The Week In Trans 3/27/17

| Mar 27, 2017

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Model and actress Carmen Carrera who came to fame as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race has become an activist championing trans rights. Last night (3/26/17) she appeared on a new travel show called Outpost presented by the Fusion channel with a look into the trans community in the most dangerous country on the planet for trans people — Brazil. Learn more about Brazil and the show in The Daily Beast.

While we’re in South America we stop by Guyana where they still have a law that was passed in 1893, while the county was still a British colony. It’s law that makes it illegal for men to dress as women and vice versa if the crossdressing is done for “any improper purpose.” This causes many problems from trans people in that country. Read the story of one trans woman’s failure to get justice, primarily because of this outdated law, and learn about the activists who are working to toss out the law in a story on the BBC website.

The “free speech” bus.

A few weeks ago, a bus appeared in Spain, proclaiming, “Boys have penises, girls have vaginas.” The bus ran afoul of the Spanish government (for violating laws regulating outdoor advertising). Now, it is in New York City, repainted in English. The English-language version is toned down a bit; it reads, “It’s simple biology — boys are boys and girls are girls.” This is third-grade science, which they feel trumps more complicated science. The man behind this move is Brian Brown, the president of “the International Organization for the Family” (and also president of the National Organization for Marriage). The bus with the anti-transgender messages has been defaced while it was parked in front of the United Nations. While the wanton debasing of personal property is to be deplored, one has to wonder who exactly thought, “we’ll just leave this thing parked on the streets of New York City, and it will be perfectly safe.” USA Today has this story.

A cisgender male high school student in Pennsylvania has agreed to be the person with standing in a lawsuit that tries to turn the case of transgender students upside down. This cis student claims that the presence of a transgender student in a locker room traumatized him so much that he was afraid to dress for gym class and that he was afraid to use the restroom at school because he might encounter a transgender student in an intimate setting. The student is identified at “Joel Doe” in the lawsuit. This will wind its way through the courts, with the Alliance Defending Freedom helping the lawyer for “Joel Doe.” You can find more in LGBTQ Nation. (Why is no one asking why “Joel” is so afraid of a trans teen in his locker room? Seems odd to us.)

Riley

Julie Andrews is back. She has a new children’s show on Netflix, called Julie’s Greenroom. She shares the show with a group of puppets, and one of the puppet characters is non-binary. The non-binary character is named Riley. One of the writers said of Riley, “If pressed, we’d say that she’s a girl, but maybe not forever.” LGBTQ Nation has the story.

Recently, Jenny Hall, the CIA agent who came out as transgender, has been the subject of a few profiles. Since her job often involves writing, it is not too unusual that she decided to write her own story. She tells The Atlantic that she is a better agent because she is honest about her gender.

Credit Suisse, an international financial services firm, have been looking to move some of their jobs out of New York City. They are thinking of moving between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs into a facility in the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, into a building which was previously home to employees of GlaxoSmithKline. But, there is a problem — HB2. Credit Suisse is waiting to see if the lawmakers in North Carolina can get past their petty political games and find a way to negate HB2. If they cannot do that, then those jobs will not come to North Carolina. This story is in the Charlotte Business Journal.

Lady Gaga on Drag Race.

Last week the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race premiered on Logo and a celebrity guest judge was none other than Lady Gaga. But she didn’t just get introduced as a judge. She came out doing what was essentially an impersonation of herself and the contestants thought she was another drag performer doing Lady Gaga. It wasn’t till she spoke that they caught on. Read more and view a video of the reveal on The Nerdist website.

Back to North Carolina: The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools decided that a new picture book called Jacob’s New Dress is no longer approved for the first-grade portion of an anti-bullying program. Some lawmakers (local and state) had responded to complaints about the use of that particular book, and the complaints reached the school board, who took the action. We are mulling over issuing a TWIT Award. The Charlotte Observer has this story. [Editor’s Note: So the schools were bullied into not using the book about bullying?]

