The Week In Trans 9/4/17

| Sep 4, 2017

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Whether in the world of pro sports or modeling, expressing a personal opinion can have negative employment consequences. L’Oreál makeup had announced an historic partnership with a trans model. Munroe Bergdorf was recently signed to be one of five “ambassadors” for the company when she decided to make a statement on social media pointing out systemic racism. The company informed her that her services were no longer needed. It’s a complex issue. Learn more about it from the Yahoo’s news feed.

The 16th annual Philadelphia Trans Health Conference is happening September 7, 8, and 9 in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It is the largest free conference in the world that focuses on serving the needs of the trans community. There will be hundreds of workshops and thousands of attendees. For more information visit the conference web page.

Ashley Swartz

What’s it like to be a transgender farmer in a rural state? That’s Ashley Swartz’s life in Malmo, Nebraska. Born and raised in the country Swartz couldn’t adapt to life in the city so she returned to her farm as an out and open trans woman. Read her story on the OZY website. Thanks to Jan Brown for the story.

One of the taboos our society has is the one against a straight guy dating a trans woman. When celebrities are involved with trans women there is a coverup and denial that the man knew the woman was trans. But not everyone is willing to be put into a “weirdo” box and some find it perfectly acceptable to date a trans woman. One trans woman interviewed her straight boyfriend about it. You can find the interview on The Good Men Project website. Thanks to Jan Brown for the story.

Walmart has been found guilty of discriminating against another trans woman employee. Last month the EEOC ruled that they had harassed and discriminated against a trans woman employee in a Sam’s Club in Florida. Last week they were found to be guilty of doing it again to a trans woman working in a North Carolina Sam’s Club. The company claims to have a strong anti-discrimination policy but these individual stores have not been living up to that policy. Learn more on the LGBTQ Nation website.

Trans Military Ban News

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said that transgender people currently serving in the military will not be dismissed until he has convened a new panel to determine the effect of this ban on the rest of the military. “Our focus must always be on what is best for the military’s combat effectiveness leading to victory on the battlefield,” Secretary Mattis said. The panel is expected to provide “mature experience, most notably in combat and deployed operations, and season judgement.” The Washington Post has this part of the story.

Secretary of Defense Jim Matiss

Secretary Mattis has given no indication that he is predisposed to ignore the ban, and everything he says seems to indicate that he is willing to impose the ban if his panel does not come up with good arguments against it. Even if he wanted to implement the ban, the guidance from the White House is only two pages long; it would need to be expanded in order to be implemented. The panel will look into expanding the guidance into a full policy. More on this and other common reporting errors can be found on Media Matters for America.

Before Secretary Mattis can convene a panel to look at the issue, some more jobs need to be filled. While the Trump administration complains that political opponents are delaying confirmation on nominees (which is happening in some cases), there also is the problem that, in too many cases, no one has been nominated or appointed to fill the position. As Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said, “There are people in place, but we need more people in place to ensure that we have the answers that the secretary needs to make the proper recommendation.” The Wall Street Journal has this story.

Secretary Mattis said that the panel’s focus will be on developing a plan that “will promote military readiness, lethality, and unit cohesion.” But, the Obama administration studied the issue and found that allowing transgender people to serve openly would not have a significant effect on those things. What if this new panel agrees with the studies previously done by the military? In that case, the Secretary of Defense can come back to the President with arguments saying that the ban is unnecessary. But the president is the one who will make the decision; the Secretary of Defense will have to have a plan, and will have to begin implementation on March 23, 2018. Slate has more on this.

Two new lawsuits were filed against the ban on transgender people in the military. In Seattle, Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN, a group of LGBT military people, filed suit on behalf of two transgender people who wish to join the military and one who is currently serving. In Maryland, five current members of the military filed a separate lawsuit, supported by the ACLU and the firm of Covington & Burling. These join a suit already filed in Washington, D.C., on behalf of five other transgender service members. All three suits argue that the ban violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Part of the strategy seems to be that having multiple lawsuits increases the chance that, should the decisions not agree, the Supreme Court will hear the case, according to an analysis in Slate.

Could there be something good coming out of the transgender ban? Riki Wilchins went looking for something positive, and found it in the way that other groups were springing to the defense of transgender people. Her article is found in the Advocate.

