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Transgender African-Americans’ Open Wound: ‘We’re Considered a Joke’

Elle Hearns after a speaking engagement on Saturday in Indianapolis. Credit A J Mast for The New York Times

When Elle Hearns watched the video clip someone had sent to her on social media, it really stung.

It featured a black comedian, Lil Duval, on “The Breakfast Club,” a popular New York City-based morning radio show that caters to an African-American audience, joking that if a sexual partner turned out to be a transgender woman, he would want to kill her if she hadn’t told him beforehand.

Ms. Hearns is a black transgender woman who has devoted much of her life over the past few years to defending black people — mostly men — from the harassment, brutality and killings they face at the hands of the police. Yet here was a black man, interviewed by three black hosts, lobbing what Ms. Hearns felt was “an attack on the entire community.”

“I was ashamed, I was embarrassed, I was angry,” she said.

At the heart of Ms. Hearns’s pain is a betrayal that black transgender people say has long afflicted them.

With few exceptions, black transgender women and men say that they get more hatred from black people than anyone else, even though they have been on the front lines protesting issues that affect all African-Americans.

“I feel like we have been at the forefront with so many people fighting, and now that it’s time for people to be joining in our fight, no one’s there,” said Atlantis Narcisse, 45, the founder of Save Our Sisters, a support organization for black transgender women in Houston. “They will stand up for a drug dealer being killed or a black man being beaten, but won’t stand up for black trans women being murdered.”

Ms. Narcisse, a black transgender woman, said that she has received more support from whites, and that she is on edge around African-Americans because she does not think they will stand with her if she is attacked.

“We’re considered a joke,” she said. “They still look at us as men dressing up, playing in women’s clothes, which is not the case.”

Many black people’s views on transgender people come in part from the central role that religion and the church play in black life, several transgender people said. It also stems from an emphasis on hypermasculinity in black culture, which has deep roots in black men having to use physical strength to survive generations of oppression, they said.

“To be seen as feminine if you’re seen as a black male is a sign of weakness,” said Kiara St. James, the director of the New York Transgender Advocacy Group.

That attitude could mean grim consequences for black transgender people.

Some black men who knowingly engage in relationships with transgender women might become ashamed when others find out, turning violent against their partners, advocates said. Ms. St. James recalled being sexually assaulted in the streets of Flatbush, Brooklyn, by an acquaintance. When she asked passers-by for help, her attacker told them that she was transgender, and the would-be helpers instead mocked her.

Although the raw numbers are small, estimates suggest that transgender people are killed at a much higher rate than the general population. While the chance of a young adult being murdered is 1 in 12,000, that probability increases to 1 in 2,600 for young, black transgender women, according to an analysis by the news organization Mic. At least 111 people who were transgender or did not identify with a gender were killed between 2010 and 2016, the report said, with nearly three in four of them being black women or people who presented as feminine.

Lil Duval’s comments on the radio show, which aired on July 28, spoke to these grim statistics. The morning show on Power 105.1 — featuring the hosts DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God — is known for its edgy interviews with celebrities, who have ranged from rappers to Hillary Clinton, who went on the show just weeks before last year’s election.

The controversy with the Duval interview started when one of the hosts asked him what he thought of President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military. When he joked that transgender women were actually men, the hosts laughed along, but they quickly corrected him when he referred to transgender people using a derogatory term. But when DJ Envy asked Lil Duval what he would do if a woman he had sex with later said she was transgender, he responded, “This might sound messed up and I don’t care: She dying.”

The hosts quickly told him that killing a transgender person was a hate crime and that he could not do that. But Lil Duval continued to make jokes and said it was about manipulation and taking away his choice.

Charlamagne Tha God, the show’s most popular host, agreed with that point, saying that by not disclosing she is transgender, a woman is “taking away a person’s power of choice,” and he added that “you should go to jail or something.”

In a statement to The New York Times released through his publicist on Saturday, Charlamagne Tha God denounced all prejudice and hate crimes, emphasizing that he wholeheartedly believed that violence against transgender people was wrong.

“Nobody should be killed just for existing,” he said.

What needed to be discussed further, he added, was whether transgender people should disclose their gender identities to sexual partners.

“To me, anytime you take away someone’s power of choice, it’s criminal,” he said. “Let me decide for myself if this is what I want. But if a trans person doesn’t disclose until after sexual acts have occurred, they shouldn’t be killed for it.”

The comments on the show would have been more upsetting if they hadn’t been so predictable, Ms. Narcisse said.

“That’s what black people are taught to think about us — that we’re tricking people,” Ms. Narcisse said. “How can I get mad at a message that’s been grounded into a community for years?”

In the aftermath of the show, Ms. Hearns spent hours discussing how to respond with organizers with the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, an organization she is starting to advocate for black transgender women. They circulated a petition calling upon the radio station and its parent company, iHeartMedia, to remove “The Breakfast Club” from the air.

“I think the only way to move forward with the protection of underrepresented communities is to really push back and fight back against the cultural norms,” Ms. Hearns said.

In response to the show, Ashlee Marie Preston, a black transgender woman, interrupted Charlamagne Tha God while he spoke at an event last week. The backlash she drew for her protest, Ms. Preston said, was indicative of the harsh stigma toward transgender people she sees in black communities.

While she said she has received a lot of positive comments from black people on social media, Ms. Preston, the editor in chief of the feminist magazine Wear Your Voice, also got plenty of hate messages. One person said that transgender people were “getting out of hand.” Others were angry that they were criticizing a black show and defended Lil Duval as just sharing his opinion.

“Shame on both of you for the embarrassment y’all put on the black community,” Richard Dickerson wroteon Twitter.

The worst thing about the discussion on the radio, Ms. Preston said, was that it painted black transgender women as scheming and assigned all the blame to them.

“It’s the same antiquated rhetoric that law enforcement uses when they justify shooting African-Americans during routine traffic stops,” she said. “The idea is that if someone kills a trans person, she must have done something. She must have been guilty of doing someone some sort of harm.”

Follow John Eligon on Twitter @jeligon‎

A Canadian Baby Has Been Issued a Genderless ID Card

Facebook/Kori Doty

After giving birth to Searyl Alti in November, Kori Doty has been working to ensure the baby’s gender is not included in British Columbia government documents.

While B.C. officials wouldn’t allow a birth certificate without a gender, they have issued a genderless health card — believed to be the first issued by a Canadian provincial government for an infant. The infant’s health card indicates “U” for “sex.”

Read More: UN Rule in Favour of Transgender Woman Changing Her Gender on Her Birth Certificate

“We’re not actually asking to have anyone’s ID changed against their will. We’re just asking to change the structure of how identification, particularly the birth certificate, starts out,” Doty told CKNW News.

Doty is a nonbinary transgender person who does not identify as male nor female and is currently going through the process of changing their birth certificate. Eight other people, along with B.C.’s Trans Alliance Society, have presented their request for changes to their birth certificates to B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

Doty says that they were assigned an incorrect gender by doctors from birth, and they would like to avoid the same mistake with baby Searyl.

Read More: Canada Just Passed a Bill to Protect Trans And Nonbinary Citizens

“I’m raising Searyl in such a way that until they have the sense of self and command of vocabulary to tell me who they are, I’m recognizing them as a baby and trying to give them all the love and support to be the most whole person that they can be outside of the restrictions that come with the boy box and the girl box,” Doty told CBC.

B.C. is believed to be the first province to issue an official genderless card to an infant, but Ontario’s minister of government and consumer services, Tracy MacCharles, said in May that the province could be issuing gender-neutral birth certificates by 2018.

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#Pride30: Transgender Cop Jaime Deer Is a Force for Change

Transgender Police Officer Is a Force for Change 3:09

King County sheriff’s deputy Jaime Deer never knows what to expect when patrolling the outskirts of Seattle at night.

“It’s when the bad guys come out,” Deer told NBC Out.

In the deputy’s 19-year career, the only thing that scared him more than bad guys was coming out as transgender. Deer is one of the few openly trans law enforcement officers in the U.S.

“Usually I don’t get scared much, but that was very frightening — to put your whole life out there for people, not sure how it was going to be received,” he told NBC Out.

Deer, 44, was assigned female at birth. For most of his life he identified as a lesbian, but the label felt awkward.

Image: King County sheriff's deputy Jaime Deer out as transgender after identifying most of his life as a lesbian
King County sheriff’s deputy Jaime Deer is out as transgender after identifying most of his life as a lesbian. NBC News

“I still didn’t feel like that fit me, and it was weird, because it was like, I know that’s what I’m called, but it still doesn’t feel like me,” he explained.

Deer married his wife, a police dispatcher, in 2014. “She could tell I was not happy with who I was,” he said. He told her he believed he was transgender, and she encouraged him to do what would make him happy. “[She] said she would stay with me no matter what,” he recalled.

When Deer started taking hormones in 2016, he wrestled with whether to move to a different department to avoid coming out. But he made a commitment to teaching at the local police academy and felt it would be unfair to his students to leave. Deer gathered the courage to come out to the sheriff, and he asked the sheriff to send an email to the department on his behalf telling everyone of his plans to transition.

“I was a little nervous,” Deer said. “[I] checked my email on Monday when I came back to work. There was a lot of emails from people around the county that work for the county that were very supportive.”

Image: Jaime Deer and his wife
Jaime Deer and his wife Courtesy Joe Orsillo

When the deputy came out, there was no policy in King County outlining how the sheriff’s department should handle situations surrounding transgender employees. Afterwards, it adopted guidelines from the Seattle Police Department.

“A lot of people said that they got educated. It was a learning experience for them, and they don’t see the big deal about it,” Deer said.

The deputy said many LGBTQ people have a distrust of law enforcement. That’s something he’s striving to change by sharing his story.

“There’s still those in the community that say they’ll never trust cops, and that bothers me,” he said. But he said many in the LGBTQ community have told him that seeing one of their own in uniform puts them at ease.

“People just want to see themselves in the people that are serving [them], so I think this helps,” Deer said. “They realize we do represent the community we serve.”

Fun Fact: “[I] attended a week-long stunt training with LA Stunts to learn fighting for [the] camera … I was an extra twice on ‘Grimm’ — once as a ‘perp’ being escorted in handcuffs through the station, and once as a boxer.”

Pride Means: “It’s about being proud to live your life as your authentic self, to unapologetically love who you love, and to be who you are despite what people think.”

Image: King County sheriff's deputy Jaime Deer out as transgender after identifying most of his life as a lesbian
Deer on patrol. NBC News

Check out the full NBC Out #Pride30 list & follow NBC Out on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

Army orders soldiers to undergo training to accept transgender troops

WASHINGTON — The Army has begun compulsory transgender sensitivity training for soldiers and civilians as the Pentagon makes halting progress in its efforts establish policies to accept transgender troops.

