The Week In Trans 6/5/17

| Jun 5, 2017

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Beautiful boy, BJ Lillis.

Photographer Lissa Rivera has a new exhibit called Beautiful Boy. The photos feature her boyfriend, BJ Lillis, in between genders. The photos show a “beautiful boy” with long hair, wearing makeup but showing hairy underarms. Rivera wants to show that a male presenting feminine traits is not a “demotion” in status but a different way to be male. See the photos and read about the project in Harpers Bazaar.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a decision in the case of Ash Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District. The court has upheld a preliminary injunction from a district court, which held that the alternatives to using the boys’ room that were given to the transgender student were not sufficient. While many, including this article in The Advocate, see this as a clear victory for transgender students, there are some caveats. The decision does not rely on the letter of guidance issued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education during the Obama administration and rescinded by the Trump administration, but it does rely to some degree on the geography of the school and the distance from classes to the restrooms that Mr. Whitaker was allowed to use. That might limit the applicability of this decision to other cases. A further complication is a medical issue, which makes it dangerous for Mr. Whitaker to avoid drinking fluids so as to limit his need to go to the rest room. That, too, could limit how easily other cases could use this decision. Also, the decision is on a pretrial motion to stay the school board’s order. Trial arguments in the case have yet to be made. The decision does indicate that the court feels it is likely that Ash Whitaker will win the case, using arguments based on the Fourteenth Amendment (and its right to privacy) and on Title IX, but those arguments have yet to be made. Lawyers for the school board said that they are considering whether to continue with the case in the District Court or to go ahead with an appeal to the Supreme Court. This story can be found in LGBTQ Nation.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has set a date of September for arguments in the case of Gavin Grimm. The case was sent back to the Court by the Supreme Court, who asked that they reconsider it in light of the withdrawal of the letter of guidance by the Trump administration. The Court apologized to Mr. Grimm that they were unable to hold the hearing before he graduates. ABC News has this story.

Buff Faye

Drag performer and internet columnist Buff Faye has advice for those who find the lure of performing on stage in drag to be overwhelming. There’s more to being a successful drag star than just perfecting your look. Ms. Faye has 12 rules to follow if you want to be a queen. Find them on the QNotes website.

The Trump Administration has created a draft of a new regulation which is intended to grant a wider exemption from having to pay for birth control as part of health insurance. Any employer can claim an exemption from paying for treatments that offend their “deeply-held religious beliefs.” The exemption is so broad that pretty much anyone can claim a religious exemption, not only from providing birth control, but also from health care for AIDS/HIV or transgender health care. Metro Weekly has this story.

The branches of the U.S. Military are supposed to come up with plans by July 1 which will allow transgender people to enlist in the military. It seems that the Pentagon has permitted an indefinite delay in implementing those plans. Secretary of Defense James Mattis distributed a memo last month in which he allowed the top leaders of the branched of the military to voice their concerns on the matter. This story can be found in Military Times.

“Transvestite potter” Grayson Perry has been invited to appear on several competition television shows in Britain, such as The Great British Bake Off and I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! but he has always refused. Now he has said that he might consider appearing on a ballroom dancing show titled Strictly Come Dancing. The catch? He will only dance while dressed in male attire. Read the story in The Evening Standard.

The Texas state legislature has adjourned its regular session, and will not have another regular session until 2019. There will be a round of elections before they are scheduled to meet again. However, Governor Greg Abbott has the ability to call a special session, and to determine what the special session will consider. The two houses failed to come to an agreement on a bill to renew funding for various state agencies, whose funding is set to expire before the next scheduled legislative session. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick wants the legislators to take up the issue of a “bathroom bill” as well, but he does not have the authority to create agenda items for a special session of the legislature. Think Progress has more.

Lana Wachowski

Netflix announced the cancellation of Sense8, a series created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski. The series ran for two seasons. Already, though, some fans are calling for Netflix to reverse their decision. Its dedication to telling the stories of characters from various backgrounds, including a positive trans woman character, has won the series many passionate fans. The Advocate has this story.

Two recent reports tell us that transgender Americans are more likely to have significant health issues, such as depression, and more likely to not have health insurance or a health care provider. The Williams Institute created one such study, and it can be found here. The other study, which came out in March, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The Planet Fitness lawsuit marches on. Back in 2015 a cisgender woman saw a trans woman in the locker room and after getting no sympathy from the fitness center she started “warning” other women that there was a trans person using the facility. That got her membership terminated and she filed a lawsuit claiming her rights were violated. Last Thursday a court ruled that it was not illegal for the club to pull her membership. The story is on the CBS Detroit website.

Allen’s photo of Linda.

Mariettte Pathy Allen is a photographer who, for the last 40 years, has been taking pictures of crossdressers and others within the transgender community. Many of her earlier photographs have acquired an additional status for documenting a time when being transgender was so often bottled up and only released in secret. The Week has a brief selection of some of the photos which show some of this history.

