The Week In Trans 5/14/18

| May 14, 2018
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Jess Herbst

Jess Herbst, who came out as transgender shortly after being appointed to fill the vacancy as mayor of New Hope, Texas, lost her bid for election to a full term as mayor. OutSmart magazine has this story.

The U.S Bureau of Prisons has rewritten some rules which had protected transgender prisoners. An instruction in the manual which said, “recommend housing by gender identity when appropriate” has been replaced by one which says prisons should use, “biological sex as initial determination” when housing transgender prisoners. The term “biological sex” has often been used to ignore any medical transition. This guidance ignores what happens to transgender inmates in prison with those of their same biological sex. The Chicago Sun-Times has USA Today’s story on this.

LGBT women and youth who are among the caravan of asylum-seekers who arrived at the U.S. border have been granted interviews with U.S. immigration officials. This comes after the shelter where they were housed was set on fire. Immigration officials had delayed interviewing them, according to the Los Angeles Blade.

Pakistan’s parliament has passed a bill that gives the country’s trans people their fundamental rights. This is a major step. The Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Act allows citizens to choose their gender on all official documents and prohibits discrimination in schools, workplaces, on public modes of transit and while receiving medical care. Learn more about the Act from the National Public Radio website.

Munroe Bergdorf

In connection with a two-part documentary on transgender people, Channel Four in Britain hosted what they called a debate about transgender people. Well, the debate was supposed to be more about how society should treat transgender people, but of course, some tried to turn it into a debate about whether transgender people are mentally ill, etc. Germaine Greer, who has been quite vocal in rejecting transgender identities, was on one side of the panel, along with Sarah Ditum. On the other side of the debate were Caitlyn Jenner and Munroe Bergdorf. So, an author, essayist, and academic paired with a journalist to oppose an athlete and a model. (To be fair, Dr. Helen Webberley, a physician who treats transgender patients, and some transgender advocates have said that they were invited to appear as panelists by producers but turned them down.) The program included an audience, which in retrospect was a bad idea, as several people who are ideologically very opposed to transgender people were in the audience, and were quite noisy. (It turns out that producers encouraged the audience to make noise, though they may have expected a more even distribution of opinion when they made that request.) The audience was quite rowdy, and yelled some very unkind thing at the transgender panelists. Some LGBT groups have filed complaints with the government body Ofcom concerning the event. One former candidate for the Green Party has been suspended after she was identified in the audience making unkind comments about transgender people. Jennifer Finney Boylan and Amrou Al-Kadhi wrote that the very idea of whether transgender people have a right to exist should be beyond debate. Reviews of reaction can be found in Pink News.

Caitlyn Jenner was in London to deliver an address to the House of Commons. She spoke on the topic of legal rights for transgender people, even though many suggested that someone else — someone who lives day in and day out with the British press and its attacks on the rights of transgender people — should talk on the subject. In her speech, Ms. Jenner did say that the Trump administration has set the transgender community “back twenty years.” She urged the lawmakers she was addressing to “not go down the same road.” Deadline covered her speech, and commentary came from Samantha Allen of the Daily Beast.

Janae Kroczaleski

Michael Del Monte’s documentary Transformer, about transfemale body builder Janae Kroczaleski, won the audience award as Best Canadian Documentary at the Toronto Hot Docs film festival. Mr. Del Monte also won the award for emerging Canadian filmmaker. The CBC has more on this film.

Transgender rights are also a hot topic of discussion at the BBC, although the debate there has not been open to the public until Buzzfeed published this article. The broadcaster has said that it would strive for greater gender equality in the near future, including equal gender distribution among on-air contributors by next year. Several women working for the broadcaster have taken to WhatsApp groups to discuss the proposals. At times, these discussions have come to include the topic of transgender women. Some BBC employees, especially older females, feel that a panel with two men and two transgender women is not a panel that is not evenly distributed in gender. Other BBC employees, who seem to skew younger, seem to find that view transphobic, and not a few have left the groups.

Miss BumBum trans contestant Paula Oliveira.

The Miss Bumbum pageant is a beauty pageant with only one factor that’s important — the size and shape of the contestant’s posteriors. It’s held annually in Brazil and Brazilian wax jobs and thong bodysuits are mandatory. This year the contest in August will feature two trans women. Not everyone is happy about that but many of the pageant contestants are supportive. Learn more from Fox News.

The Canadian Pediatric Society has created a website about gender identity and especially transgender children. It is all pretty basic stuff, but it is useful to those who are just starting to learn about the topic. An announcement of this website appeared on CTV News.

Carla Flores-Pavon

Carla Flores-Pavon, a 26-year-old transgender woman, was found murdered in her apartment in North Dallas this week. Police are asking for any information. Fox 4 News has this story.

Health And Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was asked about efforts to remove a part of the Affordable Care Act which protects transgender people from being discriminated against in health care. He claimed he was not familiar with that issue, but instead, was there to talk about drug prices (which was the topic of the event at which this exchange took place). The question came from a reporter for the Washington Blade, which carried the story.

Many workplaces are still trying to accept people who change from one gender to the other. Acceptance for non-binary people in the workplace is even further behind. Yet, Alison Ash Fogarty and Lily Zheng have written a new book, Gender Ambiguity In The Workplace: Transgender and Gender-Diverse Discrimination, in which they share stories from transgender and gender non-conforming people. Co-author Lily Zheng did an interview with Into.

Nicole and her mother Jeanne.

Massachusetts has a law that protects trans people but there is some fear that the law, which was signed in 2016, is in jeopardy due to opponents of the law seeking to put a repeal question on the November ballot. Those against the law have their usual talking points about criminals using a trans excuse to attack women and girls in restrooms. Jeanne Talbot, the mother of a trans girl named Nicole is participating in the effort to defend the law. Learn more from the Boston Herald.

