The Week In Trans 2/27/17

| Feb 27, 2017

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Cox in Doubt.

CBS has cancelled the series Doubt after showing only two episodes. Laverne Cox had a continuing role in the drama, and went on the talk-show circuit to promote it. That might have made some people think that they did not want to see a television show about a transgender person. Anyone who did tune in to see a television show about a transgender person would be disappointed to find out that the transgender person was only one part of a large cast. The Hollywood Reporter has this story.

On Friday, the Supreme Court informed the Liberty Council and some other groups that they had misgendered Gavin Grimm in their briefs to the court. In the title of the case, the defendant is referred to as “G.G., by his Next Friend and Mother, Deirdre Grimm.” In their brief, they refer to the defendant as “G.G., by his next friend and mother, Deirdre Grimm.” The clerk of the Supreme Court informed the Liberty Council, “Under Rule 34, your cover is to reflect the caption of the case.” This is a technicality, and does not mean much in regards to the thoughts of the justices on the matter. They can refer to Mr. Grimm as a girl throughout the brief, if they wish, but they must refer to him with a male pronoun when stating the title of the case. This story is on Fusion.

On Wednesday, the Departments of Justice and Education announced a new guidance letter on the subject of transgender students would be sent to schools and school boards across the United States. There are several angles to this story.

  • While this letter replaces the letter sent by the Justice and Education Departments last May, there is still uncertainty as to what legal status the previous letter had. That would have been the subject of a hearing before Judge Reed O’Connor, had the Department of Justice continued with that suit. While the Obama-administration’s Departments of Justice and Education held that the letter was merely a statement regarding recent court decisions regarding the rights of transgender students under Title IX, the fact that the letter did not mention any desire to fight those court decisions indicated that the Departments were at least willing to accept those court decisions.  But, the states and school districts suing in the case before Judge O’Connor thought that the letter meant much more than that — including a possible loss of Title IX funds for districts that did not comply. This article from The New Civil Rights Movement attempts to correct other news outlets on what happened, to do so requires making some assumptions about what the previous letter’s legal status was.
  • The new letter claims that the previous letter did not “contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.” All of that would be necessary if the previous letter were a statement of the previous administration’s policy on the matter, but would not be necessary if it were merely a discussion of legal decisions, as the Obama administration contended. The new letter does try to state policy, but it lacks extensive legal analysis and it did not undergo any formal public process. You can see the new letter here.
  • While the new letter indicates that the Department of Education will not withhold Title IX money from schools because of transgender students, it mentions that schools could still be sued by third parties (students and parents). If the previous letter was right, and court decisions are interpreting gender identity as protected by the sex discrimination protections of Title IX, then the new letter will not change this.
  • The new letter says, “All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment,” and insisted that the withdrawal of the earlier guidance documents “does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment” and that the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights “will continue its duty under law to hear all claims of discrimination and will explore every opportunity to protect all students and to encourage civility in our classrooms.” It asserts that the two departments “are committed to the application of Title IX and other federal laws to ensure such protection.” The letter does not offer specifics about this.
  • As Buzzfeed finds, several states have announced that discrimination against students on the grounds of gender identity is illegal in the state. New York’s Attorney General and Connecticut’s Governor said that the new letter changes nothing in their states, while schools in Colorado are bound by the decision in the Coy Mathis case. For more on the local aspect of this story, see this article on Buzzfeed.
  • Both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have announced that they believe that discriminating against students based on their gender identity is wrong. Both say that protecting the most vulnerable students is important to them. Both promised to fight this decision.
  • The new letter may soon be superseded, whether the Trump administration likes it or not. Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. will come before the Supreme Court soon. If the Supreme Court reaches a majority decision, that will decide whether gender identity is protected under Title IX. If the justices split, then the decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stands, and that decision holds that gender identity is protected under Title IX. While that decision only theoretically holds in the states covered by the Fourth Circuit, cases in other states could use this as a guide. To the extent that the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision was based on the previous administration’s interpretation of Title IX, that is no longer current. Indeed, the new guidance would be used in place of the old one, and that would likely change the decision. The Supreme Court could send the matter back to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, for them to decide it based on the current situation. Think Progress has more on the importance of this case. Art Leonard looks at the Supreme Court case as well as other law suits which are affected by this development.

