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The Week In Trans 4/17/17

| Apr 17, 2017
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Zeke Smith

On Survivor, contestant Zeke Smith was outed as a trans man when fellow contestant Jeff Varner, a gay man, let the secret out in a tribal meeting. While Mr. Smith is doing his best to put a positive spin on this event (and is getting some good publicity for doing so), it is still true that the only person who should ever make such a declaration about a transgender person is that transgender person. This story is in The Washington Post.

On Thursday, the Virginia Supreme Court dismissed a case by a student who claimed that he was “distressed” by the school’s policy allowing trans students use of the facilities matching their preferred gender. The court said “Jack Doe,” the student, did not have standing to sue, nor did others in the suit, “Jack Doe” claimed to be “terrified of the thought of having to share intimate space with students who have the physical features of a girl,” and claimed that such was an invasion of privacy. This decision agrees with a previous decision by a lower court, which had dismissed the suit. The Washington Post has this story.

Another lawsuit in Minnesota was dropped by the litigants who were suing the Virginia School District of Minnesota over its gender policy. Although the press release from the Alliance Defending Freedom mentions both actions by the Trump administration and actions by the district as reasons for dropping the suit, such reasons were not stated in the official action that called for the suit to be dropped. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has more on this story.

Despite the failure of these lawsuits, and despite the many proposed state laws which did not pass, a report from the Movement Advancement Project and GLSEN finds that three out of four transgender students feel unsafe at school, and three out of five are forced to use facilities which do not match the student’s preferred gender. Half of transgender students report that they are unable to use the name or pronouns that matched their preferred gender. “It’s a rejection of who they are in the most core way,” said Naomi Goldberg, policy director for the Movement Advancement Project. This report is in USA Today.

In the most famous of these law suits, the judges of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals saluted Gavin Grimm, saying, “Our country has a long and ignominious history of discriminating against our most vulnerable and powerless. We have an equally long history, however, of brave individuals — Dred Scott, Fred Korematsu, Linda Brown, Mildred and Richard Loving, Edie Windsor, and Jim Obergefell, to name just a few — who refused to accept quietly the injustices that were perpetuated against them.” Sadly, though, this came in a notice that the judges would not expedite Mr. Grimm’s trial. He will graduate high school before the court hears his case. Art Leonard has this story in his blog.

Drag Queen Story Hour

While conservatives have been foaming at the mouth over the idea of trans people in their public restrooms there has been a quiet takeover of another public facility by drag queens. We’re talking about Drag Queen Story Hour at libraries around the country. Queens read aloud to children who all seem to love the experience. How long will it be until the conservatives learn of this and start writing library laws? Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the tip. See the story on the NBC News website.

Several liberal groups have started an effort to label certain social conservative organizations opposed to transgender rights as “hate groups.” The term was popularized by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has used the term for some time to describe various groups who are not keen on civil rights, often ones who are racist or sexist as well as ones who have issues with LGBT people (or some subset thereof). The new effort, called “The Eliminate Hate Campaign, has come about due to a rise in hate crimes since the 2016 election. The Eliminate Hate Campaign will pressure media to use the “hate group” designation when talking about these particular groups. This story appears in Reuters.

While the Texas House of Representatives will not take up SB6 (Texas’s version of a “bathroom bill”), there is now a proposal for a compromise bill. It would nullify any protected classes in local ordinances who are not protected in state or federal law. (LGBT people are not protected by state law.) This story comes from the Houston Chronicle.

The Justice Department of the United States has submitted a five-page notice to a federal court, saying that they are withdrawing from the suit against North Carolina over HB2. The notice claims that HB142 has undone HB2 to an extent that makes it unnecessary to continue the suit. However, there have been reports that Jeff Sessions wanted to withdraw from the suit (filed when Barack Obama was still president) well before HB142 was passed. The Washington Blade has this story.


A former male race car driver has become the first openly trans ballet student to pass a Royal Academy of Dance exam. Sophie Rebecca drove race cars for almost a decade before she decided she had to pursue her childhood dreams of being a woman and dancing ballet. While we applaud Sophie on accomplishing her dance goal we are concerned about the dance partners who will have to loft her. She is 6’ 3” tall. Learn more about her in the Daily Mail.

Senator Mark Green of Tennessee has been nominated to become the next Secretary of the Army. During his time in the Senate, Green has been noted for his opposition to LGBT-friendly legislation. There is a fear that he will undo the plans for transgender people to be allowed in the military. You can read more about this, including a speech in September which opponents point to as a reason to not confirm him, in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

At the recent conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Britain, one presenter suggested that teachers could have a small celebratory event for a student who started attending in his or her preferred gender. The idea sounds nice in the abstract, but since we are being accused of transitioning for “fashion or other frivolous reasons” and of seeing transitioning as “trendy,” this idea might not be practical. Pink News has this story.

