Friday Philosophy: Transpeople in the News

Sacramento, CA:  The California State Senate passed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Prisoner Safety Act (AB 633) by a 26-9 vote and sent it on to Governor Scharzennegger.  The bill is designed to protect LGBT people who are incarcerated.  Arnold vetoed a similar bill last year.

A recent study from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) found that 67 percent of LGBT inmates report being sexually assaulted by another inmate, a rate 15 times higher than the overall prison population. Another study by UC Irvine and commissioned by CDCR found that 69 percent of transgender inmates reported sexual victimization while incarcerated.

Dateline Memphis: The Duanna Johnson Case

Four months after a hung jury in the case of the beating of Duanna Johnson, Memphis police office Bridges McRae plead guilty to violating her civil rights.  This will not bring any closure to Ms. Johnson or her family since she was murdered 9 months after the beating.  That case has not yet been solved.

Apparently protection after being arrested is indeed necessary.

San Francisco: New Leaf to close

New Leaf, a community organization serving LGBT people in San Francisco will be closing October 15 (press release (pdf), since the city can no longer afford to fund the program due to increases in rent and the cost of health care.  The program provided mental health care, substance abuse services, and HIV/AIDS support services.

Other San Francisco service providers (Lyon Martin Health Center, the AIDS Health Project, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation) will attempt to pick up the slack.

If you have a few extra bucks…

New York City: Singaporean transsexual performance artist Leona Lo brought the Ah Kua Show to the La Mama alternative theater in Manhattan’s East Village.

The life of a transsexual in Asia is limited to sexual work.

–Leona Lo

Leona has a BA in English Literature  and an MA in Qualitative Research Methods from the University of York.  Here autobiographical offering From Leonard to Leona: A Singapore Transsexual’s Journey To Womanhood was published in 2007.

She also participated in Lance Lee’s photo-documentary My Sisters, Their Stories.

The Ah Kua Show is a one-woman collage of experiences on the difficulties of being transsexual in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Bangkok.  “Ah Kua” is a derogatory reference to transwomen, roughly translating to ladyboy

Be on the watch for the Mermaid Tales Art Exhibition, which is a collection of mosaic’s by Leona.

For anyone who would like to learn more about Leona, she has a blog here.

Personally, I have a soft place in my heart for multi-talented people.

Muncie, Indiana: Erin Vaught, transgender woman who was basically denied medical treatment after being ridiculed at the ER by the staff of Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, IN says she is satisifed with the changes that have been promised by that institution.

Ball Memorial Hospital announced Tuesday that all employees would receive mandatory lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender awareness training starting in September and that it was updating its nondiscrimination policies to include language specific to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Simply put, we failed to live up to our brand promise of care in regards to Erin and we apologize to her for that.

In the last month, I have heard from many team members who share my disappointment with Erin’s experience at BMH.

–Ball Memorial President Michael Haley

My goal from the outset was to try to make sure that my experience wasn’t repeated.

–Erin Vaught

Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Donna Milo, a transgender woman from Florida and a Cuban refugee, gained 22% of the vote in finishing third in the Republican primary for Florida’s 20th Congressional District, behind Karen Harrington‘s 40% and Robert Lowry‘s 38%.  Democrat Debbie Wasserman Shultz is the current representative in the district.

I’ll never know why it was deemed important by Chris Good, who wrote the article for the Atlantic to tell us Ms. Milo’s previous first name.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania ID Policy Changes

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has finally admitted that transgender people live in the state and drive vehicles and should be accorded some degree of dignity and repect…at least enough to allow them to identify their gender accurately on their licenses.  Transgender people will no longer be forced to prove that they have already had gender confirmation surgery.  Living full-time in their new gender will suffice.

Berkeley, CA: Dr. Antonia Caretto will be speaking at the Gender Spectrum Family Conference which takes place in Berkeley, CA, September 3-6.  She will be addressing the issue of Gender Incongruence in Children and Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.  She will discuss, among other things, a recent article that was published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Dr. Caretto’s website is here:

A quote from one of her pages:

The concept of Gender Identity Disorder dates back to the 1860’s when Karl Ulrichs described  a “third sex” individual as someone with a female soul in male body.  Interestingly, Ulrichs and other scientists of that era viewed third sex individuals (and homosexuals) as natural human deviations that were inborn and not pathological.

Also of passing interest is the fact that Ulrich’s and the others did not recognize female-to-male transfolk.

From the abstract:

Children and adolescents (115 boys and 89 girls, mean age 10.8, SD = 3.58) referred to a gender identity clinic received a standardized assessment during which a GID diagnosis was made and ASD suspected cases were identified. The Dutch version of the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (10th rev., DISCO-10) was administered to ascertain ASD classifications. The incidence of ASD in this sample of children and adolescents was 7.8% (n = 16). Clinicians should be aware of co-occurring ASD and GID and the challenges it generates in clinical management.

If anyone is going to the conference, I’d really, really appreciate a copy of any handouts provided.

The conference is the brainchild of Stephanie Brill, co-author with Rachel Pepper of The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals

England:  In Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, England, Rachel Millington, 24, informed her employers at Housing and Support Solutions Limited, where she worked with disabled people, that she had changed her name and would henceforth begin living as a woman.  After a week, she was told that she made her coworkers uncomfortable and was forced to apologize to them (no reason was given for why the Daily Mail felt it necessary to include a pre-transition photo).  A few days later, she received a phone call telling her she should no longer come to work.

Ms. Millington has filed suit, charging unfair dismissal and sexual discrimination.  In most places in the United States, she would lose because there is no protection against that sort of treatment.

More or less on the same topic, I’d like to draw people’s attention to a series by Juliet Jacques appearing in the Guardian called A Transgender Journey.  Juliet’s latest piece is No wonder many transsexual people end up in sex work.

Despite the protection of the Sex Discrimination Act, transgender people often face unfair treatment in the workplace.

Hong Kong:  In Hong Kong, we are fighting to get married.

Her lawyer says it’s her constitutional right but her birth certificate, which cannot be changed under Hong Kong law, still classes her as male.

The government says she cannot get married as it would constitute a same-sex marriage, which is not legal here.

And some people wonder why transfolk think marriage equality is so important to us.

Wharton, TX:  Phyllis Frye, attorney for Nikki Araguz, who is fighting to be recognized as legal heir to her recently deceased fireman husband in Texas, wrote this week:

Why is it that the Prop 8, same-sex marriage fight in CA and the DOMA same-sex marriage fight in the Northeast are BOTH so well funded by lesbian and gay groups and lesbian and gay individuals, but the same-sex marriage fight in Texas has been thus far supported ONLY by a small number of mostly transgenders plus three LGBT-allied churches, mostly in Houston, all in Texas?

Dallas, TX:

Playwright Ed Graczyk, author of Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, which featured Karen Black in the role of Joanna, a transwoman, in both the play and the movie, has written a new play, Blue Moon Dancing, which also includes a gay plot.  The link features an interview with the author.  

And I’ll close with this case:  

Baltimore, MD:  Baltimore Firefighter Jerry Majette was arrested for assaulting transgender woman Tamera King with a hammer.  Ms. King was also arrested for trying to defend herself with a pair of scissors.  Mr. Majette is suspended without pay because of of previous case of dereliction of duty.

And what were they fighting about?  Sex, of course.

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