The Army held sessions Tuesday — compulsory for all officers, non-commissioned officers and civilians who work with soldiers — to help them implement military policy on transgender troops and to “assist soldiers who have a medical diagnosis indicating that gender transition is medically necessary through the gender transition process.”

The training sessions spring from the decision last year by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter to rescind the military’s ban on transgender troops. Carter’s move allowed transgender troops in uniform to continue to serve, but it gave the services one year to implement policies for recruiting enlisted troops and commissioning officers who are transgender.

“The training module specifically outlines key roles and responsibilities of commanders, transgender soldiers, military medical providers and administrative management organizations,” Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson, an Army spokeswoman said in an email. “This training is mandatory for all uniformed members, as well as Department of the Army civilians.”

The 50-minute session, titled Transgender Training, is a “lesson that will assist soldiers in understanding Army policy for the military service of transgender soldiers so that they can implement the policy while maintaining morale, readiness, and good order and discipline” and to train those in their command on the policy.

The Army has planned the training for months in order to meet the July 1 deadline, said Col. Pat Seiber, an Army spokesman. Some officers have already completed the training, he said.

Readiness concerns

Last week, USA TODAY reported that the Army and Marine Corps has asked the Pentagon for delays in accepting new, transgender troops. Under Carter’s plan, the services had until July 1 to establish recruiting policies. The Army now says it needs two more years, and the Marines one year to analyze the impact of accepting them and concerns about their availability to deploy while receiving medical treatment.

Their requests for delays followed a May 31 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work to the services calling for an update on their plans accepting transgender troops. Work instructed leaders of the armed services that Pentagon leadership didn’t intend to reconsider the Obama administration-era policies unless they could “cause readiness problems that could lessen our ability to fight, survive and win on the battlefield.”

The lack of a policy on accepting new transgender troops has already caused problems for the services. Last month, graduates from the Air Force and Army’s prestigious service academies could not be commissioned as new officers because the services had not set standards for their acceptance.

There are an estimated 6,000 transgender troops among the Pentagon’s 1.3 million-member active-duty force, according to a 2016 study by the non-profit RAND Corp. Researchers there concluded that incorporating transgender troops into the ranks would have a negligible impact on the military’s readiness to fight.

Prior to last year’s decision to rescind the ban, the military dismissed transgender troops from service based on medical concerns.

The Pentagon needs to lift the ban, pure and simple, said Aaron Belkin, executive of the Palm Center, a nonprofit group that advocates for transgender troops.

“All research, including the military’s own research, the RAND report, and studies of foreign militaries, confirms again and again that inclusiveness promotes readiness,” Belkin said. “But social conservatives don’t care, and they’re trying to hoodwink the public into believing that there’s a decision to be made, that policy hasn’t been established, and that there’s a problem. But there is no problem. Transgender troops have been serving loyally for a year. All policies and guidelines have already been completed, and the military has been training for a year. Nothing else needs to be done to lift the ban aside from simply lifting the ban.”

Read more:

Supporters of bills cite safety issues, religious freedom

Rick Jervis

@mrRjervis USA TODAY

AUSTIN One bill would make it legal to decline adoption services to gay couples. Another could deny them marriage licenses. Others would bar transgender Texans from using the public bathroom of their choice.

Supporters of the bills circulating in the Texas Legislature this session say they’re intended to protect the religious rights of citizens or maintain safety in public bathrooms. Critics counter that they’re an unprecedented attack on LGBT rights.

Gay rights activists count 24 bills introduced into the Legislature this session that they say would infringe on the rights of LGBT residents in Texas — more than any other time in state history. The bills are a new front in the attack on LGBT rights by Texas’ Republican-led Legislature after a U.S. Supreme Court decision two years ago recognizing the right to marry for same sex couples, said Chuck Smith, president of Equality Texas, which advocates for LGBT rights.

“This is the most number of specifically anti-LGBT bills that we’ve ever faced,” he said. “It’s an all-out assault on LGBT people.”

One of the most contentious bills has been Senate Bill 6, the “bathroom bill,” which would require that people use bathrooms in public schools and government buildings based on their “biological sex” and prohibit transgender people from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity.

Another bill would allow county clerks to pass off issuing marriage licenses to other county officials if it conflicts with their religious beliefs, and another would keep transgender athletes from competing in high school sports.

“If these bills are enacted in their current form, we will see litigation,” Smith said.

Texas is not alone. This year, state lawmakers have introduced 131 bills

that are considered anti-LGBT in 30 states, according to figures compiled by the Washington- based Human Rights Campaign. Nine of those bills have passed into law.

Texas leads the nation with the number of bills considered anti-LGBT. Last year, 252 bills were introduced, eight of which became laws, according to the HRC statistics.

The trend is a familiar one: As in cases concerning reproductive or voter rights, when initiatives that impede minorities’ rights are blocked at the federal level, lawmakers turn to state houses to try to pass laws, said Cathryn Oakley, HRC’s senior legislative counsel.

“It’s happening all around the country,” Oakley said of the bills. “Unsurprisingly, Texas just does it bigger.”

Members of the clergy pray outside the House chamber in Austin in opposition to bills they consider anti-LGBT.

JAY JANNER, AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, VIA AP

Trans actors telling trans stories

Cast choices stir debate, but some stay true to the role

Kelly Lawler

@klawls USA TODAY

Hollywood is facing backlash around casting a transgender role. Again.

The new film 3 Generations, originally titled About Ray, stars Elle Fanning as a transgender boy and explores the effect his transition has on his mother (Naomi Watts) and grandmother (Susan Sarandon). Though filmed several years ago, the movie has received criticism for casting a cisgender actress, Fanning, as the lead. It’s similar to the backlash movies such as The Assignment (which cast Michelle Rodriguez as a transgender woman) and The Danish Girl (starring Eddie Redmayne as a transgender woman) have received recently.

“Were I to be making this film today … I absolutely would be casting a trans kid,” 3 Generations director Gaby Dellal told

Vanity Fair. “But finding a kid that hadn’t medically transitioned or hormonally transitioned yet and was in exactly the same time frame as the character of Ray is incredibly hard.” She also said she understands that for “a marginalized group of people, it’s so important in the few roles that are available to this group of people that people like me hire them.”

While casting controversies continue making headlines, it doesn’t mean there are no trans actors out there. Some television shows and independent movies have cast trans actors to tell trans stories. Here are five worth adding to your streaming queue:

TANGERINE (2015) Tangerine made headlines at Sundance Film Festival for being shot entirely on an iPhone, and for the steps forward it made for trans representation.

The movie follows two transgender sex workers, played by trans actresses Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, through a wild day in Los Angeles. Taylor won best supporting actress at the Independent Spirit Awards for her work.

Stream it on Netflix.

BOY MEETS GIRL (2015)

Transgender actress Michelle Hendley stars in this rom-com set in a rural Kentucky town about two best friends whose romantic lives are thrown into chaos by the arrival of a beautiful debutante. Hendley told The Advocate in 2015 that director Eric Schaeffer found her for the role, her first film gig, on her YouTube channel.

Stream it on Netflix.

GUN HILL ROAD (2011)

Another film to hit big at Sundance,

Gun Hill Road follows a man who returns home from a three-year prison sentence to find that his child is transgender.

Harmony Santana, who plays the child, received an Independent Spirit nomination for her role.

Rent it on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Vudu or YouTube.

TRANSPARENT (2014-PRESENT) While the protagonist of Amazon’s show about a transgender woman who comes out later in life is played by Jeffrey Tambor, the supporting cast of the show features transgender actors, including, among others, Alexandra Billings as Davina, Trace Lysette as Shea and Ian Harvie as Dale. Casting transgender actors is close to Tambor’s heart. “Please give transgender talent a chance.

Give them auditions. Give them their story. Do that,” the actor urged as he accepted his Emmy in 2016. “I would not be unhappy were I the last cisgender male playing a female transgender on television. We have work to do.”

Stream it on Amazon.

In 3 Generations, Elle Fanning’s role as a transgender boy was criticized as a missed opportunity.

THE WEINSTEIN CO.

Mya Taylor

 

Indian ad with transgender mom stirs debate — and tears

Story highlights

  • Transgender rights have made progress in India but some problems remain
  • Trans people cannot legally adopt children in India

New Delhi (CNN)An advert challenging the norms of a traditional family in India has gone viral, with more than 9 million views on YouTube.

The ad’s storyline pushes the issue of transgender rights within the country and reveals the human side of the issue in just three and a half minutes.
Released online on March 31, the commercial by medicine company Vicks tells the true story of Gayatri, a young Indian orphan who was adopted by Gauri Sawant, a 37-year-old Mumbai-based transgender woman and social activist.
On a bus on her way to boarding school, Gayatri recalls her life and how she was adopted by Sawant after her birth mother was taken away in an ambulance, never coming back.
Throughout the ad, we catch glimpses of Sawant but she is only revealed in full when Gayatri turns to her and says, “This is my mom. Isn’t she lovely?”
Gayatri says Sawant sends her to boarding school because she wants her to become a doctor. But in the final scene, Gayatri says she would rather become a lawyer, suggesting she would rather fight for the rights that her mother is denied as a transgender Indian.
Trans people cannot legally adopt children in India.

A non-traditional family

The commercial features the real Gayatri and Gauri Sawant.
Gayatri was 6 years old when her mother, a sex worker, died of AIDS. Gauri, her mother’s friend, decided to raise her as her own and is doing it “against all odds,” the advert states as she is unable to legally adopt the child herself.
Commenting online, the ad’s director Neeraj Ghaywan was keen to point out that Sawant plays herself in the commercial. “Just hoping someday the world will be as one,” he wrote.
In a statement, Nitin Darbari, a spokesman for Vicks’ parent company, Procter and Gamble, said the company was hoping to highlight “the importance of care beyond just the traditional perception of family.”
“The campaign shows how people who, though not connected by blood, end up being family through care itself,” Darbari said.
The video forms part of the company’s #TouchOfCare campaign and since its release online, has had an overwhelming number of comments, with the majority being positive.
Similar views have been shared on Twitter.
Politician Shashi Tharoor, who had been at the forefront of a now rejected bill that sought to decriminalize gay sex, tweeted his support of the ad’s messaging.
But actress, artist and transgender rights activist Kalki Subramaniam has mixed views. While she can see it from the public’s perspective, as an activist she questions the benefit the ad will have on transgender communities.
“Yes, this ad promotes transgender rights, our rights as mothers, our rights in social and civil activities, and our right as a citizen but the one thing I don’t like about this ad is that it sensationalizes an issue,” Subramaniam told CNN.
“This is a trend in India. People are using transgender people because it gets a lot of attention but the community is still begging and doing sex work. What are they giving back to the community?” she asked.