Irvin Gonzalez, who was arrested by immigration authorities as she was filing paperwork for a protective order against an abusive partner, has been let free on the condition that she leave the country. She was facing up to 37 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 for illegally re-entering the United States, but her sentence was reduced to “time served.” This story appeared on KVIA-TV.

A transgender woman from Pakistan died while in custody in Saudi Arabia. The corpse showed a brutal beating had occurred, likely before death. Saudi officials are investigating the incident, which happened at a police station in Riyadh. Gay Star News has more on this story.

Speaker at the summit.

Last week a summit meeting on trans people working in the tech sector was held at the offices of Salesforce in San Francisco. Even though most large tech companies have positive trans policies the TRANSform Tech Summit found that there are challenges remaining to be overcome for trans people in tech. Learn more about the summit on the Axios website.

Musician, activist, and trans man Jaimie Wilson wants the world to know that there is not a certain “look” that is transgender. Before his transition he appeared to be a feminine girl but he was just playing a part he thought he needed to. Read an interview with him on the EcoSalon website.

Speaking of what trans people look like; How do the people passing restroom laws in their states expect to enforce those laws? Since their is no one “trans look” how will they know who to arrest? One cis male retired software developer has put together a website that illustrates the stupidity of restroom laws. Phil Mayes’ site is set up as a game. He calls it the Bathroom Bill Quiz. The page presents a photo and asks you to decide which restroom that person should use. Right now there are only 8 stock photos on the site and Mayes could use everyone’s help. Go to the site to learn more. Mayes hopes the site will be useful in educating people who haven’t really thought about the silliness of these laws.

The Manomanian Sundaranar University in Tamil Nadu province, India, is offering free tuition to transgender people. The university has offered to waive tuition fees for those transgender people who qualify to get into one of their programs of study. You can read more about this in Gay Star News.


A trans woman in India has become the first recipient of a government scholarship set up specifically for trans people. He name is Shyama and she will use the money to continue her schooling in hopes of getting her Ph.d. The award consisted of 20,000 rupees which is roughly around $300 U.S. Read her story on The News Minute website.

Tasmania, the island off Australia, has rescinded a state law which made “crossdressing” a criminal activity. The law was used against transgender people, though it was selectively enforced. The Premier of the state apologized to LGBT people as they passed the new legislation. (The state decriminalized homosexual intercourse in 1997, the last Australian state to have such a law on the books.) This story is in Gay Star News.

A high school play about a recently deceased, beloved piano teacher who turns out to be a trans woman has won the Texas high School Theatre Competition. Set in 1940s Georgia the trans status of Miss Gertrude turns the town upside-down. It’s called Second Samuel and while the trans character never appears on stage her status in the town causes much turmoil and examination. Keep in mind this competition is in Texas. Two of the competing plays featured crossdressed actors. Learn more about the show and the competition on the Unicorn Booty website.

Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval has signed a new law which says that children in foster care and in juvenile courts are to be treated according to their preferred gender. The new law also provides training for both state employees and foster parents, to help them learn how to handle transgender children. KTNV-TV has this story.

Susa Gapka

Susan Gapka has won the LGBTQ Youth Role Model of the Year Award in Ottawa, Canada. Gapka transitioned in 1999 and soon after began advocating for trans people. She worked for social justice, housing, fought homelessness and other issues of concern to trans people. Learn more about her and the award in the Ottawa Citizen.

Alaska Governor Bill Walker has appointed a transgender man, Drew Phoenix, to the state’s Human Rights Commission. This move has been met with opposition from Republicans. The state Senate has delayed a vote on the nomination, and has not given a reason for the delay. Opponents of the nomination seem to think that, all by himself, he can change the state’s nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity. This story appears in the News Miner.

The Dove trans mom, Shea.

It seems that advertising agencies are more wiling to show transgender people in a positive light in their ads. (It’s a long way from twenty years ago, when we were pretty much the punch line of a joke.) The latest example is from Dove soap, whose ad features a family with a young transgender parent. The ad includes the line, “There’s no one right way to do it all.” You can find the ad here. Get more about it in Teen Vogue.

The Seventh-day Adventist church has formulated a statement on transgenderism. It was voted on and approved at the church’s annual Spring Meetings. The church leaders decided to create the statement since they regard the purpose of the church to “. . .bring people to the foot of the cross, not chase they away from Christ.” You can read the lengthy statement on the Adventist News Network website.

