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The Week In Trans 10/30/17

| Oct 30, 2017
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Jin Ha as Song Liling.

The play M. Butterfly is back on Broadway. The play was first produced in the 1980s and the true nature of the female lead was kept secret until the big reveal that she was a he. In case you were unaware of the play it’s about a French diplomat who falls in love with a performer who in addition to being a female impersonator is also a spy. The play is based on a true story and the real diplomat maintained that he did not know that his love was male. The new production starring Clive Owen as the diplomat and Jin Ha as the seductive Song Liling reveals the performer’s sex in the first few minutes of the show. Learn more about the challenges of producing this 1998 play in 2017 on the Vogue website.

Last Thursday was Intersex Awareness Day. It is the anniversary of the day when, in 1996, two activists for intersex people were thrown out of a meeting of the American Academy of Pediatricians. The day is used to bring awareness to transgender people and the issues that they face. Chief among the issues of intersex people is an end to medical intervention simply to make intersex children more nearly resemble one sex or the other. They also call for laws that would make discrimination against intersex people illegal. Gay Star News has this story.

In connection with Intersex Awareness Day, Gay Star News featured a list of seven common myths about intersex people.

The government of the United Kingdom suggested this week that a United Nations treaty replace the term “pregnant women” with “pregnant people.” When the suggestion was not heeded, the U.K. voted for the treaty without that amendment. Nonetheless, the usual critics complained about the suggestion, calling it “political correctness gone amuck” to make sure that transgender men who are pregnant feel included. The Guardian has this story.

Competitors in the High Heel Race.

The Dupont Circle neighborhood of the U.S. capital has done it again. They’ve held their annual 17th Street High Heel Race and Parade. That’s when men in drag run in competition. The event began 31 years ago when two men in drag decided to race each other. The winner of this year’s event was a queen name Sue Pository. Get the story from the WTOP website.

Former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, was defeated in part because of backlash to HB2, the quickly-passed-and-signed legislation which forced transgender people to use the restroom of the sex listed on their birth certificate. In a recent radio interview, Mr. McCrory said that HB2 was never repealed, that the law this October says what the law said last October. While the state legislature passed and Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill said to repeal HB2, the new law keeps in place a ban on anti-discrimination laws at the county and municipal levels, and it did not overturn all the provisions of HB2. Oddly, he is agreeing with at least the premise of a lawsuit that was brought against North Carolina over the effects of HB2. The Charlotte News and Observer has more.

Chart topping British singer Sam Smith has told the world that he feels as much a woman as he does a man. He owned up to having many pairs of high heel shoes and stated that at one time he dressed in femme garb exclusively for two and a half years. Read more about Smith’s gender fluidity on the E! News website

Joe Straus, the Speaker of the House for the Texas state House of Representatives, has decided to retire. He was the man who, more than anyone, kept Texas from passing a bathroom bill, despite pressure to pass the bill from Governor Greg Abbott, and especially from Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. The Houston Chronicle has this story.

Andrea Jenkins

There are two transgender candidates running for seats on the Minneapolis City Council, and both are receiving some financial help from the Trans United Fund’s PAC the BreakThrough Fund. Andrea Jenkins is running for an open seat, while Philippe Cunningham is trying to unseat a long-term member of the council. You can read more about them in The Column.

One of the two transgender candidates, Andrea Jenkins, has been working on an oral history project that covers the lives of transgender people. The project is housed by the University of Minnesota, and is currently on display at the Elmer L. Andersen Library. Minnesota Today, the daily paper of the University of Minnesota, covered the opening of the exhibit.

A Pennsylvania transgender woman whose request for a name change was rejected by a judge has received a boost to her case on appeal. However, while Superior Court Judge John Bender’s decision did side with the transgender woman, the three-judge panel sent the matter back to the Philadelphia County Court with instructions. The instructions require the judge to hold the typical hearings for a name change, with no consideration of the fact that the applicant is trying to acquire a more feminine name. If no one shows that she is trying to commit a fraud with this name change, it will be granted. This story is in Penn Live.

Mayor Derek Easterling

The mayor of Kennesaw,  Georgia participated in an event to raise money for Alzheimer’s research and now he’s getting beat up for it. Mayor Derek Easterling competed in a lip sync contest doing a Christina Aguilera song. Some townspeople felt that their mayor somehow stopped being honorable when he dressed like Aguilera. The mayor lip synced to her version of Lady Marmalade. The story can be found on the 11 Alive website.

