TWIT 2016 Year In Review

| Jan 2, 2017
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A bit of news from every month of 2016. It’s the 2016 TWIT Year In Review. Links will open in this window. Use the Back button on your browser to return to this page. If the link opens in a new tab, close the tab to return to this page.

January 2016

1/4/16

Loiza Lamers

A trans woman has won the title of Holland’s Next Top Model. Loiza Lamers beat the competition last week and is the first trans woman to win in any of the Top Model shows around the world. Isis King was the first trans contestant in America’s Next Top Model. Read the story in the Oceanside Post.

It was rumored earlier this year that the reality show Real Housewives of Atlanta would replace one of their housewives with a trans woman. Trans model and makeup artist Amiyah Scott was reported to be the new cast member. Turns out the rumors were true and she did join the cast but after a month of shooting she quit the show. She did not like the way she was being urged to act on camera. The producers wanted her to be overly sexualized. Read about it on the Yahoo News page.

Hari Nef

How do you get ahead in show biz? Is it talent, hard work, endless self promotion? No. It really helps if you know someone. That’s how trans model Hari Nef started her acting career on the Amazon show Transparent. Her counselor while she was in art school was the creator of the show’s sister. Read more about Nef’s role in the new season of Transparent in the Boston Globe.

A trans woman is running for a seat in the Philippine congress. Her name is Geraldine Roman and she is hoping to take the seat representing Bataan that was previously held by her mother. Ms Roman was her mother’s chief of staff in Congress so she would know what the job entails. There is opposition to her based on her trans status. Read the story on the Interaksyon website.

1/11/16

Jenner. The transgender poster girl?

Caitlyn Jenner has taken some heat from the trans community over her role as a spokesperson for that community. She is, after all, a new girl in town, and she has stumbled over some of the things that are viewed as canon law of the trans community. Is it fair to criticize Jenner over her faux pas when she is just learning the ropes? Jenner maintains she never claimed to be a voice for anyone’s gender journey but her own. Learn more in the Advocate. Thanks to Jan Brown for the story.

Who is the latest trans model to be used in a fashion designer’s ad campaign? She’s not a model at all. She’s film director Lana Wachowski. She is appearing in Marc Jacobs’ Spring 2016 ad campaign. Actually the other folks who are featured are not models either. Jacobs is using a spectrum of people he feels “represent a celebration of my America.” Learn more on the Vogue website.

Rebecca Root

Oh possums, the man behind Dame Edna, Barry Humphries, has pissed off the trans community with remarks on his BBC radio show. Barry agreed with Germaine Greer that trans women are not women but “mutilated” men. Humphries, like Greer, is old school and maybe that accounts for it. His remarks drew fire from trans actress Rebecca Root. Read about it in the Telegraph.

Sometimes you need a reminder of just how much the world has evolved on males indulging in feminine things. Of course it has evolved in pockets of tolerance here and there, and there are still places where wearing a dress can get you beat up — but it has changed. In the old days a boy who was attracted to wearing makeup and women’s clothes had to hide and sneak around behind his mother’s back. Now his mom may take him to the MAC counter. Here’s the story of an 8-year-old who got his first makeup lesson that way. You can find it on the NewNowNext website.

1/25/16

Jen Richards

Her Story, the new six-episode web series is now available for viewing online. It tells the story of trans women looking for love and finding it when they had all but given up. With monetary support from Lana Wachowski and advice from Transparent creator Jill Soloway, Jen Richards and Laura Zak created the show. Learn more about them and the show on the Take Part website.

We reported last week about the establishment of an academic chair of transgender studies at The University of Victoria in British Columbia. Dr. Aaron Devor was chosen as the inaugural chair. His salary will be paid in part by a $2 million donation to the university from Chicago trans philanthropist Jennifer Pritzker. Learn more in Tablet Mag.

Michaela Mendelsohn

Michaela Mendelson has been named as a member of the Board of Directors of the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project is a non-profit which works to prevent suicide among LGBT youth. Ms. Mendelson is the first transgender person to serve on the board. She was also the first transgender contestant in the Ms. Senior California Pageant and was a consultant to Jenji Kohan in the development of Laverne Cox’s character on Netflix’s hit series Orange is the New Black. Learn more about her  and her new job in LGBT Weekly.

February 2016

2/1/16

Holly Woodlawn

After Holly Woodlawn passed away last December her estate reached out to the Los Angeles LGBT Center and told them that Ms. Woodlawn had given them $25,000 to establish the Holly Woodlawn Memorial Fund for Transgender Youth. The Center is to use the money to help youth that are at risk because they are trans. Learn more in Wihoville.

Last Wednesday, a U.S. Appeals Court heard arguments in a case in which a transgender student claims that not allowing him access to facilities consistent with his gender identity violates his rights under Title IX. The three-judge panel in Richmond, Virginia, heard oral arguments as Gavin Grimm is suing his high school. You can read more about it in the Washington Blade.

2/8/16

A 2014 ruling in Maine guaranteed the right of trans students in that state to use the restroom that corresponded to their expressed gender. The governor of Maine, Paul LePage, (R) did not allow the rights commission to work with the Department of Education to write new rules that complied with the court decision. Since no official rules have been written the rights commission has issued guidelines, but since they aren’t rules they have no teeth. Nicole Maines was the student at the center of the court case. The fact that the court ruling has been ignored by the governor is the subject of an article in the Bangor Daily News.

Opponents of letting trans students use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity throw around all kinds of allegations about the danger or letting “boys” into the girls’ room. They claim that safety will be compromised and girls will be harassed by the “boys.” Well, a new report shows that there has been zero, zip, nada, evidence of any of the things those on the right say will happen if trans kids can pee where they like. The report surveyed 17 U.S. school districts with trans-inclusive policies. Learn more on the Seventeen magazine website.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has updated its law for changing gender on a driver’s license. Surgery is no longer required, and any medical or therapeutic professional can sign the form. You can read more at transequality.org.

Tambor in character.

The SAG Awards, the acting award that is given by members of the SAG-AFTRA performers union by their fellow actors, happened at the end of January and the red carpet was awash in trans performers. Orange Is The New Black and Transparent won awards for their casts and writers. Take a look at what the ladies wore to the ceremony on NewNowNext.

2/15/16

Last year a trans man almost became the cover model for Men’s Health magazine. It didn’t happen then but this year Men’s Health Germany will feature a trans man on its cover for their April issue. Learn more on the CNS News website. (Note that the story mis-genders the cover model.)

Anyone doing research into trans history or those just interested in it have a new resource on the Web. The College of The Holy Cross has created a digital transgender archive with materials gathered from 13 other institutions including Harvard, Cornell, the University of Victoria and the University of Michigan. The archive contains historic documents, oral-history transcripts and TG newsletters. Learn more in the Boston Globe.

Up until 2010 the Australian Defense Force did not welcome trans soldiers. If they were found in the ranks they were discharged at once. Just recently those regulations were thrown out and trans people were allowed to join. It also meant those who had been serving in stealth mode could now come out to their peers. Read the story on the news.com.au website.

2/22/16

Miss Pejic

Andreja Pejic was in the news last week. She has done her first magazine cover as a woman. Previous covers she has been featured on were either when she was identifying as a male model or an androgynous model. She is on the cover of the March issue of Marie Claire Spain. Learn more and see the whole cover in the Hollywood Reporter.

Last week a bill that lets businesses in Virginia discriminate against married same-sex couples, trans people, and people who have sex outside of marriage passed in the Republican-controlled House. This goes against the feelings of the majority of state residents who believe that businesses should not be able to refuse service based on gender identity, sexual orientation or religion. The slight glimmer of light comes from analysis of how the Republican delegates voted. All but 2 of the Republican lawmakers who voted “no” are younger than 53. It seems that acceptance of LGBT people is easier to find in younger people. Read the story in The Washington Post. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the tip.

A while back, Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition made a big deal of suing Fairfax County Public Schools, along with a student in the school system, who had standing to sue. The suit opposed the district’s anti-discrimination rules. That lawsuit has been dismissed before it even got to trial. Although Ms. Lafferty plans to appeal, she may get no farther in her appeal than she did in her original suit. The Washington Post has this story.

2/29/16

Meanwhile back in Kansas… A trans woman is suing the state for not allowing her to change her gender on her birth certificate. Until 2012 the Department of Health and Environment would routinely issue amended birth certificates but after Gov. Sam Brownback (R) took office the department suddenly adopted an internal policy that rejected all requests for amendments for trans people’s birth certificates. Learn more about the story in Metro Weekly.