Laura Jane Grace

Reaction to the administration’s new policy came fast, and in the case of some, furious. Laura Jane Grace let everyone know how she felt about the Trump administration’s move in an interview with Rolling Stone.

You remember how Donald Trump once said that Caitlyn Jenner was welcome to use the ladies’ room at Trump Tower? Well, even she has called the new letter on transgender students “a disaster.” The Huffington Post has this story.

Ms. Jenner was not alone in being upset. Hundreds of people protested outside the White House on Wednesday, and signs in support of transgender people were everywhere in the crowd. Even Gavin Grimm  came to address the crowd. You can read more about that at the Washington Blade.

Jackie and Juliet Evancho

Another message to President Trump came from Jackie Evancho, who sang The Star Spangled Banner at the inauguration last month. She tweeted an invitation to the president to meet with her and her transender sister, Juliet, to discuss transgender issues. Patricia Arquette also mentioned her transgender sister in a tweet to the President. USA Today has a round-up of celebrity tweets on the topic.

The ongoing “restroom wars” pitting frightened conservatives against trans people who just want to have a place to pee have been going on so long that it seems like they’ve been at it forever. It’s helpful to take a step back and look at just when and where the first problems around trans restroom use began. Fortunately America’s newspaper of record, The New York Times, has it all laid out for you.

Governor Daniel P. Malloy of Connecticut signed an executive order which tells public schools in the state to allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice. A memo on this was delivered to each school board superintendent in the state. NBC Connecticut has this story.

San Francisco City Hall.

San Francisco is lighting up city hall in pink, white, and blue lights to show its support of transgender people, according to Curbed San Francisco.

It should surprise no one to find that both The Trevor Project and Trans Lifeline saw increases in the number of calls that they handle. On Thursday alone, Trans Lifeline found itself receiving almost triple its January average of calls. This story can be found in the Huffington Post.

While mention of the new guidance letter received a warm response at CPAC, the few transgender women in attendance felt betrayed.

These days you find the T in LGBT (and LGBTQ) always in place. It wasn’t always that way. In the past the gay and lesbian communities were not eager to accept trans people into their tent. There was a feeling that adding the T would just confuse the world and make it harder to get legal protections for gay rights. Nowadays we are almost routinely included but some in the gay community still wonder what the connection is. Gay columnist Frank Bruni explains how he came to understand the reason that trans folks should be aligned with gays, lesbians, and bisexual people in his column in The New York Times.

Ecuadorian trans activist Diane Rodríquez.

In Ecuador the trans community was jubilant last week when they were able to vote for the first time according to their true gender. In that country voters stand in lines segregated by gender to cast their ballot. This caused problems for trans people who had to stand in the line corresponding to what it said on their identity card which was based on their sex at birth. Last year they passed a law that allowed trans people to change their gender on their ID card. Learn more on the Vallarta Daily website.

At the state and local level, bills to curtail transgender people’s access to the restroom of their preferred gender have been introduced in a flurry, but have dwindled one by one. In Kentucky and South Dakota, they face the problem that the Republican governors of those states see no reason for them. In Virginia, the bill could not get enough support to get out of committee. WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. has a round-up.

Texas seems to be the state where the “bathroom bill” is gaining the most traction, even though the leader of that state’s House of Representatives has said that such a bill is not on his agenda. Filmmaker Richard Linklater, a native of Austin, has created a new ad for use on the web, with the tagline, “I pee with LGBT.” It will get a targeted ad buy on Facebook. You can read about it in the Austin America-Statesman.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has been a driving force behind that state’s attempt at a “bathroom bill.” He has been receiving a lot of calls on the topic — and they are running against his wishes. Over 10,000 calls, letters, and emails have come to him opposing the measure, while 200 have supported it. On the other hand, polls show that Texans support the idea for such a measure, at least in the abstract. (Those pesky details will cause problems.) The San Antonio Express News has this story.

Mack Beggs

Mack Beggs, a 17-year-old trans male in the Dallas area, has won a regional wrestling championship when his opponent in the finals forfeited rather than face him. It seems that Texas state laws forbid Mr. Beggs from participating in wrestling on the boys’ team, so he is on the girls’ wrestling team. Although he does get testosterone treatments, the athletic league has approved him as a female athlete. This story can be found in Sports Day.