Rain Valdez

Transgender actress Rain Valdez has been added to the cast of the series Lopez. The series, which stars comedian George Lopez, appears on TV Land. The character Ms. Valdez will play is Coco, a transgender actress who is under contract to the network. (Sounds very close to her real-life situation.) Ms. Valdez is scheduled to appear in five episodes. Deadline has more on this.

Rotterdam, a play about a lesbian couple, one member of which is transgender, has won an Olivier award. It is the first play with a transgender theme to win this London stage award. The play will open in New York next month. Pink News has this story.

If you don’t care about Caitlyn Jenner, you have permission to move on to the next story. Ms. Jenner has a new book coming out on April 25, entitled The Secrets Of My Life. In it, she reveals that she had gender confirmation surgery in January. This story appeared in The Washington Blade.

The Face Thailand is a television show which is somewhat similar to the Top Model shows, but not licensed by that franchise. This year, the show has two transgender contestants, though one was voted off in her first episode. The one who was voted off was Chananchida Rungpetcharat, a runner-up for Miss Tiffany Universe 2013. The remaining transgender contestant is Natachat Chanchiew. You can find out more at The Bangkok Post.

The Trump administration’s budget eliminates all funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Members of the House of Representatives use three films that appeared on the PBS series POV as the reason for eliminating the funding. One of those three films is Kuma Hina, a film about a native Hawaiian mahu (transgender or third gender person) who is also a kumu (“teacher” or “community leader”). The film received a third of a million dollars from the CPB. (That amount of money would hardly show up in the defense budget.) You can read about this in the Honolulu Civil Beat.

Transgender children can change their families. The Today Show did a video feature on a family in Texas, as conservative in faith and politics as one would expect to find in that state, who found themselves with a transgender daughter. When it became more obvious that this was not just a phase, they did research, and as they did, their views on the subject changed considerably. You can find their video of Kai’s mother here.

Onya Mann

We may have a prejudiced view of the U.S. southern states but time and again stories surface that show acceptance of trans people. One such incident occurred recently when a South Carolina drag queen was stopped at a check point by the local police on her way back from a RuPaul’s Drag Race viewing party. She had had problems with police officers in Dallas and Charlotte and was concerned about the reaction she would get when the local officers saw her outfit which consisted of lingerie and leather boots. Surprise! The police did not hassle Onya Mann and the story even made the local news. Read all about it on LGBTQ Nation.

Dr. Jack Turban wrote an opinion piece which appeared in The New York Times Sunday Review. In it, he looks at transgender children, and especially at one such child, named Hannah. He compares the current treatment of transgender children with medical opinion from a decade ago, which would have been less welcoming of transgender children. They expected a huge percentage of those children to “outgrow” their gender issues. (He’s a little off — there was a variety of differing advice being given to doctors ten years ago. Still, the advice he cites was certainly popular with may doctors.) You can find the article here.

One of the major promoters of the idea that many children outgrow their gender issues was Dr. Paul McHugh. The former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University was a powerhouse not only at that school, but throughout the medical community. Many of the things he promoted are no longer being taught to medical students. He is losing his influence even at his former university and its hospital, although the process is rather slow. The Washington Post has this story.

Jennifer Finney Boylan

One-time TGForum contributor Jenny Boylan has a new novel. This one is a mystery, called Long Black Veil. One of the characters in it is trans, and in that character’s story, Ms. Boylan tells some of her own story. The Advocate has a quite positive review of the book.

With the current administration’s attempt at undoing the Affordable Care Act stalled but still a priority, the future of transgender health care is uncertain, but change seems to be coming. Some people won’t notice any change, thanks to the laws of the state where they live. Others are almost certain to lose whatever trans health care their insurance now covers. (The insurer may already be refusing to cover, figuring that few people will sue to get transgender health care.) The New England Journal of Medicine has a story on the current state of transgender health care.


In its never-ending quest to be as obnoxious as possible in their opposition to transgender people, The Federalist ran an article by Glenn Stanton in which he claims that transgender people are “the same thing” as people with “body integrity identity disorder”. The folks to whom he is comparing us are people who want a healthy limb removed, or a woman who wants her spinal cord severed. Now, Mr. Stanton makes his living as a writer and speaker. He is not a mental health professional. The American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and other professional groups disagree with him on this issue. They disagree because psychiatry works for people with BIID, but does not work for transgender people (unless you consider 41% of patients attempting suicide to be “a success.”) For another thing, neurological tests show that the brains of transgender people are not identical to the brains of cisgender people who are of the same “biological sex.” He also links to an article which discusses Body Dysmorphia Disorder, which is not the same thing as BIID. To Mr. Stanton, all three are interchangeable, three manifestations of the same underlying condition. But, the medical profession sees great differences where Mr. Stanton does not. For thinking himself so much better than others, Mr. Stanton gets a TWIT Award. The article is at The Federalist.

