A new study was released today from the Williams Institute at UCLA and the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. To say that the study was more bad news for an already oppressed minority would be understating the issue. Highlights from the study report an increased risk of suicide among Trans Men (46%) and also among Trans Women (42%) with disabilities (65%). High prevalence of suicide attempts were also found among those who had ever experienced homelessness (69%) and those who reported a doctor or healthcare provider refused to treat them (60%). For more statistics from this report and to read and review the entire report go here.
Dear readers, I don’t actually throw around the word “evil” very often. Or at least I try my best to avoid such. But I swear to you, some days it’s almost as if the bigots, fundamentalist religious zealots, and other Hamburglars of human rights are deliberately trolling me.
Such is the case with Florida State Representative and future Nobel prize-winner Frank Artiles, a Republican who has introduced a bathroom policing bill to:
“…restrict single-sex public facilities — including restrooms in restaurants, theaters, workplaces, and schools — to people of the corresponding “biological sex, either male or female, at birth.” Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.”
Furthermore, this budding 21st-century Thomas Jefferson has been quoted as saying:
“People are not forced to go the restroom. They choose to go to the restroom.”
When asked about how this bill would impact transgender persons, Artiles pontificated thusly:
“While I understand there are transgender people who want to use bathrooms however they want to feel, that is irrelevant to me,” Artiles explained. He said gender identity was “subjective” and the birth sex of a transgender person is the only factor that should dictate which restroom they use.
Transgender persons aside, Artiles apparently has never heard of intersex persons, medically documented over centuries of medical science and civilization. Then again, in his defense he’s probably been focused upon the more pressing problems of “why do secular humanists insist that the earth circles the sun” and “the war on Good Friday.”
The popular notion of Thailand, even among most transgender persons, is that it’s a country where transgender persons enjoy significant freedom and acceptance. The reality is that the transgender persons of Thailand have existed for a long time under a “benevolent enforcement” government attitude. Meaning that even though transgender persons do not have explicit protections in Thailand, they have been given some measure of protection via tradition. However, from the article:
For worse, the kathoey identity is widely stigmatized. There’s a reason so many “ladyboys” do sex work—they are often excluded from ‘upper class’ professions, rejected by their families, and marginalized. Many Thai believe that being a kathoey is karmic retribution for bad deeds in a past life. Western discourses of medicalization have contributed to third-gender people being seen as sick or disordered. More broadly, Wong of the APTN told The Daily Beast, “transgender people still face daily challenges (use of public facilities, employment, school) largely due to not having legislation on gender recognition of transgender people.”
But relying upon the good will of the smiling policeman on the corner is rarely a secure human rights strategy. Therefore, it’s quite important to take note that Thailand is proposing explicit protections for gender identity and gender expression in its new constitution. What’s more, third-gender persons would be protected as well.
In short, it’s another major advance for our people in a country where such an advance is sorely needed.
What bothers me, dear readers, is not so much the anti-transgender vehemence of some of the supporters of these bills, such as that of Toilet Policewoman Kim Ransom, pictured above. No, what bothers me more is that for the last several years Colorado has seen a strong pushback against treating transgender persons with dignity and respect. In this article which I’ve linked, the authors discuss three different bills introduced by arch-religious-conservatives, all of which could remove rights from transgender citizens of the state.
The Transgender Newsbank is a collection of more than 400 newspaper and magazine articles from 1911-1994, organized by year and date. I have spent 3 months finding and formatting these articles for easy viewing, in addition to typing write-ups about them and linking to other topical pages. The Transgender Newsbank is the largest effort of its kind on the Internet that I can find which is freely available, and like all Transas City features is uncluttered by advertisements.
While a Transgender Newsbank may be unexciting to some, it will form the basis of an online historical library to help researchers, scholars, and anyone who is simply interested in the history of our people.
A little bit of alliteration never hurt anyone, dear readers. As opposed to conservative hate, which does hurt people. It hurts in emotional and mental damage done, it hurts by creating unsafe places for minorities, and it hurts by working to set up a theocracy out of what was once a representative democracy.
Kentucky senator C.B. Embry has shown himself to be a Very Special little hobgoblin, who keeps popping up in the news with his capers. In 2013 he opposed an anti-bullying bill which would have protected students based on the gender identity and expression, as well as sexual orientation. But that was just the beginning.
You see, the honorable Mr. Embry has introduced a bill into the Kentucky legislature which would force schools to keep transgender students out of “improper” bathrooms and locker rooms. The method for his madness is to give any student allegedly traumatized by seeing a transgender person in those places $2,500 for their pain and suffering. It does not specify if a transgender person may see themselves in a mirror, they should also be awarded $2,500. Probably because Mr. Embry likely believes, like vampires, we don’t have a reflection.
Dear readers, I can actually see an upside to this policy. For example, one could get together 20 female students to “see” a transgender girl student in their locker room, then pool their $50,000 of winnings and donate them to a good cause transgender cause. And when they get tired of that, they could start building up some college funds, or even donate the legal largess to Mr. Embry’s political opponent in the next election.