Trevor as Annie Thang

Its a wonderful world. How can we tell? A high school senior made a video about gender roles featuring himself doing a male to female transformation and then going back to male. His goal was to express his feeling that society loses out when it places people in strict gender boxes. The video was his application for a college scholarship and it worked. Learn what college Trevor Ladner will be attending this fall and view his scholarship application in the Sun Herald newspaper.

Gidget Groendyk is a trans woman who has filed petitions to run for township supervisor in Sparta, Michigan. She will be on the ballot, but the ballot will also note that she was previously known as Scott Wade Langford. Michigan law says that if a candidate has changed his or her name in the last ten years for any reason other than marriage, the former name should be listed on the ballot along with the current name. M-Live has this story.

March 2016

3/7/16

The KFC manager who hired a trans woman and then called her an hour later to let her know that since her driver’s license had an M for her gender he couldn’t decide what restroom she should use, so he had to fire her, has been fired himself. KFC has a nondiscrimination policy based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Read more about the story in the Courier-Journal.

Danni Askini

A trans woman in Washington state has thrown her hat into the ring in the race for a legislative district House seat. Danni Askini hopes to win in the 43rd Legislative District. In addition to trans issues she hopes to work on homelessness, foster care, education, and hate and crime prevention. Learn more about her and her campaign on the My Northwest website.

The governor of South Dakota has done the right thing and last Tuesday vetoed the bill that would have required trans students to use the restroom and locker rooms that matched their birth gender. In his veto message he pointed out that the bill “does not address any pressing issue.” In other words the conservatives in the legislature were all worked up over nothing. Read more about the decision on the NBC News website.

Mya Taylor

With all the talk about the Oscars you may have missed the Film Independent Spirit Awards. While Oscars did not get handed to any black people the Spirit Awards gave their statue to four black actors, including one black trans woman. Mya Taylor won the Best Supporting Female award for her work in the film Tangerine. That was her first film role. Her win is the first time a trans actor has gotten a major film award. Read more on The Root website.

New York City’s Mayor, Bill De Blazio, has appointed Azadeh Khalili as the executive director of the Commission on Gender Equality, a new position. She will have an input on policies from the viewpoint of gender, and a part of her job is to see how policies impact transgender and intersex people in the city. Get the story in the New York Daily News.

3/14/16

Lilly Wachowski

Several years ago the film making duo known as The Wachowski Brothers became just The Wachowskis after Larry became Lana. Just last week her brother Andy announced to the world that she is a trans woman and has taken the name Lilly. (Some reports spell her name Lily.) Now they are officially The Wachowski Sisters. For more on the story check out the report from Reuters.

Seattle, Washington Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order last week designed to protect the rights of trans people who have to deal with people working in city offices. The order charges the Office for Civil Rights to come up with new training standards for all “front-line” city staffers to make public spaces friendly to trans people. Learn more in the Seattle Pi.

A study by Yale University shows that hormone therapy leads to significant improvements in mental health for many transgender people. They reached this conclusion by combining the results of three different studies, thus getting a sample size of 247 transgender people in the combined study. More data does lead to better results. You can read about it in the Yale Daily News.

Michael White

A man who was instrumental in bringing The Rocky Horror Show to the stage in England has passed away. Producer and “impresario” Michael White was the force behind many stage productions including Sleuth, A Chorus Line, Annie, Deathtrap, and Oh!, Calcutta! He’s responsible for bringing Dame Edna to the English stage and also produced the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Read more about his life and accomplishments on The Press Enterprise website.

3/21/16

Bemz Benedito

The True Colors Fund has picked four trans women activists to receive their Global Transgender Hero award. One of them is Filipina activist Bemz Benedito. The award is given based on how an individual has “challenged the status quo” as well as their contribution to their community. Learn more about the award and the recipients on the Inquirer website.

In 2013 the city of San Francisco introduced a program that provides gender reassignment to city residents who are uninsured and diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Shortly after the program was instituted the state changed it’s health plan to add Medi-Cal for low income people and that meant people with coverage from that plan were also eligible for gender-related care. As of last year the Transgender Health Services program had provided a total of 103 surgeries. Learn more about the program in the San Francisco Examiner.

In Los Angeles they have established a Transgender Advisory Council that will work with the mayor, City Council, city staff and other elected officials to foster awareness of the needs of trans people in the city. It began as a working group devising recommendations for the L.A.P.D. and the department used its input to change how police interacted with trans people. Learn more on the KPCC website.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan

Back in the Clinton administration a position was created called LGBT Liaison. During the Bush presidency that staff position was discontinued. Last week President Obama reactivated it and appointed, for the first time, a trans woman to be the LGBT Liaison. Raffi Freedman-Gurspan who was the first trans person hired by the White House, has been given the job of LGBT Liaison and is tasked with outreach and recruitment. Read more in Tablet magazine.

Back in 2010 President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Looking on from right next to the President was young Marcelas Owens, who came to be known as the Obamacare Kid. Now the kid is 17-years-old — and living as a female. Read her story on The Root website.

3/28/16

Where did the Restroom Wars originate? We know conservatives are pushing back against what they consider “special rights” that let trans people use the facility of their choice but they are actually reacting to the idea of trans people having rights, of any kind, something that they can’t accept. And they use “information” that is not true to back up their attacks. Where are they getting it? It’s possibly the effect of radical feminism. So says one writer for Pacific Standard magazine.

Can suffering for years living the wrong gender be bad for your mental health? Could rejection and lack of love make you mental? Sari L. Reisner, Sc.D., and her associates have compiled statistics concerning mental illness in young trans women. 41% had either a mental health diagnosis or a substance abuse problem, and roughly 20% had at least two psychiatric diagnoses. You can see more result from the study in Science Codex.

Governor Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota recently vetoed a bill which would have forced transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their “birth gender.”  He said that he could see no pressing need for a law, and that if there were, Republican ideas hold that it would be better to solve the problem in a more local manner. Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina got a similar bill, passed by the state legislature in a special session this week. Rather than go with the Republican ideals of limited government and solving the problem at the most local level possible, he used the oppressive power of the state government to crush the city of Charlotte into compliance. For going against the stated principles of his own party in order to oppress transgender people, Governor McCrory gets a TWIT Award, and so do the members of the North Carolina legislature who voted for this bill. And a special TWIT to State Senator Tom Apodaca, who has asked his staff to find a way to make the city of Charlotte pay for the cost of the special session. The Charlotte Observer has this story.

April 2016

4/4/16

The passage of House Bill 2 (HB2) in North Carolina has caused a flurry of opposition to it. Businesses have expressed their bad opinion of HB2, governors of other states have spoken out against it, and Governor Cuomo of New York has banned official travel to North Carolina. Opposition to the law is coming from inside the North Carolina government as well. (Also adding travel bans; San Francisco and Boston.) Last week their attorney general spoke out against the law saying he will not defend its constitutionality. Read more and see a video of his statement on the Yahoo News.

Nisha Ayub

A department of the U.S. government has given an award to a Malaysian transgender rights activist. On March 30 Secretary of State John Kerry presented the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award to Nisha Ayub. Ms. Ayub co-founded tow trans rights organizations in Malaysia. She was one of 14 women from around the world who received the Award. Learn more in The Malay Mail.

President Obama is the first U.S. president to use the word “transgender” in a speech to the nation. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the first presidential candidate to be introduced at his campaign rally by a trans person. It has happened twice so far during Sander’s campaign. Get the details from the Independent.

A new report tells of long waits for gender-confirmation surgery, too few professionals offering services, poor communications by the existing professionals, and several complaints of prejudice within the medical establishment. All of this is reported in the United Kingdom.  Healthwatch Devon talked to 140 transgender people to compile this report. The BBC has more.

4/11/16

One of the latest shots in the Restroom Wars happened in South Carolina where a legislator decided to follow in the footsteps of his North Carolina neighbors and introduced a bill to limiting trans people to the restrooms that go along with the sex on their birth certificates. Fortunately he was rebuked by Governor Nikki Haley who said that the legislation is not needed in her state and that she doesn’t see the citizens asking for it. Several lawmakers went so far as to make fun of the senator who introduced the bill. Learn more in The Post and Courier.

Panti Bliss

Irish drag star Panti Bliss owns a bar in Dublin. To do something about the rising rate of HIV infection among young gay men Ms. Bliss turned the basement of her bar into an HIV testing clinic last weekend. The test takes only 30 seconds and you don’t have to wait days for the results. Learn more about Panti Bliss’s HIV clinic in The Guardian.

