The Week In Trans 10/24/16

| Oct 24, 2016
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Maybeline's Manny Mua.

Maybeline’s Manny Mua.

Last week we told you about CoverGirl makeup choosing a 17-year-old male to be the face of their new mascara ad campaign. It seems that the “beauty boys” have become a thing and there are several who are making waves beyond social media. Get the scoop from The New York Times.

Johns Hopkins was the first teaching hospital to offer gender-confirmation surgery back in 1965. Then in 1979 the program was shut down by the institution’s psychiatrist-in-chief who insisted that altering people’s bodies to conform with their gender identity was “…enabling mental illness….” That psychiatrist was the infamous Paul R. McHugh, recently in the news as the co-author of a report that, surprise, views transgenderism as a mental illness. A few weeks ago the staff of Johns Hopkins wrote a letter that condemned McHugh’s report and said that the institution would resume gender reassignment surgery as early as next year. Get the full story from NewNowNext.

The Justice Department asked Judge Reed O’Connor to issue a clarification of his ruling against the Department of Education’s protections of transgender students. On Wednesday, the day before the Justice Department was to file an appeal of the ruling, Judge O’Connor clarified that his ruling applies not only to the twelve states who are party to the lawsuit, but to all states that did not adopt the Department of Education’s guidelines on their own. The Justice Department did not file their appeal on Thursday, but they did file a notice of an appeal, and the notice did include new information from the clarification. The appeal itself will take a little while to write, but it will happen. The Washington Blade has more.

While Judge O’Connor did expand the scope of his ruling somewhat, he did not press it past Title IX (discrimination in education) to also apply to Title VII (employment discrimination). Buzzfeed has a review of what Judge O’Connor’s ruling says.

Georgie Stone

Georgie Stone

Georgie Stone is a teenage trans woman in Australia and has been a campaigner for transgender rights. She was the youngest person granted court permission to take hormone blockers, and partly because of her case, children who have the consent of their parents and doctors do not need court permission for hormone blockers (although those under 18 do need court permission to start HRT). Now, at age 16, she has received the title GLBTI Person Of The Year at the GLOBE [Gay And Lesbian Organization of Business and Enterprise] community awards in Melbourne. The Age has her story.

Approximately twenty people attended Trans Camp in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. One of the big points of the experience was to let transgender teens meet each other. It is hoped that this will become an annual event, but of course, that will require money. The Australian Broadcasting Company has this story.

The student newspaper at Northern Illinois University ran an article last week urging students to be careful about their Halloween costume choices. The writer says that someone’s idea of a joke costume could be a trigger for people who have been victims of crime or suffered sex abuse. In other words that sexy cop outfit might frighten someone who had experienced police brutality, or dressing like convicted child molester Jared Fogle might make someone heave their Subway sandwich. But seriously, they go on to say that “transgender” costumes are not funny so don’t go to a party as Caitlyn Jenner or you are being transphobic. The article ignores that for many trans people Halloween is their first time ever going out as a character that matches their gender identity. So sure, avoid wearing an awful commercial Caitlyn costume but if someone wants to be fabulous in glamor drag don’t tell them they can’t. We’re not going to give this story a TWIT… but it’s close. Read it in the Northern Star. (The sexy cop they illustrated it with has her gun drawn. That’s seems like a trigger to us.)

Cassandra Cass

Cassandra Cass

How do get all the attention at a mens’ underwear fashion show? If you’re trans actress Cassandra Cass you show up in an outfit that is barely covering your assets and outdo everyone else on the red carpet. The show was for the Marco Marco brand of fashionable undies for dudes and it happened in Los Angeles last week. Cass, a star of the 2006 film Trantasia, took all the attention away from the underwear. Read more about the event and see photos of Cass in the Mirror.

On Wednesday, several North Carolina residents and some activist groups filed an appeal with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, asking it to broaden an injunction that District Judge Thomas Schroeder has made which says that HB2 does not apply to three specifically-named transgender students at the University of North Carolina. The filing requests that the transgender provisions of HB2 be set aside on the grounds that they are likely to be overturned by the trial that begins in May. The appeals court should get to the request in January. You can read more in the Charlotte Observer.