Or at least that’s how the news spun it. In reality, what happened was this: transgender rights protesters took control of a busy intersection in Hollywood, California, linking arms, chanting, and refusing to let traffic cross. Eventually someone not involved with the protest took umbrage, and came up to hit one of the transgender protesters. The assailant tried to flee, but was instead grabbed by a protester and someone watching, taken over off-balance and rather efficiently sideways-pile-drivered into a car.
I’d say “well done”, as they seemed to manage the assault pretty darned well, but overall we can’t be happy at violence on TDOR. It’s clear that blocking busy intersections is going to get a reaction, and unfortunately one must be ready for whatever reaction may come.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is an organization which some transgender people love to hate. The story is long and somewhat sordid, and involved an attempt by the HRC to support Barney Frank’s Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) in 2007, which excluded transgender protections when the more inclusive version of the bill could not make it out of Committee. The thought was that by being able to pass something, anything to get the ball rolling by protecting gay and lesbian workers, the metaphorical camel’s nose would be under the tent. The strategy failed, and the HRC has become somewhat more reviled than FOX News among transgender persons.
Others say that the HRC can never, ever change. That it is damned forever and irreparably over its past exclusionary policies. That we, who should be no strangers to change, should deny that others can?
I know the HRC let us down in the past. But it’s true that passing a gay and lesbian ENDA might have been a winning gambit which would have allowed for a much less controversial addition of transgender protections within a few years. It’s foolish to think that Washington politics operates on a “my way, or highway” mode in passing legislation. Every single piece of legislation goes through innumerable changes and churning to gain enough support to pass a vote. The HRC and Barney Frank DID throw transgender persons under the bus in 2007. BUT, I repeat BUT, it also could have been a winning strategy which COULD have achieved transgender protections years earlier than now – now, when we still have no ENDA whatsoever.
And let’s not forget – when Frank introduced ENDA in the 111th and 112th Congresses, he specifically included gender identity and gender presentation. There was no further attempt to seriously remove protections for transgender workers again, not by Frank nor the HRC. The most recent ENDA bill introduced into the 113th Congress also included transgender protections. ALL of these aforementioned ENDA versions were backed by the HRC in their form of protecting transgender workers.
So they gambled, using transgender persons as a chip in 2007, and lost. Hindsight being 20/20, we can say as transgender persons that not only was it insulting and denigrating, but it was foolish. It COULD have worked, true, but no one enjoys being a poker chip. Especially a people such as ours, arguably the most discriminated against minority in Western civilization. And we must also recognize, the mistake was not made again.
Is there no room for forgiveness? Never? The HRC for all intents and purposes appears to be making an honest and concerted effort to not even include, but to highlight transgender protections. In their annual Corporate Equality Index (CEI), which I’ve had occasion to perform an in-depth review on behalf of my company, it appears that a company which discriminates against transgender workers cannot even earn an “80” rating, depending upon how much partial credit is given. And the HRC, regardless of what you may think about it, DOES manage to get in front of corporate Human Resources folks. It does get attention, and it does get press.
As evidence of what I feel is a new, trans-positive HRC, I present to you my very good friend Devin, a transgender woman, serves on the Board of Governors for the HRC. She was recently at the HRC’s National Meeting, where she posed a question directly to Chad Griffin, the President of the HRC. Chad’s reply has helped give Devin confidence that the HRC has turned over a new leaf, and that they are on the right track. You can read more at Devin’s blog below, and I would recommend that you contact Devin directly to ask her about the HRC, challenge her, and listen to what she has to say. She has my trust.
I’ve posted before aboutPaula Overby, who is hoping to become the first openly transgender Congressperson by running for Minnesota’s second district. She mailed me a link to her campaign video, which I’ve included below. I don’t vote in her state of course, but I wish her all of the luck and fortune she can use, and go Paula!
We have seen many times over the years how transgender travelers who do not go through due diligence prior to international travel can sometimes end up in hot water. Or worse.
This story is one example of what can happen, and how bad it can be. In actuality Eliana’s story could have been much worse – she could have been deported to her hostile home country, or she could have been imprisoned or committed to a mental facility indefinitely. However, what’s happened to her – becoming a stateless refugee – is arguably not a serious improvement.
Moreover, this article really emphasizes to us that traveling without having your gender marker changed on your passport is rolling the dice on whether you have a safe and happy trip – or not.
I’m not even sure how a person picks someone like Michelle Duggar to be one of their spokespeople. I mean, we already know from her reality show that she’s a seriously messed-up religous zealot, forcing her girls to only wear skirts and to have their hair long, let alone the fact she’s somehow given birth to 19 children out of wanting to have her own Biblical-ordained “quiver full.”
So of course we would expect she would be amenable to slurring transgender people, apparently since she has put no actual thought into the true meaning of her Bible. Something which I’ve covered at length here on Transas City. Therefore, Duggar has been recorded for a political robocall, which is speaking out against a proposed non-discrimination ordinance for Fayetteville, Arkansas, such as the one we recently campaigned in favor of in Roeland Park.
