The Week In Transgenderism 8/1/16

| Aug 1, 2016
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DNC timekeeper Marisa Richmond.

DNC timekeeper Marisa Richmond.

The Democratic National Convention has already made history by having 29 trans delegates making it the most trans-inclusive political convention ever. Now we learn that the convention’s official timekeeper, that’s the person tasked with sitting on the stage and keeping the speakers aware if how much time they have left to finish their speeches, was Marisa Richmond, a longtime trans and Democratic activist from Tennessee. Marisa is also a longtime friend of TGForum. Congratulations to her on this important position. Learn more about Marisa in USA Today.

Also last week in Philadelphia a demonstration against the Mazzoni Center, a clinic that serves the local trans community, was planned by the Westboro Baptist Church. When the word got out that the haters were on their way and planning to picket the clinic a wave of love was started. On the day Westboro was set to appear the Center was surrounded by “The Great Wall of Love.” Hundreds of trans people and their straight and gay allies filled the street blocking the Westboro bigots. Only 4 or 5 of the Westboro people showed up and were so overwhelmed by the Clinic’s supporters that they left after an hour. Get the inspiring story from the NBC 10 News site.

We have told you the story of Ebony Belcher, a transgender woman who was attacked by a security guard for using the ladies’ restroom at a supermarket in Washington, D.C. The security guard, Francine Jones, was not only told that the District’s laws allow transgender people to use the restroom of their preferred gender, she was also charged with simple assault for the incident. This week, that story took a turn, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office decided to file hate crime charges. The hate crime label increases the maximum jail time and fine by 50% each. Metro Weekly has this story.

Dallas Coulter (L) with Kim Chi.

Dallas Coulter (L) with Kim Chi.

Where do drag performers who have made it to a certain level of fame get their fabulous outfits? When they’re just starting out they often buy things at thrift stores and do a lot of sewing themselves but when their appearance schedule doesn’t leave many openings for sewing or shopping what’s a girl to do? They try to get San Francisco fashion designer Dallas Coulter to make their special stage outfits. Read an interview with Coulter and find out how she became the drag performer’s go-to gal. It’s online at the Queerty website.

Australia will be conducting a census this year. On the form, there will be a checkbox for male and a checkbox for female. Next to them there will be a space where people can fill in another gender term. Same Same has this story.

A search of public records in the U.K. reveals a 170% rise in the number of transphobic hate crimes reported to the police in the last five years. The crimes reported can be anything from threats and harassment to violence, sexual assault, and even murder. At the same time that the number of crimes reported is increasing, the number of prosecutions is decreasing. So, why the increase in reports? Is it that there are more transphobic incidents, or are transgender people more likely to report incidents than they were five years ago? Perhaps some of both, and also other things. There are more transgender people now than there were five years ago and that may be a factor as well. The Independent has this story.

The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union, so they need some way to make up money from lost trade. Their new idea was to open three trade offices in the United States. The sites are San Diego, Minneapolis and Raleigh. That last one is in Raleigh, North Caroline — the state that has lost a lot of trade since it passed HB2. Perhaps they got a good lease on some office space when a company moved out. Apparently, they created a new cabinet position after the Brexit vote, called it “Department of International Trade,” and appointed a very anti-LGBT MP, Dr. Liam Fox, to run it. Pink News has more.

Patrick Swayze in Too Wong Foo...

Patrick Swayze in Too Wong Foo…

The year was 1995 and the world was a different place then. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was being practiced in the military, the Defense of Marriage Act was on its way and Australia had sent us a little film the year before about some trans people traveling across the Outback in a bus named Priscilla. Another film featuring drag performers was released in 1995 and it featured two well known straight leading men as the drag queens, along with an up and coming Latino comic actor. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar hit the theaters and presented a fairy tale look at gay men who do drag. Take a look back with one writer who lists the 10 thing he loves and hates about the movie. You can find it on the Unicorn Booty website.