Michaela Sherwood is standing for the Australian Parliament. (In the U.S. and Canada, a candidate runs for office; in Australia, as in Britain, a candidate stands for office.) The Green Party candidate is the first transgender candidate for the national Parliament in the history of the state of New South Wales. We wish her luck. The Wollondilly Advertiser has more.

4/18/16

Sabreena

A Detroit, Michigan woman is making the attempt to become the first trans woman to sail around the world. A lot of folks have made that circular journey before but Sabreena Lochlainn-Henderson plans to make the journey in a Class 40 boat which is not the same as the traditional sailboat used for these trips. She hope this will give her an advantage but she knows she will have to constantly be on her toes and on guard against the many things that can happen to stop the trip or result in death. Read more about her plans in The Huffington Post.

The Obama administration has taken quite a few steps to help transgender people. The Department of Education and the Department of Labor have both interpreted Title IX sex-based discrimination as also prohibiting discrimination against transgender people. The Wall Street Journal has an editorial about this, but be forewarned that the author, Jason L. Riley, is not a fan of executive action of this sort.

Prejudice against homosexual people is a fact of life. A 2015 study claimed that changing people’s perceptions of homosexual people could be accomplished in a short conversation that could be conducted door to door. According to the study people’s minds remained changed in favor of gay people for at least three months after the conversation. Then the study was revealed to be based on fraudulent data. Last week we told you about a study that found a short conversation could change people’s minds about trans people. That study was conducted by the man who debunked the 2015 study. Irony much? The recent study seems to based on good data. Read all about it on the Ars Technica website.

Dennis Fusaro and Stephen Waters, a pair of Republican political consultants, have been charged with making illegal and misleading political robocalls in Maryland which pretended to be in support of a Democratic candidate. They failed to identify who placed the calls, instead saying they were “Paid for and authorized by Marylanders for Transgenders.” There is no such group, perhaps because creating such a group would have required filing paperwork that would name the people behind it. In the body of the call, they congratulated the Democratic candidate for “his bravery in coming out of the closet,” and they claimed that he supported non-discrimination measures that would allow transgender people to use their preferred restrooms. Along with your TWIT Award, you fellas get a pro tip: paying cash for the phone you use to make these robocalls does not hide your identity, but it gives the impression that you knew that what you were doing is illegal. You can read more in the Baltimore Sun.

4/25/16

It seems that the United States does have a Commission on Civil Rights. Moreover, they have finally come out with a statement about North Carolina’s HB2, and the similar law in Mississippi.  They say that forcing transgender people into a restroom according to the gender on their birth certificates “jeopardizes not only the dignity, but the actual physical safety, of transgender people.” This story is also in The Washington Post.

Data from Trans Lifeline show that the volume of calls from North Carolina to the suicide-prevention hotline doubled after the passage of HB2. “If I had to guess what’s being impacted I think [it’s] probably people’s hope for the future,” said Greta Gustava Martela, co-founder of Trans Lifeline. The Daily Beast has the story.

Divine and Waters in 1975.

Filmmaker John Waters celebrated his 70th birthday on April 22. He’s the man who made Pink Flamingos, Mondo Trasho, and Hairspray. Photos taken in 1975 of Waters and his favorite actress Divine are being featured in a photo exhibition in New York until May 15. You can see some of them on the Mashable website.

Former baseball pitcher and sports talking head on ESPN, Curt Schilling, opened his mouth about something he isn’t qualified to report on. He should just stick to baseball but he shared a post on Facebook that featured a beefy guy in a long blonde wig and tight dress with the caption “Let him in! To the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow minded, judgmental, unloving, racist bigot who needs to die!!!” A large TWIT Award to Schilling for sharing this bigoted bull, and one to the narrow-minded, bigoted original poster, whoever they are. Learn a bit more on the Philly.com website. This just in: In addition to his TWIT Award Schilling has collected a pink slip from ESPN. They fired him last Thursday. Details can be found in The New York Times.

May 2016

5/2/16

CeCe McDonald

Laverne Cox has written and produced a documentary about CeCe McDonald. Called Free CeCe!, it is scheduled to debut at the L.A. Film Festival in early June. Ms. McDonald was convicted of manslaughter in the death of a man who had shouted racist and homophobic slurs at her. She served 19 months in prison. The Minneapolis Star Tribune has more.

Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner Theresa Miller has announced that health insurers in that state will have to cover medically necessary services no matter what the patient’s gender identity, sexual orientation or sex. All policies offered in Pennsylvania must include language that details the coverage provided complies with federal regulations and Governor Wolf’s policy. Get the story from PennLive.

Mara Keisling

Mara Keisling, the head of the National Center for Transgender Equality, used the lady’s room in North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s office this week. Of course, her birth certificate does not permit her to use any lady’s room in any government building in North Carolina. She said that this showed just how impossible it is to enforce HB2. She was arrested later in the day. (Well, she did tell them what she did so they didn’t need Sherlock Holmes to catch her.) The Washington Blade has this story, while a copy of Mara Keisling’s original tweet can be found in The Huffington Post.

You know that a Republican politician is in trouble when he goes on Fox News and the host gives him a hard time. That happened to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory this week, when Megyn Kelly asked him what evidence led him to think that there was a problem with transgender people in the lady’s room. She then informed the governor that stalls in the lady’s room provide sufficient privacy to keep people from exposing themselves to each other. Andy Towle has more.

5/9/16

Opinionated writer and conservative radical Ann Coulter appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher last Friday and she came out with the un-true conservative talking point that trans-inclusive restroom policies will open the door to sexual predators. Fortunately her fellow panelist was sex advice columnist Dan Savage who shut her down pretty quickly. See what he told her on The Huffington Post website.

Ambrosia Starling

Alabama’s arch conservative Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has been in trouble before for installing a monument with the 10 Commandments in his courtroom, putting God ahead of the rulings of the Supreme Court and ordering probate judges in the state not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couple, has been suspended from his position on the court and will be charged with six counts of ethics violations. Of course Moore blames a drag queen for his troubles. Ambrosia Starling is her name and Moore claims that she is one of the people who have made efforts to have him removed from office. Starling admits to participating in protest rallies against Moore but it’s interesting that he singled her out as a nemesis. Read all about it on the Alabama website.

The Argentine Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexuals (FALGBT), the Association of Transvestites, Transsexuals and Transgender People in Argentina (ATTTA), and the Office of the Ombudsman of Buenos Aires have joined forces to create a new entity, called “The Hate Crime Observatory for the Trans and LGBT People.” It will monitor the all-too-frequent incidents of violence against the LGBT community in Argentina, with a special emphasis on the T. The Argentina Independent has more.

Until 2013, the government of Sweden would only change a gender marker if a citizen presented proof of permanent sterilization. Three years after that was changed, the government of Sweden has passed a new measure, which will give financial compensation to those who underwent forced sterilization in order to get their gender markers changed. Transgender Europe has this announcement.

President Obama has proposed to make the Stonewall Inn a National Monument. This will give some amount of recognition to the historic nature of the place, but don’t expect too much; a national historic designation did nothing to save Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Also, stories generally site the historic significance of the Stonewall Inn to the history of rights for gay and lesbian people, but fail to mention transgender people. This story from the Associated Press, via MSNBC, follows that pattern.

5/16/16

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.

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 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.

Geraldine 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.

5/23/16

Monica Mulholland has been elected president of the Rotary Club in Queensland, New Zealand. She will take that post next June. She is only three months into her transition, and has a history as a male with most of her fellow Rotarians. She reports that, for the most part, she has been welcomed by the members of the club. Read about it on New Zealand’s News Hub.

Up north in Canada the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has introduced legislation that will ban discrimination against trans people across the country and treat crimes against trans people as hate crimes. The protection of trans rights was a campaign promise and Trudeau has moved quickly to bring it to a vote. Get the full story on how big the changes are in The New York Times. For the Canadian perspective check out the story in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Bob The Drag Queen is crowned.

Season Eight of RuPaul’s Drag Race reached their finale last week and one queen raced across the finish line ahead of the pack. The new drag superstar is Bob The Drag Queen. Check out photos from the after-party in The Huffington Post.

A trans woman in Washington, DC was with a friend in a Giant supermarket when she had to use the restroom. She was directed to the lady’s room by store employees and while she was inside a female security guard came in and threw her out of the restroom — then pushed her out of the store. Her shoving almost caused the woman to fall down since she has Parkinson’s disease and has trouble walking. The security guard was arrested for simple assault after complaints were made to authorities by a local trans activist. Get the story and the video report from the NBC 4 website.

