Just a quick reminder that tomorrow Tuesday 9th October at 6 pm will be the Kansas City event for the Ten Days of Trans Demands. It will be at Kansas City United Church of Christ, 205 W 65th St, Kansas City, Missouri 64113, and there will be many speakers on being an ally and an advocate in the workplace. For more details, see the Facebook event – https://www.facebook.com/events/250229949013821/
In news today, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has vetoed the anti-LGBT rights bill passed by the Georgia legislature. The bill, known as House Bill 757, would have exempted anyone claiming to be a “faith-based organization” from complying with any hiring, state labor practice, public service, or other laws which cover those who serve the public. In other words, it would allow groups to discriminate against an LGBT person based upon any allegation that it violates their organized “religious belief.”
The reason for the veto was money, pure and simple – an unprecedented number of companies, sports teams, and professional organizations came out against this bill, threatening to take their business elsewhere, or even move their entire company out of state. Sources close to the Governor are alleging (with no confirmation, mind you), that the most worrisome threat was that from the National Football League, which threatened to disallow Atlanta from hosting a future Super Bowl should the law be passed (one wishes that they had said the same about North Carolina’s bill, but then that bill was ram-rodded through their legislature in an unprecedented 3 hours from start to finish).
Republicans have threatened a special session to over-ride the Governor’s veto, and there is no information at this time as to how serious or possible such an attempt may be.
In related news, two transgender men, a lesbian woman, the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, and Equality North Carolina have filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, seeking to overturn the state’s disastrous anti-transgender legislation which was passed last Thursday. In response to the lawsuit, North Carolina Republicans are doubling down, releasing a “frequently asked questions” about the new law which has been proven to be deceptive and misleading – a scary thing, coming from the Governor’s office – claiming that the entire purpose of the law was to prevent men from using women’s facilities.
This lawsuit has significant potential to impact the transgender community nationwide. It is very likely that unless one side relents, the case will reach the United States Supreme Court, where at this time it is uncertain whether it would be upheld or thrown out – and on what possible grounds. The Supreme Court has never ruled on the subject matter of whether transgender discrimination is sex discrimination, and transgender-rights observers are nervous about what sort of precedent could be set should a “conservative flu” be contracted by the Court on this issue.
There are some nail-biting times ahead, folks.
This story has fired up my blood today, and I’m mad as hell. Not to repeat the Advocate overly much, but the basics are that Karis Ann Ross, age 37 a lead Special Education teacher at a Milwaukee German Immersion school, took her own life over Thanksgiving, 2014.
In her suicide note she apparently didn’t mince words, saying she took her own life due to bullying from specific, named co-workers. The situation was reportedly brought to the school’s principal, and with no effective response. After her daughter’s death, Karis’ mother, Madeline Dietrich, wrote an open letter to the Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools. In this letter, the most telling part of the story was the following:
There were four professionals working in Ms. Ross’ classroom, a lead teacher and three teacher’s aids. Each were human beings, and each were women. But three were cisgender, while only one was transgender. Three were black, while only one was white. Three were paraprofessionals charged with supporting the lead teacher’s direction, while only one held a master’s degree and professional teaching certificate. The differences in race, education status and gender identity fostered an environment where Ms. Ross was regularly subjected to intimidation and resistance by the majority group.
Ms. Ross repeatedly informed the building principal, Dr. Albert J. Brugger. It had gone on for years, but in the weeks leading to the moment Ms. Ross chose to end her life, numerous emails were exchanged between Ms. Ross, school officials and the medical community, all pointing to a crisis which went largely ignored by Dr. Brugger, who rather than mediating or intervening in the conflict, chose to play down the situation and avoided any direct involvement with Ms. Ross and her aids. It is clear by the timing of the suicide, which took place the Saturday afternoon before Ms. Ross knew she must again face the hostility of her support staff and the indifference of her principal the following Monday morning. Each aide was named in Ms. Ross’ suicide letter, along with Dr. Brugger, as the primary cause of her grief. Transgender people are too often rejected by friends, employers, landlords, and family, and are forty percent more likely to attempt suicide than the mean population. Ms. Ross was rejected by the very MPS employees whose job it was to assist her in caring for profoundly disabled children.
What I want to do is say something loud and clear to all the people who know me here in “Transas City.” If you are one of my transgender sisters or brothers and you are being bullied at work, and you need help, you need to contact someone. Right now. One of my best friends is Madeline Johnson, a senior law partner and a woman who has fought for the rights and protection of the transgender community more than most anyone I know. Her contact information is MMJohnsonLaw@gmail.com. If you are being harassed, abused, or mistreated at work because you are transgender, tell her about it. Maybe she can help.