In Medicine Hat, Alberta, a bar bouncer refused to allow a trans woman to use the ladies’ room. Shortly after, a sign was posted, telling patrons to use the restroom of their “birth gender.” The manager told news agencies that since the passage of a local non-discrimination law, “guys want to be sneaky, so they say they’re transgender, and they’re in the women’s washroom.” This raises the question of whether this actually happens or is just theory and rumor. Apparently, bad publicity does its job, as the bar later changed its signage, designating the former men’s room as a “gender neutral washroom.” (That does leave a women’s washroom, which theoretically men can access under this non-discrimination bill, but whatever.) The manager, Lorraine Schmaltz, said, “We made a small mistake, but we’re rectifying the situation.” The CBC has this story. Two updates: A Calgary television station says that the bouncer has resigned. Also, the transgender woman who reported this incident, River Rising, was locked out of her Facebook account briefly, but is now back on the social media site, according to a report from the CBC.

The World Health Organization is considering removing transgender identity from its list of mental illnesses. The downside is that the list in the WHO codebook is used for diagnostic purposes, and without a diagnosis, it is hard to prescribe treatment. The proposed solution is to list it under a new category, “conditions related to sexual heath.” This would remove it from mental diseases, while still giving it a space for diagnosis. Also, the name would change from “transsexualism” to “gender incongruence.” Translating this into other languages seems to be a sticking point. The New York Times has more. Jamie Roberts told us about the story in The Washington Post.

More and more trans characters are making their way into television shows and they’re not just sex workers, murder victims, or sex worker murder victims anymore. As these characters are included in plots how do the writers know if they have written the character in as real a manner as possible? They have trans man Nick Adams, the head of transgender media for GLAAD, to tell them what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. Learn more about his role in the portrayal of trans people on TV in Out magazine.

Vickyana Torres in The New Yorker.

Vickyana Torres in The New Yorker.

It was 50 years ago that the Stonewall Inn in New York City gained its place in history when the clientele fought back against routine police oppression and brought the gay rights movement out of the closet and onto the street. Christopher Street, that is. It’s a street in Greenwich Village that has always been home to a trans community. Meet several of the current trans residents in The New Yorker.

A teacher who also happens to be a trans man has opened a school for LGBT kids in Atlanta, Georgia. The school is call Pride School Atlanta and is set to open on August 8. The school has a small first class of five students, and classes will be held in the Unitarian Universalist church. Learn more about the school and its founder on the News 95.5 website.

Several states have joined two school districts in a lawsuit which asks a court to “stop” the “Obama directive” on transgender students. Of course, this is not a directive and did not come from the President, but rather is a non-binding advisory letter from the Department of Education, telling school districts about recent court decisions. A dozen states have now filed an amicus brief in support of the federal Department of Education. The take-away quote is, “Contrary to Plaintiffs’ claims, our shared experience demonstrates that protecting the civil rights of transgender friends, relatives, classmates, and colleagues creates no public safety threat and imposes no meaningful financial burden.” The states who support the Department of Education are California; Connecticut; Delaware; Illinois; Maryland; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; New Mexico; New York; Oregon; Vermont; and Washington State. The District of Columbia also signed on. Buzzfeed News has more.

Erika Jonell, voice clinic client.

Erika Jonell, voice clinic client.

One of the problems for male to female trans people is the way their voices can sound. They may look and act as feminine as the next woman but when they speak their voice just doesn’t fit. There are many ways to work on creating a feminine voice, from simple vocal exercises, to expensive courses that train the whole speech process to a feminine style. There’s even an app for that. For some people these methods don’t work and they are left considering throat surgery. One of the most used clinics for voice feminization is the Meson Voice Center in South Korea. They use an endoscopic procedure that does not make an incision in the neck. Learn more about their method on the Bloomberg website.

