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The Week In Transgenderism 5/16/16

| May 16, 2016
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Laverne Cox

Laverne Cox

What trans woman has made history by being the first trans woman to be cast in a network television show? No doubt the photo to the right has given it away. It’s Laverne Cox who has landed a recurring role in a new CBS drama slated to air in the fall titled Doubt. Learn more from the Refinery 29 website.

As we’ve mentioned previously in TWIT the Pentagon has not implemented a new policy concerning trans soldiers. They are still serving in secret when they were supposed to be able to serve openly by now. What’s been holding things up? You can get the details from a report in The Washington Post.

Here’s a trans military story from the heart of Dixie, The Citadel, the military college of South Carolina in Charleston. It’s the story of a female cadet who first came out as a lesbian in her sophomore year and then in his junior year he embraced his masculine identity and came out to everyone in his senior year. He graduated as Cadet Captain Kenton Pendery with this year’s graduating class. Read his story in The Post and Courier.

Israel is a land where everyone, male and female, has to serve in the military, and even though there are no LGBT protections in place for civilian’s in Israel’s laws, the military welcomes LGBT recruits. There are dozen of trans people serving in the army. One of them has made history by becoming the first trans officer. Read his story and view video on the NBC News website.



The oldest still active on-stage drag performer has opened her closet and let the media come in to see her femme treasures. Michelle DuBarry, a.k.a. Russell Alldread is 85 and has the record as World’s Oldest Performing Drag Queen. He let the VICE media people into his home to show his trove of dresses, wigs and shoes accumulated over the years. Read his story and see the photos on the VICE website.

Be prepared, Restroom Wars coverage starts here:

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah has come out with a few segments devoted to the folly of the restroom bills banning trans people from going potty where they want to. Last week they did another segment on how insane the North Carolina government is to defend their HB2 when it will cost them billions of dollars from the Federal Government and from big business. Since it’s The Daily Show the critique is pretty funny as well as on point. View the clip on The Daily Show website.

The Restroom Wars are being covered extensively by all of types of media, from network television to Twitter feeds, and comedy shows. Being in the center of it means that the debate swirls around us as opinions and biases battle it out. For a clear look at the kerfuffle from outside the U.S. borders we point you to an article from England that can be found in The Telegraph.

To prove that all the media attention being generated by the Restroom Wars is having an effect we present the following article. The number one most searched word on is “transgender.” Last Friday it experienced a 630 percent spike in look-ups. Learn what words it beat out for the top spot in The Washington Post.



Just to show you that the right wing trans haters don’t know how to respond to a simple question about why they’re against trans women using the restroom, if they’re asked that question while appearing on television with a trans woman, we send you to the video clip and transcript of Travis Weber and Jennifer Finney Boylan on Hardball with Chris Matthews (MSNBC) on May 13. Matthews ends the segment accusing Weber of dodging the question. Watch Weber’s dodging on the Media Matters website.

One positive effect of all the coverage of the restroom issue may have happened with the Spanish-language network Univision. The network has in the past devoted almost no coverage to the violence directed against trans women in Latin America. Thanks to the Restroom Wars Univision has had a trans advocate on their late night news program to give Latina trans people a voice. Learn more on the Media Matters website.

A negative effect of all the restroom brouhaha, is how it’s beginning to fracture how trans people feel about the laws. One website has found a trans woman who is against letting trans people into women’s rooms, saying that trans people should have their own facilities. The article is a bit hard to follow since the site refers to the trans woman in question, Jacqueline Sephora Andrews, as “he” in the headline and body of the article while stating that Andrews identifies as a female. You can read the article and see a video of Andrews explaining her position on the Life Site website.

Shakina Nayfack

Shakina Nayfack

Trans actress Shakina Nayfack is set to perform a play about her gender transition in, of all places, North Carolina. While she’s in the state she has said that she will comply with the letter of North Carolina law and use public mens’ rooms. Of course being an actress with a show to promote means that her vow to use the men’s facility is not only a move to show how crazy trans woman going into men’s rooms is but it’s also a great way to get free press coverage for her show. Read all about it in The News & Observer.