Administrators at Valley Stream South High School on Long Island have made a student sign a form saying that she will not change genders again. The student, who was assigned female at birth, made the gender change to male during her sophomore year, despite the administrators saying that the process was complicated and that she should wait until the start of a new school year. She insisted on making the change as quickly as possible, and the change was made within a few days. At the start of the current school year, the student asked to switch back to being female, because a relative who did not know of the gender change was attending the school. At that point, a guidance counselor brought the student the form to sign, promising not to change genders again. It is unclear how legally binding the form is, but the student does in theory have the option to change schools in order to change genders. The student says that she will remain female for “the foreseeable future.” The New York Post has this story.

When the Church of England holds a Synod in July, one of the measures that they will vote on is a new ceremony which will welcome transgender worshipers in their preferred gender. The ceremony would be modeled on the Rite of Baptism. There are debates within the Church, as traditionalists hold that such a ceremony is inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible, while other members point out that some clergy have been devising their own ceremonies because they cannot find one that is already approved. This Synod will also tackle the matter of same-sex marriages, so it is likely to be quite contentious. This story can be found in the Daily Mail

Vinny Ohh

Vinny Ohh is a makeup artist in Los Angeles who has spent about $60,000 to achieve a gender-neutral look. Now, Ohh would like to have genitals which are neither male nor female. However, this “gender unassignment surgery” might not be possible. “The experimental nature of the procedure means that it is highly risky and could also impact on basic bodily functions such as ability to urinate,” according to Dr. Payman Simoni, a plastic surgeon who practices in Beverly Hills. You can read more in Gay Star News.

A doctor who works with transgender children in Australia recently told of a young person who wanted to change genders because “it’s trendy.” Although the doctor brought up the story while saying that not everyone who starts at the clinic will go on to transition, much less to gender-confirmation surgery, some people who disapprove of transgender people nonetheless view the story as proof that gender changes happen for frivolous reasons, as well as proof that transgender feelings are not permanent. In the headline of a new interview, Juno Dawson says, “Transition is exhausting. No one does it to be trendy.” You can read the interview in the Herald of Scotland.

TWITs

Margaret Court was a world-class tennis player in her youth. In a recent interview, she said that lesbians and transgender children are the work of the devil. She threw in a reference to Nazis for good measure. Apparently, she feels that playing tennis against some lesbians makes her an expert on all lesbians, and that expertise naturally extends to transgender people as well. Of course, she knows nothing about the science, or even the social science, behind transgender people, but she knows the catch phrases for Christians, and that’s all that matters. (Indeed, it even negates the command to “judge not, lest ye be judged.”) You can find more of her TWIT-winning comments in the Daily Mail. In a follow-up, she claims to be the victim of a conspiracy. The fact that a variety of people realize that you don’t know what you are talking about does not mean that they are conspiring against you.

Elizabeth Johnston, who calls herself “The Activist Mommy,” has had her Facebook account placed on probation due to her abusive comments about LGBT people. She seems to feel that she can do these things because she claims to be a Christian. In reality, she is not a Christian, so much as she is a bully. Jesus never said a word against LGBT people, but he did complain frequently about people who use religion to promote themselves as better than others in the eyes of God. There are also places in the Bible which say that women are supposed to take a submissive role in society, and she seems to feel that she is allowed to violate those passages. For taking it upon herself to determine which parts of the Bible are sacred and which are outdated, Elizabeth Johnston gets a TWIT Award. The Christian Post has her story.

The Journal of Theoretical Humanities ran an article by Florentin Felix Morin, a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona. A trans male, the visiting scholar also claims to identify as a hippopotamus. The article is subtitled, “the subject as metaphor,” which should indicate that the paper is not to be taken literally. He is using the idea of identifying as an animal as a way to approach the subject of identity in general. Nonetheless, LifeSiteNews in particular took this far too literally. We have to give a TWIT Award to Claire Chretien of LifeSiteNews and to various other conservative writers for taking what is labeled as a metaphor far to literally. You can find a rundown of various responses on LGBTQ Nation, and the article itself can be found here.

The Left Forum announced a panel by “three queer women” who want to host a discussion called “Misery for Profit: Who Is Funding the Transgender Movement and the Impact on LGB.” That acronym at the end should be a giveaway that the panelists are trans-exclusionary radical feminists, who are more in line with the far right on transgender issues. Indeed, in their own description, the panelists claim that trans rights are “not in fact a civil rights issue” but a way to “control homosexuality, reinstate male supremacy and utilize gay children.” The Left Forum nonetheless gave this panel a spot at its conference. For attempting to fit the round peg of transgender issues into the square hole of sexual orientation (the “LGB”), these panelists get a TWIT Award. The story of how transgender activists are fighting this particular panel can be found in the Daily Dot.

TWIT is compiled and assembled by Cecilia Barzyk. Angela Gardner supplies additional material.

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