A transgender woman in Hawaii, Makana Milho, was recently sentenced to spend six days doing community service for a minor theft. The community service supervisor started requesting sexual favors from her, and one day, she turned on a camera and recorded the incident on Facebook Live. The supervisor is currently on unpaid leave from his job. While the video may be inadmissible as evidence, and could be technically illegal since he did not know that he was being recorded, it has certainly tarnished his reputation. Hawaii News Now has more. And here’s an update: Harold Villanueva, Jr., has been arrested and charged with fourth-degree sexual assault in connection with this incident. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has this story.

Those who loved David Tennant’s portrayal of Doctor Who may be interested in seeing him play a trans barmaid named Davina in a Scottish sitcom called Rab C. Nesbitt. The episode was titled Touch and you can see a clip with all the parts featuring his character right here. Keep in mind the show was done in 1993 and it’s verra difficult to understand some of the dialogue —  and the general attitude toward the trans barmaid is not very modern.


In New York City, a transgender man is suing Abercrombie & Fitch for making him wear women’s clothing on the job. He was told that he could wear the male uniform when he was hired, but once he began to work there, he was told to wear the female uniform. The New York Post has this story.

The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund has announced the date for their annual Freedom Award ceremony. The Freedom Awards is a cocktail event that brings together almost 400 guests to celebrate the trans community and raise money to support the TLDEF’s work. Learn the date and more about the Awards from their press release.


It’s the return of the dreaded “groin anomaly.” That’s what the TSA calls it when a “shape” shows up in the groin of a woman going through the airport security scanner. It happened a few months ago to a trans woman at a Florida airport and assurances were issued that changes would be made and pre-op or non-op trans women would not be subjected to the indignity of being pulled aside and given a pat down — or worse. But the TSA people at Reagan International Airport in Washington, DC don’t seem to have gotten the memo and they stopped Mia Satya, who was on her way to be a delegate at the Democratic National Convention when their scanner showed the “groin anomaly.” A TWIT Award is handed to the TSA for not fixing this problem. You can read the story in the San Francisco Examiner.

The Cincinnati Public Library board wins a TWIT Award for actions they took last week regarding extending employee’s insurance coverage to include gender reassignment. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the story lead. The board voted against adding coverage citing the additional cost for adding a rider, which is available from their insurance company. The trans employee who thought she was able to get her surgery paid for by her plan was not aware that the library did not have the additional coverage. Get the whole story from the Library Journal.

Karl Stefanovic is a presenter on a morning program in Australia. He told a story about a news crew from the same network who were attacked while on assignment in Rio de Janeiro covering the Olympics. He described the muggers as “transvestites,” then repeatedly called them “trannies.” Many Australians expressed their displeasure at hearing that term used. For using such a derogatory term, Mr. Stefanovic gets a TWIT Award. Daily Life has more on this.

Speaking of television presenters, Jeremy Clarkson used to be a host of Top Gear on the BBC, before they sacked him for outrageous comments. He has previously received a TWIT for saying that he could not understand transgender people, when in fact he didn’t try, but relied on a lot of bad information about us. Apparently, he hasn’t gotten over it. In reference to a report that called on Parliament to install gender-neutral restrooms, he said, “you might as well install urinals suitable for Klingons.” I do not know what sort of lavatories Klingons use, and Gene Roddenberry is not around to design such a loo. There are some people who feel uncomfortable in the gender binary, though. Nice of you to show some sensitivity to them. For dismissing what he does not even make an attempt to understand, Mr. Clarkson gets another TWIT. You can read his drivel in The Sun. To find the bit about transgender people, keep scrolling down.