In Other News

Sgt. Valerie Wagstaff

Sergeant Valerie Wagstaff is the first openly trans officer to join the New South Wales, Australia police force. She transitioned in her early 20s and has been on the force for 18 years. There are only three trans officers on the entire force. Wagstaff now does training on trans issue for her fellow officers. Read her story in The Sydney Morning Herald.

While it’s not easy being transgender anywhere in the world it can be deadly in Chechnya. The demonetization of LGBT people in that country is so bad that the leader does not admit there are LGBT people living there. One trans woman left Chechnya to live in Moscow, hoping for a better life. While there she was harassed, then stabbed and left for dead on the street. She made her way to the U.S. and is telling her story in hopes that other LGBT people from her country will be able to get asylum here. Read more in The Washington Post. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the story tip.

In the days of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” some law schools refused to let military recruiters onto campus to interview their students, because that policy was in violation of the school’s nondiscrimination policies. Congress then passed a law which allowed the government to deny money from any agency to colleges and universities that did not allow military recruiters on campus. This week, two law schools which kept to that ban despite the law blocking their funds have said that they are looking into whether the new ban on transgender troops violates their nondiscrimination policies. The Washington Blade has this story.

Mona Foot

‘90s drag performer and toast of Manhattan gay nightlife Mona Foot disappeared from the drag scene in the late ‘90s. The man behind the queen was Nashom Wooden. In a recent interview he admits that he never wanted to be a drag superstar. He just fell into it and it became a way to make a living in New York City. Now, in a sort of reverse of dead-naming, he gets upset when people call him by his drag name. It’s an interesting interview that has historical info on the NYC drag and gay nightlife scene as well as Wooden’s life journey. You can find it on the Paper Mag website.

One drag performer in Houston decided to do her part to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey. She did a nine-hour broadcast on Facebook Live. She broadcast the show from her home and urged other performers to drop by and join the broadcast. In the end she raised $3000 for The Montrose Center and Legacy Community Health. Learn more on the Chron website.

Some cisgender students at a high school in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, sued to try to prevent a new policy in which transgender students may use the restroom and changing room of their preferred gender. A judge refused to implement a preliminary injunction against the school district, saying that the cisgender students had not shown that the new policy would create a hostile environment for them, and that if they really felt embarrassed by the transgender students, then the cisgender students could use the single-occupancy facilities. The cisgender students and their lawyers will have a chance to make further arguments when the case comes to trial, but this decision shows that the judge does not feel that it is highly likely that the cisgender students will succeed at the trial. Think Progress has more on this decision.

The Montana Supreme Court has ruled unanimously against Montanans for Locker Room Privacy as they tried to put a bathroom initiative on the ballot. The case specifically looked at the wording of the proposal that would have appeared on the ballot. The court found that framing the initiative as a “privacy issue” was misleading, and ordered the Attorney General to reword the ballot statement. U.S. News and World Report has this story.

Vanity from Painted for Filth!

It’s time again for the Queerty photo feature Painted for Filth! Every month they take the hottest drag looks and assemble them for your viewing pleasure. August’s photos feature 10 of “the fiercest drag queen looks” of the month. Check them all out on the Queerty website.

A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles said that he would dismiss a defamation suit against the National Inquirer because the plaintiff, Richard Simmons, and his lawyers failed to show that being misidentified as “transgender” was defamation. To qualify, the statement would have to expose him to “hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy,” which were not shown to follow from the article. While lawyers for Mr. Simmons did present evidence that transgender people are not that widely accepted by the public, the judge was unmoved by the argument. More on this story can be found from Reuters.

A group of conservative evangelical leaders have created a new statement of their beliefs on human sexuality, which include denunciations of same-sex marriage, transgender identity, and gender fluid identity. Their handiwork is called the “Nashville Statement,” and it says in part, “We affirm that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness.” The statement seems to convice Christians on both sides of the issue that they are on the correct side. USA Today has more on this.

