The Week In Trans 10/9/17

| Oct 9, 2017
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Drag performers have always been involved in raising money for charity. Since the devastation of Puerto Rico several queens have stepped up and volunteered to perform in a fundraiser for the island. It’s the idea of Phi Phi O’Hara and she has Katya, Bob the Drag Queen, Manila Luzon, Jaidynn Diore Fierce, and over 20 other performers ready to hit the stage. It’s happening in Minneapolis on November 6. Check Billboard magazine for more info.

The Mermaids charity in England has made a name for itself by offering support and aid to trans children. Recently though the charity has garnered negative press over the case of the child of a divorced couple. The mother insists that the child wished to be raised as a girl while the father says the child is a boy and wants to be a boy. A judge in 2016 took the child from its mother and the father, who has custody now, insists that the child is happy living as a boy. The judge is reported to have told the charity that it must no have contact with the child. Various news articles all slam Mermaids as if it did something wrong in advising the mother to raise the child as a female. One news outlet ran the same story as others — but also published a response from Mermaids. Thanks to Jan Brown for bringing the story to our attention. You can find the story and Mermaids’ response on the Metro UK website.

Senator Michelle Suarez

A trans woman lawyer and LGBT activist, Michelle Suarez, has become the first transgender senator in Uruguay. She was elected in 2014 as a “substitute senator” for Communist Party Senator Marcos Carambola and she will take over his seat on October 10. She hopes to make her first legislative act the introduction of the Comprehensive Trans Act which she co-authored. Learn more from the Telesur website.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a memo to the offices of U.S. Attorneys, saying that the Justice Department believes that Title VII protections against employment discrimination based on sex only apply to birth gender, not to “discrimination on the basis of gender identity per se, including transgender status.” There is a growing body of court decisions which hold otherwise, and while many have relied to some degree or other on the fact that the Obama administration had interpreted Title VII to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity, quite a few go beyond that to reach their own conclusions that the law protects against discrimination on the basis of gender identity. It is possible for attorneys to build a case in spite of this interpretation by the Department of Justice, it is now the case that the federal government is not assisting nor will they bring suit to help people who have employment problems because they are transgender. Buzzfeed has this story.

The Trump administration has responded to the request for an injunction putting a hold on the policy of banning transgender people from serving in the military. The response was that the lawsuit is “premature” because the ban does not begin until at least January. While that is technically true, and while the original memo did seem to give the Secretary of Defense discretion in how to deal with those transgender people currently serving in the military, there is little doubt as to what the President wants done, and expectations of the future do affect decisions made in the present. The story can be found in the Washington Blade.

The request to dismiss the lawsuit against the ban on transgender people drew prompt criticism, not only from civil rights groups and LGBT advocacy groups, but also from Eric Fanning, who served as Secretary of the Army during the Obama administration. “Any time you take a group and imply . . . that they are different or set apart for reasons unrelated to their ability to serve and meet the requirements, it’s harmful for the force. It’s harmful to the individuals, but it is harmful to the force as a whole,” said Mr. Fanning. The Hill has this story.

Dylan Kohere is one of the named plaintiffs in one of the lawsuits against the Trump administration. He is 18-years-old, a college student in an ROTC program, and transgender. A profile of Mr. Kohere is in USA Today.

The winner, Josie Baker.

The photos are in from the Miss First Nation Australia pageant. The competition took five days as indigenous drag queens and “sistergirls” battled to become Miss First Nation. When all was done and the glitter had settled the winner was Josie Baker. See photos and get more info on the event from the GayStarNews.

D Magazine did a profile of Dr. Ximena Lopez, who runs the GENECIS program for transgender children at Children’s Health in Dallas. It was one of the first programs in the United States to have the various professionals to treat transgender children in one place. The look at the program includes a photo gallery.