Limited progress to date

India’s transgender community, known as “hijras,” can date their origins as far back as 3,000 years ago with mentions in the Hindu epics “Mahabharata” and “Ramayana.”
During the Mughal Empire, which ruled the Indian subcontinent between 1526 and 1858, they are believed to have held significant power, serving as royal advisers and protectors of royal harems.
Their status deteriorated rapidly however during the British empire.
In a paper, Dr M. Michelraj from Annamalai University in India wrote that the British “vigorously sought to criminalize the hijra community and to deny them their civil rights.”
The legacy of this stigmatization lingered and the community continued to face discrimination after independence, often being pushed to the edges of society and forced to depend on sex work to get by.
But in recent years, India has made strides when it comes to transgender rights.
In a landmark vote in 2014, India’s Supreme Court granted the country’s “hijra,” or transgender people, and those classified as third-gender the right to self-identify without sex reassignment surgery. It is one of 20 countries that has passed some form of legislation recognizing their status.
The ruling in India enabled transgender people equal access to education, health care and employment, as well as protection from discrimination, with Sawant being one of the original petitioners to challenge the government, resulting in the passage of the law.
Join the conversation
“India is very progressive. A person can choose his or her gender, you don’t need to have a medical certificate. This speaks of our constitutional morality and recognizes gender politics,” said Akkai Padmashali, a transgender activist and founder of Ondede, a Bangalore-based NGO that works with the LGBT community.
But transgender people — along with same-sex couples — still cannot legally adopt children in India.
Subramaniam believes change comes slowly.
“Passing a law doesn’t change society overnight … the government, the public, the activists need to work together to promote transgender rights and equality,” said Subramaniam.
For Padmashali, the Vicks advert is a small step in stirring debate on this issue and bringing it to a wider audience.
“The transgender community has been socially excluded for so many centuries,” she said. “(The advert) shows society that we are human beings. To adopt or to have a child is beyond your gender or sexuality. Gauri Sawant’s life story is a model for society.”
 

Alpha Phi Omega aids transgender students with binder fundraiser

AUDREY WHEELER

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Alpha Phi Omega at Florida State University has taken the initiative to provide binders for transgender female-to-male individuals (FTM) and other non-binary people. Their project, started under the Fred Heismeyer Pledge Class of Fall 2016, seeks to fundraise and purchase binders at no cost to people transitioning. A binder is a tight tank top that suppresses and flattens breast tissue to create the appearance of a flat chest for trans and nonbinary people.

Charlie Andelman, a junior majoring in Creative Writing and a trans man himself, initially began the project after mentioning it at a pledge class meeting. The proposal was successfully voted to be the class’ overall pledge project because of the strong power in the impact among transgender individuals.

“I really want to make it more possible for [people] to have access,” says Andelman. Since top surgery (a procedure to remove the breasts) is incredibly expensive, many trans individuals need the investment of a quality binder until surgery becomes a viable option.

“Binders can get really expensive. People who either can’t afford them or their parents aren’t supportive and they have to keep it a secret, sometimes they’ll turn to more dangerous methods of binding,” Andelman says.

Wrapping with ACE bandages, or even using tape, are two popular but physically damaging alternatives using a binder. ACE bandages are not built to stretch properly with the body which leads to back and chest pain, and tape, although customizable, tears at the skin when removed.

“When you don’t have access to actual binders that are designed for a specific purpose, people tend to take riskier actions to achieve what they need to achieve for themselves,” Andelman says. By creating financial access to binders, the service fraternity is able to remove some of the barriers associated with transitioning.

Overall, Alpha Phi Omega has been overwhelmed by the amount of outreach and support given by other organizations or even total strangers. The Center for Leadership & Social Change is pushing the initiative, and both the FSU Pride Student Union and Transgender Tallahassee (a local transgender organization) are in discussions of partnerships.

Through both table fundraising at Oglesby Student Union every Monday and direct donations on Venmo, Alpha Phi Omega has raised nearly $400 since the start of the project. One person has already received their binder, another is waiting for their delivery and two new orders have been placed.

With Andelman leading the project but graduating within the next year, his desire is that another brother will head the project when he leaves.

“After I graduate I would hope that the project has proven itself useful enough to be continued,” he explains.

“I would love to spread it as far as possible because FSU is clearly not the only place where this could help people.”

Alpha Phi Omega Binder Fund Raising Event outside of Oglesby Union on Monday Feb. 6, 2017

ALONZO ORTIZ/FSVIEW

Gender-Fluid Actor Kelly Mantle Makes Oscars History

Actor Kelly Mantle is making Academy Awards history this year. The gender-fluid performer is eligible for Oscar nominations in both male and female categories, which is a first for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

161212_Kelly Mantle

Actor Kelly Mantle. Owen Kolasinski

The role in question is Mantle’s portrayal of transgender prostitute Ginger in “Confessions of a Womanizer.” The film, directed by Miguel Ali, centers on a womanizer named Richie (Andrew Lawrence), who finally finds a real relationship with Megan (Jillian Rose Reed) after jumping from woman to woman. Mantle’s character, Ginger, is Richie’s best friend.

According to The Wrap, the producers of the film submitted Mantle, who is gender-fluid and uses masculine pronouns, in both male and female categories when the paperwork for Oscar submissions required the actor be classified by gender.

 According to the filmmakers, the Academy granted their request, and the former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant is eligible for either the Supporting Actor or Supporting Actress category.

“Confessions of a Womanizer” made its premiere in March of 2014 before hitting the film festival circuit and winning several awards. The film’s theatrical run began on October 14.

The Academy’s decision not only means Mantle could be nominated in either category, but it may open up the option for future gender-nonconforming talent.

While Mantle’s eligibility is considered by many to be a step forward, genderqueer activist Jacob Tobia said the entertainment industry needs to take it a step further.

“The fact that the Academy forces performers to be nominated on the basis of gender is an outdated tradition that we need to do away with. While it’s great that the Academy is allowing Kelly Mantle to choose which category they’d like to be nominated, ultimately Kelly shouldn’t have to make a choice. Oscar categories, as well as all other major awards, like Grammys and Emmys, should not be gender specific.”

Two Transgender Women Win in Tuesday’s Primaries

They’re both named Misty, they’re both transgender women, and they both won in Democratic primaries held on Tuesday.

Misty K. Snow won the nomination for a Utah U.S. Senate seat, while Misty Plowright won the nod for a seat in the Colorado Statehouse.

Image: Misty Snow
Democratic candidate for Senate Misty Snow poses for a photograph Tuesday, June 28, 2016, in Salt Lake City. Rick Bowmer / AP

Snow made history in the election by becoming the first transgender U.S. Senate candidate. (The first openly transgender person to both run and win the nomination on the state level was Amanda Simpson for a seat in the Arizona House in 2004). If Snow wins against incumbent Republican Senator Mike Lee in November, she would become the first transgender U.S. senator.

Ultimately winning the seats, though, will be highly unlikely for both women: Utah is known to be deep red and Politico reports Colorado’s 5th congressional district – where Plowright hails from – to be the most conservative in the state.

Their slim chances of being elected aside, LGBT activists see their nominations as a reason to cheer. JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign told NBC News in a statement that both primary wins “deserve recognition and celebration.”

“It is historic that this November, the top Utah Democrat on the ballot in that state will be a transgender woman,” Winterhof said. “Regardless of the outcome in the fall, both of these candidates have demonstrated to transgender people across the country that our politics are stronger when diverse voices are not only heard, but also included.”

Image: Misty Plowright
Misty Plowright, a transgender women, won the nod for a seat in the Colorado Statehouse on June 28, 2016. mistyforcongress.com

Though their gender identities denote their wins as historic, neither candidate highlighted being transgender while campaigning, choosing instead to focus on highlighting their progressive platform issues. On Plowright’s campaign website, her identity as a transgender woman appears only in the second to last sentence of the final paragraph of her biography. Snow does not mention her gender identity in hers.

Both candidates share other characteristics: Both are in their early thirties and neither has experience in politics. Snow is a 30-year-old grocery store cashier. Plowright, 33, works in information technology.

The timing of the primary elections is fitting, with June being National LGBT Pride Month. Winterhof said already there has been an increase in transgender rights in recent years and, regardless of the outcome of this election cycle for the women, she anticipates seeing transgender politicians sworn in shortly.

“Over the last several years, we’ve seen unprecedented visibility for transgender people and identities in mainstream media, popular culture, and, increasingly, in politics,” Winterhof said. “It is only a matter of time, as progress and visibility continue to expand, that we’ll see transgender people in Congress.”

Hockey Player Comes Out As First Transgender Player In A Pro Team Sport‎ 

(Michael P. Majewski/NWHL via AP)American professional team sports has it’s first openly transgender player, National Women’s Hockey League member Harrison Browne.

The Buffalo Beauts rising star, who is also known by the nickname “Brownie,” came out publicly in a recent interview with ESPN.‎

“I identify as a man,” Browne told ESPN. “My family is starting to come to grips with it, now it’s my time to be known as who I am, to be authentic and to hear my name said right when I get a point, or see my name on a website.”

And he got that honor during last night’s game against the Boston Pride, where he scored his team’s only point.

“It was unreal,” Browne told the Associated Press. “I’ve never felt something like that before.”

Originally from Canada, Browne first came out as transgender to his coaches at the University of Maine, where he graduated in 2014. Browne told ESPN that opening up allowed him to focus on hockey.‎

“On the ice, when I put that equipment on, I’m a hockey player. I don’t think about who I’m playing with, I don’t think I’m playing with women. I don’t think I’m in the wrong body,” he said. “Off the ice, I felt more comfortable having my friends call me what I wanted to be called, referring to me with the pronouns that I wanted. If anything, my product on the ice was let loose and I could be myself.”

While he had initially planned to begin his medical transition after graduation, the creation of the NWHL encouraged him to put those plans on hold a little longer so that he could continue to play. While athletic rules often bar transgender men who are taking testosterone from competing with women, Browne is not the first transgender man to play on a women’s team.

Kye Allums became the first openly transgender athlete to play on a Division 1 collegiate team when he played on the George Washington Colonials women’s basketball.

Browne’s debut went smoothly until a Beauts spokeswoman cut him off as he began to answer a question about North Carolina‘s anti-LGBT law.

“We’re not going to answer that,” the spokeswoman said. “It’s about Brownie tonight.”

NWHL Commissioner Dani Rylan, who has expressed her support for Browne and is working with the league to craft a transgender-inclusive policy, said she couldn’t comment on the exchange because she was unaware of Browne’s news conference being cut short. Rylan also told the Associated Press she is not familiar with North Carolina’s transgender law.

“We’re here to support him,” Rylan told ESPN. “It’s really not a big deal when you look at it, we’re respecting his name, the pronouns and his request to be his authentic self.”

Beauts coach and former NHL player, Ric Seiling, emphasized that Browne is the same player he’s always been.

“This is Harrison’s decision and I support whatever they decide,” Seiling told the AP. “The team has had no reaction. It’s still the same person that walks into that dressing room every day. It’s still the same person that puts on his skates the same way. There’s no difference.”