Brother John Hilet, the principal of Trinity Catholic College in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, said that he felt privileged that two students opened up to him about gender issues that they were experiencing. These transgender male students asked to be treated as boys, and the good brother has agreed to their request. “They were moved at a very deep level and at that point the only response I could think of was to treat them with compassion and reach out and do whatever I could to assist.” He did ask Bishop Gregory Homeming and the New South Wales Catholic Education Commission to give him some advice, and he did not receive opposition. Brother John said that Bishop Homeming’s “response to me was quite clearly that this was an issue of wellbeing for these students. It is an issue of being caring, compassionate and reaching out and doing what we can to assist. I was very happy that confirmed my feelings.” He even sent a letter to parents, asking them to support his efforts. The Australian Broadcast Company has this story.

Leo

A five-year-old boy in Brooklyn loves to wear dresses and play with Barbies. His name is Leo and he is not trans, he’s just a boy who likes to express a feminine side. All was going well for Leo and his family until he went off to school. In kindergarten he had problems right off the bat since the school did not read the books his parents provided that could give his fellow students some idea of what was up. There were other problems too and then Leo said some things that he thought were funny (he’s 5) but the school took as serious signs of abuse at home. It’s not easy being different. Get the story in The New York Times.

While many governments in Europe are seeking ways to allow transgender people to change their legal gender without undergoing surgery, they will have to wait at least a little longer in Finland. As is common with these things, it is hard to tell if the problem was with the idea in general or with the specific legislation, or perhaps something else (e.g., a desire for more study, or to see if other nations have a problem with their laws). Until a new law is approved, Finns will have to get sterilized before they can change their legal gender. This story is in Pink News.

The mayor of Philadelphia has appointed a trans woman to the Police Oversight Commission. Trans advocate Naiymah A. Sanchez fills a seat on the commission left vacant after the departure of another trans woman 13 years ago. The commission investigates complaints of police misconduct. Learn more in the Philadelphia Gay News.

Ibrahim

In a follow-up to a story from last week, an official from the United Arab Emirates has said that a transgender woman from Singapore who was charged with “impersonating a woman” has had her sentence reduced, and so has her photographer friend. The woman, identified as Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, and her friend will be fined 10,000 dirhams — around $2,270 — and will be deported. She had been sentenced to jail time, according to initial reports. This story appears in the Hindustan Times.

Bobbie Huthart, the child of a wealthy family heavily involved in financial markets in Hong Kong, has become public about being transgender. The 69-year-old is now living in Bangkok after having gender-confirmation surgery. She was profiled by Vice, and did an interview for the South China Morning Post, which ties in with an upcoming documentary film on her.

In India, 26-year-old Nitasha from Kolkata was named Miss Transqueen India. The Masters of Business Management student is the first person to receive this title. The Hindustan Times has more.

TWITs

The Yakima School District has taken a policy of protecting the privacy of students undergoing gender change, even to the point of telling teachers to not inform parents. In the vast majority of cases, parents of transgender children know when their child is undergoing a gender change, but in the few cases where the child does not feel comfortable informing his or her parents, it is quite rude for anyone else to assume the role of informant. Nonetheless, Jeremy Wuitschick, a teacher of career and tech studies at Lewis and Clark Middle School, wrote a Facebook post in which he spun this policy as “ACTIVE DECEPTION TOWARDS PARENTS” [capital letters in the original]. We hope Jeremy enjoys his TWIT Award. The school is considering how to handle the situation regarding this teacher. More can be found in the Yakima Herald.

It just had to happen, and it did. Kevin Swanson has called Hurricane Harvey God’s judgment on Houston for their acceptance of “sexual perversion.” He claims that Houston was chosen because “it was persecuting pastors and churches.” More specifically, he says that the hurricane is punishment because Texas failed to pass the bathroom bill “that would have prevented crossdressing men from using the ladies room” and that “they wanted to encourage the abomination of men attempting to dress like women and women attempting to dress like men.” (Oddly, that verse from Deuteronomy is not used to keep transgender people out of the military in Israel.) God told Noah that He would never again use a flood to punish people, so apparently, Kevin Swanson thinks that God does not keep His own promises. Further, one of the towns hit hard by this storm is Brenham, which is the home of Lois Kolkhorst, the sponsor of the bathroom bill in the state Senate. If God were sending punishment for not passing a bathroom bill, the bill’s sponsor’s hometown should have been spared. For using such a silly argument to whip transgender people, Kevin Swanson gets a TWIT Award. You can read more on Right Wing Watch.

