The Week In Trans 3/13/17

| Mar 13, 2017

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Laverne Cox

The television series Doubt, with Laverne Cox as one of the leads, didn’t last long on CBS. This week, Ms. Cox was announced as the co-lead of another series, The Trustee, which has been sold to ABC by Brownstone Productions. Cox will play a trustee who works with police partner Meaghan Rath. Both leads were created with cisgender women in mind — but Laverne Cox landed the role. This story is in The Wrap.

A three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the ruling of a District Court judge who said that a company did not violate the law when it harassed a lesbian employee to the point where she quit her job. The plaintiff claimed that Title VII workplace law should have protected her from the harassment that led her to quit the job, but the courts have now disagreed. Perhaps it is a matter of the specific form that the harassment took, to which the judges felt the defendant overreacted. There certainly are previous cases which said that such a thing was illegal. You can read more about this in Georgia Voice.

The Human Rights Campaign held their annual spring convention, and many of the speakers voiced strong opposition to the Trump administration’s new letter of guidance regarding transgender students, as well as other LGBT issues. Senator Maggie Hassen of New Hampshire said, “Every student deserves the right to learn in an inclusive, safe environment, but there is clear evidence that transgender students are subjected to devastating levels of bullying and discrimination in school.” The Washington Blade has more on this.

Nancy Clench with Angus Robertson MP.

The senior political advisor to the Scottish National Party in the U.K. just helped his party secure a major victory in the House of Commons. The advisor’s name is Nathan Sparling. At least that’s what he goes by in the daylight hours. At night he transforms into Nancy Clench, drag queen host of the weekly karaoke night at one of Soho’s most famous institutions: the Admiral Duncan pub. Nathan/Nancy is likely the only person in politics to have a foot in the drag world as well as the political scene. Learn more on the Buzzfeed website.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington is leading a group of senators who are asking Betsy DeVos how she plans to protect transgender students. Secretary DeVos has said, “Every school and every school leader has a moral responsibility to protect all students and ensure every child is respected and can learn in an accepting environment,” yet her signature on the letter of guidance seems to contradict this sentiment. You can read more about this on The Huffington Post website.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos met with parents of transgender students this week. Although Ms. DeVos said that she was “grateful for the opportunity to speak directly with these families,” it was more the case that these families were speaking to her. Those who attended indicated that Ms. DeVos did a lot of listening during the session, as The Huffington Post reports. Even so, Lifesite News tells us that opponents of the Obama-administration’s transgender guidance letter want to meet with Secretary DeVos now.

The Supreme Court has remanded the case of Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., by his Next Friend and Mother, Deirdre Grimm to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and they vacated the previous decision. In lay terms, this means that the Fourth Circuit’s decision of last year no longer exists, and they have to hold the trial again. Mr. Grimm has asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear his case in May, so that they can render a decision before he graduates on June 10. Once Mr. Grimm graduates, the Court can rule that he no longer has standing to sue to stop a present discrimination. He still could sue the board for damages caused by discrimination, but the rules for such a suit will be different. The AP’s story can be found here. CNN downplays the importance of this decision, saying that it is a “temporary setback.” Many others disagree, considering it quite a blow for Mr. Grimm’s case. The decision for him, which the Supreme Court vacated, was heavily based on the Obama administration’s guidance letter, and that letter is no longer current. Mr. Grimm’s lawyers will now argue much more heavily that discrimination against transgender students is wrong no matter what the new administration feels. 

Z Nicolazzo

An assistant professor of higher education and student affairs at Northern Illinois University, one Z Nicolazzo, has written a book aimed at giving trans college students strategies for navigating campus life and challenging their school’s policies of inclusion if they feel their needs are not being addressed. The author is a trans person. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the story. You can read it in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Kennebunk High School in Maine decided to fly a gay pride flag recently, but they took it down when a transgender student objected. Find out why from this brief story on WMTW-TV’s web site.

The Department of Justice has withdrawn from the lawsuit which claims that North Carolina’s HB 2 violates the Equal Protection portion of the Constitution. The suit will go forward, as the ACLU, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal filed the suit and all are still on board. They will proceed without the Justice Department (and likely with the DOJ helping North Carolina on their side of the suit). The Washington Blade has this story.

