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| Jul 8, 2006
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From the NTAC: Transgenders Claim FEMA Sex Change Scandal Was Fabricated, Fraudulent

Last month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) testified before a House
Homeland Security subcommittee to spotlight $1.4 billion fraudulent waste of Emergency
Assistance Funds (EAF) to Hurricane Katrina victims.

 The unprecedented level of Federal Emergency Management Agency fraud was blared over television newscasts and emblazoned on newspaper headlines: “FEMA funds paid for a sex change.”

However, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC) is now publicly calling the
media and authorities on this claim, demanding proof that this occurred and calling the
press on this claim “fabricated” and “fraudulent.” In reviewing both House subcommittee
testimony and the GAO report ( that uncovered the
fraud there was no reference of a sex change, nor any surgery of any type being paid for
by FEMA funds.

“It appears [the sex change] story was prime red meat for conservatives looking to turn
attention away from the President, and onto Katrina victims and FEMA,” said NTAC
President Vanessa Edwards Foster. “It also appears there’s no veracity to the story that EAF
funds were used for gender reassignment surgery. These press claims are what’s

House Homeland Security Investigations subcommittee chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX)
called the discovered waste “criminal” but never mentioned anything about sex changes.
However Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) did note the sex change claim shortly after the House
testimony, commenting, “I don’t understand how this could happen.”

How the sex change allegation originated remains unclear. The June 14, 2006 story by
Larry Margasak of the Associated Press noted a sex change in a laundry list of items
scammed from FEMA. While outlets as diverse as Washington Post, Los Angeles Times,
ABC News, MSNBC, Bloomberg Report carried the story, the more conservative news
outlets such as Wall Street Journal or Fox News made no mention of the sex change

When questioned about the story, the GAO’s Office of Public Affairs stated “there was no
reference to that allegation — because we cannot confirm it.”

“The press reported on fabricated claims of sex changes paid with FEMA funds, but no
media ever mentioned $2,000 paid to a Christian Broadcast Network from EAF payments,”
Foster of NTAC commented. The GAO report listed $2,000 paid to Colorado-based LeSEA
Broadcasting Network.

After anguishing over the initial FEMA news reports, NTAC Vice President Courtney Sharp
said she “was shocked to discover that the [GAO] report didn’t mention anything about
anyone misusing funds to have gender reassignment surgery.”

A New Orleans resident who lost nearly everything during Katrina, Sharp said she listened
as co-workers and friends disparaged the person who used FEMA funds to obtain a sex
change. “[It] was extremely hurtful to realize that someone had embellished the GAO
report and was probably using the negative stereotypes about transgender people [for]
media attention.”

Sharp said she now feels the public was “bamboozled” by the news report.

“There’s an inherent media bias in this story,” NTAC’s Foster continued. “If you have
transsexuals having sex changes it’s great press – even if it is uncorroborated! But a
confirmed report of emergency victims’ funds paid to a faith-based broadcaster is deemed
not press-worthy.” While acknowledging many Americans have no problem with faith-
based groups receiving money, she noted that they would likely not be keen on funds
intended for needy victims in an emergency being given instead to a broadcast group to
spread the gospel.

“I smell a rat behind the fabrication of this news report. It’s very Karl Rove,” Foster
commented. “It uses an unwitting transgender community to bludgeon Hurricane Katrina
victims.” She called the uncorroborated claim in the press “despicable.”

“Ten months after Hurricane Katrina, residents of the Gulf Coast continue to struggle to
rebuild their lives,” NTAC’s Sharp observed. “The impact has been truly unimaginable. Like
the majority of residents, transgender people are responsible, productive, law abiding
members of the community and they are also playing important roles in rebuilding the
devastated areas.

“The media attack on the transgender community,” Sharp finished, “served as my fifth
personal “tidal surge” post-Katrina.”

Whether originating from Congress, the press or an administration press operative, NTAC
urges the responsible party to own up to, and publicly apologize for unfairly portraying
the transgender community, and for deceiving the American public.

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About the Author ()

Ronnie Rho has been writing for Transgender Forum since May of 1999. One of these days, she'll get it right. She's been described as the "world's most famous recluse," but only by people who don't know her very well. She is unmarried, and lives in Cincinnati.

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