The Week In Trans 7/3/17

| Jul 3, 2017

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Dr. Rachel Levine

Pennsylvania’s physician general Rachel Levine has been featured as a part of NBC Out’s #Pride30, a series that highlights prominent people in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Learn more on the PennLive website.

A group of Republicans in Congress want to keep transgender people out of the military. To this end, Representative Vicky Hartzler of Missouri proposed an amendment to the Defense Department’s appropriation bill which would overturn the enlistment of transgender people. She has since withdrawn the amendment, but it may return after the holiday break, either in the Armed Services Committee or perhaps on the floor of the House of Representatives. She claims that having transgender people in the armed forces will reduce combat readiness, even though various studies have said that the impact on combat readiness would be minimal. Military Times has this story.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has agreed to give the Joint Chiefs of Staff an additional six months to come up with a plan for incorporating transgender recruits into the branches of the military. The branches were to come up with a plan by July 1; the new deadline is January 1, 2018. In the meanwhile, Secretary Mattis is receiving pressure from some members of Congress to drop the idea of transgender recruits altogether. The Washington Post has this story. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for also pointing us to this story.

Several transgender veterans of the U.S. armed forces have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs, demanding that they pay for treatments related to gender transition. This Wednesday, nine states plus Washington, D.C., signed onto a brief in support of those transgender veterans, saying that there is no legitimate reason for the V.A. to deny this coverage to veterans who need it. This story can be found in Buzzfeed.

Shauna Brooks

Trans woman of limited means trying to achieve a high standard of what our culture sees as feminine beauty often resort to underground procedures by unlicensed “doctors” who pump them up with industrial grade silicone and send them home with no followup care or concerns for their “patient’s” welfare. One trans woman named Shauna Brooks had silicone injected into her cheeks and now she has learned that even though one cheek keeps growing bigger she can’t get it removed because it is too dangerous. She turned to a plastic surgery TV show called Botched for help. The show aired last night. Here is a story about her from last week. It’s in People.

For trans women beauty can be a double edged sword. On the one hand a woman can enjoy being recognized as a sexually attractive female. But on the other hand she has to remain aware that the men who express their attraction to her may be repelled is they learn she is trans. An op-ed by a trans woman in New York City addresses this dilemma. It can be found in The New York Times.

Eric Dreiband has been nominated to head the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Now in private practice, he defended the University of North Carolina when they were sued for complying with HB2. He has previous experience in the federal government, having worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Labor under President George W. Bush, and having been on Kenneth Starr’s team at the Office of Independent Council. It is his work defending UNC’s practice of HB2, and another case where he argued for non-profit organizations seeking an exemption from the Affordable Care Act on the grounds of “deeply-held religious beliefs,” that caught the attention of LGBTQ-rights advocates. Among those opposing his nomination is Vanita Gupta, who held that position in the Obama administration. The Washington Blade has more.

Bethany Kozma, who wrote, “To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter,” while an advisor to the Trump administration, has been nominated to the office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in the U.S. Agency for International Development. In this position she will have no direct impact on U.S. domestic policy. She will be in charge of an agency which has in the past made financial contributions to assist foreign governments in taking care of LGBT people. You can find this story in Buzzfeed.

Tish in 2967.

Joseph Touchette is a drag queen who recently turned 93 years old. Tish is still doing drag, still living at the same Greenwich Village address he has had for 61 years, and was profiled recently in The New Yorker

Title IX, the law which outlaws discrimination in education and especially outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex, celebrated its 45th anniversary recently. However, according to this article in Think Progress, the Trump administration is systematically dismantling the law, by putting into place people who would not enforce the provisions of the law that they disagree with. It’s not just transgender students who are seeing their cases not pursued as they were in the past; cisgender females and racial or ethnic minorities are also finding that their cases are not handled, or are not given timely attention. The staffing in the Office for Civil Rights was cut drastically, making an already understaffed office even worse.

Three former Surgeons General of the United States have come out with a paper that calls for an end to surgery to make intersex children more like males or females. The paper concludes, “our review of the available evidence has persuaded us that cosmetic infant genitoplasty is not justified absent a need to ensure physical functioning.” Among that “available evidence” is a recent French study which found that intersex infants who did not have genital surgery did not have major concerns later in life, despite the predictions of some. Gay Star News has this story.

Rebecca Solen

The Milwaukee Journal-Times found Paul Ryan’s opponent in his run for re-election last year, and they found out that she has come out as transgender. Rebecca Solen maintained her identity as Ryan Solen during the campaign, but came out to her wife shortly after Christmas, started seeing a therapist in January, and got the legal name change in May. You can find the story on the Milwaukee Journal-Times web site.