Browne told ESPN that after he finishes playing with the NWHL, he would consider trying out for the NHL, depending on how his body transitions.

Transgender themes enter teen fiction

Jocelyn McClurg, USA TODAY 11:22 a.m. EDT August 7, 2016

In May, Meredith Russo’s literary debut arrived in the world, one of countless first novels published every year in search of readers. But Russo’s If I Was Your Girl — the story of a transgender teenage girl named Amanda who is in love with a boy named Grant — had deep personal resonance.

“I wanted to write the story I needed myself” as a teenager, says Russo, 29, a trans woman in Chattanooga, Tenn., who remembers growing up with only negative cultural messages about trans people. “I wanted to create a power fantasy for trans kids.”

If people judge a book by its cover, If I Was Your Girl carries a message with its striking photograph of trans model Kira Conley.

From public figures such as Caitlyn Jenner and Jazz Jennings to TV shows like Transparent, Orange Is the New Black and MTV’s Faking It (which this past season featured a trans teen boy character), transgender stories seem ubiquitous in pop culture.

Now they are front and center in a perhaps surprising place: young-adult novels.
USA TODAY
A list of trans teen fiction titles

If I Was Your Girl, published by Flatiron Books, is not an outlier; 2016 is shaping up to be the year trans teen fiction achieves breakout visibility, with a number of titles already published or lined up for the fall.

“There’s something in the zeitgeist,” says author Kristin Elizabeth Clark, whose 2013 novel Freakboy, featuring a teen boy who “sometimes” wants to be a girl, was ahead of the curve. Clark’s new young-adult novel, Jess, Chunk and the Road Trip to Infinity, about a trans teen girl (Jess) with a major crush on her best friend Chuck (better known as Chunk), is due in November from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

‘Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity’ by Kristin
‘Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity’ by Kristin Elizabeth Clark (Photo: FSG)
LGBT issues have found a home in books for young readers in recent years, but only now are fictional trans stories reaching critical mass.

Numbers are hard to come by, but a common estimate is that only 0.3 percent of the U.S. population identifies as transgender. It’s not unusual for trans people to say they knew at an early age, however, while some teens may be “questioning.” In elementary school, Russo says, she “knew something felt wrong about my body.”

Young-adult novels “are one of the most important ways we can start conversations about important issues that reflect shifting norms in society,” says Joy Peskin, editorial director of Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers and Clark’s editor. “For kids who are questioning their gender identity, or going through these periods of wondering who they are or who they’re going to be, that’s a very heavy burden to bear. It can be very lonely.”

For other young readers who may be encountering friends, classmates or teachers who are transitioning, trans tales “normalize something that might seem strange,” Peskin says.

Jennings, the 15-year-old star of I Am Jazz on TLC, which follows her life as a transgender girl, says teen trans fiction is “absolutely” important.

“Having transgender characters leads to more visibility which creates education,” says Jennings, whose memoir Being Jazz was published in June. “Education,” she says, “can hopefully lead to everyone treating our community with acceptance and love.”
USA TODAY
Jazz Jennings talks ‘Life as a (Transgender) Teen’

That search is a common theme in these novels, most of which feature kids ages 15 to 18. Teenage trans characters deal with parental discord and divorce (usually the moms are loving and the dads are distant and disapproving), bullying, suicide attempts and “passing” (often the characters are in a new high school and must decide whether to reveal they are trans). And they navigate hot-button issues like taking hormones and using school or public bathrooms. But these are also hopeful books, and many are love stories starring a Romeo who’s sometimes shocked to learn his Juliet may have been born James. (Fewer stories so far feature female-to-male trans characters.)

‘Being Jazz’ by Jazz Jennings
‘Being Jazz’ by Jazz Jennings (Photo: Crown)
How important is a happy ending? “I think a realistic ending is important,” Clark says. “Leading people on the road to ‘OK’ is important in young-adult fiction.”

Clark came to write trans teen fiction through her own daughter, 27, who is transgender. Clark’s fall book Jess, Chunk and the Road Trip to Infinity was inspired by a road trip Clark and her daughter took a few years ago, when she witnessed her daughter’s discomfort using public restrooms.

“The violence against trans people is staggering,” says Clark, 50, who adds she wants her novels to make the “make the world a safer place” for people like her daughter, who is “doing really well.” (Clark, like Russo, says she frequently hears from readers thanking her for her books.)

Brie Spangler comes to trans teen fiction from a different place; hers is a connection that’s less personal but no less passionate. Her novel Beast (which Knopf will publish in October), a trans spin on Beauty and the Beast, is told from the point of view of Dylan, a 15-year-old boy who is unhappy with his appearance (he’s large and hairy). Dylan falls for the gorgeous Jamie, whom he meets in group therapy, but doesn’t realize she’s transgender.

‘If I Was Your Girl’ author Meredith Russo
‘If I Was Your Girl’ author Meredith Russo (Photo: Courtesy of the author)
“I don’t feel it was appropriate for me, being cisgender, to write from the point of view of a transgender person,” says Spangler, 38, explaining why Dylan is her narrator. She sees a happy ending for her characters. “I don’t want people to think that just because they fall for a trans person they need to keep it a secret,” she says. “If you want to hold hands going down the street, hold hands.”

The case for visibility for trans teens characters seems to be finding support among educators and librarians. Spangler, Russo and Donna Gephart, author of Lily and Dunkin (Delacorte, published in May), took part in a panel called Reflecting Realities: Transgender Fiction for Today’s Tweens and TeensJune 26 in Orlando at the American Library Association’s annual convention.

The reaction was “so great,” Spangler says. “Everybody was champing at the bit to support these books.” She also hopes parents will find their way to these books, noting that YA fiction often has “crossover” appeal.

‘Beast’ by Brie Spangler
‘Beast’ by Brie Spangler (Photo: Knopf)
Of course, LGBT books also have a history of being challenged, and last year, four of the 10 most challenged books, according to the library association, had LGBT themes. Two were specifically about transgender issues, but both were non-fiction: I Am Jazz, a children’s picture book by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin.

“We typically get a rash of (complaints) when school starts,” says James LaRue, director of the library association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, noting that trans teen novels published this year have not been challenged so far.

Authors and editors working on trans teen fiction say they have seen little to no backlash, however.

Literature has always opened readers’ eyes to experiences that are both new and ultimately familiar. Margaret Ferguson, editor of The Art of Being Normal (FSG, published in May), says she hopes Lisa Williamson’s novel about two trans teenage friends (a boy and a girl) will make readers “more accepting and less judgmental. No matter who we are, we all have a universal experience, which is being human and making our way through life.”

 

 

U.S. military to allow transgender men and women to serve openly

Ali Marberry
Recent Naval Academy graduate Ensign Ali Marberry publicly transitioned to female and came out to her commanding officers. She has been waiting for a change in U.S. military policy that would allow her to continue to serve. (Joshua McKerrow / Capital Gazette)
W.J. Hennigan

The Pentagon on Thursday lifted a long-standing ban against transgender men and women serving openly in the military, removing one of its last discriminatory hurdles and placing gender identity on par with race, religion, color, sex and sexual orientation.

The announcement by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is part of a fundamental shift in the straight-laced, male-dominated U.S. military, which in 2011 ended discrimination against gays and lesbians. More recently, it opened all combat positions to women and appointed the first openly gay Secretary of the Army, Eric K. Fanning.

“Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” Carter said. “We have to have access to 100% of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified — and to retain them.”

Why do transgender people join the military in such high numbers?
Why do transgender people join the military in such high numbers?
Ending the transgender ban, which followed an extensive one-year review, will affect a small fraction of individuals serving in the armed forces, or about 0.1% of the approximately 2 million active and reserve members in the U.S military.

Still the social and political ramifications are likely to be felt more broadly. The military has often been a trailblazer in taking steps against discrimination, most notably ending segregation of African Americans in the 1940s.

The move also comes as conservative states like North Carolina and others push to impose new restrictions on transgender men and women, such as requiring them to use public bathrooms based on the gender stated on their birth certificates.

Critics in Congress were quick to respond. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the decision was “the latest example of the Pentagon and the president prioritizing politics over policy.”

Privately, some senior military leaders believe the Pentagon is moving too fast and has not yet resolved issues related to implementation of the plan. In recent weeks, Carter has met with military chiefs to hear concerns and suggestions to ease the process.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., former Marine commandant and now chairman of the Joint Chiefs, was noticeably absent during Carter’s announcement. Officials said he was hosting a general’s retirement party.

“This is my decision,” Carter said when asked about Dunford’s absence. “However, we have arrived at it together, the senior leadership of the department.”

The move came nearly five years after the formal end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a 17-year-old policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Under that policy, thousands of men and women in uniform were expelled because of their sexual identity. Openly gay civilian employees at the Defense Department faced similar discrimination until 1995 because they often could not obtain security clearances needed to work in national security agencies.

The Pentagon took its first significant step toward lifting the ban on transgender service members last July when Carter announced a six-month study designed to examine what it would take to make the change.

Under the old rule, the Pentagon banned transgender troops from openly serving. If they revealed their transgender identity, they could be kicked out or denied reenlistment solely on that basis.

The new plan will be phased in over a one-year period, but transgender service members currently on duty will be able to immediately serve openly. Carter gave the armed services until Oct. 1 to create medical and training plans and until July 1, 2017, for full implementation.

The Pentagon does not have a precise count of how many transgender men and women are in the services now because they face discharge if they reveal their identities.

Out of an estimated 1.3 million active service members, there are as many as 6,630 transgender men and women who will be affected by the decision, according to a study by RAND Corp., the Santa Monica-based think tank.

“Only a small portion of service members would likely seek gender transition-related medical treatments that would affect their deployability or healthcare costs,” said Agnes Gereben Schaefer, lead author of the study and a senior political scientist at RAND.

The study, commissioned by the Pentagon, estimates that between 30 and 140 new hormone treatments a year could be initiated by transgender service members. In addition, there may be 25 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries utilized a year among active service members.

As a result, U.S. military healthcare costs are expected to increase between $2.4 million and $8.4 million — or a 0.13% increase.

Carter said gender reassignment surgery and other treatment deemed “medically necessary” by a physician may be covered in as soon as 90 days.

Transgender men and women seeking to join the military would be required to wait 18 months after transitioning before being accepted.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, groups applauded the Pentagon for opening the door to equality for transgender soldiers.

Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a LGBT research institute based in San Francisco, said the ban against transgender men and women “crumbled with record speed” in comparison to the protracted battles involving race-, gender-, and sexual orientation-based discrimination.

“With the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the elimination of the combat exclusion rule on women, today’s historic step to end transgender discrimination completes the Obama administration’s successful effort to strengthen our armed forces by ensuring that service is based on people’s merit and not their personal identity,” he said.

The Palm Center estimates that there are about 12,600 transgender members of the U.S. military, making the Defense Department the largest employer of transgender people in America.