RTI, a research organization based in the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina, has conducted a new study. They conclude, “there is no evidence indicating that LGBTQ+ persons pose a threat to the non-LGBTQ+ person in public (or private) spaces.” Further, the study also found that members of the LGBTQ+ community are at “high risk” of being victims of physical assault or other crimes, and that transgender men and women were especially likely to be victims. You can read about the study on WRAL-TV’s Tech Wire.

Christina Ginther

Christina Ginther, a trans woman in Minnesota, wanted to play football, but now that she has transitioned to female, the Minnesota Vixen rejected her. She sued the team, and the team’s owner called her. It seems that the team has been fighting the league because the league forbids transgender players. She found another team, the Minnesota Machine, who played in a different league, and they were willing to let her play on their team. Minnesota Public Radio has this story.

The City of San Francisco has announced a proposal that would expand its coverage for transgender employees. This will include rhinoplasty, forehead reconstruction, and some other procedures. The proposal would also cover hormonal therapy for patients as young as 12. The proposal will be voted on by the Health Services Board at their meeting next month. This story is in The San Francisco Chronicle.

Many of us would be intrigued by an article entitled Sex Change In One Click. That refers to a change of legal gender in Israel, which requires a few clicks, but which a doctor can submit electronically, with the same ease as writing a prescription. While that isn’t what we were hoping for, it is still a step forward for transgender people somewhere in this world. You can read more at A Wider Bridge.

A transgender girl named Stevie has been hospitalized due to complications from epilepsy and type 1 diabetes. The hospital she is at has asked the Illinois Department of Children and Families to place the five-year-old in protective custody, away from her parents. The Department of Children and Families says that the request is “due to medical issues unrelated to LGBTQ concerns.” but friends of her family think that this is related to her being trans. You can read about the debates surrounding her treatment in LGBTQ Nation.

Jacey Wyatt

Jacey Wyatt believes in aiming rather high. She is running for Governor of Connecticut. The trans woman has run for local offices in Branford before, as a Republican and as a third-party candidate, but this time, she is seeking the Democratic nomination. You can read about her candidacy in the Connecticut Post.

A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute finds that 39% of Americans support laws requiring transgender people to use restrooms that correspond to the gender listed on their birth certificates, while 53% oppose such laws. Those results will vary somewhat from state to state, and along political lines, but the overall trend is there. Reuters has this story.

The Japan Society in New York City has a new exhibition entitled A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths In Japan. The exhibition shows art from a time when certain adolescent males were wakashu — beautiful males who were sexually available to both men and women. The New York Times has a write-up on the exhibition, while information about the exhibition can be found on the Japan Society’s website. The exhibition will run through June 11.

The winner kissed by the runners up.

Jirathaya Sirimongkolnawin has won the Miss International Queen 2016 beauty pageant for transgender women. She beat out 25 other transgender women for the title. This story is in Reuters.

Matt Dalton is a 21-year-old trans male who lives in the north of England. When he first came out as transgender, life was hard for him, and he fell into a pattern of self-harm. He ended up in foster care, and from there was chosen for Team — a 12-week program to develop self-confidence as well as some job skills. Now, he is one of the finalists for an award for graduates of that program. He is profiled in Gloucestershire live.

More than 700 New Yorkers have gone through the legal process for changing their genders in just over two years since the law went into effect. Previously, around 20 people would change their gender every year. The old law required a letter from a doctor informing the state of surgery; the new law does not require surgery. MtF outnumber FtM 55% to 45%, which indicates that the gap is closing. The New York Daily News has this story.

The Thixtons.

Have you ever had big news to tell someone, only to find that the someone is going through the same thing? Well, a young trans man named Alexander Thixton told the parent he knew as his father that he was transgender, only to find out that his father was transgender as well. Now he calls his father “mom.” Alexander writes his story in Vox

NPR recently interviewed Alexandra Chandler, a trans woman who became a senior analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense. She transitioned on the job just over ten years ago. You can find the interview here.