These days, some people have the weirdest ideas of what certain words mean. For instance, a group calling itself the “Ruth Institute” claim to be “family policy experts.” This group recently released something which they call a report, which says that respecting the rights of transgender children is a form of child abuse. (For good measure, they put the word “transgender” in scare quotes.) This group claims that not even transgender children are helped by giving them rights. Apparently, they feel that putting more obstacles in the way of transgender children will make them come to their senses. Evidence shows that putting more obstacles in the way of transgender children merely gives them mental health issues, including depression and suicidal tendencies. But then, the Ruth Institute also claims to be creating a “Christ-like social movement to address family breakdown,” when what they are advocating is more likely to cause a family to fall apart. In the Bible, Jesus was accused of spending too much time with sinners, while this “Christ-like” group advocates shunning people they dub sinners. For claiming themselves to be so many things that they are not, the Ruth Institute gets a TWIT Award. You can read their “report” in World Net Daily.

Another “news source” that claims to be Christian without imitating Christ is the Christian News Network. They, too, used scare quotes around the word “transgender” when describing a certain speaker at the Democratic National Convention. They identified this particular speaker as, “Tim McBride, who goes by the name Sarah,” and consistently used male pronouns. For deliberate deadnaming and misgendering, they get a TWIT Award. And for good measure, we will address it to the “Christian” “News” Network. You can read their “news” on their website.

Here, thanks to TGF user Christie Xlix, is a photo of Sarah McBride on the DNC stage.


The Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, featured an “All-Gender Restroom.” The delegates and alternates attending the conference were unfazed, but some conservatives covering the event had trouble even imagining such a thing. Tucker Carlson called the all-gender restroom “bizarre” and “disgusting.” Tucker, there are all-gender restrooms in Fox News Headquarters. Sarah Westwood of the Washington Examiner called it an “Unnecessarily confusing bathroom situation here.” She later said that she felt that mothers would not be able to breastfeed their children with men around. Not only were there gender-specific restrooms, but there were also two lactation stations (in case those mothers didn’t feel sufficient privacy in a restroom that might have conservative women in it). All of you who complained about the all-gender restrooms get a TWIT Award. You can read a round-up of their work at Think Progress and at Media Matters.

Tucker Carlson gets a second TWIT for claiming that transgender equality and climate change are “elite issues” which “only rich people care about.” Only rich people care about transgender equality? Research shows that transgender people are more than four times more likely than the average person to live in extreme poverty (defined as having an income under $10,000 per year), so according to Tucker Carlson, transgender people do not care about transgender equality. Media Matters has this story.

While digging up TWIT items we kept seeing a story about Macy’s department store firing a Christian male employee who supposedly went to the aid of a woman who ran across a trans woman in the store’s ladies’ room. The employee was the head store detective in Macy’s Flushing, Queens store. The woman and her daughter were afraid to enter the ladies’ room because there was a trans woman using the facility. The detective ordered a security guard to tell the trans person to leave. She refused. Then she complained to the store manager — who told the store detective that Macy’s has a trans-inclusive restroom policy. All the articles about this incident headline the story as an employee being fired for being a Christian. We’re giving TWIT Awards to all the religious and right wing websites who are making this a religious matter. Read the story and see the spin on the CharismaNews site and on Brietbart.

Every so often we run across a story that gets an automatic TWIT Award. It always involves someone doing criminal activity while crossdressed. Today’s TWIT Award winner is the bank robber in New York who took $780 from the Staten Island bank while wearing a large hat, a silver and black formal gown and high heels and brandishing a silver revolver. (Points for matching the gun to the dress.) Stop it! Crossdressers get enough bad press without people like you robbing banks in a dress. Get the story and some grainy pictures of the suspect from India Today.

Portions of this TWIT column were researched and written by Cecilia Barzyx.

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Category: Transgender Community News


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc., the former editor of that organization's newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She wrote the Diva of Dish column for TGF in the late 1990s and was the Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She is currently the Editor of TGF. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows. In her idle hours she keeps busy producing her monthly TG parties, Angela's Laptop Lounge.

Comments (2)

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  1. FashionRCD FashionRCD says:

    Everything so simple and true.

  2. FashionRCD FashionRCD says:

    Ohhhh,,, I learned here ha!

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