In Illinois, a judge has ruled students do not have a constitutional right to keep from sharing a restroom or a locker room with a transgender student. This ruling comes from District 211 in Chicagoland, where parents sued the school district on behalf of their children in an attempt to keep transgender students out of gender-segregated facilities. According to U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert, the “right to privacy” does not extend to this. This ruling will now go to District Judge Jorge Alonzo, who will use it when he creates his ruling in the case. (The matter will no doubt be appealed after Judge Alonzo makes his ruling.) This story is in the Chicago Tribune.

Emily Kaufman

Emily Kaufman

A young trans woman who joined the sorority rush in her freshman year at the University of Michigan visited 15 sororities and was accepted by just one. One that she didn’t feel comfortable joining. This year things are looking up for Emily Kaufman. Last week she pledged a new sorority on campus and went for her reassignment surgery the next day. Read her story in Cosmopolitan.

Henderson County, South Carolina, has been told by its health insurer, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, that they can opt out of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. If they do so, then their health insurance policy will not cover gender-related services, including hormone therapy and surgery. According to this insurer, the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act are optional in some plans, at least at this point in time. (This matter will come before courts before long.) BCBSNC does require that the county sign an exemption document, and in the wording of that document, they indemnify BCBSNC from legal responsibility should the county be sued for not covering transgender medical costs. It is telling that the insurer requires the client to give legal indemnity for failing to cover transgender care. The Spartanburg Times-News is our source for this story.

The United Nations has come up with a working document outlining the rights of transgender children under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The document was put together by Transgender Europe, so it is likely that some nations are not going to like what it says. Since this is a working document, the authors are asking for feedback, but they are likely to ignore feedback that disagrees with their viewpoint by much. The PDF of the working document can be found here.

Jossy Yendell

Jossy Yendell

Jossy Yendell, a trans woman from the U.K., agreed to go on a television dating show to expose the sorts of difficulties  trans women have in the dating market. The show is called Undressed. She was matched with a man and they went on a date that ends with them in bed together. She had a discussion with the producers as to what her boundaries were before filming began. She talks about the experience in The Chronicle.

Iceland has long had legal protections for transgender people and its national health care program pays for mental health counseling, hormone replacement therapy, and even surgery for transgender patients, but the attitude of many in the health care professions is not as friendly as would be preferred. To these problems, add in non-binary people, who are not what most health professionals expect to find (they expect people who feel consistently that they belong on one side of the gender binary, not people who keep crossing back and forth frequently). A British filmmaker named Fox Fisher did a video documentary on the subject. While the video looks specifically at Iceland, a lot of what was found is typical all over. You can find the video and an article at GayIceland.

We told you last week about Stephen Florian, the university lecturer from Malta who outed a transgender student after the student took part in a protest. The backlash from that move was so great that Stephen Florian resigned his position teaching Spanish and Latin American Studies. Sadly, that gives him more time for his work as a so-called “patriot.” The Times of Malta has this story.

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox

Last week the reboot of The Rocky Horror Picture Show hit the air on Fox and at least one review says “You can’t do the Time Warp again.” Read what else they had to say about the production and why they feel it just didn’t work on the Salon website.

Here is a story that straddles the TWIT Award line. A British judge has given custody of a seven-year-old to the child’s father after the father alleged that the child’s mother was raising the child as a girl “against his [the child’s] wishes.” The mother claims that the child has a self-perception as female. This is one of those stories where it’s hard to determine whom to believe, but something odd is certainly going on. It’s reported that the child is acting more like a male since moving to live with the father, but children do tend to adapt to their surroundings. Pink News does a good job of presenting this story as objectively as possible.

Eli Oberman is a 33-year-old trans man who was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27. He is the subject of a story about transgender men with breast cancer in The New York Times.

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about Sergeant Jessica Harris of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department. This week, she was quoted as saying that she did not realize how much fear transgender women live with until she herself transitioned. The headline of the story, “‘Walking While Trans’ Can Be A Death Sentence In The United States,” is intended to attract attention with its scariness. The body of the story is more matter-of-fact, but it does cover the topic of the dangers that trans people face. You can read it at Reuters.