Another study has confirmed what would seem to be common sense. This study confirmed that people who are familiar with transgender people, even through media, are more likely to be supportive of transgender equality. This study was done by the Williams Institute, and was published in the journal Research & Politics. Think Politics noticed this study.

While we are familiar with many people who cite their religion as a reason for disagreeing with transgender people. But some denominations have found that being friendly to LGBT people has been a benefit to them. The Advocate ran a list of churches and synagogues which are inclusive.

Miz Cracker was at Drag Con.

RuPaul’s Drag Con happened again this past weekend in Los Angelas. Hordes of drag devotees descended on the Los Angelas Conference Center to celebrate all things that make up the drag lifestyle. Guests included everyone from Bianca Del Rio to Derrick Barry and Judy Tenuta. View a video about the event on Yahoo. See a picture gallery of all the guests on the Drag Con website.

Suppose they held a parade, and nobody came. Well, something like that happened recently. It was called the Freedom March, and was held in Washington, D.C. The people marching were supposed to be ex-gays and ex-transgender people who were freed “from homosexual/transgender lifestyles by the grace and power of Jesus Christ.” A whopping thirty-six people showed up, according to Pink News, including any organizers or other allies who were there. Nonetheless, Lifesite News wrote about the enthusiasm of the participants. They even included a couple of pictures for which the participants must have crowded together to make it look like there were more people at the event.

The laws of Mexico require that half of the candidates in an election be women. In the city of Oaxaca nineteen candidates for mayor claimed to be transgender women. New charges say that only two of the candidates are transgender women; the others are men, claiming to be transgender so that they can get onto the ballot. Mexico News Today gave us this story.

Michaela Ivri Mendelsohn is a national recipient of a Face Of Diversity Award from the National Restaurant Association. She is one of the largest franchisees of El Pollo Loco. She is the first person to be mentioned in the Comings And Goings section of the Washington Blade.

Ana Navarro of CNN gave a speech as she was honored by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles with their Outspoken Voice Award. She urged people to fight back against the racist, sexist, and anti-LGBT prejudice which the Trump administration and its base keep pushing. The Los Angeles Blade has some excepts from that speech.

Reggie Bullock of the Detroit Pistons has become an advocate for LGBT people, even getting a tattoo with the acronym LGBT and the name of his transgender sister and date of her murder. He also delivered a speech at the GLAAD Awards last week. The Advocate holds him up as a role model for LGBT allies.

Danica Roem

Danica Roem was elected to Virginia House of Delegates in the 2017 election becoming the first openly trans woman to sit in that august body. She ran on a platform that focuses on relieving highway congestion as her main issue. Last week she talked about what it was like to attend her first legislative session. Read the article on the WTOP website.

In the days leading up to Mother’s Day, The Toronto Star ran a story about how some transgender women in Vancouver celebrate Mother’s Day with their families.


Douglas Todd of The National Post (a Canadian newspaper which leans to the right) advises “If your child talks about being a different gender, take it slowly.” Of course, he uses an “expert” who cites the 30 to 40-year old information that seemed to show that four out of five children “grow out” of being transgender. This expert seems to have participated in that study, and is therefore unwilling to admit that it was a bad idea to include children in it who never identified as transgender. Also unsurprising is the inclusion of Michael Bradley in this column. For playing up dubious information and playing down good information (which comes from Lisa Salazar, who appears late in the piece), Douglas Todd gets a TWIT Award.

J.J. McCullough wrote a column for the National Review entitled “Time for a Compromise on Transgenderism.” In his opinion, the debate about LGB people has evolved from the question of why these people are LGB to the question of their rights (and the “religious rights” of other people). He feels that the debate about transgender people needs to move to one of “rights,” although he feels that the religious rights of the majority also matter quite a bit. His “compromise” is that social conservatives should admit that transgender people exist — even though he says, “[t]his does not mean having to morally endorse behavior many may believe runs contrary to God’s plan for a just and healthy society.” He continues that sentence, “but it does imply that acts like ostentatiously calling people by pronouns they don’t want, or belittling their personal struggle, are boorish and petty.” (The other half of the compromise is for progressives to stop trying to use the law to give transgender people rights that conservatives don’t want them to have.) Of course, a great many conservative writers, at the National Review and elsewhere, went out of their way to show that they would not accept their end of the proposed bargain. Several said that not “ostentatiously calling people by pronouns they don’t want” inhibits the ability of conservatives to “tell the truth.” All of these writers who battled each other to show who could defend the orthodoxy the most get a TWIT Award. Think Progress has a sampling of the writing on this.

Dr. Lucy Griffin is a consultant psychiatrist in Bristol, England. She is deeply concerned about “young people with previously diagnosed psychiatric conditions being given irreversible sex drugs.” She complains that the “irreversible sex drugs” can lead to osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, and make them infertile, so apparently she is talking about “cross-sex hormones.” (These are not typically seen as side-effects of hormone blockers.) She told the Mail on Sunday that she was “running scared” of turning down a teenager who wants to change gender. All of this, of course, feeds into the hands of certain bigots, especially during current debates about the rights of transgender people in Britain. She says, “Children can’t vote and they can’t leave school, but we are allowing them to make decisions about their fertility and sexual function. My own feeling is that I can’t see how young people’s health can be anything but harmed by these treatments.” One of the “previously diagnosed psychiatric conditions” that transgender people are often diagnosed with is depression, and several studies show that that depression improves tremendously with the medical treatment that this doctor is denouncing. For coming out against the very therapy which helps transgender people most, Dr. Lucy Griffin gets a TWIT. You can read her comments in Bristol Live.

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

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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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