GuideStar, an online resource with information about charities, recently decided to flag those charities which were labeled as “hate groups” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. GuideStar received various complaints from several of the affected groups, including some anonymous threats to their employees. GuideStar decided to remove the reference to the SPLC’s label “for the time being,” but did not indicate when the label would return. The SPLC said that it does not label a group as a “hate group” simply because the group is anti-LGBT, but because they “push for harmful policies that target LGBTQ people for persecution.” Metro Weekly has this story, along with a follow-up about how the Liberty Council is suing GuideStar for using the SPLC “hate group” label. (Here’s a pro tip: it’s hard to argue that the SPLC “hate group” label is meaningless when you are suing to keep someone else from using that label for your group. Sometimes, it’s better to just keep your mouth shut.)

Danny King

Drag king Danny King was the creation of Diane Torr. Ms. Torr passed away in May of this year at the age of 68. The cause of death was a brain tumor. Torr was born in Canada, raised in Scotland and arrived in New York City in the 1970s. Read more about her and her impact on the drag king scene in The Guardian

California State Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), gutted his own higher education bill to put forth a new proposal that would institute mandatory workplace training around gender identity and expression in the same way that sexual-harassment training is required today. Get the story from SFGate.

A new study conducted by researchers Boby Ho-Hong Ching and Jason Teng Xu in Hong Kong gave participants one of three articles to read. One article supported the idea that gender roles have a biological basis, another refuted the connection between gender roles and biology, and the third was not about gender roles. After reading one of the studies and doing a task, participants were asked there opinions series of statements about gender roles. Not surprisingly, the participants’ attitude towards gender roles did correlate to the article that they read. In particular, the people who read the study that supported the biological basis for gender roles were more likely to have negative thoughts towards transgender people. You can find the study in the journal Sex Roles, or you can see a summary on NPR’s web site.

Farzana Riaz

Pakistan has issued its first gender-neutral passport, and the recipient is a transgender-rights advocate named Farzana Riaz. She has been trying to get a passport without a gender designation for six years, and it has finally arrived. Gay Star News covered the story.

According to a new poll released by the Angus Reid Institute, 69% of Canadians say that they would be willing to vote for a party who had a transgender person as is leader. In the United States, that same question only received 50% support. (Mind you, this is in the abstract; support for any particular candidate would likely be lower than support in the abstract.) The poll also asked in the abstract about support for various other sorts of people, including evangelical Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, gay men, lesbians, and certain others. You can find the results of the study in Global News.

The Sam doll.

A Canadian company has made a toy to help explain gender identity. It is a set of nesting dolls. The innermost figure is not a doll, but simply a heart. The next larger is a happy girl doll, then less-happy girls, until the outermost doll is a smiling boy. The toy has received a KickStarter campaign. You can read about the toy in Pink News.

TWITs

Katie Herzog wrote an article about “The Detransitioners,” with the subtitle, “They Were Transgender, Until They Weren’t.” Yes, the increase in the number of people who have come out as transgender will lead to an increase in the number of people who detransition, even if detransitioners maintain the same very low percentage of people who transition. Even a slight increase in the percentage would not be a cause for alarm; that can happen when something becomes more socially acceptable. There seems to be no number in the article, however; it’s just said that there are “hundreds” of de-transitioners who participate in a social media group. A few of them talked to Ms. Herzog for the article, and they claim that there are many more out there. Of course, people who are anti-transgender will pick up this article and run with it, even though it is not based on science. There is valuable work to be done finding out why these people detraisitioned, so that gender counselors can know what to look for, but this article does not seem to want to do the science part. They just want to tell how these people changed their gender presentations twice. For giving ammunition to a bunch of bigots, this article merits a TWIT Award. You can read the article in The Stranger.

Last week, we gave Margot Cleveland a TWIT for an article in The Federalist. She wrote another article, again citing an article by Drs. Paul McHugh, Lawrence Mayer, and Paul Hruz in The New Atlantis as her reference. The doctors make the unverifiable claim that more transgender children would return to their cisgender selves if only they weren’t given hormone blockers. The only way to see if these particular children would return to their birth genders would be to find a way into an alternative universe in which they did not get the hormone blockers. But, there is no known technology for getting into an alternative universe, and if there were, this is not one of the best places to use it right away. The medical community tried to wait and see if a child would “desist” in being transgender, and found that many solved their gender issues through suicide. For recommending a therapy which had such disastrous results in the past, Margot Cleveland — and the three doctors — get a TWIT Award. you can read her piece here. (And, isn’t it odd that The Stranger highlights so many detransitioners while Drs. Hruz, Mayer, and McHugh create a theory as to why so few children stop their gender changes?) You can read or own Dr. Dana Bevan’s analysis of the McHugh, Mayer, Hurz “study” right here on TGF.

Up above we told you that Missouri Representative Vicky Hartzler (R) is opposed to letting trans people serve in the military. We’re giving her a TWIT Award here because she said in a radio interview last week that trans people in the services are as much of a threat to America as “North Korea, and Putin, and ISIS.” The ignorance. It burns. Learn more about what wins her the TWIT on the LGBTQ website

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

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