This summer, eleven trans women from Central America were arrested while trying to enter the United States. The eleven were released this week, and are now awaiting hearings on their requests for asylum. Four gay men who came in the same group are still in detention. Arizona Public Media has this story.

Police in Pakistan have recovered the body of a transgender woman who was murdered in a horrible manner and whose body was left to rot. Police estimate that she was killed three days before her body was found. It is hard to tell how she was killed, and details about who did it are hard to come by, according to International Business Times.

Picture from the South African ad.

An internet provider in South Africa has used a picture of a man in sexy female attire in its advertising. It is supposed to be funny, but of course it isn’t. This appears in Gay Star News.

A new series of public service ads in the New York City subways will include Jodie Patterson and her family, including her transgender son, Penelope. (The boy is keeping his birth name.) The focus of the ads will be family as a part of a community. This story was covered by the Advocate.

Georgie Stone, who fought successfully to allow other transgender youth in Australia to access puberty blockers without first getting permission from a court, has been named the Young Australian of the Year for her home state of Victoria. She will now compete with the candidates from other states for the national title. She tweeted after, “To be in the very room as all of you [her fellow nominees] was the greatest honor of all.” The Star Observer is our source for this.

A family court in Australia has ruled against an estranged father who tried to prevent his 15-year-old transgender son from accessing HRT. The judge sided with the teenager and his mother (as well as two doctors), saying that the young man was aware of the repercussions of the decision to take hormones. As this story appears in the Daily Mail, they just had to make a big mistake, and they did. The headline talks of a “bid to block operation,” although the case was actually about allowing the teen to start taking testosterone, not about any operation. That is almost TWIT worthy.

Also in the Australian courts, a man who is not a doctor but nonetheless performed an orchiectomy on a trans woman has been given a five-year good behavior bond (that is, probation) instead of a jail sentence. This story comes from International Business Times.

Mayor Herbst

Not all mayors take flack for crossing gender borders. Mayor Jess Herbst of New Hope, Texas came out to the town as a trans woman. Rather than creating a storm of controversy life in New Hope just rolls on. No one has made any big deal, one way or the other, about the mayor becoming a woman. Thanks to Jan Brown for telling us about the story. You can find it on the Dallas Voice website

Medical transition with hormones causes sterilization, so many people want to store sperm or eggs before tradition, to allow for the possibility of having children later. This can be expensive if it is done for everyone before transition, and many will show no interest in having children later. A new tool from the Children’s National Health System in Britain aims to assess the probability that a transgender person will want to have children later in life. The tool is called the Transgender Youth Fertility Attitudes Questionnaire, and it is now in the pilot stage. Pink News has more.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a long piece about how gender means something different to young people today.

This week, a response to Dr. Miroslav Djordjevic’s statements about transgender people who want to reverse their gender confirmation surgery came from Dr. Helen Webberley. It appeared in The Huffington Post.

Grayson Perry as Claire in the “Bo Peep” dress next to one of his prize winning pots.

Artist, potter and television host Grayson Perry is having an exhibition. It’s not of his pottery, tapestries, or other art work. It’s an exhibition of 12 of his dresses. If you happen to be in the U.K. drop in, for free, at he Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. The show runs from November 4, 2017 to February 4, 2018 and it not only shows off Perry’s dresses but explores his life-long fascination with crossdressing. Learn more from the Your Move website.

We’ve mentioned it before but Jamie Roberts reminded us that there is a Transgender Archive that has digitized many magazines and other historic publications from the dark ages before the Web. If you would like to explore those old magazine go to the Archive and take a look at what they have.


Pennsylvania State Senator Donald White gets a TWIT Award because he sought an amendment to the state’s Child Health Insurance Program which would eliminate all transgender medical treatment under that program. His original proposal was quite vague, and theoretically could impact quite a few potential medical services. He objected to the expense of gender confirmation surgery, but since gender confirmation surgery in the state is not performed on anyone under age 18, and since the program does not cover anyone past their nineteenth birthday, there wouldn’t be many gender confirmation surgeries performed under this program. Think Progress covered this proposal. The full state Senate passed a watered-down amendment, which allows for counseling and puberty blockers, but would ban the program from paying for gender confirmation surgery. The amendment now goes to the state House. Penn Live has more on the amendment.

