The Week In Trans 2/20/17

| Feb 20, 2017
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Daniela Vega

Two films with transgender themes won Teddy Awards at the Berlin Film Festival. The new film by Sebastièn Lelio, Un mujer fantàstico (A Fantastic Woman), received the Teddy Award for best LGBT-themed film at the Berlin Film Festival. The film stars transgender actress Daniela Vega as a transgender woman who is rejected by her partner’s family after his death. Also, the film Close Knit by Japanese director Naoko Ogigami won a special jury award. It tells the story of an eleven-year-old who goes to live with her uncle and his transsexual girlfriend after her mother throws her out of the house. Both films were praised for their sensitive portraits of transgender characters. The Hollywood Reporter has this story. You can read Variety’s glowing review of A Fantastic Woman here.

A transgender woman went to a court in El Paso, Texas, to seek protection from domestic violence. Shortly after that hearing, she was arrested by federal agents on suspicion that she violated immigration law. She is a Mexican citizen. She had received a protective order for the domestic abuse charge. Reuters has this story.

An LGBT center in Los Angeles was defaced with spray paint that spelled out a slur against transgender people. The police have copies of what the security cameras recorded. As you might expect, the center is not backing down from its mission, including an initiative to track threats during the first 100 days of the new administration. The Advocate has this story.

Cover Boy James Charles

CoverGirl’s cover boy model is the center of controversy. Not because he identifies as a white cis male who wears glamour makeup and works as a model. No, before a school trip to South Africa he made an unfortunate joke about getting ebola. While he was in the air flying to South Africa his Twitter feed filled up with outrage. Take a look at the story and see if you think it’s justified or just a case of ultra PC. You can find it on the Yahoo news feed page.

Texas Senate Bill 6, a.k.a. “the bathroom bill,” has been much in the news this week. The NFL, the NBA, and the NCAA have all now said that such legislation will be taken into effect when deciding where to hold neutral-site events. Greg Abbot, the governor of Texas, thinks that these are bluffs, but the mayors of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin are indeed afraid of the impact of this legislation, as The San Antonio American-Statesman found. A new amendment to the bill would exempt stadiums and convention centers from the effects of SB6, but that is not enough for the sports leagues. According to the mayors, public accommodation often come up when businesses are deciding where to expand. As transgender activist Leslie McMurray points out, “The bill is supposed to be about ‘safety.” Are they saying women are inherently safer in stadium bathrooms?”

The Harvard Computer Society has run a program called Datamatch on Valentine’s Day every year. The program attempts to match the University’s undergraduate students romantically. The program does ask for the student’s gender and the student’s preferred gender match. The only permitted genders were “male” or “female.” This year, students have complained that those choices were too limited. While there is a space in the survey for “extra information,” but that is not enough, according to some people. The editorial board of the Crimson has said that gender should be more than the binary offered in the survey.

Photo from the series.

A photo and interview series called Transilient documents the lives of trans and non-conforming people across the U.S. The series hopes to challenge mainstream media representation of trans lives and prove that there is more to a trans person than their gender identity. Learn more about the series on the Mashable website.

McGill University in Montreal has a way for students to get their preferred name into official records. In addition to transgender people, students could choose to be called by their middle names, a diminutive (“Steve” for “Stephen”) or by a chosen name that is more familiar to Canadians. Over 7000 students have already entered their preferred names into the system, according to The McGill Reporter.

Students at Florida State University have begun a program to donate chest binders to trans men. The project is being organized by Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity. So far, they have signed up four recipients. This story is on WTXL-TV news in Tallahassee.

The Journal of the American Academy of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry has released a new study in their latest issue. The study is based on information from the Trans Youth Survey, and it finds that transgender children who were allowed to transition in childhood had better mental health outcomes than those who were not allowed to transition. Indeed, those who did transition had mental health outcomes similar to their cisgender peers. The entire study can be found behind the paywall here, or a summary can be found in Pink News.

Over eight hundred parents of transgender children have written a letter to President Trump less than a week after Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew from the lawsuit over the Department of Education’s guidance on handling transgender students (issued when Barack Obama was president). The parents ask for President Trump to stand by the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX. The Advocate has this story. You can read about the Justice Department’s abandonment of the Department of Education guidance in the New York Times.