Australians will go to the polls soon to vote on a whether to allow same-sex marriage in their country. Some of those arguing against the measure are citing the wording of the proposed law, which defines marriage as being “between two people.” The Australian Family Association and the National Civic Council have said that changing the marriage law would lead to changes in other areas. Mark Latham, a politician has said that he’s fine with same-sex people getting married, but he opposes the law because it amends the marriage law by replacing “a man and a woman” with “two people,” and that means that transgender people could get married. Since transgender people are either “male” or “female” in the eyes of the law, they can get married under the existing statute. For bringing up “transgender marriage” merely as an excuse to smear transgender people, Mark Latham and his friends get a TWIT Award. Buzzfeed has more.

Jamie Shupe, the first person to get a legal gender-designation of “X” in the United States, has been writing for The Federalist lately. Jamie claims that the lawsuits against the ban on transgender people in the military are “self-contradictory” because they rely on the idea that “gender identity is innate, biologically rooted, and fixed at an early age,” and Jamie disagrees with those statements. Admittedly, those statements are quite definitive, and reality is not always black-and-white. That said, to argue against these statements requires something more than just one’s own feelings. Moreover, these statements are no more than a tiny portion of the lawsuits, which put much more reliance on things like “Equal Protection” and “Due Process” and reliance on the military to keep its word. For taking this small bit and making it out to be far more important than it is (and also making it out to be less true than it is), Jamie Shupe gets a TWIT Award. The article can be found here.

As you may already know, the September issue of Scientific American is dedicated to “the new science of gender.” (It’s not so much new as it is the current state of the art; many of these things were first noticed quite a while ago, but ongoing research has given us additional information.) Several social-conservative writers have taken exception to the magazine. Julie Kelly, writing in The Federalist, takes the lead among them. She argues that this issue of Scientific American is unscientific. These articles were written by science researchers, generally people with Ph.D.s in scientific fields, most (if not all) of whom teach science-related topics at universities. And what are her qualifications for criticizing their knowledge of science? “Julie Kelly is a National Review Online contributor and a food policy writer.” She also has done some freelance writing, and they mention periodicals which picked up her articles. Her big objection, of course, is the old XX/XY kerotypes of chromosomes. (For reference, here is an article about the six most common chromosome patterns in humans.) For saying that people who have a Ph.D. in science do not know science because they recognize that reality is more nuanced than what is taught in a grade-school science class, Julie Kelly gets a TWIT. The Federalist has her work.

Leo Etherington, a transgender boy in Buckinghamshire, England, killed himself because his school would not let him change his name in its records until he was at least 16. The school was not entirely unsupportive, but they drew a line, which exists even after his death. When eulogizing Leo to other students, the head teacher kept referring to him as “Louise.” That teacher gets a TWIT Award. The Guardian has this story.

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

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  1. lesleyanne says:

    The Munroe Bergdorf situation is not a “complex issue” at all. She said white people are responsible for all the world’s problems and that ALL white people are responsible for “racial violence”.

    She spoke in language that is extreme to everybody – including L’Oreal – except the lunatics of the Alt-Left (now wittily being called the “Ctrl-Left”).

    And instead of apologizing for her own racist rant, she has doubled down, seeking pity from anybody who will listen to her repeat, while trying to excuse, her charges. Apparently she has never learned the first rule of holes – when you’re in one, stop digging!

    I do feel sorry for her, even recognizing her arrogance – she’s young and dumb as we all are/were after all. She had an amazing, golden opportunity to have significant influence as a spokestranswoman and no doubt would have had a financially comfortable life. Instead she just HAD to spout off her radical/extreme leftist, racist opinion, no doubt thinking that her minority status gave her a free pass to say whatever rose to the surface of the crazy stew in her head.

    What’s even more pathetic are all the guilt-tripping white people coming to her defense. Their grovelling mea culpas are awe-inspiring in a sickening sort of way.

    Oh well, life goes on, there will be a new outrage tomorrow, I’m sure. We are (mostly) responsible for what happens to us, as individuals, NOT, however, for what happened to or by our long-dead ancestors.