A fellow named Brian Ward is directing a project named Truth Watch PAC, which is raising $25 million, which it plans to use for “a nation-wide media campaign to force Democrats to answer for their political extremism that’s harming the physical safety and emotional well-being of our nation’s women and children.” He links sexual assaults to transgender people, despite the fact that very few sexual assaults are committed by transgender people. (In fact, the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone who is well-known to the victim.) For blaming someone who had nothing to do with the problem, Mr. Ward gets a TWIT Award. Christian News Wire has what appears to be a press release about this project.

Matt Walsh writes, “Arrest the doctors and parents.” Not all of them, mind you — only those who follow the current thinking on transgender issues. He believes that doctors should be put in prison for following medical best practices, and parents should also be put in jail for going along with those practices. He even goes to the point of saying that doctors and parents are “pushing” transgender on children, despite the fact that both doctors and parents do their best to resist the diagnosis of “gender dysphoria.” He wants us to return to the days when we rejected transgender people, and they committed suicide, and the problem “solved” itself. Even if it did solve itself, we would still have millions more people in prison. Who pays for their upkeep? Who pays for the new prison buildings to house them? For sheer stupidity, Mr. Walsh gets a TWIT. You can read his nonsense in The Blaze.

Unlike other TWIT winners this week, Dr. Stephen Stathis is a psychiatrist who runs a gender clinic in Brisbane, Australia. He relates a story of a patient who told him, “Doctor Steve . . . I want to be transgender, it’s the new black.” Dr. Stathis mentions this story in an article about how most of the patients he sees are not diagnosed with gender dysphoria. However, LifeSiteNews uses this incident, and a reference to many transgender people who have been victims of sexual abuse, as a some sort of proof that all transgender people are following a fashion trend, or otherwise just not what they say they are. For selectively retelling the doctor’s experiences in a way that agrees with your predetermined “truth,” LifeSiteNews gets a TWIT Award. The article can be found here, and the original article is here.

Michele Bachmann was on the radio program, End Times. Her fellow guest, Philip Haney, called Donald Trump’s election, “a combination of Passover, a great deliverance, and the re-declaration of independence.” (It is a comment he has made before.) The host of the program, Jan Markell, said, “when you have the White House lit with the colors of the gay rainbow. . .I think God said, ‘enough’.” Ms. Bachmann then claimed that Donald Trump’s victory was a divine “reprieve” from the immorality of accepting LGBT people. If God were delivering a miracle, don’t you think he would have given Donald Trump a victory in the popular vote? So, the same Christ who told us to turn the other cheek, not judge, and let the one who is without sin cast the first stone — he said to you that you are so perfect that you should concentrate on fixing someone else’s sin? For falling over themselves to agree to utter nonsense, all three of them get a TWIT Award. Right Wing Watch has this story.

Glenn Stanton is not the only fool with a piece in The Federalist. They also ran another piece from Walt Heyer, the “ex-transgender” writer whom they love so. Walt claims that the research which shows benefits in letting transgender people live in their preferred gender is based on “junk science.” To rephrase that, he thinks that the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, etc., got taken in by bad science, and none of them could see the error of it. Meanwhile, the study which shows what he believes to be the truth (i.e., that transgender people grow out of their gender confusion if given a chance) had some serious flaws, and when people tried to reproduce its results, they were unable to do so. But, that study was truth, because it agreed with his preconceived notions. (For those not familiar with Walt Heyer’s story, he diagnosed himself as “transsexual,” then went about finding therapists and doctors who would accept his self-diagnosis rather readily. He got a sex change, but found that its results were not what he expected. He changed back, and ever since, has made a living trying to convince an audience that other transgender people are as mistaken as he was.) For using the trendy term “junk science” without knowing what it means, Walt Heyer gets another TWIT Award. Here is his article.

Karen Kipgen is an employee of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. When some trans people showed up to lobby against certain legislation that would affect them, Ms. Kipgen sent out an email, warning House members that there were “cross dressers” in the capitol building. She has since apologized for the comment. She still gets a TWIT.Edge Media has this story.

Miranda Divine is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph of Australia. She is quite glad that the Safe Schools Program is history, and that schools are no longer told that they must accept transgender children in their preferred gender. She blames the program for a “spike” in children diagnosed with gender issues. Unfortunately, that increase happens even in places where the schools did nothing about students bullying their transgender peers (and worse yet, teachers and staff refusing to accept transgender children in their preferred gender). For seeing a cause-and-effect despite the fact that the effect happens without the cause, Ms. Divine gets a TWIT Award. You can find her article in the Daily Telegraph.

TWIT is compiled by Cecilia Barzyk with editing and additional material supplied 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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