Questions remain about how the department will handle cases of service members who transition after joining the military, such as determining which bathrooms they would use or where they would shower and sleep during the process.

A senior military official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, told a group of reporters those topics and others would be addressed over the next year.

“We haven’t made determinations,” the official said. “We’re going to trust our commanders to deal with it.”

Carter stressed that during his tenure, he has been impressed with the transgender soldiers he has encountered.

“They’ve deployed all over the world, serving on aircraft, submarines, forward operating bases and right here in the Pentagon,” Carter said. “One service member I had met with described how some people had urged him to leave the military, because of the challenges he was facing with our policies, and he said he just wouldn’t quit. He was too committed to the mission, and this is where he wanted to be.”

william.hennigan@latimes.com | Twitter: @wj

WILL TRANSGENDER COMPETE IN OLYMPICS?

Two consider coming out for Rio Games

Scott Gleeson and Erik Brady

@scottmgleeson, @ByErikBrady USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Jenner won a gold medal in the decathlon 40 years ago in the Montreal Olympics. Today, as Caitlyn Jenner, she is the world’s most famous transgender woman. But she couldn’t have competed as Caitlyn in the pentathlon in 1976. New guidelines that went into effect this year make it increasingly possible — and, according to several experts, even likely — that the Rio Games could feature the first openly transgender Olympians.

The International Olympic Committee held a meeting in May about transgender issues in which members of an international sports federation said two closeted transgender athletes who competed in their sport were considering coming out publicly before the Games this summer, according to two people who attended the meeting and spoke to USA TODAY Sports.

The people were Joanna Harper, chief medical physicist of radiation oncology at Providence Portland (Ore.) Medical Center, and Joshua Safer, medical director for the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Boston Medical Center.

The transgender athletes’ nationalities were not revealed at the meeting, Harper and Safer said. Harper added that the athletes might not make it to Rio or could choose to remain closeted.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the World Anti- Doping Agency and federations for sports including track and field, boxing, fencing, rugby, tennis, weightlifting, women’s soccer and wrestling.

“It’s not a matter of if there will be a transgender (Olympian), but when,” said Myron Genel, professor emeritus and endocrinologist at Yale School of Medicine who also attended the meeting.

Emmanuelle Moreau, IOC head of media relations, told USA TODAY Sports, “We have no formal knowledge of such cases.”

The meeting was a follow-up to the IOC’s November meeting that led to the changes in guidelines in January. Under the new guidelines, those who transition from female to male are eligible to compete without restriction and those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete without gender reassignment surgery and with one year of hormone therapy. The old guidelines, from 2004, required surgery and two years of hormone therapy.

“The flash point for a lot of people is, ‘You’re going to allow penises in women’s sports?’” Harper said. “It’s not the anatomy that matters, it’s the hormones.”

‘SOME DOORS ARE OPEN’

The new guidelines, which also require certain specified low levels of testosterone, reflect changing attitudes globally. As one IOC document puts it: “To require surgical anatomical changes as a precondition to participation is not necessary to preserve fair competition and may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights.”

LGBT activist and journalist Charley Walters says the sports world is slowly moving with society. “We’re seeing the dawn of the trans movement,” he said. “The community has taken leaps and bounds in the athletic arena. There has been backlash, but people are aware and talking about it.”

Harper is an expert on transgender and intersex studies who identifies as a transgender woman. She says she is pleased by another IOC change: Trans athletes no longer are required to change the genders listed on their birth certificates. In many countries, she says, that’s not possible to do.

“The very first transgender Olympian, which will likely be a transgender woman, is going to face enormous opposition,” Harper said. “This individual will need to be tough-minded, strong and able to withstand criticism.

“If there are two (transgender athletes) who come out at the same time, the burden will certainly be lessened.”

Chris Mosier, a transgender male athlete, made history this summer by competing in the World Duathlon Championships. (Duathlon is not an Olympic sport; triathlon is.) The IOC adopted its new guidelines after Mosier challenged the IOC’s rules for transgender athletes, which were the same as the International Triathlon Union rules under which Mosier competes.

“Hopefully, now that some doors are open, it will encourage the younger generation of athletes to be who they really are,” said Mosier, who counsels transgender athletes as executive director of Go! Athletes.

On top of the emotional hurdles that accompany gender dysphoria, he says, those in the transgender community have a coming-out process that makes it especially difficult to be their true selves at an early age in sports.

“I think most people forget about the ‘T’ in LGBT,” said Mosier, who was the first transgender to pose in theESPN The Magazine Body Issue. “When gay and bisexual athletes come out, they have to worry about: ‘Will my teammates and everyone accept me? What will fans think?’ “At the pro level, mainly smaller Olympic sports, there’s, ‘Will I be able to get sponsors?’ Transgender people have to worry about all that — and also if the rules will allow us to play.”

MEN MASQUERADING?

G Ryan, a genderqueer athlete who competes on the women’s swimming team at Michigan and competed in the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, does not identify as male or female but competes as a female athlete and prefers “they/them/theirs” as pronouns to be described as a person.

“I identify as genderqueer individual, so I’m both in the trans realm and the non-binary realm,” Ryan said. “I’m under the trans umbrella. I don’t see myself as either a man or a woman. I’m somewhere in between. It’s not just about two options. There’s another space and another spectrum where I feel like myself.”

Sport only offers two options. “I represent the women’s team” at Michigan, Ryan said. “I want nothing more than to see my team succeed and do well. Though, in the back of my head, I feel like I’m posing or impersonating someone.”

Ryan understands the concerns about a level playing field when male athletes are transitioning to female athletes: “I don’t think including trans athletes competing would hinder the sport’s fairness. It shouldn’t be looked at that way. That’s what’s on the surface.”

Harper says opponents of lifting the surgery requirements suggest “now many men will be masquerading as trans women to get into the Olympics.” Harper thinks that should not be a concern. “Please,” she said, “that’s not going to happen.”

Ryan thinks it is important that the world see trans Olympians, whether it is in Rio or someday soon.

“I think one of the things that’s necessary is time,” Ryan said. “Nothing changes overnight. You can’t force people to accept something if they don’t understand it. A lot of education about the trans community, a very diverse community, is a missing piece. As people understand more about genders and the in-between, the more we can adapt.”

When Jenner came out as a transgender woman, interest was high around the globe. That was partly because she was well known through her connection with the Kardashians but also because she’d once been known as the world’s greatest athlete by virtue of Olympic glory.

Ryan thinks trans Olympians, when their day comes, will have a similar power to command attention.

“People of all different identities all over the world are in the Olympics and watch the Olympics,” Ryan said. “If you can’t see something, it’s very easy to pretend it doesn’t exist. If you can’t see trans athletes competing at a high level, it’s easy to think they’re not fast enough or good enough, and push away the issue of addressing inclusion.

“The power of seeing” — and here Ryan paused, throat full of emotion — “seeing is believing.”

Chris Mosier, a transgender male athlete, says of the IOC’s revised transgender guidelines, “Hopefully … it will encourage the younger generation of athletes to be who they really are.”

ZHEN HEINEMANN

How Many Adults Identify as Transgender in the United States.

*** click on the title to read the entire June 16 document from the Williams Institute a summary of which is included in the articles written below***

Estimate of U.S. Transgender Population Doubles to 1.4 Million Adults

By Jan Hoffman  The New York Times ‎ July 1, 2016

About 1.4 million adults in the United States identify as transgender, double a widely used previous estimate,according to an analysis ‎based on new federal and state data.

As the national debate escalates over accommodations for transgender people, the new figure, though still just 0.6 percent of the adult population, is likely to raise questions about the sufficiency of services to support a population that may be larger than many policy makers assumed.

“There’s a saying: ‘You don’t count in policy circles until someone counts you,’” said Gary J. Gates, a demographer and former research director of the group that did the analysis, the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law, which focuses on law and policy issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Williams Institute is the research group that produced a widely accepted estimate five years ago. Its new number was drawn from a much larger federal database than it used to reach the earlier projection of 0.3 percent, or 700,000 people.‎

Noting that younger adults ages 18 to 24 were more likely than older ones to say they were transgender, researchers said that the new estimates reflected in part a growing awareness of transgender identity.

The analysis may also reflect the limits of self-reporting in obtaining definitive data. In some states seen as more accepting, more adults identified themselves as transgender. In some states perceived as more resistant, fewer adults did so, even though the surveys were anonymous.

The percentage of adults identifying as transgender by state ranged from lows of 0.30 percent in North Dakota, 0.31 percent in Iowa and 0.32 percent in Wyoming to highs of 0.78 percent in Hawaii, 0.76 percent in California and 0.75 percent in Georgia.

In some states the results at first glance seemed surprising. In New York, for example, the percentage was 0.51; in Texas it was 0.66.

“From prior research, we know that trans people are more likely to be from racial and ethnic minorities, particularly from Latino backgrounds,” Jody L. Herman, a scholar of public policy at the institute, said. “And they are also younger.”

“So state demographics on race and age can impact the percentage of trans people in those states,” she added.

A comparable estimate for transgender youth in the United States does not yet exist. As elusive as the adult numbers are to track, figures for adolescents, who are already in a molting process of identity, are harder still. Researchers have not yet concurred on a reliable method to tabulate transgender teenagers, much less younger children, though they are at the center of the debates over school bathroom policies.

The new figures were drawn from a question that 19 states elected to pose in 2014 as part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’sBehavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a comprehensive telephone health survey. The researchers also used Census Bureau data to develop population estimates in the remaining 31 states.‎

Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, an advocacy and education organization based in Washington, welcomed the new estimates and predicted that in time, they would continue to rise. As she looked at the state figures, she pointed to North Carolina, currently ground zero for contested legislation about bathroom accessibility and anti-discrimination policies. Researchers estimated that state’s population of transgender people to be 44,750.‎

“Even if it’s 40,000 or 30,000, that’s a lot more than they thought,” Ms. Keisling said. “That helps us to say, ‘Don’t use us politically — you have to do something right by us. There are a lot of us living in your state.’”

Kerith Conron, a social epidemiologist at The Fenway Institute‎ in Boston, which develops health programs for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, among others, said that the new numbers could affect planning support services more effectively.‎

“This shows trans elders who need gender-affirming services in nursing homes,” she said. “Trans adults will need good health care. And, looking ahead, there will be more trans youth who are economically vulnerable and required to be at school.”

Getting an accurate count of transgender people remains a persistent challenge for researchers. In the question posed by interviewers for the 2014 C.D.C. survey, people were asked whether they considered themselves transgender. If they replied yes, they were asked whether they considered themselves to be male-to-female, female-to-male, or gender nonconforming.

But as awareness of gender identity grows, definitions themselves are becoming even more nuanced and fluid. For example, people listed on a birth certificate as male but who as adults identify as female may not consider the term transgender to apply to them.

To capture a more complete portrait of the population, newer surveys are beginning to frame the transgender question in two steps, first asking about gender assigned at birth, and then about current gender identity.