Gender-confirmation surgery can bring with it some unexpected things. There are sometimes medical or other physical complications. This story is in GoMag.

Virginia West is featured in the film.

You may not think of Columbus, Ohio, as a place with a vibrant drag scene, but documentary filmmaker Gabrielle Burton did. She made a film about it two years ago, and now, the film is getting a wider distribution. Her film shows both drag queens and drag kings, and for that reason, it’s called Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens. You can read about it in LGBTQ Nation.

From the “never say never” file comes word that the Southern Comfort Conference — reportedly done forever after a legal battle — may not be gone for good. A source has informed us that some of the people formerly involved in organizing the event have been active trying to put together a return of the SCC to Fort Lauderdale in mid-September. More details will be published here when they are available.

TWITs

Dame Jenni Murray is a presenter for the BBC radio program The Women’s Hour. She wrote a column which appeared in the Sunday Times that argued trans women are not real women. She did not argue from the position that chromosomes are destiny, but rather, from the point that transgender women are not brought up as women. Transgender women do not get treated as cisgender girls get treated, either by society or by their parents. That is largely true of those of us over the age of, say, 30, but many members of the younger generation — those still in school — are transitioning much younger, and they are indeed are being socialized as women. She also argues that transgender women model themselves on a man’s idea of what a woman should be. There are cases where that is true, but there are also many cases where it is not true. Dame Jenni Murray gets a fairly reluctant TWIT Award. You can read about her column in the Telegraph.

Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, the Archbishop of Ultrecht, Netherlands, has called for the Catholic Church to issue a formal document announcing the Church’s opposition to gender theory. History has not been kind to the Catholic Church as it rejected new science that conflicted with its interpretation of the Bible. We are finding that chromosomes are not as definitive as you may have learnt in the third grade, and even chromosomes are not the final word on gender. The cardinal complains that gender theory is based on the “Cartesian dichotomy” of the mind and the body, which in classic gender theory are said to be in conflict with each other. He further complains that the separation of mind and body is not allowed in Catholic theory. (Has he never heard the phrase, “mind, body, and soul”?) He insists on not just biological supremacy, but that biology trumps all else. Perhaps he is unaware of neurological studies, beginning with one in his native country, which show that the brains of transgender women have a greater similarity to the brains of a cisgender female than they do to the brains of a cisgender male. This was found to be true even for those who did not undergo hormone replacement therapy. These studies show that, when we look at the biology of the brain, transgender women are indeed women, and transgender men are men. This misuse of science get the cardinal a TWIT Award. You can read this story in Pew Sitter.

The Illinois Family Institute has a story on someone who de-transitioned. Since the group opposes the whole idea of transgender people, they put the words transgender and transition, along with similar terms, in quotation marks. They found four people whose stories (as told in YouTube videos) they use to make their case — but they only choose to share the parts of the story that agrees with their preconceived notions. Of course, they ignore the vast majority of people who transitioned and did not de-transition. For picking and choosing what “evidence” to use, and then pretending that what they chose shows that they were right all along, the Illinois Family Institute gets a TWIT. This story is on their website.

Wando High School in Wando, South Carolina, has a student news show. The students pick a newsworthy topic and do a segment on it. Usually, the school lets them pick the topic and do the reporting without oversight, but when the students chose to do a story on transgender student rights, the principal vetoed the segment. The principal, Sherry Eppelsheimer, said that she was concerned that the segment would have problems with the Comprehensive Health Education Act, a South Carolina law which deals with how sex education can be taught, and which specifically forbids the mention of “alternative sexual lifestyles.” Since being trans is not a “sexual lifestyle” we give the principal, and the state, a TWIT Award.  The Charleston Post and Courier has this story.

Additional material and editing by Angela Gardner.

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Category: Community News

About Angela Gardner: Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc., the former editor of that organization's newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She wrote the Diva of Dish column for TGF in the late 1990s and was the Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She is currently the Editor of TGF. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows. In her idle hours she keeps busy producing her monthly TG parties, Angela's Laptop Lounge.

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