelated finding, a long-term study of 4500 sets of Australian twins concluded that if one identical twin is gay, the other will be, too.  Blanchard suggested the influence on being gay may go beyond genetics to such factors as growing up the youngest brother in a family.

British TS marriage annulled

In England, a TS man has had his marriage declared null and void by a Court of Appeal after his wife found out that he had been born female.  They had been married 17 years.  The wife’s counsel claimed that their relationship was based on a “profound deception”.  The man had had mastectomy and hormones before he met the woman, and had apparently used an artificial phallus during intercourse, without her knowledge.  He had never told her of his original sex/gender, and is reported to have now accepted that he should have done so.

Argentina: Tough Times Improving

The net serves as central nervous system for transgender activism once again.  Alejandra Sarda, from Buenos Aires, sent the following out over the net: “The situation of transvestites and transsexuals in our country is desperate:   They are arbitrarily arrested several times a week, forbidden to do any type of work except prostitution and harassed for doing it, beaten and verbally abused when arrested. There have been several deaths… …a new pavilion was opened in the largest women’s jail to accommodate transvestites who will be kept in jail 21 days for no crime other than being themselves, at police’s will and with no judicial intervention. Further research is being done around that measure.” “…A few facts: more than 40  transvestites were murdered in the last 4 years, a 43 year old  transsexual estimates she has spend a total of 6 years in jail during  her life, and transvestites working in the street spend in average 3 nights in police stations every week.”

Following concerted effort by brave activists and their attorneys, on September 25 the Buenos Aires Statutory Convention passed a clause that repeals the Police Edicts that were the force’s key weapon to arbitrarily detain young people, transvestites, gays, lesbians and prostitutes (among many others). When implemented, this edict assures that nobody can be arrested in Buenos Aires simply  for being ‘suspicious’ or to check her/his police records.

Romania Legislates Greater Intolerance

Romania’s Chamber of Deputies voted overwhelmingly in September to continue condemning homosexuals to prison for all consensual same-sex relations, and to establish stiff new prison terms for members of gay associations.  The Chamber ignored appeals from Amnesty International, other leading organizations, and hundreds of concerned individuals from around the world.  Romania remains the only member of the Council of Europe prosecuting consensual same-sex relations.  Other Council members — the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Denmark — have objected strongly to Romania’s ill-treatment of gays and lesbians, which has worsened since the end of communist rule.  Homosexual relations are punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment., and any organizing is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

Meanwhile in Bulgaria, police crushed the Bulgarian gay organization “Flamingo” this past July.  The organization’s offices were vandalized by forces from the III-Th. district police station of Sofia, Bulgaria.  The Flamingo Center, a publisher of gay and lesbian erotic magazines, was founded in 1990 and officially registered as a Bulgarian trade company in 1994.

Disabled Trans-Person Terrorized in Georgia

Phillida Hutcheson, a transgendered person who has been confined to a wheelchair for many years, has been terrorized by a series of attacks on her home near Atlanta.  The attacks began with phone calls, then a brick was thrown through her upstairs bedroom window.  These were followed by more calls, more bricks, and even a bottle rocket.  Reportedly, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department has been reluctant to classify the attacks as hate crimes, and is dragging their feet on an investigation.  Hutcheson had never experienced problems in her ten years in the town, and speculates it may result from her firing a neighborhood man who had done some yard work for her.  “It takes a cowardly bastard to do this to someone who can’t even get out of the way,” she says.

Transphobia Linked To Transgender Feelings?

According to a study reported in The Journal of Abnormal Psychology,  heterosexual men who say they hate gays are likely to have homosexual leanings themselves.  The results support what has long been felt in the gay and lesbian community.  To at least one observer, they also suggest that perhaps transphobia is linked to transgender feelings.  According to Henry  E. Adams, research professor of psychology at the University of Georgia at Athens, who conducted the research, “These guys despise in others what they see in themselves.”

Trans-Violence Survey Launched

A nation-wide survey of  violence against transgenders has been launched by GenderPAC.  It is available as an insert in many leading publications, at conventions, and on the World Wide (wait) Web, at  Survey results will be helpful in lobbying for legislation to provide protection for transgender folk.  This survey was developed in coordination with the Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, or AVP, a national group which pioneered research and advocacy services for gender and queer people. People unable to access the Web can get a survey via e-mail by contacting Ms. Lombardi at CherRed@En.Com, or via snail-mail by sending a SASE addressed to: Ms. Emilia Lombardi, GenderPAC Research, 291 Grove St. #1, Akron, OH 44302.

Debbie Forte Vigil Held

In front of the courthouse in Lawrence, MA, a dozen transgender activists clad in Menace T-shirts held vigil for murdered transsexual Debbie Forte on the morning of September 16.  The demonstrators, holding signs and disarming passersby with smiles, were greeted by Debbie’s sister Ellen, who gratefully thanked them, saying that they had made a huge difference with their presence.  Local newspapers covered the event, reporting favorably on the action and the trial.  The confessed murder pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to second-degree murder, and was immediately sentenced to life with parole in 15 years.  Forte’s family and friends were satisfied with the outcome and relieved at having been spared a potentially nasty trial ordeal.