TWIT Award winner Barry Neufeld, a trustee of a school district in British Columbia, called support for transgender students “nothing short of child abuse.” He made quite a few of these sorts of transphobic remarks, ironically saying that support for LGBTQ children is a “weapon of propaganda” when his comments are a repeat of anti-LGBTQ propaganda. (He even said, “At the risk of being labeled a bigoted homophobe, I have to say that I support traditional family values and I agree with the College of Pediatricians.”) He has little ability to implement anti-transgender policy, as support for transgender students is required by Canadian law. He has since apologized for his remarks. Soo Today has this story. The CBC has a follow-up with a local father of a transgender daughter who disagrees with Mr. Neufeld.

Former porn star Jenna Jameson unleashed a rant on Twitter against Ines Rau, the first transgender woman to be a Playboy Playmate. She started out saying, “So Playboy just announced its first transgender playmate. . . I have a problem with it just like I have a problem with transgender people competing against biological women in sports.” She went on from there, in much the same tone. She later tweeted, “Just because I don’t agree with a trans person being in Playboy doesn’t mean that I’m ‘transphobic.’ People these days with their “phobics.” But instead of leaving it there, she went on to give people all the more reason to call her transphobic. For not showing the good sense to stop when she got herself in trouble, Jenna Jameson gets a TWIT Award. Her tweets were covered by The Advocate.

David Sorbello, an adjunct professor of Sociology at State University of New York Geneseo, gave his students an unusual quiz, which he called “Female or Shemale,” in which students were asked to identify from a picture which were cisgender females and which were transgender females. During the quiz, he made such comments as, “Be careful not to get too drunk or you’ll take the wrong one home.” Students took some pictures of the quiz and quickly shared them on social media, where the matter came to the attention of the president of SUNY Geneseo, Denise A. Battles, as well as Buzzfeed. Although students got the correct answers to the quiz, they ever got any lecture nor reading material related to the topic. For combining insensitivity with a lack of context, David Sorbello gets a TWIT Award. According to The Advocate, there is an investigation going on. For the investigators, here’s something to think about: the term “shemale” is not used by doctors, counsellors, or other clinicians; it comes from the porn industry. What is a term from the porn industry doing in a sociology quiz, without context? Jamie Roberts pointed us to an article about the incident that can be found in Inside Higher Ed.

Conservative radio host Joe Miller talked with William Briggs, a statistician who is also an adjunct professor at Cornell University. They discussed a UCLA study which shows that ideology is the product of the posterior medial frontal cortex in the brain, and shutting down this particular area can defeat such things as religious belief and nationalism. Researchers found that they could shut down the region through the use of specialized magnets. He then suggested that transgender people could use these magnets against Christians. If you have a faith that is nothing more than ideology, you need to deepen your faith, and you get a TWIT Award. Beyond that, there are a lot of Christians, and not that many transgender people, so this would take time — time enough for someone to figure out what was going on. Oh, and it wasn’t mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Raw Story covered this.

Above we told you about a TWIT worthy story in the Daily Mail. Then we found a TWIT Award winning story in the Mail. The Daily Mail website tends to use entire paragraphs as headlines. on October 28 they published “NHS pressured our kids to change sex: Transgender backlash as desperate parents accuse overzealous therapists of ‘blindly accepting’ children’s claims to have been born in wrong body.” The story goes on to say that the NHS is “railroading” children into changing gender. This is obviously an attempt to instill fear into parents in the U.K and therefore get more clicks on the Daily Mail website. No one pressures a child to pick a gender except those who feel the child’s genitals must decide their gender role for all time. You can read their lying screed in The Daily Mail.

Lord Tebbit, a former chairman of the Conservative Party, this week claimed that air pollution is causing people to become transgender. Obviously, he disagrees with the current leader of his party, Prime Minister Theresa May, who said that being transgender “is not an illness.” Part of his reasoning is that transgender people are a new phenomenon, but in fact, transgender people have existed since before the industrial revolution. For making up a theory with no care that facts don’t support it, Lord Tebbit gets a TWIT. You can read more in Pink News.

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

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Category: Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

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