Those results would include people who call themselves transgender, and those who identify as a gender that differs from the one on their original birth certificate.

Andrew R. Flores, a public opinion and policy fellow at the Williams Institute, said that in time, the available data would become richer still. At least five more states have added the optional transgender question to their C.D.C. telephone health surveys, he said.

================

New Report Doubles Estimate of Transgender People in U.S.; Florida’s Proportion Ranks 6th

Flagler Live | June 30, 2016‎

transgender population florida us wilson studyA new report places the number of people who identify as transgender in the United States at 1.4 million, or 0.6 percent of the nation’s adult population, double the estimate most widely used until now.

The estimate places Florida’s proportion of transgender people at almost 0.7 percent, for a total of 100,000 people, giving Florida the sixth largest proportion of transgender people in the nation. Hawaii has the largest, followed by California, New Mexico, Georgia and Texas.

In Florida, the study finds that 13,450 of those who identify as transgender—0.75 percent–are in the 18-24 age group. The proportion declines slightly in older age groups: 66,750 Floridians age 25 to 64 are estimated to identify as transgender (0.67 percent), and 19,350 age 65 and over do (or 0.55 percent).

The study was conducted by the Wilson Institute at UCLA’s School of Law. It uses in part the Centers for Disease Control’s Risk Factor Surveillance System—a survey conducted in 19 states–to reach its estimate, as well as Census Bureau data in 31 states. Florida was in the latter group. In 2011, a study by Gary Gates and the same institute had placed the proportion of people who identify as transgender at 0.3 percent.

“Since then,” the institute report’s authors, who include Gates, write, “more state-level data sources have emerges that allow us to utilize an estimation procedure that would not have been possible with the limited data available in 2011. Compared to the data used in Gates’s study, these new data sources provide more recent data (2014), larger sample sizes, and more detailed information about respondents. This allows for the development of more recent, detailed, and statistically robust estimates of the percentage and number of adults in the United States who identify as transgender.”

The institute places the total proportion of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender people at 4.1 percent, one of the highest proportions of any state, with 26 percent of LGBT individuals raising children.‎

Beside starkly updating previous estimates, the new numbers are especially relevant in the current political context as various states, among them Florida, are attempting to pass laws that target transgender people’s rights to use public facilities as equally as others. Florida tried and failed to pass a law that would have required people to use public bathrooms in accordance with the sex of their birth. North Carolina passed such a law.

“The findings from this study are critical to current policy discussions that impact transgender people,” Jody Herman, one of the authors of the study, said ina  release. “Policy debates on access to bathrooms, discrimination, and a host of other issues should rely on the best available data to assess potential impacts, including how many people may be affected.”

See the‎ full report here; http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/How-Many-Adults-Identify-as-Transgender-in-the-United-States.pdf‎ . ‎

 

Do the right thing on bathroom policies

 My View

 David W. Poole, 3:17 p.m. EDT June 6, 2016

As a long time Tallahassee resident and the director of government affairs for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), I want to reinforce our organizational position of strongly urging Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Department of Education Chancellor Pam Stewart to require schools to comply with federal guidance regarding the treatment of transgender students.

In response to the recent rash of so-called “bathroom bills” that have emerged from state legislatures on the heels of national recognition of same-sex marriage, the Obama administration issued guidance to public schools on May 13. It delineates specific obligations of schools to maintain an environment free of discrimination against students – including transgender students – on the basis of sex, as stipulated under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Compliance with Title IX requires that schools allow transgender students to “participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” including facilities like locker rooms and restrooms.

Conservative state legislatures are, yet again, aiming to undermine LGBT equality, this time with these cruel and senseless bathroom bills, while shamelessly using the pretext of advocating for privacy. AHF denounces any such proposed legislation in Florida. We are poised to fight against all forms of illegal discrimination, especially policies that threaten the public health, and we stand firmly with the transgender community.

The Scott administration should reject calls to defy the federal guidance. AHF provides care to a significant patient population of transgender individuals, and as the largest HIV health services provider in Florida, we have found that acts of transphobia, such as the passage of bathroom legislation, directly contribute to disproportionate rates of HIV infection in the transgender community. Transphobia is learned, and it must not be taught to our children through the segregation and exclusion of transgender students in the school setting during primary and secondary education.

There is no documented evidence to support any perceived danger of transgender individuals violating people’s right to privacy in the context of bathroom usage. Supporters of bathroom legislation are succumbing to unfounded paranoia and are seeking a solution in the absence of a problem.

Regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, if an individual in a public bathroom commits an act of violence or harassment, or exhibits inappropriate behavior towards anyone of any age, we fully support prosecuting that individual in a manner commensurate with the offense. There are already laws on the books for this. Preventing transgender people from using the bathroom does nothing to promote privacy or safety. It only strips transgender people of their dignity.

David W. Poole is director of legislative affairs for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Tallahassee.

 

TWO TRANSGENDER WOMEN WIN  In TUESDAY’S PRIMARIES

by EMMA KINERY

They’re both named Misty, they’re both transgender women, and they both won in Democratic primaries held on Tuesday.

Misty K. Snow won the nomination for a Utah U.S. Senate seat, while Misty Plowright won the nod for a seat in the Colorado Statehouse.
Snow made history in the election by becoming the first transgender U.S. Senate candidate. (The first openly transgender person to both run and win the nomination on the state level was Amanda Simpson for a seat in the Arizona House in 2004). If Snow wins against incumbent Republican Senator Mike Lee in November, she would become the first transgender U.S. senator.

Ultimately winning the seats, though, will be highly unlikely for both women: Utah is known to be deep red and Politico reports Colorado’s 5th congressional district – where Plowright hails from – to be the most conservative in the state.

Their slim chances of being elected aside, LGBT activists see their nominations as a reason to cheer. JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president of Policy and Political Affairs at the Human Rights Campaign told NBC News in a statement that both primary wins “deserve recognition and celebration.”

“It is historic that this November, the top Utah Democrat on the ballot in that state will be a transgender woman,” Winterhof said. “Regardless of the outcome in the fall, both of these candidates have demonstrated to transgender people across the country that our politics are stronger when diverse voices are not only heard, but also included.”
Though their gender identities denote their wins as historic, neither candidate highlighted being transgender while campaigning, choosing instead to focus on highlighting their progressive platform issues. On Plowright’s campaign website, her identity as a transgender woman appears only in the second to last sentence of the final paragraph of her biography. Snow does not mention her gender identity in hers.

Both candidates share other characteristics: Both are in their early thirties and neither has experience in politics. Snow is a 30-year-old grocery store cashier. Plowright, 33, works in information technology.

The timing of the primary elections is fitting, with June being National LGBT Pride Month. Winterhof said already there has been an increase in transgender rights in recent years and, regardless of the outcome of this election cycle for the women, she anticipates seeing transgender politicians sworn in shortly.

“Over the last several years, we’ve seen unprecedented visibility for transgender people and identities in mainstream media, popular culture, and, increasingly, in politics,” Winterhof said. “It is only a matter of time, as progress and visibility continue to expand, that we’ll see transgender people in Congress.”

EMMA KINERY
TOPICS POLITICS NEWS
FIRST PUBLISHED JUN 29 2016, 2:09 PM ET
NEXT STORY Bruised GOP Eyes Another Debt Ceiling Standoff

 

‘Female Husbands’ In The 19th Century

JANUARY 29, 2015 6:15 PM ET
James (Abigail) Allen, from the 1828 London publication "An Authentic Narrative of the Extraordinary Career of James Allen, the Female Husband!"

James (Abigail) Allen, from the 1828 London publication “An Authentic Narrative of the Extraordinary Career of James Allen, the Female Husband!”

Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle/New York Public Library

Questions of gender identity are nothing new. Way before Transparent and Chaz Bono and countless other popular culture stepping stones to where we are now regarding gender identity, there were accounts of “female husbands.”

Stories of women dressing and posing as men dot the journalistic landscape of 19th century America — and Great Britain — according to Sarah Nicolazzo, who teaches literary history at the University of California, San Diego.

Nicolazzo points to the late 18th century tale of Deborah Sampson, who called herself Robert Shurtlieff and fought in the American Revolution. There was a novel written about Sampson’s life, The Female Review by Herman Mann.

“This genre of narrative was already a popular one by the beginning of the 19th century,” Nicolazzo says. “Readers of newspapers, novels, pamphlets and other print forms clearly found this kind of story compelling, and there was a long history of demand for it.”

Consequently, she says, “the historical record we tend to have about these cases — newspaper reports or fictionalized accounts — are texts written for a literary marketplace. They can certainly give us hints about the lives of the people actually described in these accounts, but they’re also clearly written to meet the expectations of readers who are familiar with an established genre.”

And the manners and mores of polite society.

Recurring Motifs

Sure enough there are common threads — such as abandonment and bravery — running through many of the narratives. Here are several of the tales:

* The remarkable case of James Walker, “a female who was found intoxicated in the street … dressed in man’s clothes,” appeared as a Journal of Commerce item in the Aug. 26, 1836, issue of the Maine Farmer and Journal of the Useful Arts.

James was arrested on a Friday night. The next morning, a “decently dressed woman called at the police office and asked to see James Walker, who she said was her husband.” The decently dressed woman was “informed of the discovery which had been made.” Though the decently dressed woman was permitted to see James Walker, she did not speak to James.

In front of a magistrate, James Walker said her real name was George Moore Wilson and that she was from England, where George was an acceptable name for a female. According to the report, she told the judge that “both her parents died when she was very young and that when she was 12 years old, in consequence of being ill-treated by her friends, she ran away from them, put on boy’s clothes and made her way to Scotland, the native place of her parents.”

Posing as a boy, Walker/Wilson worked in a factory for a few years, then married Miss Eliza Cummings. Together the newlyweds set sail for Quebec. “A few days after her marriage,” according to the report, Walker/Wilson “imparted the secret of her sex to her wife; but not withstanding this the two females have lived together ever since as man and wife. Fifteen years have passed since their union, during which it appears they experienced a great variety of fortune, but kept the secret of the husband’s sex so well that it never before transpired and remains even unknown to the wife’s father, who had resided some years with them.”

* The Spirit of the Times: A Chronicle of the Turf, Agriculture, Field Sports, Literature and the Stage — a New York weekly newspaper for the upper crust — reported in its edition of May 19, 1838, on a “female husband” whose wife declared that “she only found out the sex of her partner by accident three years ago. The parties had been married 17 years, and thus she had been in a happy state of ignorance just 14 out of that number.”

In witty commentary, the writer noted, “it is the first time, however, we have heard that married people find out the sex of each other by accident.”

* The picaresque tale of Lucy Ann Lobdell — “hermit, hunter, music teacher, female husband” — and her life up and down the Delaware River made the obituary page of the National Police Gazette on Oct. 25, 1879.