The Department of Education and the Justice Department sent a letter to all public kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade school districts in the United States, telling them that they must support transgender students in their preferred genders. This is how they interpret Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The letter is not itself legally binding, but it does serve notice that districts which do not comply could potentially be sued or could potentially lose funding. The Advocate has more. The letter addresses students right to use the proper restroom but what about other trans people? That is covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Check out an opinion piece about that in The New York Times.

The D.O.J. gave the state of North Carolina until last Monday to come up with a plan to dismantle HB2. Governor McCrory first asked for more time (something he didn’t seem to need when he signed the bill into law), then filed suit against the federal government for “being a bully.” The Justice Department filed a countersuit. The Washington Post points out that the law is not settled and several court case are underway testing the legality of laws. The Justice Department does say that HB2 violates the Violence Against Women Act, which is LGBT inclusive. The Washington Post has a piece on where all of this stands.

Jazz Jennings

Jazz Jennings

Jazz Jennings thanked the Obama administration on Instagram for issuing the letter supporting the rights of students to pee where they feel comfortable. She said it was very personal for her since she was not allowed to use the girl’s restroom for five years, having to go to the nurse’s restroom at her school. Read more about her thank you on, of all places,

While the Justice Department and the rest of the federal government are seeking to overturn HB2, they will not withhold money from the state of North Carolina. The review process has been suspended while the court cases proceed. This story is from the AP, via The Edge.

A Republican congresswoman from Florida is supporting the Obama administration’s directive and defending it to her colleagues. She is also speaking out against North Carolina’s HB2 law. Why is Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen doing these things that go against her party’s beliefs? She has a gay trans son. Learn more about the family in The New York Times.

Target stands by its policy on restrooms and fitting rooms. Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target, says that the company is listening to feedback, but they have not been persuaded that they chose the wrong policy. He said they will add family restrooms to all of the stores, though he gave no timetable for that. “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong, and you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target,” according to a statement from the company on their restroom policy. This story is in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

In non-restroom news:

Most of those fighting for legislation to take away trans people’s rights identify as Christians and invoke “God’s law” in their efforts to smite trans people. It’s important to remember that not all Christians are cut of the same cloth. An opinion article by a faith and culture writer that was published last week is titled “3 Reasons Conservative Christians Will Lose the Transgender Debate” and it can be found on the Religion News Service website.

Selfie with a queen.

Selfie with a queen.

Religious conservatives must be losing the battle against the integration of LGBT people into society’s mainstream. Another example of something that would have never happened just 20 years ago — RuPaul’s DragCon attracted almost 23,000 drag fans to the Los Angeles Convention Center last week. That’s the same size crowd that would be going for any large fan convention. Drag has hit the mainstream whether conservatives like it or not. Read all about it in The Star.

A teen girl who identifies as a lesbian showed up at her Catholic school’s prom in a tuxedo and was tossed out of the event by a school official who threatened to call the police if she didn’t leave. The school contends that it sent out notice three months in advance that stated all girls attending the prom must wear a dress. Some say that notice went out at the last minute. The young woman, Aniya Wolf, got a supportive Facebook comment from the mayor of Philadelphia who said he loved her suit and she should “Keep being yourself.” A public school in Philly also invited her to attend their prom. Read about it on the website. ABC News has more.

Rep. Roman

Rep. Roman

Geraldine Roman has found her place in history by becoming the first trans woman ever elected to the Philippine House of Representatives. This is quite an accomplishment since the Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country and LGBTQ people there have had to put up with a lot of discrimination, ridicule and violence. While Roman’s win is a big step forward for the LGBTQ people in that country one must keep in mind the election also brought a man who has been called the Philippines’ own Donald Trump to the presidency. Read more about the election and Roman on the Refinery29 website.