Or at worst, if you just want someone to talk to about being bullied at work over being transgender, message me on Facebook or mail me (if you don’t have my personal mail reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll try to give you some advice on what to do. I don’t promise anything, but maybe I’ll come up with something. Or reach out to your friends, your family, and remember that your job is not worth your life. Do NOT sit there and take the bullying and harassment and think that suicide is your only way out!
If you or someone you know are an LGBT young person (ages 24 and younger) struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can reach the Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386. Transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals needing support can contact the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 can also be reached 24 hours a day by people of all ages and identities.
Russia, in its never-ending crusade against the evil which is transgender persons, has now decided to marginalize the community even further by denying us drivers licenses. The reasoning?
The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.
But the Professional Drivers Union supported the move. “We have too many deaths on the road, and I believe toughening medical requirements for applicants is fully justified,” said the union’s head Alexander Kotov.
Some observers feel that the “next logical step” will be denial of employment, government benefits, and even medical care – to essentially commit “economic genocide” against the LGBT population. And why not? The nation has done this for more than a century, getting rid of “undesirable” populations and attempting to whitewash history ex post facto. One hopes that in this day and age this would be more difficult to do – that there would be no repeat of the widespread murders under Stalin et al.
I love this article in the Village Voice about Brooke Guinan! Not only is she making it in one of the toughest and butchest professions there is, but she’s textbook “out and proud” as a transsexual woman!
But some of her fellow New Yorkers, the ones she’s saving the lives of, don’t exactly seem to give her 100 percent support.
“Every day is a process of getting on a subway and wondering how many people look at you, wondering if they know that you’re trans or not. Every day is a learning experience in gender roles, how you fit in your society, what gender roles you accept and what ones you see for the fabrications that they are.”
What is worse is seeing the comments some trolls leave behind on her poster, or the FDNY Facebook page and other articles. People saying things like “I’m a man wearing makeup” or “it’s gross.”
“You have people who not only want to take away your gender identity but there are people who want to take away my humanity and turn me into an it,” Guinan says. “It took a really long time for me to get to the point of [saying], This is me. This is my truth. This is my identity.”
Her Department does give her support, although increasing gender diversity in the Fire Department of New York will be an uphill battle at best, especially since a mere 41 of its 10,200 firefighters are women. Wow.
Dear readers, at times I ask myself questions which I confess I cannot answer. “Where did the singularity of the Big Bang arise from? Which is the one true religion? Why do I bother to pay attention to FOX News?” That being said, one cannot ignore FOX News. It sits like a blot on the landscape, the metaphorical “turd in the punchbowl of news.” And thus, here I am reporting upon it yet again.
Today’s FOX News complaint regards Gretchen Carlson lashing out and making allegations that teachers at the public schools of Lincoln, Nebraska, have become so crazed with the thought of kowtowing to the gender mafia that they are expected to no longer refer to students as boys and girls, but “purple penguins” and other strange monikers. Something which urban legend debunking site “Snopes” has soundly refuted. Moreover, the Lincoln School District themselves have come out to debunk the lies as well.
“Our teachers are allowed to use boys and girls in the classroom, and they do so in schools every day across the community,” he said in the message to parents. “We are telling our staff to be sensitive to the needs of all students, and those with gender identity issues are particularly vulnerable to bullying and suicide.”
During his press conference, Joel called it “regrettable” and “truly unfortunate” that the school district has had to waste so much time and energy answering questions and fielding calls about the training on gender inclusiveness used during summer teacher training at Irving Middle School, and possibly other LPS schools.
What else can I say? FOX News increasingly appears to be engaging in the Big Lie propaganda technique to browbeat the American public into fearing and hating us for even existing.
This article was interesting and educational for me in a couple of ways, and I must say with embarrassment, dear readers, that the primary reason was the fact that I had no idea whatsoever that pro-StarCraft playing was even a thing. Mea culpa; we live and learn.
This story is definitely worth reading as it tells of the challenges and discrimination faced by Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn, a pro gamer on the money circuit, who is a transgender girl breaking down barriers around the world. And also facing withering personal attacks from the usual internet trolls and haters.
Even if you’re not a gamer at all, I think there’s a lot to learn from this piece. Enjoy.
If you’ve never heard of Lily McBeth before, let me tell you a little about her. Born William McBeth, she transitioned in 2005 at the age of 71, and attempted post-transition to continue her career as a substitute teacher in New Jersey. Her vocal and public fight for her employment rights made the news nationwide in 2006, and helped lay the foundations of transgender employment rights in her state. Even though she had to resign 3 years later due to a suspicious lack of teaching assignments, she nonetheless kept her spirits up and continued public advocacy work in other areas.