5/30/16

Taleen Abu Hanna

Taleen Abu Hanna, 21, has won the title of Miss Trans Israel in that country’s first beauty pageant for transgender women. Ms. Hanna is a Catholic Arab from Nazareth who will represent her home country in the Miss Trans Star International pageant in Spain later this summer. The Times of Israel has more.

Here’s why congress gets so little done. Republicans were set to vote in favor of an energy and water spending bill but Democrats in the House decided to attach a non-related amendment to the bill in hopes that the need for the bill’s main purpose would overcome any opposition to the amendment. The amendment was aimed at protecting trans people’s rights if they work for government contractors. The whole bill was voted down by the Republican majority. The legislation was needed to fund the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Department of Energy. Read the whole story in the Business Insider.

“Gender X” sounds like the title of a show on the Syfy network. But it’s a term that over 100 Members of the British Parliament have endorsed by signing on to a bill which would recognize a “gender X,” in addition to “male” and “female.” These MPs come from all parties — Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, the Green Party, and Plaid Cymru (the Welch Party), as well as three members of the ruling Conservative Party. There are many who will not state a position on a pending matter, but some of them likely would vote for the bill. This story is in Pink News.

NBC News and The Wall Street Journal conducted a poll on the use of public restrooms. In the poll, a plurality of respondents (40%) feel that transgender people should be allowed to use the restroom which corresponds to their preferred gender. 31% think that transgender people should use the restroom which corresponds to the gender listed on their birth certificates, and 29% say they don’t know, have no opinion, or will not state an opinion. Pluralities also think that both the federal and state governments should not pass laws concerning restroom use by transgender people. The one bit that is close to a statistical majority, unfortunately, is that the Justice Department should not force states like North Carolina to permit transgender people to use the “bathrooms of their choice.” The Wall Street Journal has more.

June 2016

6/6/16

The Department of Veterans Affairs is moving behind the scenes to rescind the V.A. ban on gender reassignment surgery that was put in place in the early 1990s. Medicare started to pay for GRS in 2014. The V.A. says that when their ban was instituted the necessary surgical procedures were not “as well developed” as they are now. Read more about it on the Time magazine website.

Dr. Rachel Levine

The physician general of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a trans woman. Dr. Rachel Levine was appointed to that position by Governor Tom Wolf. Dr. Levine is one of very few trans people to be a public official. Learn more about her and how she got the job in The Washington Post. Thanks to Jan Brown for the tip.

President Obama has appointed Barbara Satin to the Advisory Council on Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships. She is a trans woman, as well as a former member of the Executive Council of the United Church of Christ. There is more at UCC.org.

6/13/16

Just how many of us are there, anyway? The U.S. Census doesn’t ask so you can’t check their stats. There have been independent online surveys that attempt to find a number but most often the number they come up with are an estimate. And the online surveys may not bother to include the many varieties of trans people that exist. One “best guess” on how many trans people are in the U.S. comes from a 2011 study. That study says that 0.3 percent of Americans are trans. Efforts are underway to learn more. Read the article in Mother Jones.

Scene from The Danish Girl.

Trans people have been getting more representation in films in recent years and while some in the community are upset that cis male or female actors get the trans roles the movies do have a positive message about trans people. But, there are myths that many times get propagated by films with trans themes. A film such as The Danish Girl is about one particular, somewhat fictionalized person, in a time when transition was not a routine thing. The danger is that people may base their whole opinion of all trans people on that one film. See what one trans activist believes are the 10 myths that need to be debunked. Her article is on The Huffington Post.

We have just entered the Muslim holy days of Ramadan. That is a time when followers of Mohammed fast from dawn to dusk and come together as a community in harmony. But for LGBT Muslims the time can be anxiety inducing. Read the thoughts about Ramadan of Muslim drag queen Asifa Lahore in the Gay Star News.

Schaefer

A Mexican-born 21-year-old man is addicted to cosplaying Disney Princesses. His name is Richard Schaefer and he became fascinated with Princess Ariel when he was 12. Now he transforms himself into all of the Disney princesses and attends cosplay events. Reportedly people are amazed when he lets them know he’s a guy. See what you think after you see more of his portrayals in The Daily Mail.

Victoria Kolakowski is a trans woman and a judge in California. She was recently re-elected. She is the only openly transgender elected public official in that state. Andy Towle has more.

6/20/16

Gapin

An athletic trans woman is the first such person to appear on the cover of a magazine for female runners. Amelia Gapin, who has competed in seven marathons and 20 races, is on the cover of the latest issue of California based Women’s Running. Read all about it on The Huffington Post.

Misty K. Snow is a trans woman who is running for the U.S. Senate in Utah. She is a Democrat, and Utah is one of the most conservative states around. You can read a profile of her in Deseret News.

San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has appointed former city commissioner Theresa Sparks as senior advisor on transgender initiatives. It’s another name for the “trans ambassador” position that Caitlyn Jenner wanted, except that it is with a sitting mayor, rather than a presidential candidate. KTVU-TV has this story.

Laverne Cox

We know that the U.S. Government has had problems counting transgender people. A new bill introduced by Representative Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) would make it easier for the government to collect information about transgender people, including census information. And they got a special celebrity endorser — Laverne Cox. The Washington Blade has more.

6/27/16

This August, on an unknown date, the 50th anniversary of the first LGBT riot will occur. It was 1966 in San Francisco when the drag queens, who frequented Compton’s Cafeteria to close out their night’s partying, got fed up with being harassed by the police and after one queen threw a cup of coffee into a cop’s face the riot broke out. Read all about it in the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Affordable Care Act is a work in progress. A new rule tied to the law will take effect in July and it is designed to prevent “sexual stereotyping.” The rule addresses three types of discrimination: those based on disabilities, persons with limited English proficiency, and discrimination “based on sex.” In other words, discrimination against people based on the sex, gender identity or sexual stereotyping will be prohibited. Learn more on the CNS News website.

Marston

A gender non-conformist in Oregon, Be Marston, is not just an activist for trans issues. She works as a bartender and is a member of UNITE HERE Local 8, the bartender’s union. She is also the president of the Oregon chapter of Pride At Work, the AFL-CIO’s organization for LGBT union members. Read an interview with her and find out why she feels the union is a good partner for LGBT workers. It’s in the NW Labor Press.

July 2016

7/5/16

We told you in the last TWIT column that the Pentagon was poised to allow trans soldiers to serve openly. They announced last Thursday that effective immediately the ban was lifted. A study commissioned by the military found that out of 1.3 active duty soldiers an estimated 2450 were trans. Read the story in The New York Times.

The Province of Ontario has introduced driver’s licenses and health insurance cards with no gender markers. Available early next year, the driver’s license will have an “X” instead of “M” or “F” for the gender marker. The health insurance card simply has a blank space where the gender marker should be. The Canadian Press has this story, which you can read in the Toronto Sun.

Why on Earth did the trans people in the restroom issue get so big in 2016? It turns out that where people pee has always been a political question. The trans part is new but public restrooms, particularly women’s restrooms, have long been the subject of much political discussion. Read the political history of where we pee on The Washington Post website. Thanks to Jamie Roberts for the tip.

Zoey Tur

Zoey Tur, the formerly male helicopter pilot who covered the O.J. Simpson “low-speed chase” and later transitioned to female and made some controversial statements that got her in hot water with the trans community has surfaced again and it’s all due to O.J. Since the ESPN documentary on the Simpson trial has been airing the media have been digging up anyone who had anything to do with it. Tur gave an interview in England and talked about her relationship with her kids, Caityn Jenner and oh yes, the O.J. Simpson doc. Read it in the Daily Mail.

North Carolina has come up with its alleged revisions to HB2. These do allow people to sue for discrimination in state courts, where the backlog of cases is less, but the only clause to address transgender people’s access to restrooms says, “The State Registrar shall issue a certificate of sex reassignment upon a written application from an individual accompanied by a notarized statement from the physician who performed the sex reassignment surgery or from a physician licensed to practice medicine who has examined the individual and can certify that the person has undergone sex reassignment surgery.” So, surgery is still required. And, they do not specifically rule out the possibility of charging for the card. The draft of the bill also is said to increase the fines for people charged with those offenses. None of this addresses the problems that the NBA had with the current version of HB2. Think Progress has more.