Nickolas in his My Little Pony dress.

In contrast to that story from North Carolina schools, over in Britain, a boy wore a My Little Pony dress to school for non-uniform day. Four-year-old Nicholas Perkin was attracted to the dress right away, and asked his parents to buy it for him, telling them, “boys can wear dresses, too.” His mother laid out another outfit for him to wear to school, but he wanted to wear the dress, so he did. The Daily Mail has this story.

Organizers of an International Women’s Day event in Guelph, Canada, asked that a transgender girl not participate in the event, entitled, “Be Bold For Change.” The organizers say that it was because the event was not intended for children, regardless of their gender. The mother seemed to think that her child’s transgender status was somehow involved in the request. Sudbury.com is our source for this story. (Warning: there is quite a bit of pronoun misuse in the article.)

Jamie Weinand is a fourth-year med student and a trans man. As he said, “People forget transgender people can actually provide health care.” There are a few well-known doctors who transitioned after finishing their education (not many, but a few). What is rarer is that Jamie Weinand is public as transgender while still finishing med school. He is profiled in the Boston Herald.

A teen in North Carolina died shortly after receiving an injection from someone who is not licensed to practice medicine. The non-medical person injected the transgender teen with industrial-grade silicone. That’s not safe as loose silicone migrates around the body and does what it did in this case. As Sgt. Phil Esterhaus said on Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there.” Myrtle Beach Online has this story.

Despite the constant denials from those who insist that genitals or chromosomes tell all there is to say about gender, intersex people exist. They have existed well back in human history, and are still among us. And one of them, Hida Viloria, wrote an article for The Daily Beast about trying to navigate the dreaded gender binary of the TSA when one does not conveniently fall into either the “male” or “female” category. The article can be found here.

Alexis Michelle

Do you ever wish you had a step by step list of just how to make yourself look like a fabulous queen? Look no further! (Sure, we know the web is packed with drag makeover videos. Just play along.) Alexis Michelle is a contestant on Drag Race this season and she has a list of the steps she follows along with a video of the process. Check it out on the Cosmopolitan website.

The national council of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority has announced that they will accept trans women as members starting immediately. The change in admission policy was sparked by different chapters of the sorority from all around the country who have been approached by trans women looking to become sorority sisters. While members many applauded the change there were other voices who insisted that “men” not be allowed to stay in the sorority houses. Get the story from Loyola University’s newspaper The Maroon.

Since many people these days seem to use their newfangled smart phones not for speech but to send text messages filled with emojis substituting for actual words no doubt they will be thrilled to learn that there are new gender neutral emojis in the works. An emoji designer says that in the future there will be an emoji for everyone. You can learn more in a post that ends with an unfunny joke about the new emojis on the HeatStreet website.

Japan has expanded its anti-bullying policy to protect students against attacks because of sexual orientation and gender preference. Japan has put teachers in charge of helping to implement the policy. You can read more at Human Rights Watch.

RuPaul

The creative force behind such shows as Lost, Fringe, the Mission Impossible movies and the recent Star Trek movies, J.J. Abrams, is teaming up with the queen of drag, RuPaul, to produce a “dramedy” set in the 1970s about RuPaul’s rise to fame and fortune in sequins and fake hair. The show will follow the progress of the young RuPaul as she goes from club kid to international star of all media. No word on a title yet or when the show will air. Learn all there is to know at the moment from the Interrobang website.

In Israel, a couple is in the middle of quite a fight. The couple have been separated for over a year, since the husband got gender reassignment surgery. The cisgender woman wants a divorce, but the transgender woman argues that as a woman, she is unable to grant a divorce under the law. It’s a bit of a legal mess. You can read about it in Israel National News.

In Turkey, transgender activist Kivilcim Arat was arrested at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. She was charged with “not testifying at an investigation.” At first, she was put into a detention cell for men, but she managed to get a message out through her lawyer, and before long, there was an international sense of outrage. You can read more in LGBTI News Turkey.