A group of trans New Yorkers sued the city in 2009 over the Health Department’s requirement of proof of gender reassignment surgery before a new birth certificate with a corrected gender marker could be issued. The five trans people won the suit and the city then changed the birth certificate policy. Now a judge has agreed with the plaintiff’s contention that the city should pay their legal fees. Get the story from the New York Post.

While the military are still dragging their feet on letting trans people serve openly there are many trans veterans who get their health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs and currently the VA does not provide gender reassignment surgery. Two trans vets, on male, one female, are petitioning the VA to change their rules and lift the ban on GRS. Get the story from the Time website.

Democrats in Iowa recently held their state convention, at which they chose delegates to the national convention in Philadelphia in July, and also chose electors who will vote in the Electoral College in December, should a Democratic candidate win the state in November. One of those electors is Jack Schuler, an English teacher at Lincoln High School in Des Moines, and also a trans man. Iowa Public Radio did a profile of him.

While we hear a lot about opposition to trans school kids that’s not the norm in every place in the USA. Some school districts are actually working on how to integrate trans students into the classroom and take into consideration all parties involved rather than deny that trans kids exist. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the story tip. You can read about it in The Washington Post.

The Wig Bank gang.

The Wig Bank gang.

Yesterday afternoon a special fundraising event was held in San Francisco called JUS’ TEASIN’ Wig Extravaganza. The event raised money for a nonprofit salon called Wig Bank which will provide cancer patients with custom made and fitted wigs. Custom fitting always makes a wig look more natural and that will help cancer patients undergoing chemo to feel better about how they look. While the event is over you can still contribute to the cause through a GoFundMe page. Get the story from

The first case based on transgender discrimination at work in China has gone before a labor arbitration panel. They awarded the plaintiff, known as Mr. C., about $62 in back wages, but they felt that the company had the right to fire him. The Associated Press story appears in the Scottsbluff Star Herald.

Denmark will no longer list “transgenderism” as a mental illness. The delisting will take place on January 1, 2017. At the moment, it is listed as a mental illness by the World Health Organization, which is taking steps to remove that listing. The Local Denmark has more on this.



There was a poorly-sourced report circulating that said Caitlyn Jenner would de-transition. Surprisingly, the Washington Post and CBS News swallowed it. The train has left the station, the horse is out of the barn, and the bell cannot be un-rung. De-transitioning at this point would not be much of an option. Media Matters covered this bad journalism (though they forgot to cover how rapidly Walter Cronkite and Ben Bradley were spinning in their graves).

Gabriel Bodenheimer is an English teacher at Mercy High School in San Francisco. He could have lost his job when he came out as a trans man — but he did not. He found acceptance and support from the Sisters of Mercy, who own the all-girls school, and from his fellow teachers. He is profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Robina Asti is 95 years old, a veteran of World War II, and a trans woman who transitioned in 1976. She recently sat down with Kaelyn Forde for an interview, which can be found on Refinery 29.

The Massachusetts Senate has passed a non-discrimination bill that will protect the rights of trans people in public accommodations. The bill passed with a 33-4 vote. Learn more from CBS Boston. Thanks to Jan Brown for the tip.

The health care business is one of the places that has been slow to adapt to the needs of trans people. There are many tales of a visit to the hospital that has ended badly when hospital staff mis-gender trans patients and treat them like freaks. One hospital system is taking steps to educate its staff about trans people and how to treat them with respect. The Oregon Health & Science University hired a staff person in 2015 whose job was to make OHSU a place where trans patients would be welcome. Read the story on the Oregon Live website.

Have you ever had the fantasy that you were perfectly made up, wearing a fabulous gown and walking the red carpet at some prestigious show business event? It’s a wonderful ambition but how many of us will actually be able to have the experience? Not that many, so we all have to live vicariously through drag performer Miss Fame who walked the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival last week. We haven’t been able to ferret out why she was there but she certainly knows how to work a red carpet. There are a load of photos of her in this video.