7/11/16

The State of Washington passed a fairly inclusive nondiscrimination law, which includes the right for transgender people to use the restroom of their preferred gender. A group called Just Want Privacy set about getting signatures to put the issue before the voters, and spread the lie that this would allow men to use the ladies’ room. This week, the group failed to meet the deadline for turning in petition signatures. They did not gather enough signatures, and they knew it. They were opposed by businesses, and as a result they had trouble raising funds. On top of that, they got some bad publicity because of some of their dubious advice to those gathering signatures. The Seattle Times has this story.

Could being a trans woman be the result of drugs your mother took while she was pregnant? That’s what some people are saying. From the 1930s though the 1970s pregnant women were given a drug called Diethylstilbestrol, or DES. It was supposed to help prevent miscarriages and other female health problems but instead was found to cause cancer and other nasty things. Some trans people feel that it may have made them who they are. Read the story on the WTSP 10News site.

The Chi Phi fraternity has voted to let trans men pledge to join their ranks. Chi Phi is one of the nation’s oldest fraternities, founded in 1824 at Princeton. Trans men who have legal male status are now allowed to pledge the frat. Learn more on the USA Today website.

The right wing propaganda outlet known as The Federalist has published a that claims the high suicide rate among trans people is not due to the unending and relentless discrimination they must battle each day. According to TWIT Award winning writer Daniel Payne being rejected by parents, not being able to study due to harassment in school — or get a job after school — has no effect on the trans suicide rate. What is it then? Payne believes it’s “mental illness, y’all.” Payne runs a blog called Trial of the Century. Maybe we should all visit it and tell him just how sane we are? His article is in The Federalist and you won’t believe how he justifies his conclusions.

7/18/16

The Republican Party will have their convention this week in Cleveland. The Cleveland City Council this week unanimously approved Ordinance 1446, which prohibits discrimination against transgender people in employment, in commerce, and in the use of restrooms. That’s right, while the Republican platform may call for restrooms to be segregated by “birth gender,” the city where they are convening went in the exact opposite direction. The new ordinance is the result of three years of study and negotiations. Equality Ohio has this story.

RuPaul is competing with Ryan Seacrest. What? Is Seacrest going to lip sync for his life? No. Both have been nominated for an Emmy in the Best Reality Host category. It’s the first Emmy nomination in the eight year run of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Shouldn’t they have gotten an Emmy in the Fierce Queen category by now? Learn more from the New Zealand Herald.

In a survey of the general population conducted by Lifeway, 60% of Americans say that there is nothing morally wrong with identifying with a gender that one was not assigned at birth, and more than half say that it is not morally wrong to change one’s body to match that gender identity. However, 54% of evangelicals feel that it is morally wrong to identify with a gender other than the one assigned at birth. While this trend is also seen in people with certain other religious affiliations, it is most prevalent among evangelicals. 61% of evangelicals say that it is wrong to surgically alter your body to match the gender with which you identify. The Colorado Springs Gazette has this story.

Deepthi

There is a women’s magazine in Malaysia called Vanitha. The latest edition of Vanitha features a trans woman on the cover. Her name is Deepthi and the magazine also features an in-depth interview with her. See the full cover and learn more on the Onmanorama website.

7/25/16

While the RNC has one trans woman delegate the Democratic National Convention will have not just 26 trans delegates but a trans woman will, for the first time, address the convention from the stage. Sarah McBride, the national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation will speak on Thursday. Learn more on The Hill website.

he American Federation of Teachers had their annual convention in Minneapolis last week. At the convention, they passed a resolution in support of LGBTQ students and staff. The resolution specifically recommends that “transgender students have equal access consistent with their gender identity to sex-segregated facilities and programs.” LGBTQ Nation has this story.

The State of Pennsylvania announced last Monday that their Medicaid program would pay for “all medically necessary” gender transition services. Granted, the phrase is a bit vague, but as more states agree to pay, there should get to be a consensus as to what is medically necessary. The National Center for Transgender Equality has this story.

Michaela Mendelsohn

The owner of six fast food restaurants in the El Pollo Loco chain (that’s The Crazy Chicken to all you gringos) is a trans woman and a trans activist. She transitioned years ago and was already a restaurant owner so she was not concerned with many of the problems facing trans people looking for work. When she hired her first trans woman employee she learned from her that there was a lot of harassment and discrimination, in violation of state law, agains trans employees. Michaela Mendelssohn is working with the California Restaurant Association to help the restaurant industry become more inclusive and hire more trans people. Get the story for Restaurant News.

In a speech to Florida’s delegates to the Republican National Convention, Dr. Ben Carson called being transgender “the height of absurdity.” He said, “For someone to wake up and think that they belong to a different sex because they feel different that day is the same as if you woke up and said I’m Afghani today because I saw a movie about that last night and even though my genetics might not indicate that, that’s the way I feel, and if you say that I’m not, then you’re a racist.” Of course, that’s not how being transgender works. As for genetics, they are showing subtle ways in which transgender people are not like typical males or females. For speaking out so strongly about something he doesn’t understand, Dr. Carson gets a TWIT Award. Talking Points Memo has more.

August 2016

8/1/16

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.

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.

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.

Mia Satya

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.

8/8/16

Talleen Abu Hanna

It’s difficult to be a trans woman in an Arab culture but since there are trans people everywhere you know that somehow they find a way to survive. One such woman is the winner of the Miss Trans Israel pageant, Talleen Abu Hanna. Not only is she an Arab, she is a Christian and she lives in Israel because that country is more accepting of LGBT people. But, when she announced she would represent Israel in the Miss Trans Star International pageant in Barcelona controversy appeared. Learn more about the the 21-year-old beauty and why she is creating controversy in The New York Times.

In Japan there is resistance to taking Gender Identity Disorder out of the diagnostic guide. While all around the world activists have been saying that being trans is not a mental disorder and it should not be classified as such, in Japan having it listed as a mental disorder allows Japan’s top psychiatrist who deals with gender issues to make life better for his trans children patients. He readily admits that being trans is not a mental illness but being able to diagnose kids with GID allows them to live as they wish. Get the full story from Buzzfeed.

Officer Budd

Aiden Budd just became an officer in the New York Police Force. He is a military veteran, and while studying to join the police force, he also transitioned from female to male. The New York Times wrote a profile of him along with Officer Denise Dragos and Officer Brooke Bukowski, all members of the NYPD.

8/15/16

GiGi Gorgeous

Model and social media darling Gigi Gorgeous was all set for a fun vacation in the United Arab Emirates. Why, you ask? She had heard that there were good things going on in that country along with the negative treatment of women and LGBT people. But when she arrived at the airport in Dubai they refused to let her into the country. Why? Because she is trans. It seems she had to modify her vacation plans. Get the story and a video from CTV News.

Last week we mentioned Argentina as a country that was trying to attract LGBT tourism, and is working on making things easier for its trans citizens. Well, it’s not all a bed of roses. The government is on the side of LGBT people but the general public still as a lot of work to do. Argentina is 11th in fatal violence against trans people. Learn the downside of that vacation in Argentina on the Refinery29 website.

The Pennsylvania State Police will no longer use the phrase “female-portrayal” or “male portrayal” in describing transgender victims of hate crimes. They will now be described as members of their preferred gender. The Philadelphia Gay News has this story.

Tim Curry as the mad doctor.

In 2012 Tim Curry, the original Dr. Frank-N-Furter, was stricken with a stroke and has since been confined to a wheel chair. Even though he has been knocked down he is not out. It was announced last week that Curry will be on board for the television production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show that will feature Laverne Cox in the starring role. He will not, as he himself suggested, play the role of Dr. Scott, the wheelchair using character that audiences shout “Where’s your neck” to. Curry will be the show’s narrator. Learn more in The Columbian.

8/22/16

Mark Rylance, a Shakespearian actor who most recent film release was Steven Spielberg’s The BFG, has made a career, almost, of playing the character Olivia in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. He won a Tony for his performance of Olivia on Broadway in 2013. Of course as a classically trained actor Rylance is no stranger to becoming different characters and inhabiting them fully. Crossdressers who wish to create real femme personas may find some tips on how to achieve that level of realness in an article in which Rylance talks about how he created Olivia onstage. You can find it in The New York Times.

The restroom kerfuffle that has seen Target stores besieged by protestors demanding that trans people be kept out of the restrooms has resulted in Target announcing that its stores without single occupancy restrooms will soon be getting them. Around 300 stores will be getting the new restrooms by early 2017. The company will spend $20 million on the new facilities. And as Mara Keisling of the NCTE pointed out, most trans people will continue to use the restroom of their choice while some will take advantage of the single occupancy ones. $20 million expense for Target to placate the 1.3 million people who signed petitions saying they were upset. What a world. The story is on the Fox Business channel website.