Born circa 1829 to a poor New York lumberman, Lucy Ann married a raftsman when she was 17. They had a child. A year later, the man disappeared. Lucy Ann sent her child to live with her parents and she started dressing as a man and for the next eight years “adopted the life of a hunter” — living in crude forest shelters and trading skins and game for supplies.

When the hardships of the hunter’s life became too much, Lucy Ann re-entered society, began dressing as a woman and wrote a book “detailing her adventures in the woods,” noting that she had killed 100 or so deer, 77 bears, one panther and a bunch of wildcats and foxes.

Eventually, though, she started dressing as a man again and calling herself Joseph Lobdell. She took a job teaching voice in Bethany, Pa., where a young female student fell in love with Joseph. “The two were engaged to be married,” the Gazette reported, “but the sex of the teacher was accidentally discovered and she was forced to fly from the place in the night to escape being tarred and feathered.”

While living in a poorhouse in Delhi, N.Y., she met Marie Louise Perry Wilson from Massachusetts, who had also been deserted by her husband. The two became quite affectionate. They left the poorhouse together and began appearing in small villages near Lake Ontario — introducing themselves as the Rev. Joseph Israel Lobdell and wife. They kept a pet bear on a leash. They were jailed for “vagrancy” and “the discovery that the supposed man was a woman was made.”

From then on, the couple wandered — sometimes living in caves. Joseph continued to preach. They were arrested again in Pennsylvania — for vagrancy. Using a split stick for a pen and pokeberry juice for ink, Marie Louise drafted a plea for release — based on the failing health of her husband. The two bought a farm in 1877, and Joseph (Lucy Ann) Lobdell died two years later.

‘Boston Marriages’

So what do these stories tell us about life in earlier America?

History can be complex. Stephanie Coontz, who teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College and wrote the 2005 book Marriage, A History, explains that it was fairly simple to pull off a “self marriage” before the 1860s. “Marriages were supposed to be registered, but authorities seldom checked,” she says. “The idea was that if you acted like man and wife, you were assumed to be married.”

Lots of evidence exists, she says, “contrary to the idea that small communities are always judgmental, that your behavior as a neighbor was often more important to other community members than your behavior in your own home. So people often turned a blind eye to behaviors or dress that in later years might occasion more suspicion and hostility.”

She adds: “This is not to say that these communities were tolerant of open homosexuality.”

After the Civil War, the government became more stringent about the definition of a legal marriage, Coontz says. “But this was also the heyday of the doctrine of separate spheres and true womanhood, when women were assumed to be pure and asexual — and also completely different from men, who were often referred to as ‘the grosser sex.’ ”

These shifting attitudes toward marriage, Coontz says, “opened up a different way for two women to live together in what later came to be called ‘Boston marriages.’ Plus, it was considered perfectly normal for heterosexual women to have crushes on each other, to be very affectionate, and so forth. So, again, a pair of women who actually had a sexual relationship could easily manage to be together without arousing suspicion that it was anything more than feminine affection.”

The irony: “It was only after the sexual revolution of the early 20th century, when men and women were encouraged to explore their heterosexual attractions and sexuality began to be seen as a central part of one’s identity,” says Coontz, “that same-sex relationships and signs of affection began to be regarded with suspicion.”

Lingering Questions

When considering the gamut of “female husband” stories from 19th century America, Sarah Nicolazzo offers four possibilities to ponder. It is worth imagining, she says, that:

* Not every participant in these marriages considered anatomy to be the truth of gender.

* Some wives of “female husbands” thought of their spouses as women but used the vocabulary of heterosexual marriage in order to attain social legitimacy and financial independence for what we might today refer to as a lesbian relationship.

* Some wives of “female husbands” considered their spouses men. “We don’t have airtight evidence that all 19th century American women necessarily believed that social maleness required one particular anatomical arrangement, and without that evidence, we shouldn’t make assumptions.”

* Some wives of “female husbands” thought of their spouses as occupying another gender category — “perhaps one that is specific to the 19th century and might be harder to map onto our present-day vocabularies of gender.”

But isn’t it possible that in some cases a “female husband” and the wife never became physically intimate? “Sure, that’s certainly possible,” Nicolazzo says. “We certainly don’t have strong evidence otherwise. And it’s possible that some of them did — again, we don’t have strong evidence otherwise.”

 

Trans Woman Picked as PA’s New Physician General

Filed By John M. Becker | January 20, 2015 11:30 AM

Democratic Pennsylvania governor-elect Tom Wolf will be inaugurated today, but he’s already made history even before taking the oath of office: on Saturday, he announced the appointment of Dr. Rachel Levine to the office of physician general.Levine is a transgender woman, and as Philadelphia magazine reports, if she’s confirmed by the state senate, she will be the first trans person to serve in that position in Pennsylvania history — and possibly the nation.

In her role as physician general, Levine will advise the governor and secretary of the Department of Health on medical and public health-related issues. In a press release sent out this weekend, Wolf explains why he chose her for this position:

“Dr. Rachel Levine is well-respected in the fields of pediatrics, psychiatry, and behavioral health, where she has practiced for close to three decades. She has been a leading voice in efforts to treat teens with medical and psychological problems, as well as adults and children with eating disorders. It is important to me that we place equal emphasis on behavioral and physical health issues. Dr. Levine will bring expertise and wide-ranging knowledge to this important role advising the secretary of Health and me on medical and public health matters.”

Dr. Levine comes with a distinguished résumé: a graduate of Harvard and Tulane, she specializes in adolescent medicine and eating disorders at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. At Hershey, she serves as professor of pediatrics and psychiatry and as chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders — a program she created and built herself.

Levine also serves as vice chair for clinical affairs in the pediatrics department at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, and is active in mentoring and assisting LGBT students, faculty, and staff as the liaison for LGBT affairs at the school’s diversity office. She also sits on the board of Equality Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to this LGBT trailblazer!

Image via Penn State Hershey.

Read more at http://www.bilerico.com/2015/01/trans_woman_named_pas_new_physician_general.php#PauaGZqWGQ0gK73R.99

Indonesian transsexual Islamic school hopes to change perceptions

Although homosexuality is not unlawful in Indonesia, gay, lesbian and transgender Muslims are often unwelcome in mosques and Islamic schools. A transsexual hairdresser has responded by creating a safe haven in her salon.

Miriyani holds up a photo of herself from her days in the underbelly of IndonesiaMariyani took a long route to Islam and to personal peace

On a quiet alley in the ancient Javanese city of Yogyakarta, a hairdressing salon is being transformed into place of worship in time for the call to evening prayers.

Mirrors are hidden behind embroidered drapes, prayer rugs are spread over the carpet and copies of the Koran take the place of fashion magazines.

Transsexual hairdresser Mariyani, who runs the salon, brings boxes of food inside in preparation for an evening of prayer and thanksgiving.

“Tonight we are praying with 90 orphans and poor women from a nearby village. It’s my 50th birthday today and I want to thank God for giving me that time on earth,” Mariyani told Deutsche Welle. “I will be called by God in the not too distant future so I have to do the right thing.”

A woman of her own mind

People bent over in prayerThe unconventional school has quite a following

Mariyani was abandoned at birth and adopted by a poor Roman Catholic family in Yogyakarta. Even as a young child she preferred playing with girl’s toys and says she always knew she had the heart and spirit of a woman. Aged 13, she left home and moved to the capital, Jakarta.

“I went straight to a church and got a cleaning job at a nunnery,” she said. “It was there that they started calling me ‘Miss’, and that filled my heart with joy.”

In a simple long dress, a headscarf and no make-up, Mariyani looks like a typical Indonesian housewife. But photos around the salon show her in slinky clothing and heavy make-up.

She started dressing like a woman at the age of 20, but after her boyfriend married a woman, she was so broken-hearted that she entered the dark night world to meet other transsexuals.

“I sold my body on the street to survive. I traveled across Indonesia working in the popular transsexual beats. It was so I could survive. I sold myself for less than 10 cents; that was the price back then.”

“Path of God”

Mariyani and other transsexualsMariyani has created a safe haven for transsexuals and gay Muslims

Now as then, transgender, or Waria as they are known in Indonesian, have limited job opportunities. Those who have come to Mariyani’s place to pray either work as prostitutes, busk or work in salons like hers.

“Being a transsexual is not a choice,” she said, adding that if it were, she would not have opted to be one. “But that’s what God decided for me so I accept this and thank God for that.”

When she was young, she had little interest in living a good life, but as she got older, she realized she was on the wrong track. She saved enough money to open her salon and returned, as she puts it, “to the path of God.”

By that time she had converted to Islam, which as a transsexual meant she ran the risk of being dubbed sinful and dirty by Muslim leaders, including the Ulemna Council, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body. But she says that prospect did not make her reconsider her commitment to Islam.

“Even though some Ulemnas say our prayers will not be answered, that we are not accepted by God, I believe we have every right as humans to pray,” she said. “We are not praying to be ‘healed’ or turned back into men. No! Praying is our business with God not with other humans.”

Healing effects

Transgender worshippers having a meal after prays at the transgender mosque<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Antipathy towards Muslim transsexuals is on the rise in Indonesia

It is this belief which led her to set up the Islamic school in the back of her salon. One evening a week for the past two years, homosexuals and transgender Muslims have been coming here to practice their faith in peace. The school is unique in Indonesia and now attracts Islam’s outcasts from all over the country.

Wulan is a 45-year-old transsexual who works with an HIV/AIDS help group and sometimes earns money from prostitution. She goes to the school to learn from the Koran.

“Before I came here I went through a period where I didn’t feel I was clean enough to worship,” she said, adding that working as a prostitute made her feel dirty. “But after I started coming there was a change in me; I feel I am worthy of praying and it gives me a calm, peaceful feeling.”

Misplaced perceptions

While Indonesia largely practices a moderate form of Islam, in recent years there has been a trend towards a more hard-line interpretation. The Ulemna Council has declared homosexuality evil, and gays and transsexuals have become targets for vigilante groups.

But Yanti Syaganti, head of the Indonesia’s Transgender Organization, says it is all a problem of perception, and that the Ulemna Council has got it factually wrong.

“During the time of the Prophet Muhammad there were transsexuals,” she said. “The Ulemna Council is made up of humans who always make claims in the name of religion. It’s wrong and it’s a bigoted small-minded perspective.”

Novi and a friend in the school Novi hopes the school will help change perceptions

The salon, by contrast, is a place for diversity and tolerance. One of the faithful is Novi. She has lacquered finger-nails and long black hair but tonight she is praying as a man wearing a green sarong and white shirt. She says she feels more comfortable praying as a man but during the day, and in her heart she is a woman.

She hopes the little Islamic school will help to prove to the general public that transsexuals are not bad, but are people with skills who can contribute to society.

“We can dance and do make-up but we can also teach the Koran,” Novi said. “God sees what is inside us and hears our prayers; he doesn’t care about what’s on the outside.”