Saudi Arabia is one of the most repressive countries when it comes to LGBT people. That’s why we’ve given them TWIT Awards in the past. This is why we’re giving them another one. The Criminal Court in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia convicted 60 men of crimes of either homosexuality or transvestism. Five of them were rounded up recently when inspectors from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) were told of three women in a restaurant without their abayas (the loose-fitting outer garment mandated for Saudi women). The officers of the Haia arrested all five people in the party. One presented some sort of paperwork claiming to have a condition whereby his body was producing female hormones. He was sentenced to four months in prison and 100 lashes, anyway. The story is in the Saudi Gazette.

While the Restroom Wars go on we can’t issue TWIT Awards to all of those who deserve them. Just too many. But we can single out truly bizarre things for a TWIT. One such is this story. The Rowan-Salisbury School Board in North Carolina voted to let high school students carry pepper spray starting this fall, on the grounds that it could be used to ward off predators in the restroom. At least one member of the board, Chuck Hughes, has since said that he plans to vote against the measure when it comes up again at the May 23 meeting. According to Mr. Hughes, the measure was not meant to target LGBT people per se, but rather to target predators who would take advantage of transgender restroom access to, uh, you know. Of course that has never been shown to happen, but why let a little thing like reality get in the way of a good theory? The story of the board vote comes from the Associated Press, and the update is from Buzzfeed.

This TWIT Award goes to the Republican Party. Although the presumptive Republican nominee has said the government should not say who can use which restroom, there is a move afoot to insert a plank in the party’s platform which would call for such a law. It is one of many ways in which social conservatives are trying to shape the platform Donald Trump would run on. The platform is really just symbolic, and does not bind any candidate, but that does not stop some people from fighting to get onto the platform committee and try to shape that document. The Houston Chronicle has more.

A TWIT Award to the Kansas Health Department, which is attempting to drastically alter its policy on updating birth certificates. Until now, a birth certificate could be updated if the person provided “a medical certificate” that documents “a physiological or anatomical change” in sex. Under the new rule, the only reason for changing the sex would be if both parents say that there was a clerical error. The state of Kansas is going bankrupt, and this is what they are addressing? The Hutchinson News has more on this.

On the radio program Faith And Freedom, Mat Staver of the Liberty Council made the claim that the people behind gender non-discrimination bills are also protecting the legal rights of pedophiles. Of course no proof of this was given, nor were details. And neither details nor proof were asked for. Mr. Staver gets a TWIT Award for making things up and passing them off as facts, while the interviewer gets a TWIT as well for not asking for proof. Right Wing Watch has this story.

Three women who are students at the University of California at Los Angeles posed with signs saying, “There are only two genders,” and “Transgenderism is a mental disorder.” The women, who are running for positions in the university’s Republican club, were joined by a male who studies at UC Santa Barbara in posing for the photo. The male exhibits a crossed arm smugness in his pose. The photo has been shared a lot, but not always as kindly as the women in the photo might wish. These four people get TWIT Awards, as well as encouragement to study harder in logic and psychology. NBC Los Angeles has this story.

Former TWIT Award winner Phil Robertson wrote an email to be distributed by the group Citizens United as part of a fundraising campaign. The message says, “Men should use the men’s bathroom and women should use the women’s bathroom. Just because a man may ‘feel’ like a woman doesn’t mean he should be able to share a bathroom with my daughter, or yours.” Tell me again, how does making duck decoys qualify make you an expert on gender? This story is in The Hollywood Reporter.

Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, told conservative radio host Steve Deace that God has abandoned the United States because of transgender rights. She went on to say that transgender rights were why God allowed the terrorists to win on 9/11. Did her father never teach her the concept of free will? She gets a TWIT for blaming transgender people for something that is clearly the doing of … I don’t know . . . could it be? Satan! Pink News has more on this.

Portions of today’s TWIT were assembled and written by Cecilia Barzyk.

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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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