Tracey Norman

The first African American trans model to appear on a Clairol hair color box in the 1970s was Tracey Africa Norman. Ms. Norman was in the closet about her gender identity at that time. She was eventually outed and had to stop modeling. Her story was told last year and the Clairol folks saw the story and reached out to Ms. Norman, now 63, to star in their “Color As Real As You Are” ad campaign. Read about it on the People magazine website.

British gender clinics have been overwhelmed by the number of transgender people, including children, who are now asking for treatment. New Zealand can expect the same. The number of minors seeking help with gender issues is likely to soar in the near future, says this article in stuff.co.nz.

We’re giving the country of Sri Lanka a TWIT Award. Why? A new report from Human Rights Watch makes it clear that people in that country who do not conform to social expectations about gender and sexuality are subjected to discrimination and abuse which is codified into the laws of the nation in many instances. Read about the abuses on the Human Rights Watch website.

8/29/16

Bea Sullivan-Knoff

A trans woman performance artist in Chicago has filed a lawsuit against the city in an attempt to overturn a law originally enacted in the 19th century that prohibits women from showing their breasts in any establishment that serves alcohol. Bea Sullivan-Knoff is the artist who often performs nude or semi-nude and she finds the ordinance restrictive and unfair since male strippers can show their nipples to any drinking crowd. She calls the law “sexist and transphobic.” If she wins the case a lot of strip club owners in Chicago will be filing for liquor licenses. Get the story from the Chicago Sun Times.

When it comes to being trans, is it all in your head? If you mean your brain then yes. With help from hormones. A five year long research study that examined the brains of transgender people and control subjects found that trans people’s brain structure before hormone therapy falls in the mid range between the two sexes. After hormones therapy changes occur that makes the brain more like the gender identity of the individual. This research shows that gender identity is not only a psychological phenomenon but can be determined biologically. Don’t let anyone tell you there is no scientific proof that trans people are real. Get the story from the Medical Press website.

Kendra Brill is a transgender woman living in Virginia. She has not led an exemplary life, and she had a criminal record. Since her transition, she has behaved much better, and has had no run-ins with the law. She was able to change the gender marker on her driver’s license, but she has had trouble getting a name change. The judge in this case feels that it is important for parole records to be consistent. (Don’t they use something like Social Security numbers, to differentiate the various people named “James Johnson” who are in the system?) WHAG-TV in Hagerstown, Maryland, has a profile of her.

September 2016

9/5/16

Ophelia Pastrana

Mexico is making progress on passing protections for its LGBT community. While the legal changes are underway there is still a problem with violence against trans women. A recent report rated Mexico as having one of the highest rates of transphobic violence. One woman there is trying to make a difference. Trans activist Ophelia Pastrana was born in Columbia but now lives in Mexico and owns digital media companies there. Learn more about the Mexican LGBT scene and Ms. Pastrana in The Huffington Post. Thanks to Jan Brown for the tip.

A four-year-old in Australia is the focus of the “how young is too young” debate in that country. The child will begin school next year in their new gender. Some say that is proper and the child is correct about who they feel they are. Other experts say it could just be a “dressing up” phase (note that my dressing up phase has lasted my entire life) and it could pass, so changing gender should not be pursued. How young is too young? Read the article in Pink News and see what you think.

Violet Chachki

The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Season 7 is Violet Chachki. She is a drag artist but identifies as “genderqueer” or “genderfluid.” That’s different than many in the drag world who tend to say they are just dressing up to perform. Chachki says she feels more male some days and other days more female. Learn more about her and get her advice for “drag babies” in The Advocate.

9/12/16

The Lady Chablis, the trans woman who talked director Clint Eastwood into letting her play herself in his film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil has passed away at 59. Back in 1997 she was the first trans woman actor to portray a trans woman in a major motion picture. Learn more about The Lady Chablis in The Guardian.

Gender Reassignment Surgery is now legal in the United Arab Emirates. The change came amid a bill that reduces the criminal liability of doctors. Mental health care is required prior to surgery. Gay Star News has more.

Kaitlyn Beck

A 20-year-old trans woman in Washington state is challenging a fellow Democrat for the 49th District seat in the state legislature. If she beats the odds and gets elected Kaitlyn Beck would be the first trans woman to hold office in the Washington Legislature, or any state legislature for that matter. Learn more about her in the Seattle Times.

The trans community lost another notable person on Sunday. Alexis Arquette has passed away at the age of 47. The cause of death is unknown. Ms. Arquette was part of the showbiz Arquette family that included her grandfather Cliff, known to many as Charlie Weaver, and her sisters Patricia and Rosanna, and brothers Richmond and David. Get the full story from The Los Angeles Times.

9/19/16

RuPaul Charles has won her first Emmy as best reality show host for her work on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Miss Charles beat out Ryan Seacrest for American Idol and Heidi Klum from Project Runway. It is the 55-year-old’s first Emmy win. Learn more in The Sydney Morning Herald.

A right wing political party in Germany has been promoting a link between pedophilia and homosexuality. Of course there is no more of a link there than there is between being straight and being a child molester but that doesn’t stop people from trying to make the connection. The leader of the party in Germany is being sued by a drag queen. She is Germany’s answer to RuPaul. Her name is Olivia Jones and she filed a lawsuit charging the AFD Saxony Anhalt party with hate speech. Read the story in Pink News.

Jessica Dempsey, a transgender woman living in Halifax, is campaigning to get StatsCanada to allow people to identify as “transgender” on the census form. “It just reinforces the binary that there’s only two genders. There’s a lot more than two genders,” she says. “If you don’t record the statistics on us for like health care, employment rates and stuff we’re not going to get anywhere. We’re not going to get recognized to say, ‘Oh, maybe there should be more resources put in for trans people.” The CBC did a story about her fight.

9/26/16

Tambor

Jeffrey Tambor took home his second Emmy Award for playing Maura Pfefferman in the series Transparent, but he said in his acceptance speech, “To you people out there, you producers and network owners, and agents, and you creative sparks, please give transgender talent a chance. Give them auditions. Give them their story. One more thing: I would not be unhappy if I were the last cisgender male to play a female transgender on television.” The Advocate has this story.

Kristin Beck had a recent run-in with TSA. They mis-gendered her and tried to get a male agent to give her a pat-down. Ironically, this happened as she was on her way to Kansas City to give a speech to employees of the Department of Justice. The TSA really needs to stop this TWIT-worthy behavior. Here is a pro tip: don’t mess with a former Navy Seal. She has ways to make you feel so sorry you messed with her. CNN has this story.

Rafaela Manfrini

On September 18 the Miss Trans Star International pageant was held in Barcelona, Spain. The winner of the contest, chosen out of 28 trans women from around the world, was Rafaela Manfrini of Brazil. The first runner-up was Tallen Abu Hama of Israel. Get the story and some photos from NBC News.

Tracey Norman who last worked in modeling way back in the ‘70s and had to leave the business after the industry learned she was a trans woman has leapt back into fashion modeling after Clairol brought her back to promote their hair dye. Her latest assignment was a cover shoot for the Indian edition of Harper’s Bazaar. Norman is featured on one edition and trans model Geena Rocero is featured on another edition. They wear similar headdresses. Get the story in the Yahoo Style pages.

October 2016

10/3/16

The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association has released its list of the Ten Most Banned Books of 2016. Checking in at number 3 is I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, followed at number 4 by Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin. You can find the whole list on the American Library Association’s website.

The Williams Institute has estimated that strict voter I.D. laws in eight states could leave 34,000 transgender people unable to vote. Transgender people are seen as particularly vulnerable to being blocked from voting by strict voter I.D. laws. They have a summary of their findings on their website, as well as a link to the full study.

Paul McHugh

Dr. Paul McHugh, retired from Johns Hopkins University, has been very much aligned with the splinter group of pediatricians and has provided them with some so-called research. A group of Johns Hopkins professors came out this week in opposition to Dr. McHugh and the report he published in The New Atlantis. It is rare to see an academic dispute like this get into the mainstream press, but these particular scholars presented this dispute in the Baltimore Sun.

One way for trans people to become more visible is to run for office. That’s what Morgane Oger is doing in Canada. She is running for Member of the Legislative Assembly representing the Vancouver-False Creek riding. As she is currently unopposed she has a good chance of winning the seat. Learn more in the CBC News.

10/10/16

Tracee McDaniel

Longtime LGBT activist Tracee McDaniel has been appointed to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, which looks into complaints about the police department. She was nominated by the mayor and approved by city council. This review board has never had a transgender person on it before, but now they have one, and she is a person of color as well. Project Q Atlanta has this story.