Update: Mack Beggs won the Texas state wrestling title in the 110-pound weight class, finishing the season undefeated. Opponents cried foul and sued to try to block him from wrestling in the girls division. Edge Media has this story.

Last week, one of those right-wing talking heads said how the rest of the world must think that the U.S. is stupid to not be rushing to use legal force to solve the problem of transgender people in the restroom. It seems that he has that reaction exactly wrong. While this obsession with which restroom transgender people use has seeped into Canada a bit, around the world, people are looking at the United States as looney for being so obsessed with where transgender people pee. Shawn Pogatchnik of the Associated Press finds that the issue doesn’t come up much elsewhere, although some fear that the cultural influence of the United States might bring the issue to their lands.

Nofar Nave and Mor Vital.

We have heard horror stories from travelers who have had problems with security in the United States. That problem seems to also be present in Israel, where Mor Vital complains about being asked embarrassing personal questions in front of strangers. One time, they kept her so long for questioning that her luggage didn’t make the flight, even though she had arrived at the airport three hours early. Her story is in Ynet News.

St. Paul’s School, a prestigious all-girls school in London, has begun to allow its students (starting at age 16) to identify as female, male, or gender neutral, and to wear a boy’s version of the school uniform. They also can use male names. Of course, the vast majority of the students will keep the names their parents gave them, and will continue to identify as females. Ten students are said to have requested a change of name, change of gender, or change of uniform (or combination thereof). The idea that there even is such a process outrages the folks at the Daily Mail.

Despite the news from Washington, the demand for transgender medical services continues to grow. To meet that demand, three new hospitals have opened all-under-one-roof clinics, with counsellors, psychiatric help, physicians, and surgeons in the same building. One of those will be at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida. The others are at The University of California Irvine Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Orange County, California. Planning for these facilities began long before the recent news.

Ms. Bob

Former TGForum contributor Ms. Bob Davis has started a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo.com to create an archive for the hundreds of old photographs of crossdressers and transgender people currently in her possession. She wants these to be preserved for the future, and to be as widely available as they can be. This story is found in the Bay Area Reporter.

For over 20 years, Veronica Vera has been operating Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want To Be Girls in New York City. Her clients were often men who could not indulge their feminine side for family or business reasons (or both). Today, a lot of her clients are beginning gender transitions, with the goal of living full-time in their preferred genders. Back then, most of her clients wanted discretion, especially as regards their wives. Today, many come as couples. Miss Vera teaches them hair and makeup, as well as how to act like a woman. And she has recently compiled a new book, Miss Vera’s Cross Gender Fun for All. You can read more about her at the Daily Dot.

TWITs

Tucker Carlson had Jillian Weiss as a guest on his show, and he proved to be a most ungracious host. He started by asking the old canard about suddenly waking up and deciding that he was a woman, and when she answered that that’s not how it works, he just kept on asking her the same question. After refusing to listen to the answer, he accused transgender people of “faking.” For disrespecting a guest so much, Tucker Carlson gets a TWIT Award. You can see a transcript at Media Matters.

Kayleigh McEnany, a commentator on CNN, complained about voyeurism at Target happening because of “men, straight men coming in [to the ladies’ room] and really, being a predator against women.” There was one incident — a voyeurism incident in a changing room — which is not gender-regulated in the same way that a restroom is. There were no such incidents in the ladies’ room. For attacking transgender people with false facts, Kayleigh McEnany gets a TWIT. Media Matters has a transcript of this as well.

Andrew Koenig, a state Senator in Missouri, was in a committee when Elizabeth Fuchs, public policy manager for the statewide LGBT group PROMO, testified against a bill that would force transgender students to use the restroom and locker room of their “biological sex.” He said to Ms. Fuchs, “Kids say funny things. ‘I want to be a girl’ or ‘I want to be a dog.’ Who knows what they’ll say?” Missouri State Senator Andrew Koenig gets a TWIT Award. His statements were covered by the Pitch.

TWIT is edited by Angela Gardner who also supplied additional material.

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