In a new robocall obtained by the Fayetteville Flyer, Duggar claims that the bill will “allow men — yes I said men — to use womens’ and girls’ restrooms, locker rooms, showers, sleeping areas and other areas that are designated for females only.” She goes onto describe “males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female” who would enter these private areas.
Duggar also suggests that gender identity is the “preference of an adult” and that should never be placed over “the safety and innocence of a child.”
Mercifully, it turns out her effort failed, because by a 6-2 vote the Fayetteville nondiscrimination ordinance passed.
What this episode has been useful for is revealing yet another television “celebrity bigot” to keep our collective eyes on.
Please note, this only applies to those who are covered under Medicaid within the state. With this action Oregon joins California, Colorado, Vermont, and Washington DC in covering transgender health care. Again, we slowly are making progress towards complete equality.
Some of you kind readers have followed or noted that over the past 2 months Fiona and I have been joining many hard-working equality activists trying to push through an anti-discrimination ordinance in the Kansas town of Roeland Park.
While we came to the battle late, and the two of us only spoke to the Council thrice in support of the ordinance, we nonetheless had an emotional investment in the outcome. And like many, we were crushed by the defeat of the ordinance, and stunned at the level of thinly-veiled disgust shown to us by the activists who came from local and far-off churches.
More than 45 people spoke regarding the ordinance, and at times the public comment phase took on a surreal atmosphere. The very first speaker stood up and said she opposed the ordinance because, in her words, “you can’t discriminate against gay and transgender people because they aren’t black.” Unfortunately, this sage of justice didn’t really consider the fact of gays and transgender persons who could be black! I almost hope no one does tell her this fact, because it might collapse the quantum uncertainty within which she exists. It’s worse than a Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment.
Another woman, a reputed physician, made a 100-second tirade against the ordinance by reading out a list of more than 20 diseases carried by gays and transgender people. The terms and the tone she used were the same sort of malediction one might hear from an animal control officer (played by the late, great John Candy) who had just discovered a pile of dead raccoons on the main stage of the Kauffman Center.
Even the lady who has been the Iron Fist of the St. Agnes Fish Fry (because you don’t want any homos or trannies at a charity fish fry, no ma’am) seemed to have completely lost her mind, and for 90 seconds read a Bible passage which had no relevance to the topic at hand. And she wasn’t selling her bizarre message either – I mean, if you’re going to go play in non sequiter land, you at least need a voice talent like Morgan Freeman. I mean, that man could read the phone book and I’d pay to hear it…but I digress.
The giant letdowns of the night were five of the Council members. One who didn’t show up and thus was not on record as to their vote, and the four at the meeting who said “no” with only modest hesitation.
If it appears that I’m finding some grim humor in the situation, then you are correct. First, it was highly ironic that just that very morning, President Obama finally signed into being an Executive Order banning LGBT discrimination in the Federal Government and for all Federal contractors, with no religious exemptions. My irony meter actually melted down, and I’ve requested a return label from Amazon.
As I told a young gentleman with a flower behind his ear who was broken up and shaking outside of the meeting room – those who hate and fear us did not win the war. They won this battle, but they are unarguably losing the war.
The main photo at the top of this post is myself and my brave wife hugging each other after the verdict. There is a great video segment here, which also has about 5 seconds of me speaking at the microphone.
This is it! After many “false alarm” posts on Facebook and blogs, Obama finally put pen to a policy which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity for both the Federal government and Federal contractors. As I’ve posted before, this is potentially a large number of employees in the United States – 11 to 44 million in total – and could lead to many more companies putting anti-discrimination policies in place due to the “trickle-down effect” which often impacts suppliers of government contractors.
Read more at the link below:
Obama Urges Congress to Ban Job Bias Against Gays – NYTimes.com.
Amidst all the hoopla about Obama saying he will sign, then promising he will sign, then saying signing is imminent of an Executive Order mandating that all government contractors must have non-discrimination policies for LGBT workers, a major improvement in transgender rights has been missed. Yesterday, the United States Department of Labor announced the following:
As we celebrate Pride Month and approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the Labor Department is reaffirming its commitment to equal opportunity for all. That’s why we are updating enforcement protocols and anti-discrimination guidance to clarify that we provide the full protection of the federal non-discrimination laws that we enforce to transgender individuals.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and Civil Rights Center, along with the Employment and Training Administration, will issue guidance to make clear that discrimination on the basis of transgender status is discrimination based on sex. While the department has long protected employees from sex-based discrimination, its guidance to workers and employers will explicitly clarify that this includes workers who identify as transgender.
This was interpreted (wrongly) by me from the press release to mean that every business covered by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for non-discrimination of employees was subject to this. However, a later clarification made it clear that this ruling ONLY applies to the United States Department of Labor. The confusion lay in their use of the work “employers” in the press release.
Mea culpa. The announcement has much less scope than I believed, although it does cover the 17,000 (estimated) employees of the United States Department of Labor.
Justice and Identity.