Annie Wallace, a 51-year-old from Aberdeen, Scotland, has become the first transgender actress to be nominated for a Scottish BAFTA award. She plays Sally St. Clair on the soap opera Hollyoaks. The awards will be presented on November 6. The Aberdeen Evening Express has this story.

Pope Francis has been saying some rather complex things about transgender people and issues, and as you might expect, a lot of people are only listening to what they want to hear from the Pope. One headline says that the Pope tells us to respect gay and transgender people, but to reject “gender theory.” That sounds like it is hard to do, but it is even harder when some folks only hear the “reject gender theory” part and rush to say, “See, he agrees with us,” while not even trying to improve how they treat LGBT people. As for Pope Francis, despite his call to reject gender theory, his call to love LGBT people is quicker than the glacial pace of reform often seen in the Church, so there is hope. This story is covered in Religion News Service.

Ambrosia Starling

The Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore has long been a thorn in the paw of justice. He is the official who put a monument of the 10 Commandments in the courthouse lobby and taken heat for defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of gay marriage. That got him suspended from his position without pay till the end of his term. Then he will be too old to run again. Of course his supporters, a “Christian” group founded by Moore and headed by his wife, say it’s all the fault of Alabama drag queen Ambrosia Starling. It is true that Starling lead the protests but we think it’s Moore’s own overt contempt for the Constitution that lead to his suspension. Get the story and a video report from On Top magazine.

John Bel Edwards, the Governor of Louisiana, has the difficult job of working with a Republican legislature and a Republican attorney general. He recently issued an executive order rescinding Bobby Jindal’s executive order which overturned LGB anti-discrimination protections. For good measure, he also added transgender people to the protections. (If that was a bit hard to follow, the state had LGB protections in place, Bobby Jindal overturned those with an executive order, and John Bel Edwards overturned Bobby Jindal’s order, thereby restoring the previous protections, and also extended those protections to cover transgender people.) Attorney General Jeff Landry would have his office not enforce the new executive order, so now, the Governor is suing the Attorney General. The Attorney General says that the Governor does not have the power to add a new protected class to existing anti-discrimination laws, which is a point that a court will have to review, and that is why Mr. Landry does not get a TWIT. (Yet.) Think Progress has this story.

10/17/16

James Charles

CoverGirl makeup has picked a new CoverGirl to feature in their ads along with product spokes celeb Katy Perry. The new addition is the company’s first CoverBoy. Aspiring makeup artist and Instagram star James Charles who at 17 has over 400,000 followers on Instagram is the new “girl.” The company chose him because of his Instagram success in presenting great makeup looks and they will use him to be the face of a new campaign for their So Lashly mascara. Learn more about him and the ad campaign on the E! website.

France has just passed a new piece of legislation called the 21st Century Justice Law (La loi sur la justice au XXIeme siècle). One of the provisions in it makes it easier for transgender people to get their new names and genders recognized. The law does not require sterilization or proof of medical treatment. However, the new law does not simply rely on self-identification, so there are some grounds for a court to deny the request, at least in theory. Gay Star News has more. And even more on the Reuters website.

Deirdre McCloskey

Twenty-one years ago, the Des Moines Register published a profile of Dierdre McCloskey, an economist and professor at the University of Iowa, who had changed genders. The headline in 1995 read, “Transformation begins.” This week, the paper published a follow-up to that story. They found Professor McCloskey in Chicago, and recently retired from teaching at the University of Illinois in that city. She looks back on her career and her transformation in the new profile.

10/24/16

In Illinois, a judge has ruled students do not have a constitutional right to keep from sharing a restroom or a locker room with a transgender student. This ruling comes from District 211 in Chicagoland, where parents sued the school district on behalf of their children in an attempt to keep transgender students out of gender-segregated facilities. According to U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert, the “right to privacy” does not extend to this. This ruling will now go to District Judge Jorge Alonzo, who will use it when he creates his ruling in the case. (The matter will no doubt be appealed after Judge Alonzo makes his ruling.) This story is in the Chicago Tribune.

Iceland has long had legal protections for transgender people and its national health care program pays for mental health counseling, hormone replacement therapy, and even surgery for transgender patients, but the attitude of many in the health care professions is not as friendly as would be preferred. To these problems, add in non-binary people, who are not what most health professionals expect to find (they expect people who feel consistently that they belong on one side of the gender binary, not people who keep crossing back and forth frequently). A British filmmaker named Fox Fisher did a video documentary on the subject. While the video looks specifically at Iceland, a lot of what was found is typical all over. You can find the video and an article at GayIceland.

Last week the reboot of The Rocky Horror Picture Show hit the air on Fox and at least one review says “You can’t do the Time Warp again.” Read what else they had to say about the production and why they feel it just didn’t work on the Salon website.

10/31/16

Pete Burns

Pete Burns, the androgynous lead singer of the ‘80s group Dead or Alive, adopted a fully feminine look sometime in the ‘90s. He passed away last week at the age of 57 (or 58 depending on where you read the story.) Burns was odd in that he never adopted a femme name or used feminine pronouns. He once observed, “Everyone’s in drag of some sorts . . . I’m not trying to be a girl by putting on a dress — gender is separated by fabric.” Read the story on the CNN website. His obituary is in The Guardian.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear Gavin Grimm’s case. He still is not allowed to use the boys’ room at his high school because of the stay, but the stay will soon be replaced by the Supreme Court decision. Buzzfeed has this story.

Kataluna Enriquez

23-year-old Kataluna Enriquez is the winner of the 2016 Trans Nation Pageant which was held in Los Angeles on October 21. She triumphed over 34 other contestants in the 15th year of the pageant. You can learn more about her and the pageant on the Yahoo newsfeed.

The World Bank has established a position titled Advisor on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity issues. The newly created position has been filled by Clifton Cortez. Cortez has had 20 years of professional experience in developing countries on various issues including sexual orientation and gender identity. Learn more about Cortez and his role at The World Bank on The World Bank website.

November 2016

11/7/16

The Keystone Conference, scheduled for March 2017, has issued a call for presentations. This year’s event drew a gender spectrum of  600+ attendees — Female-to-Males, Male-to-Females, Spouses, Significant Others, Non-ops, Pre-ops, Post-ops, Educators, Doctors, Counselors, Social Workers, Lawyers and other professionals — whose ages ranged from 8 to 87. If you wish to give a speech or present a workshop on issues of interest to any part of this diverse group click here to submit your proposal. The deadline is January 15.

Jin Xing

Jin Xing is a transgender woman who now is a talk show host in China. A former ballet star, she has been called the Oprah Winfrey of China. She gained fame as a judge on China’s version of So You Think You Can Dance, where she received the nickname “Poison Tongue.” She is profiled in The Hollywood Reporter.

Chelsea Manning made another suicide attempt October 4. Ms. Manning made the suicide attempt on the first night of her two weeks in solitary confinement. The solitary confinement was imposed on her for her suicide attempt in July. (One week of solitary confinement was to be suspended, but it will now be reinstated.) She further says that during her week in solitary confinement, she was attacked psychologically by people who were impersonating prison guards, and that these people tried to persuade her to escape. Her lawyer from the ACLU, Chase Strangio, has confirmed the suicide attempt. Mr. Strangio told the story to The New York Times.

Conservative radio show host Laura Harvey has declared that the policy of not allowing bullying in schools is “institutional child abuse.” In a column written for the web, she claims that anti-bullying measures are an attempt to “firmly plant homosexuality and gender confusion as fully accepted behaviors even among grade-school children.” If you ever wondered who is on the side of bullies, there is the answer. Bullying does not reduce the occurrence of LGBT tendencies in children, but it does lead LGBT children to commit suicide, which apparently is an acceptable outcome to these “pro-life” people. For siding with bullies, and for either being too stupid to see that she is siding with bullies or too twisted to care, Laura Harvey gets a TWIT. You can read her column in Barb Wire.

11/15/16

A transgender patient has been having trouble getting health care in South Africa. The patient, identified as “Mrs. N.” was taken to the emergency room at Groote Schuur Hospital. Her identity document lists her with her male name. Although people with her told the nurses at Groote Schuur Hospital that she no longer used that male name, but the nurses continued to use the name on her identity document, as well as male pronouns. She was first placed in an all-male ward, and after the Triangle Project complained, she was taken to a private ward. She was then transferred to DP Marais Hospital Retreat, where again she was misgendered and deadnamed, though this time with no hostility, according to someone from the Triangle Project. IOL has this story.