Leave this split to the pros.

Last Wednesday the eight annual Drag Show took the stage at Texas Tech University down there in Lubbock. The show was sponsored by the schools Gay Straight Alliance and featured performers from a local drag show venue, Club Pink. The show brought in 2000 dollars for charity and 200 people were on hand. The show also featured amateur student performers as well as the professionals. Learn more on the Daily Toreador website.

TWITs

It is foolish to expect any deep level of thought from the Daily Signal, a publication by the Heritage Foundation. Walter Williams, a man who turned oversimplification into a career as a professor and writer, starts out telling us that it used to be so easy to tell who was a male and who was a female by looking at body parts and chromosomes. And in the vast majority of cases, that still matches up. But, there is more to it. Don’t you want the greatest accuracy possible? He then compares this to Elizabeth Warren calling herself part Native American and using this claim to get a teaching post at Harvard — even though her ethnic heritage was at most a tiny part of why she was hired. (The people who dispute her Native American heritage are mostly the same people who questioned Barack Obama’s birth certificate, and their alleged evidence is even shakier.) From there he jumps to any number of unrelated topics. For rejecting deeper knowledge and an understanding of complexity, Walter E. Williams and the Daily Signal get a TWIT Award. You can read the article here. (By the way, the Heritage Foundation calls itself “libertarian.” Libertarians are supposed to believe in leaving people alone to do as they wish, so long as they don’t hurt others. That certainly is not their attitude on this issue, especially as they raise money to defend HB2.)

A brief video surfaced this week in which a man tears down the signage for a gender-neutral restroom. The man says, “my daughter won’t share a restroom with any man.” She shares one with that man in his house. After throwing the sign in the trash, he says, “That’s what I think about transgender people sharing them bathrooms when there’s only male or female.” For oversimplifying and pretending that explains everything, the self-proclaimed “patriotic miscreant” gets a TWIT. We can hope the local police apprehend him for vandalism. You can read the story at LGBTQ Nation.

An article in The Federalist is entitled “Trans Conference Celebrates People Getting Fired For Not Calling Men Women.” The anonymous author claims to have attended an unnamed conference on “how to create a transgender-inclusive workplace culture.” Of course, the biggest trick to doing that is to get rid of some of the ideas which The Federalist really thrives on. The author is obviously opposed to what is being described, but it is hard to tell if the author is misunderstanding what is going on or deliberately misrepresenting things — or simply making it all up. For agreeing to carry an anonymous article from a questionable source without bothering to check its authenticity, The Federalist gets a TWIT Award. You can find this nonsense here.

While the repeal of the Affordable Care Act was withdrawn from the House of Representatives, President Trump has done something to disrupt healthcare for transgender people as much as possible. Roger Severino, a former executive at the Heritage Foundation and the former director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, has been appointed to head the civil rights division of the Department of Health and Human Services. This is the office which would enforce the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Severino has written pieces for the Daily Signal which were highly critical of LGBT people and especially opposed to transgender rights. He has supported HB2 and complained about Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other people, corporations, and organizations which opposed HB2. And now, he gets to oversee how health care is administered. A TWIT Award goes to the president for this appointment.The Washington Blade has more.

Some universities in the USA are becoming places where those with opinions that are unpopular on campus get shouted down and drowned out with airhorns, megaphones, and cowbells. “Free speech” should mean just that but the people who engage in these speech stifling tactics are creating confrontations that do no good as a response to bad ideas. The tactic has migrated to Canada where a recent panel on free speech and political correctness was interrupted with noise when a critic of the use of gender-neutral pronouns was scheduled to appear. Ideas may not be popular and they may be wrong but being uncivil and infringing someone’s right to speak their mind is TWIT Award worthy. There are other more effective ways to refute bad ideas. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for pointing us to the story in Inside Higher Ed.

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

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