The Rochester Institute of Technology, in upstate New York, is the subject of three civil rights complaints for firing a staff doctor who was managing hormone-replacement therapy for transgender students. Dr. Anamaria Kontor points out that she was following the procedures recommended by medical professional organizations. She also says that, not only was she not violating the written policies of the university, but that the school had paid for her to attend training sessions on the topic of HRT. This contrasts with the letter of dismissal, which states, “The Student Health Center’s practice prohibits prescribing hormone therapy for the purpose of gender transition.” The matter is now under an internal review by the school, and complaints with both the state and the federal government have been filed. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has this story.

The idea that support from employers is good for transgender people is rather obvious. Nonetheless, some academics research in what ways support from employers help transgender people. Additionally, there is something to be said for the fact that such research shows up in academic journals such as Harvard Business Review.

Marsha P. Johnson

Netflix is showing the documentary film The Death And Life Of Marsha P. Johnson. In addition to Marsha P. Johnson, the film looks at her friend Sylvia Rivera, and at Victoria Cruz. A contemporary of both Johnson and Rivera, she shared personal experiences from the times with the filmmaker and with Vanity Fair.

Last week, we told you about a transgender girl in New Jersey who was attacked in a school hallway. WPIX-TV tells us that several people formed a spontaneous rally in support of the transgender girl. The report also tells us that, just before the attack, the transgender student had said something which caused a gay panic defense in one of the attackers. The New York Post reports that seven students were suspended as a result of this incident.

Need a drag performer for your next film? Want an LGBT performer to add sizzle to you production? If you’re a film or television producer who wants to hire LGBT actors and performers there is now one talent agency that handles them all. Producer Entertainment Group and Executive PR and Talent have merged to create one talent firm to rep a large variety of LGBT talent. Get the details from Breitbart. (You read that correctly.)

A bill has been filed in the Florida House that would make violence against someone based on their “gender or gender identity” a hate crime. The bill was authored by (D) Rep. Joseph Heller and when he introduced it he said “Speaking up and protecting our fellow Americans against hatred, bigotry, and prejudice is critically important to our civil society.” Learn more in the Saint Peters Blog.

Courtney Act

The power of makeup and hair in a male to female transformation cannot be understated. With proper makeup application and a wig that enhances glamor rather than looking like a matted ball of fur a reasonably decent looking male can transform into a stunning female. This is demonstrated by a video in which drag performer Courtney Act goes from handsome male to hot babe. You can find it on the Cosmopolitan website.

It’s getting to the point where one wonders if this is newsworthy any longer. Marian Doyle, the headteacher at Sacred Heart High School, a Catholic secondary school for girls in London, has urged her teachers to use the preferred name and preferred pronoun when referring to students who do not identify as female. She wrote a letter to the parents explaining the policy, in which she wrote, “as a Catholic school” they are called to “promote greater wholeness for transgender individuals.” Unfortunately, the report in Catholic Herald magazine gives a bit much space to some parents who oppose the new policy, while downplaying the fact that the policy is in keeping with U.K. law.

Nepal has had a policy for a little while whereby they allowed citizens to change their legal gender to “X,” but not to “male” or “female.” That has changed, thanks to a recent court ruling. Transgender people in Nepal can choose to have gender “X” or the gender that they identify as. Gay Star News has this story.

Some transgender people spend a lot of their time working hard to fit into one of the binary gender boxes. They either want to be male or female. But what about people who come into the world with ambiguous genitalia? Those that have both a vagina and testes? They are intersex people and in the past their genitals have been surgically altered to adhere to a gender picked by their parents and their doctor. There is a lot of pressure now to stop the early childhood surgeries and wait for the child to say which gender they want to be. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for pointing out the story in The Washington Post.

Singer Pabllo Vittar

Brazil has been a dangerous place for transgender people. More transgender people have been killed in Brazil than anywhere else in the last two years. However, AFP found four transgender singers who are doing what they can to make Brazilians more familiar with transgender people. You can find profiles of these four people here.

In Rio de Janeiro gender non-conforming people are all watching a soap opera on Globo that reaches 50 million viewers each night. It’s called Edge of Desire and the plot features a female to male trans person who is just beginning their transition. The show is popular with the trans community as well as the general public and the producers hope it helps to spread tolerance of trans people. Learn more in The New York Times.