Given the political situation in the United States, transgender people may need access to legal help. There is a new hash tag, #TransLawHelp, which some lawyers are using on Twitter to offer pro-bono advice or service. This is especially for helping people wanting to get their documents set before January. This story is on Mashable.

A new bill in Alberta would make it easier for people to change their gender, in part by creating the new gender designation “X” for legal purposes. Alberta is ahead of the federal government on that part, so those who apply early may have to take extra steps later to get their gender changed to “X” at the federal level. There are two interesting new things here regarding name changes. A name change still requires going to court, but those requesting a name change no longer have to supply a reason (which means that transgender people do not have to out themselves), and the name change does not have to appear in the legal paper (where it could be found through an Internet search engine). The St. Albert Gazette has more.

The Canadian government has started accepting applications for gender-neutral travel documents. This travel document, called the Electronic Travel Authorization, or eTA, is required of travelers to Canada who do not have a visa and who come from a country other than the United States. While the document’s application form still has a space for gender, they have added a third option to the online application form. The CBC has this story.

11/21/16

Sophia Hawes-Tingey

Sophia Hawes-Tingey has filed paperwork to run for the position of mayor of Midvale, Utah. If elected by the town of roughly 30,000, she would become the second openly-transgender mayor in the history of the United States. She previously ran for a seat on the city council, but was unsuccessful. Metro Weekly has this story.

While conservatives look at the rise of trans children as a “phase” these children are going through, and define the efforts to help children grow up as they true selves as “child abuse” there are children’s hospitals that recognize the truth of trans identities and want to help children and their families with transition. One such was pointed out to us by Linda Jensen. She sent us and article about the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario’s gender diversity clinic. You can read it in The National Post.

11/28/16

Gov. Pat McCrory (R) of North Carolina, who signed the infamous HB2 bill into law, was defeated in the recent election by a Democratic candidate. The winning margin is growing but is likely to fall below 10,000 votes so an automatic recount will be triggered. Gov. McCrory feels that his loss, which he has not yet conceded, is due to massive voter fraud. We speculate that it may be due more to his stance on the restroom bill and the resulting loss of revenue from businesses that pulled out of his state. Read the story on the UPI website.

Kristen Beck

Kristen Beck the trans woman who was a Navy SEAL for 20 years and a member of SEAL Team 6, had criticized presidential candidate Donald J. Trump for saying the military has to stop being so “PC” in admitting LGBT people to their ranks. Now that Mr. Trump is the president elect Beck has applied for a job in the Pentagon. She is hoping to be hired and is even willing to carry coffee in order to provide a visible trans presence. Get the story from military.com.

On November 9 the University of Victoria honored computer scientist and engineer Lynn Conway with an Honorary Doctor in Engineering. Conway is the first out trans person to receive an honorary doctorate in Canada and one of the few so honored world wide. Get more information and view some videos on the university website.

A never-before event happened last week, and will probably not ever happen again after the new administration moves into the White House. The White House Office of Public Engagement’s Transgender Community Briefing featured a performance by Washington, D.C. drag queen Shi-Queeta Lee. Ms. Lee did a version of Tina Turner’s interpretation of Proud Mary. Read more and watch a video of her in Tina Turner drag on the Unicorn Booty website.

December 2016

12/5/16

Candi Guerrero

A elder trans woman, Candi Guerrero, has shared her story with a San Francisco newspaper. Ms. Guerrero was a female impersonator at the famous San Francisco nightclub, Finocchio’s, from 1965 through 1973. Now 73-years-old Ms. Guerrero was interviewed in the San Francisco Health Care and Rehabilitation facility while recuperating from a fall. She shared her story with The Bay Area Reporter.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has announced that the City of Los Angeles has set aside $290,000 to help address the high unemployment rate among transgender people. These funds will be used to conduct a needs assessment to guide future programs in training, employment, and career development. San Diego LGBT Weekly has more.

Andrea Jenkins

University of Minnesota’s Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies has created a three year project to collect the oral history of transgender people from around Minnesota. The project is helmed by Andrea Jenkins, a trans woman who has long been involved with the local trans community. Learn more about the project on the Minnpost website.

12/12/16

Medicaid in New York will start covering gender-transition care for youth under a new regulation that went into effect last week. That means that trans youth covered by Medicaid will be eligible to get their puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery paid for. The New York Department of Health says the change in regulation had nothing to do with a lawsuit filed against the state. Get the story from The Wall Street Journal.

Last year, Tennessee passed a law which allows counselors and therapists to refuse to take on patients when the therapist or counselor disagrees with the patient or client’s “goals, outcomes or behaviors” due to “sincerely held beliefs.” One would think that a patient or client would pick up on such a disagreement, and would seek a different professional, but perhaps one is wrong about that. The American Counseling Association, a professional group for counselors and therapists, said that refusing to help a patient or client because the person is LGBT is a violation of the group’s ethics, so the new law aims to protect therapists and counselors from losing their licenses because they violated the ACA’s code of ethics. The sponsor of the bill has admitted that no counselor or therapist asked for the state licensing board to make its own code of ethics. Metro Weekly has more.

Kelly Mantle

With the emergence of trans a gender fluid actors the stage was set for what just happened . A gender fluid actor is “being considered” for nomination for the Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories. If the Academy goes for it Kelly Mantle will be in both categories for her work in the film Confessions of a Womanizer. Learn more from Pink News.

Ellen Galloway, a military prison psychologist, declined to recommend that the Army change Chelsea Manning’s gender to “female.” This hinders her desire to wear a feminine hairstyle, according to her lawyers. According to court documents, the U.S. Justice Department is assembling a team to assess the prisoner’s current treatment plan and to recommend any changes. This story is in the New York Daily News.

12/19/16

An MLB hazing outfit.

If you’re not a sports fan who is really into baseball you may not be aware that there is a hazing ritual for rookie players that calls for them to dress up as women — Disney princesses, Wonder Woman, Hooter’s waitstaff, and other costumes deemed demeaning, like Gumby or costumes that some players would find offensive. The thing here is “what a joke! Ha ha. Macho ball players dressed like Lady Gaga.” Of course dressing like a woman isn’t a joke to a lot of people. All women, and those of us in the trans community who prefer feminine attire. Fortunately the hazing practice of making rookies dress up as females has been banned in the new MLB union contract. Dressing up as Gumby could still happen. Read the details in The New York Times.

National Geographic magazine’s cover story for January 2017 is The Gender Revolution. It is the print accompaniment to a special with Katie Couric which will air on the National Geographic Channel starting in February. They have two covers — one featuring Avery Jackson will be sent to subscribers and those who order the magazine from National Geographic, while a cover with seven transgender people on it will be available on newsstands. You can see both covers on National Geographic’s website.

Jackie and Juliet Evancho

Jackie Evancho, who burst into fame as an eleven-year-old singing opera on America’s Got Talent, has agreed to sing the Star Spangled Banner during Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony. Agreeing to sing at the inauguration naturally set her up for criticism from people who oppose Donald Trump, but she is also getting flack — and some bullying — from (some of) Mr. Trump’s supporters. Trump supporters do not like the fact that Jackie Evacho has a transgender sister, Juliet. Juliet has been involved in a lawsuit against their Pittsburgh-area school district. The Washington Blade has this story.

12/26/16

The City Council of Charlotte, North Carolina, voted 10-0 to overturn their nondiscrimination law that was meant to protect LGBT people. They were urged to do so by Governor-elect Roy Cooper as well as the leaders of both houses of the state legislature. As a part of the agreement, the legislature was supposed to overturn HB2 in a special legislative session later in the week. Unfortunately, the overturn did not happen, as various members tried to change the bill. Most (in)famously, a rider proposed a six-month waiting period before any local nondiscrimination acts could be passed. In the end, the state Senate defeated the measure. This has naturally upset people who fought to overturn HB2, as reported by WSOC-TV.

The fashion industry has just done it again. After breaking the ice with trans models they have gone even further in the quest for diversity and booked the first openly trans plus size model for a major campaign. The model’s name is Shay Neary and she is the new face of the Coverstory brand. Read about it on Yahoo News.

A trans woman in Minneapolis has announced her bid for a seat in the Minneapolis City Council. Trans activist and city policy aid Andrea Jenkins hopes to win the job of representing the 8th Ward. Learn more about Jenkins and her platform in the Star Tribune.

The TWIT bits presented were compiled by Angela Gardner and Cecilia Barzyk.


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Category: Transgender Community News, Transgender History

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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.

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