Reporter: Rebecca Henschke / tkw

Editor: Sarah Steffen

Russia hits transgender drivers with license ban

New “medical conditions” listed in Russia’s driving restrictions will deny transgender people a driving license. The LGBT community has continued to be targeted in Russia in recent years.

Traffic in Russia

The “medical deviations” include a list of which covers all transgender people, bi-gender, asexuals, transvestites, cross dressers and people seeking sex reassignment.

Among the “mental disorders” which now restrict people from obtaining a Russian driver’s license are voyeurism, fetishism and exhibitionism.

People shorter than 150cm tall are also included on the list, as well those with hereditary eye diseases, and people “diagnosed” with “pathological” gambling and compulsive stealing habits.

The Russian government said it has increased its stringent medical controls for drivers due to a high rate of road accidents.

The Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights has criticized the Russian government’s decision to adopt the law, describing it as “discriminatory.” It also intends to demand clarifications from the Russian Constitutional Court and seek support from international human rights organisations.

Homosexuality challenges

Homosexuality remains a taboo in Russia. Coming out has become even more difficult since June 2013, when a law was adopted prohibiting the so-called “propaganda” of non-traditional sexual orientation among minors.

Increasing numbers within Russia’s LGBT community are applying for asylum in other countries as they feel threatened in their home country, with many experiencing physical attacks.

However, seeking asylum as a homosexual can prove to be difficult as the applicant not only has to prove they are being persecuted due to their sexual orientation in their home country, but also that the government is either not able to or is not willing to protect them.

 © 2015 Deutsche Welle | Legal notice | Contact

 Equal Access at All Levels

July 29, 2013  By Allie Grasgreen
Last week’s settlement between the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights and a California school district may have been issued at the K-12 level, but the newly clear message that federal laws prohibit discrimination based on gender identity applies to colleges too, experts say.
The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education jointly determined that California’s Arcadia School District violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination, by barring a transgender student from sex-specific facilities and activities. All schools and colleges receiving federal funds are obligated to comply with Title IX or risk losing that funding.
In a 2010 “Dear Colleague” letter, OCR said schools must work to prevent gender nonconformity discrimination — when, for example, a student who is assigned a male sex at birth but does not act as a stereotypical boy (maybe by using female pronouns, or wearing dresses) is bullied.
But this resolution agreement takes that a step further by covering gender identity discrimination — when the same student described above is barred from using the female restroom. She is not being excluded because she doesn’t act like a stereotypical boy and is therefore nonconforming, but because she has a transgender gender identity; her identity doesn’t match the sex she was assigned at birth.
The settlement is also a first in that it deals with access to educational programs, facilities and activities — which is really what Title IX is all about — whereas the 2010 letter related more to school climate, harassment and bullying. The issue is not hypothetical; colleges report that they are enrolling more transgender students who are requesting various services and policies — anti-bias rules, access to bathrooms, ability to join athletic teams — and at some institutions, they haven’t been satisfied with the response.

“It actually is groundbreaking,” Erin Buzevis, the law professor at Western New England School of Law who runs the Title IX Blog, said in an e-mail. “By taking one such case, OCR signals its willingness to take similar cases in the future, and there’s no reason to think those cases wouldn’t also include college students.”

According to the Arcadia complaint, middle school administrators prohibited a biologically female middle school student who had identified as male “since a very young age” from using boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms, and on a camping trip, made the student stay in a cabin alone with an adult chaperone rather than in the boys’ cabin. Further back, in elementary school, the student was teased and bullied based on his appearance — the settlement agreement notes that one classmate referred to him as “it” — and placed in a girls’ cabin on another camping trip.

Generally, colleges should certainly keep in mind that OCR has said Title IX covers gender identity discrimination and access, said Asaf Orr, attorney at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represented the student. But he pointed to a few specific points in the settlement that administrators might want to look at more closely.

First are their nondiscrimination policies, which the settlement suggests should cover gender identity. Also as a matter of policy, student records should always be kept confidential — if, for example, the student goes by a name other than his or her birth name, the student’s school identification should reflect that and any records saying otherwise should be kept private.

“They may be affecting their admissions pool if they don’t have these policies in place,” Orr said. “Students look for those kinds of things when they are looking to apply for schools.”

Administrators should also consider training their students, faculty and staff on gender sensitivity as it relates to Title IX, a requirement of the settlement agreement, Orr said, noting that students in particular have a huge effect on institutional climate.

Finally, OCR required the school district to hire a consultant with expertise in child development and transitioning youth to help address these issues and make sure the changes are thorough and lasting. Colleges might want to do something similar, Orr said.

Whether for legal precautions or not, anything to raise awareness of transgender students would be a good idea, said Shane Windmeyer, executive director and co-founder of Campus Pride.

“I have administrators who have no understanding or perspective on what it even means to be transgender,” Windmeyer said. “Sadly, the state of higher education for trans students is grave; it’s oftentimes reckless and dangerous because we don’t understand as administrators what we’re talking about.”

Windmeyer noted cases where students have lost jobs after they were outed, repeatedly been called by the incorrect name and gender pronoun (even after asking professors to stop), and been prohibited from using bathrooms. One student who was bullied and harassed and had no alternative to campus housing committed suicide.

Only 100 four-year campuses have gender-inclusive housing, Windmeyer said. About 9 percent of colleges cover gender identity in their nondiscrimination policies. (Campus Pride maintains an index of colleges with resources for transgender students.)

“Really, we’re only talking about 10 percent — sometimes less — that do anything remotely trans-inclusive,” he said. “It’s 1960 for trans young people.”

Jorge Valencia, executive director of the Point Foundation, which awards scholarships to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students who are active in their communities, said many of the organization’s recipients have experienced discrimination. One of them, Jacob, who identifies as male but was born biologically female, was forced to practice with the girls’ swim team in high school. In college, he lived at home because the campus would not accommodate him in the residence halls. After transferring to “a large, Cal State school with a more embracing attitude toward transgender individuals,” he still lacked access to gender-neutral bathrooms and other facilities that his peers used with no trouble at all.

“The problems are very real and need to be addressed; both through laws such as Title IX, and by universities and colleges that need to make a greater effort to provide an equitable higher education experience for people of all gender identities and expressions,” Valencia said in an e-mail. “This [OCR] development is a positive step toward inclusion and equality for all.”

 

 

I’M A STRAIGHT WOMAN MARRIED TO A WOMAN

My husband became a woman and our marriage is stronger than ever.

By Leslie Hilburn Fabian August 19, 2014
Leslie Hilburn Fabian, author of My Husband’s a Woman Now, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and psychotherapist. She and her spouse are in the process of moving from Massachusetts to Louisiana.

I’ve never questioned my sexuality, my desire to be with a man. Still, when I first encountered the person who would become my husband, he was wearing makeup and a purple dress. We met at a gathering hosted by a mutual friend, a psychotherapist and expert on transgenderism. David,  was a 38-year-old surgeon and a cross-dresser. He — she in that moment — was intriguing. I saw beyond the external and was drawn in by David’s essence — his courage, his honesty, his authenticity. We’ve now been married for 23 years and I’m still in love. But since David became Deborah full-time three years ago, I’m now in love with her. As my husband became a woman, I endured a transition of my own.

We married in 1991, in our early 40s, with six children between us from previous marriages. For 20 years, we thought David’s transgender expression would always be limited to occasional dressing as a woman. He became Deborah for brief outings and intermittent weekends away with cross-dressers and other transgender folks, reveling in these opportunities to dress “en femme.” They were fun for me too, but I always welcomed my spouse’s return to the masculine role. David, however, did not.
For years, I witnessed David’s immense sadness when returning from his feminine expression. I held him as he wept. This tension also extended to our sex life. While my comfort with fantasy enabled me to support Deb’s presence in our bedroom, I sometimes longed for a scenario other than pretending we were both women during love-making.

Eventually, it became obvious that David never had been role-playing a feminine character. Rather, he had been falsely portraying a male all his life. In 2009, in response to yet another bout of David’s depression, I told him, “I don’t think another therapist or a different antidepressant will work. It’s time to talk to an endocrinologist.”

I didn’t know what it would mean for our marriage and told him so, many times. But remaining married to a miserable man was no longer viable for me. Transitioning to female was necessary for my husband, possibly a life-saving solution to six decades of angst, self-loathing and shame. David began consuming hormones that year.

Neither my master’s degree in social work nor being a couples’ therapist had prepared me for this. There weren’t enough pages in my journals to resolve all the anxiety, confusion and anger that arose. We went to numerous workshops, seminars and therapists. I leaned on a broad support system of people and activities: a spiritual guide, a life coach, wonderful friends, meditation and plenty of exercise and travel. Still, my emotions churned. One moment I would be a loving supportive wife; the next I would storm out of our bedroom in tears. I was grieving the loss of my husband as his face softened, his breasts developed and his stubble disappeared. I grew weary of his daily progression toward feminization and his extreme enthusiasm for the change.

My husband’s transition forced me to make emotional and sexual transitions of my own. As his breasts developed, I didn’t want to touch my partner’s chest anymore and the female hormones destroyed his libido. There was no denying I was a “hopeless heterosexual,” as my lesbian sister once teased me. The sexual side of our relationship faded; I was losing my lover.

For more than two years, I was unable to commit to staying in our marriage. I grappled with the paradox of encouraging David’s transition to Deborah while relinquishing my husband. When I was struggling, he was invariably caring and compassionate toward me and my process. He frequently told me, “I’ll stop immediately if transitioning means losing you.” But I knew that encouraging David to be true to himself, to become “her,” was in keeping with the care and support we had always provided to each other.
Unwilling to sacrifice my own happiness, I’d have left if I had become too uncomfortable with Deborah as my spouse. But that didn’t happen. On the contrary, this experience has brought me closer to my partner. We had created a relationship vision of 19 affirmations, including: We’re each other’s best friend; we support and encourage each other’s growth; and we are open to change. Ultimately, that foundation saved my husband’s health and our marriage.

While sex was a major part of our early relationship, we now rely on deeper forms of intimacy. We connect through deep discussions, mutual discovery and respect, caring and generosity. We focus on non-sexual ways of expressing love — cuddling, gentle caresses, holding hands. These interactions became more critical to our relationship than frequent sexual expression.

From the moment I met David — as Deborah — it was his essence that drew me in, and that has not changed. Now, nearly three years after Deborah’s coming-out in our New England community, staying married to her is without question. Our relationship is different, yes; but the love we have for one another has only deepened because of what we’ve endured and survived together. I still have a spouse with whom I am free to discuss anything, regardless of how difficult or hurtful it may be. We are each true to ourselves, and I’ve never seen my mate so happy. And this makes me happy, too.

Leslie Hilburn Fabian, author of My Husband’s a Woman Now, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and psychotherapist. She and her spouse are in the process of moving from Massachusetts to Louisiana.