Trans people often have trouble when they encounter the police. Kris Smith had real troubles with the Houston Police lately. He was arrested on a trespassing charge which turned out to be bogus, and was dismissed. He now is suing the Houston Police Department for the hateful insults that they sent in his direction while he was under arrest. Between the mistreatment and the wrongful arrest, he is seeking $1,000,000 in damages. You can read this story in the Houston Chronicle. is a website that specializes in news about transgender people. They have recently agreed to run ads for transgender porn sites. Why? Because the porn ads pay the bills. Apparently, mainstream sites just aren’t interested enough in reaching’s readership. There aren’t that many transgender people, and people who read the site are often not particularly well-off financially. We here at The Week In Trans take note of this, and are determined to avoid going in that direction. You can read their reasoning on The Huffington Post.


A Catholic charity in India is recruiting trans people to help other trans people. But they have their own interpretation of what transgender means. “…biological transgenders” and “not those who undergo gender change.” So even though they say they want to help fight discrimination against trans people they seem to have their own bias. They’re getting a TWIT Award for it. Get the whole complicated story from Religion News Service.

The Federalist picks up a TWIT Award this week for publishing an article titled “Why You Shouldn’t Use Transgender Pronouns.” The author contends that a trans person asking to be referred to with any pronoun other than the one that applies to their biological sex at birth is some kind of ideological gambit to destroy our ability to communicate with each other. What? Check out the “logic” in The Federalist.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick tried to get the state legislature to pass a “bathroom bill” this term, but they stayed away from the topic as if it were radioactive. Given how the rest of the world has been treating North Carolina for a similar bill, the reluctance of the state legislature is understandable. Lt. Governor Patrick nonetheless says that a “bathroom bill” will be a top priority of his in the next legislative session. He does not call it a “bathroom bill,” but rather, a “woman’s privacy bill.” Apparently, he thinks that he knows more about what happens in the ladies’ room than Megyn Kelly does. For repeating the same lies as other Republicans, and for mistakenly assuming that his state is too big to punish, Dan Patrick gets a TWIT Award. You can read about this from Autostraddle.

We told you last week about the promo ad for a documentary about the Safe Schools Initiative that was about to run on Australian television. The ad seemed to say that they were going to give quite a bit of time to the views of some very transphobic people. It turns out that the documentary did indeed let the allegedly religious people express their transphobic viewpoint. Channel 7 in Australia gets a TWIT for presenting discrimination as a “religious liberty.” You can read about this in the Star Observer.

Shawna Patricia Smith, a 43-year-old transgender woman, has entered a plea of guilty to charges of taking pictures of women in the dressing area of a Target store in Idaho. Sentencing will occur on November 28. In addition to her sentence she picks up a TWIT Award for pulling a stunt like that. Local 8 News has this story.

The Opinion page of The New York Times is sometimes a place for controversial viewpoints. Such was the case last Sunday, when Judith Shulevitz attempted to present both sides of the “bathroom controversy.” She didn’t bother to take note of other writings on the topic, so much so that, instead of “transgender” and “cisgender,” she refers to a transgender teen as one “born with a boy’s body” and a cisgender teen as a “girl-born-a-girl.” She seems to be oblivious to the fact that “girl-born-a-girl” implies that transgender people choose to be transgender, that they are not born with transgender tendencies. While that mistake could be the result of an oversight, the condescending tone towards gender theory continues unabated. A TWIT to Judith Shulevitz for spreading bad information. You can read the original in The New York Times, or read a critique of it on Think Progress.

Although the Department of Defense has made tremendous progress towards accepting transgender people in the military, accepting them in military families is apparently another matter. Blue, the 11-year-old transgender daughter of a service family stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, is made to use a gender-neutral restroom. Other than the restroom, she is being accepted for who she is, but when she has to go, she has to use a restroom in another building. Since her classes are on the third floor, that is quite a hike. While the Pentagon no doubt has some five-year plan to create a restroom nearer to the classroom, the failure to approve a plan that was previously agreed upon without an adequate alternative plan is grounds for giving the school a TWIT Award. NBC Out has this story. UPDATE: Starting today Blue will be allowed to use the girls’ restroom. The school superintendent gets an extra TWIT for delaying this resolution.

Large portions of this edition of TWIT were researched and written by Cecilia Barzyk.

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Category: Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc., the former editor of that organization's newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She wrote the Diva of Dish column for TGF in the late 1990s and was the Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She is currently the Editor of TGF. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows. In her idle hours she keeps busy producing her monthly TG parties, Angela's Laptop Lounge.

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