Caitlyn Jenner has taken some flak since she came out. Not for coming out as trans. For coming out as a Republican. The party’s platform had large anti-LGBTQ planks hammered into it, and despite the fact that President Trump has said he will not roll back protections for the LGBTQ people there is already movement in that direction. Not to mention the localities and states that are in a fever to enact tough “restroom laws.” So how can Jenner say she is Republican? Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote an op-ed and reported what Jenner said to her about her politics. You can find it in The New York Times.

The Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress have been pushing legislation that would allow people and companies to refuse service to people whose sexual orientation or gender identity is not acceptable to the business’s owner. The polling firm PRRI did a recent survey and found that only about 30% of those polled want businesses to be able to refuse services on the basis of the owner’s religious beliefs. Even among White Evangelical Christians, only 50% think that it is all right for a business to refuse service to LGBT people. In all other groups, including White Mainline Protestants and White Catholics as well as various categories of people of color and faith, the survey found more respondents oppose businesses refusing to serve LGBT customers than people defending the business. This story can be found in Edge Media.

Two years ago a library assistant at the Louisville Free Public Library was told that they could not wear a button that displayed their preferred pronouns while at work. They identify as non-gender binary and most of the staff and patrons had only a little trouble remembering that the assistant was neither a lady or gentleman. The banning of the button came after a patron yelled at the assistant (in a library of all places) that “You’re a lady.” We are happy to report that after a long fight the library has yielded and employees will be allowed to wear name tags with their gender preference noted. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the tip. You can find the story in The Library Journal.

Valentina Sampaio

Valentina Sampaio, a transgender model from Brazil, has been chosen to appear on the cover of Vogue Paris. This is the first time that a transgender model has been on the cover of the magazine. She is featured in the cover story, “Transgender Beauty.” This story was covered by The BBC.

The Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index shows that businesses are more inclusive than ever before in their hiring and retention policies. 73% of businesses surveyed offer transgender-inclusive healthcare. You can read about it in Gay Star News.

Dallas Woodhouse, the Executive Director of the Republican Party in North Carolina, retweeted an article in which transgender people were called “Pervs.” The article went on to say that transgender people are mentally ill. He has apologized for retweeting it, saying that he “did not read it close enough.” The article at Redstate was titled, “Justice Department Kills Obama’s Pervs-In-The-Girls-Bathroom Rule.” So, apparently, he retweets without even reading the headline. (Also, he should have used the adverb “closely,” rather than the adjective “close,” when describing how much effort he put into reading.) You can find the story in the Charlotte Observer.

Julie Hesmondahalgh played the part of the transgender character Hayley Cropper on the British show Coronation Street for sixteen years, until the character was killed off. Now, she says that the character was originally written as a joke, and was supposed to last two weeks at most. The character was supposed to be nothing but a bad blind date. But the actress was so determined to make the most of this part, and she did so well that the writers just kept the character around. This story is in the Shropshire Star.

Sharon-Rose Khumalo

Sharon-Rose Khumalo is a South African beauty contest winner. She has just come out publicly as intersex. She has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. (Her body did not respond to testosterone at puberty leaving her female looking.) After winning the title Miss Mamelodi Sundows, she decided to use her new fame to spread the word about intersex people. Pink News has this story.

Did you know that Chicago has an International Museum of Surgical Science? The museum hosts a variety of equipment, either used in surgery or in conjunction with it. Currently, the museum is planning an exhibit on what used to be called a “sex change operation.” The museum hopes that the exhibit will “demystify” the procedure. The exhibit is planned to open later this year. The Chicago Sun-Times has more.

The Catholic Church is often seen as completely opposed to transgender people transitioning to their preferred genders, but that misses a lot of how the Church feels. Father Kevin McGovern is an ethicist and parish priest in Blackall, Australia, where he got to meet a trans woman named Trish Elliot. The Catholic Leader has the story of their relationship and what Father McGovern learnt from it.

TWIT-award-winner Milo Yiannopoulos had a disastrous appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher. One of his claims was the subject of a fact check. He claimed that transgender people are “vastly disproportionately involved in sex crimes.” That statement is true — if you count the many times that they are the victims of sex crimes. Breitbart, where Mr. Yiannopoulos works, recently released a list of 20 cases that supposedly prove that allowing transgender women into the ladies’ room leads to men assaulting women in ladies’ room. Only one of their twenty crimes had a transgender person as the suspect. You can read about the encounter on The Wrap. An article on the Huffington Post simply calls him “wrong, wrong, wrong.”

