The Week In Trans 7/24/17

| Jul 24, 2017

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Sister Tomato

Remember back in May of 2016 when we reported on a trans person photographed shopping in a Chinese grocery store dressed in a crop top, leather panties and knee high spike heeled boots? It happened in Shenzhen, China and we marveled at the time that such attire could be worn there while going out to pick up a few items for dinner. It turns out that the photo was part of a staged photoshoot done for publicity by a performer who calls herself Sister Tomato. Learn more about her on the That’s Shenzhen website.

Although the amendment to the National Defense Appropriation Act for 2018 that would have forbidden the Department of Defense from paying for any transgender-related health care other than mental health was defeated last week, some members of the House of Representatives want to see it included in the bill anyway. They are urging Paul Ryan to use a procedural ploy to add the initiative to the package by adding it to a House Rule. That seems unlikely to happen, given comments from Pete Sessions, the chair of the Rules Committee. Their back-up plan is to ask for another vote on the amendment, but the feeling is that they have had their shot and didn’t have the votes. This story comes to us from Politico.

A rumor went around that the White House urged Republicans in the House of Representatives to defeat the amendment that would have forbidden the Department of Defense from spending money on transgender health care. Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, said that he is unaware of any pressure from the White House. He adds, however, that there was discussion about asking that the amendment be withdrawn, though the White House never asked for that. The Washington Blade has this story.

The special session of the Texas legislature barely started when the state Senate introduced a bill to restrict transgender access to public restrooms. In fact, the bill was introduced so early that it is now SB3. A second such bill is SB91. These would limit local anti-discrimination amendments so they do not protect any class of people not protected by state law, and limit transgender people’s access to restrooms in public buildings. This has stirred up the usual opponents of such legislation. The session is to last 30 days, and there are several other topics to cover, so Speaker Of The House Joe Straus has an opportunity to run out the clock on these bills. This story can be found in LGBTQ Nation.

Gov. Scott with a trans woman.

A trans woman in Texas decided to make a point about the silliness of the proposed bathroom bill. Ashely Smith went to a rally where Governor Greg Abbott was announcing his reelection bid. She asked him if he would pose for a selfie with her. The governor did and she posted the photos on Facebook and Instagram with text that revealed her status as a trans woman. Learn more about her pictorial protest in the Independent.

On Friday, the ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against HB142, North Carolina’s replacement for HB2, which claims that the new law carries much of the baggage of the old law. While the new law does not specify which restroom transgender people may use, it does not state that it nullifies the requirement that was part of HB2, though it does nullify local nondiscrimination laws which did specifically address transgender people’s access to restrooms. The News and Advance has this story.

Support for a “bathroom bill,” or lack of support for one, may be a campaign issue in 2018, especially in Texas. There are businesses which want no part of a “bathroom bill,” and there is speculation that some of those businesses might donate to campaigns in a way that reflects how the candidates vote on this matter. Those candidates which support a “bathroom bill” might receive financial support from certain politically-minded social conservative groups, assuming that such groups have may funds to distribute. The Washington Post has the Associated Press story.

John Barrowman in his TARDIS dress.

Fans of the British science fiction series Doctor Who will be aware that The Doctor, a 1000-year-old alien from a distant planet, “regenerates” every so many years. He changes completely in appearance and this is rather convenient when they need to cast new actors in the role. For the first time in the series, starting next season, The Doctor will become female. John Barrowman, who starred in a Doctor Who spinoff called Torchwood showed up at Comic-Con this year wearing a dress modeled after The Doctor’s space/time machine, the TARDIS. This caused some people to see his attire as supportive of a female Doctor and of trans women, while others felt he was mocking. Decide for yourself after you read the article in the Independent.

Air Force General Paul Selva, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in response to questions by the Armed Forces Committee of the Senate that the the military was given additional time to prepare to accept transgender recruits because of “disagreement on the science of how mental health care and hormone therapy for transgender individuals would help solve the medical issues that are associated with gender dysphoria.” It sounds as though they are asking why hormone therapy works, not if it works. He did add that there are a lot of questions regarding the details concerning service by transgender members. This story can be found in Military Times.

A photo by Hasting.

If you’re in he Los Angeles area you might want to check out a gallery show called Why Not? The show is a sequel to Magnus Hasting’s 2014 exhibition called Why Drag? which became the title of a book of drag photographs in 2016. Hastings who was always attracted to drag started taking photos of drag performers as a participant, not as an outsider. Learn more about the show on the Paper website.

In its first six months, the Trump administration has undone many LGBT-friendly policies from previous administrations. They keep saying that these matters are better settled at the state and local levels. So, LGBT advocacy groups are turning their attention to the state level. They are joining with state groups to put pressure on state lawmakers to fill the gaps left by the lack of federal policies. The obvious problem with that is that state lawmakers are not generally inclined to go with pro-LGBT policies, although some states are exceptions. Still, each victory, however small, does help the cause. That is especially true in the case of transgender students and Title IX, as this article in the Washington Blade points out.

Brian Michael Smith

The show Queen Sugar airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The actor Brian Michael Smith pays the character of Toine Wilkins, a police officer who has been a friend of the lead character since they were high school classmates. Toine Wilkins is also a trans man, and for that matter, so is actor Brian Michael Smith. Mr. Smith has been acting for five years, but just came out as transgender. An interview with him can be found on NBC Out.