Last week we told you of a British academic who wanted to do his master’s thesis on people seeking to reverse their gender-confirmation surgery but was told to pick another topic when he could not get the patients to speak on the record. As expected, various members of the religious right found out about the story and spun it their own way. Peter LaBarbara ran such a story, entitling his piece, “LGBT Lobby Wants To Ban Sex-Change Reversal Research. Here’s Why.” He sees a conspiracy where there is none, coordination where there is none, and makes a major trend out of barely over a dozen individuals. For bad logic and overreaction, Mr. LaBarbara gets a TWIT Award. You can find his writing in LifeSiteNews.

On Thursday, Pope Francis spoke to the Pontifical Academy for Life, a group which studies bioethics for the Catholic Church. During the speech, the Pope criticized medical technologies that make it easier to change genders, on the grounds that the “utopia of the neutral” reduces the opportunity to create new life. Celibacy also reduces the opportunity to create new life, but St. Paul urges Christians to practice celibacy if they can handle it. The Gospel of St. Matthew records Jesus praising people who became eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of God. Certainly the Catholic Church has promoted celibacy. Yet, celibacy reduces the opportunity to create new life. There seems to be a disconnect here. A TWIT worthy one. NBC News has more on this.

Oddly, the same week that Pope Francis was complaining about how transgender people don’t have enough children, various outlets in the U.K. were complaining that their National Health Service was spending money to freeze sperm and eggs from some transgender teenagers before they start puberty blockers. Now, it’s true that the NHS does have some problems with a tight budget, but this is hardly a huge expense. Nonetheless, some people are running with it as a needless expense, largely because they seem to realize that they already lost the argument that “transgender people are icky and have cooties.” You can read more about this TWIT winner in Pink News.

It’s not only the Catholic Church that is living in the 10th century when it comes to transgender issues. The Greek Orthodox Church has weighed in opposing draft legislation that would allow Greeks to choose their gender. For more information on their opinion read the Associated Press story in the Daily Mail.

Stiles Zuschlag was a student at Tri-City Christian Academy in Maine, with grades that made him a contender to be valedictorian However, when the school found out that he was transgender and was taking testosterone injections, they expelled this excellent student thereby collecting a TWIT Award. Jesus condemned those who used religion as an excuse to look down on others, yet some people claim to be acting in His name but do exactly what He condemned. This story can be found in Fosters.

Last week, we heard about the rise in the number of people who asked for a reversal of their gender-confirmation surgery. This week, there was a story about Dr. Miroslav Djordjevic, of Belgrade, Serbia, who has had requests for such a “go-back” surgery. He tells the Telegraph that he has performed seven such surgeries over the last five years, and he claims to have eight more in consultation. That is a grand total of fourteen cases. True, that is just the one surgeon — but neither the Telegraph nor other outlets that repeated (and embellished) the story bothered to talk to any other surgeons. Oh, and there is a line in the story that says that Dr. Djordjevic works at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York in addition to his work in Belgrade. He does not have the professional qualifications to work in New York, or anywhere else in the United States. For lacking basic journalistic integrity, those outlets which copied (and embellished) this story without researching it get a TWIT Award. One such story occurs in the Daily Mail.

Noted author Salman Rushdie, who is generally an open minded fellow, has expressed his opinion in the press that “very young people” should not undergo reassignment surgery. He said this after saying that just because a boy plays with dolls and favors pink he shouldn’t have GRS. Well of course not. The earliest GRS should be done and is obtainable from reputable clinics is at the age of 18. Hormone blockers to prevent secondary sex characteristics from developing can begin at 16. For not knowing that we must issue a TWIT Award to Rushdie. Read his remarks in the Independent.

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

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Category: Transgender Community News


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Every week Cecilia Barzyk diligently scans the internet to assemble as much trans-related information from the weekly news as possible.

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