Conchita begins to look more manly.

Tom Neuwirth, the man behind Conchita Wurst, is trying to get rid of her. It seems unkind that he wants to dump her but while he feels he’s achieved a lot by being Conchita now it’s time to move on and step into the spotlight as a male. Learn more about Neuwirth, Conchita and his future plans on the Esctoday website.

On the weekend of February 10-12, transgender students in Texas and their parents met for Transgender Leadership Institute 2. The second annual weekend-long workshop comes when transgender people in Texas are having a rough time getting their political leaders to listen to them. This sort of an event can be very beneficial, from just knowing that there are other families, to learning how to speak to political authorities. Several organizations had representatives there, including the Transgender Law Center, the ACLU, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and TransGriot. You can read more about it at Dallas Voice.

Deirdre Grimm, the mother of Gavin Grimm, is also the subject of a new profile. She has been supporting her son as he fought the school board first at their own hearing, then in the courts. You can read the profile on The Daily Beast.

Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox made the rounds to promote the new series Doubt. This includes an interview with The Daily Beast, where she talked about the achievements of transgender people (herself included) and about politics.

Doubt’s writing team of Tony Phelan and Joan Rater are also the parents of a transgender son, Tom, now age 20. They talked to The Advocate about how they are trying to work transgender issues and situations into the show, without having them become the dominant theme of the series.

There is a good general article about how teenagers don’t see gender strictly in the binary at KQED-TV’s Science site. It includes some brief interviews with specific people.

If you are a trans teen living near the Medina, Ohio area and need to find a support group you may want to check out Out Support. They are based in Medina and provide a “compassionate, diverse, & unconditionally loving ‘Family’ of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning) individuals & their family, friends, colleagues, educators, health care professionals, community leaders etc… anyone who’s touched in some way by an LGBTQ person.” Check out their website for more information.


The decision by the Justice Department to not continue the appeal of the stay of the Department of Education’s guidance on transgender students has brought out a number of responses from right-wing web sites. Typical of them is this article from MercatorNet, which claims that “Medical experts speak out against supporting transitions for transgender children.” The “medical experts” whom they cite are Dr. Paul McHugh and Dr. Kenneth Zucker. Dr. McHugh was an academic and a paper-pusher who never had a practice, while Dr. Zucker was fired from his practice. Other links on their website promote the idea that transgender children are really autistic and features one lesbian who claims to be glad that she did not transition as a teenager. For thinking that doctors with substandard results are “experts” because they agree with preconceived notions, MercatorNet gets a TWIT Award.

In another of these appeals to poor authority, an article claims, “Ben Shapiro destroys transgender, pro-abortion arguments.” His statement was “I’m not going to modify basic biology.” The biology of chromosomes is third-grade-level science. There is so much more depth and nuance than is found at the third-grade level. For stopping their education so early, Ben Shapiro and Claire Chretien (the author of the article) get a TWIT Award. You can find the article in Lifesite News.

Teachers at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Manchester, U.K., have told their students to shun one particular pupil, who has a transgender parent. Some of the students have taken the step of writing to their classmate, to inform her that the teachers urge them not to speak to her. As the meme says, the goal of religion should be to open your heart, not to close your mind. For using religion in such a harmful way, the staff of this school gets a TWIT. This story is in Yahoo News U.K.

A writer for Breitbart, Katy Grimes, has started something on Twitter. She has figured out why California is experiencing floods and an overflowing dam in Oroville: it’s all because of transgender people. God is mad at California for “sex change operations” and “transgender bathrooms.” No, this isn’t because the dam received inadequate maintenance, unless that was also a part of God’s plan. How, then, do they explain the floods in Louisiana? For jumping to a supernatural explanation for something when natural explanations were sufficient, Katy Grimes gets a TWIT Award. You can see a report on her handiwork at Pink News.

Manny Pacquiao, the former boxer who is now a Senator in the Philippines, argued against a bill that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. He claims that the Bible prohibits crossdressing. Of course, he does not know what it says in the original Hebrew, but translations are so perfect. Moreover, he claimed that crossdressing can be a method of “fraud”, and he sited the late Jennifer Laude, who was choked to death by a U.S. Marine when he discovered she was transgender. For obvious reasons, Senator Pacquiao gets a right hook and a TWIT Award. This story is on GMA Network.

TWIT is edited by Angela Gardner who also supplies some of the content.

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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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