Last Saturday Mexicans from all over the country flocked to Mexico City to go to the Plaza de la Indentidad. (Plaza of Identity.) There they stood in line to receive birth certificates recognizing their true gender identities. Learn more on the DW website.

Jennifer Lopez sent a message via Instagram in support of her sister’s non-binary child. It was a touching thing, but of course, it was scorned by the usual sorts of people. The message was proud of Bredan for being selected to attend the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. LGBTQ Nation has this story.

What do pro wrestling and drag have in common? More than you might think. A performance group from Brooklyn known as the Nobodies have created a biweekly YouTube wrestling talk show. Two of the group are drag queens and the third is their DJ. They point out that both the WWE and RuPaul’s Drag Race have people creating larger than life characters who are hyper macho or hyper femme glam. Learn more about the crossover between the two genres on the Vice website.

Lori Beynon

Lori Beynon is a 16-year-old transgender woman living in Cardigan, Wales. She was recently voted Prom Queen by her high school classmates. She is the first recorded transgender prom queen in the United Kingdom. This story can be found in the New York Post.

A court in Singapore has nullified a marriage after the husband’s identity card was updated to change the listed gender to “female.” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the country is not ready for same-sex marriage. The Maylay Mail has this story.

With the release of the movie Dunkirk this weekend, some newspapers went looking for surviving participants in the battle. One hero of the battle, 26 years old at the time, is now a 98 year old named Louise Jennings. And, as you may have guessed from the inclusion here, she is a trans woman. She talks of her experience in an interview with the Mirror.

Valentina

Mexican fashion designer Benito Santos has hired a RuPaul’s Drag Race loser to be the face of his latest collection. Valentina was eliminated in season 9 and while she doesn’t even have a modeling agent her Drag Race appearance and a transformation video she did for Vogue caught the designer’s attention. See photos for the ad campaign on the Paper website.

William Griglak was ordained a Catholic priest in 1959, Following surgery in 1979 she left the priesthood, and later, while known as Nancy Ledins, she joined Wedgewood Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. She passed away recently, and the church hosted a celebration of her life. The Charlotte Observer has an obituary.

The good son.

We’ve heard a lot of excuses men give for dressing up when they don’t just want to admit they’re doing it because they like it, but this one is a bit different. A man in China dressed as a woman for the past 20 years to help his mentally ill mother cope with her daughter’s death. His sister passed away and his mother began to show signs of mental illness. He dressed in his sister’s clothes and it made his mother happy so he continued to dress. For 20 years. His mother calls him her daughter but she seems aware that he is not the same as the daughter who died. Get more on this story from The Telegraph.

TWITs

The Family Research Council has a new ad campaign (to be run in districts of Republicans who voted against the Hartzler Amendment) which uses a picture of Chelsea Manning and a picture of a military airplane, and asks which you would want your tax dollars spent on. Transgender health care accounts for a fraction of 1% of the U.S. military budget, and it helps keep people from wanting to kill themselves. For getting all worked up over such a small part of the military budget, while ignoring bills from runaway projects in the rest of the military budget and vastly inflating the amount spent on trans soldiers, the Family Research Council gets a TWIT Award. The Huffington Post has this story.

The Family Research Council gets a second TWIT this week. They used their “daily prayer” as an excuse to yell about the military treating transgender people according the the way doctors recommend. They begin, “Heavenly Father, it is time for you to act, for your law is being broken! This policy is being rejected: it brazenly defies You, God our Creator. . . .” (The capitalization is inconsistent, but grammar problems are not their biggest fault.) When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, he had them add the phrase, “thy will be done.” In His own prayer just before His arrest, Jesus said, “But, not My will but Thine be done.” For having the audacity to tell God what His will should be, the Family Research Council gets a TWIT Award. You can find a copy of their prayer at Joe My God.

Chris Sevier has filed a lawsuit against four members of Congress, claiming that the rainbow flags flying outside their offices are illegal, because (he claims) “homosexuality” is a “religion.” Being an attorney, Mr. Sevier ought to know that the First Amendment to the Constitution protects “freedom of expression,” which would include flying a flag for a cause. For making an outlandish claim which defeats his entire argument, Chris Sevier gets a TWIT Award. LGBTQ Nation has this story.

Mark A. Hewitt has a piece entitled “How the Left Hijacked The American Psychiatric Association and Normalized Personality Disorders.” In it, he argues not only that it was wrong to say that “gender identity disorder” should still be listed as a mental condition, but that same-sex attraction is a mental disorder as well. Actually, “argues” is the wrong verb here; he states these things, without offering any real evidence or any reasoning other than that it seems obvious to him. He does also mention that these things used to be listed in the DSM, and no longer are. But, the fact that professionals reconsidered something and decided that they were wrong is not a sign that their first thought was right. New studies and new thinking can emerge and make experts see something in a new way. He does cite one expert on why transgenderism is a mental disorder: Dr. Paul McHugh, a man whose ideas led to an epidemic of suicides among transgender people. You can read his TWIT-worthy writing here.

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TWIT is assembled by Cecilia Barzyk with additional content and editing by Angela Gardner.

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