Chase Culpepper didn’t ask for anything on a silver platter. They didn’t ask for the World on a string. They didn’t ask for anyone to crawl on their knees through broken glass. They passed their drivers license test, and wanted someone to take a freaking photograph. It’s simple. A child could do it. I once even saw a common house cat which was trained to take photographs of people.
Unfortunately, the DMV in Anderson, South Carolina, decided that taking a photograph with Chase wearing his (how Chase identifies) makeup on would be offensive to God, the Universe, and everything because it might be hiding how he normally looks.
Except of course that Chase normally wears makeup. And it’s absolutely unheard of for a woman to be told she would have to either put on or remove makeup prior to having her photograph taken by the DMV. So basically, all we have here is some incredibly minor functionary decided they were offended or threatened by a “boy wearing makeup,” and decided to make an issue out of it. And the DMV dug in its heels to defend their staffer because, well, “reasons.”
I guess they must think it’s cheaper than hiring a cat.
With the recent court case involving Hobby Lobby and its desire not to cover certain kinds of birth control because of its owners Christian beliefs, you might think that Hobby Lobby also has issues with transgender employees.
You would be right. And, oddly enough, partially wrong.
Meggan Sommerville is a Chicago writer whose blog Transgirl at the Cross explores her personal Christian faith and her life as a transgender woman. She is also an employee of 16 years at Hobby Lobby, and went through her transition while working there. She was not fired, her personnel records were updated to indicate her gender as a female, and her health insurance covers her hormones.
All isn’t great in the land of hobbies, though. Many of her medical appointments are not covered. While most of Meggan’s co-workers are supportive of her, a few will not use the correct pronouns. And as for the Hobby Lobby store she works in, they won’t allow her to use the women’s restroom. Meggan has to wait until no customers are around and duck into the men’s room as quickly as possible to avoid anyone seeing her when she comes back out.
It seems that Hobby Lobby is only willing to support her as a female employee up to some invisible point that they have determined without giving any full explanation of what it is.
So Meggan has done what I hope all transgender employees would do when faced with half-hearted attempts at support: she filed a complaint to the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Her case was initially dismissed but is again pending before the Illinois Human Rights Commission.
Just as the issue of birth control, “Christian corporation” rights, and religious objections to non-discrimination policies are all again on the table because of last week’s Supreme Court ruling, Meggan’s case against Hobby Lobby could have far-reaching effects when it is resolved. Keep your eye on this one. It could mean the difference in how transmen and transwomen are treated during a transition at their workplace in the near future.
Malaysia for some time has seen a growing Muslim presence and application of Sharia law in place of secular law, and appears to be following the lead of its neighbor, Indonesia. While many groups have suffered under Sharia law, no group has suffered more than the LGBT communities of those countries.
From the article:
On June 9, 2014, a Sharia court in Malaysia’s Negeri Sembilan state sentenced the 16 women in a hearing in which they had no access to a lawyer. State religious department officials arrested the women, along with one transgender child, at a wedding party in a private home on the night of June 8 and 9 under the state’s Sharia law, which criminalizes “a male person posing as a woman.” All pleaded guilty, except the child, who was released.
The religious department officials had infiltrated the wedding party and arrested the transwomen, several of whom were wedding planners, known locally as mak andam, while others were invited guests at the wedding. The officials beat one of the women – choking her and kicking her – and tore another woman’s clothing in the course of the arrest, according to Justice for Sisters, a Malaysian transgender rights group. After they were sentenced on June 9, because they are legally considered “men,” they were transferred to the male ward of Sungai Udong prison. There, prison authorities forcibly shaved their heads in what the women said was an effort to negate their gender identity.
On June 11, a defense lawyer filed a request to have the women’s sentences re-evaluated and to secure their release on bail. According to Justice for Sisters activists at the hearing, the judge’s actions appeared to reflect considerable personal bias in the case. The judge asked the accused, “Wouldn’t it be better if [you] are in prison?” He told them that their shaved heads made them “handsome.” He set bail conditions that were impossible for many of the women to meet, including that their parents – some of whom lived in distant states or were ill – physically come to court within 30 minutes to bail them out. The women served five days of their sentence before prison officials released them early on June 13 since their release date fell on a weekend.
Sounds like a simply lovely vacation spot.
Again, I have to ask the people who defend either RuPaul or the use of the word “tranny” – are these the ponies you want to bet on? Really?
In a video which was unashamedly originally posted on the Facebook page for RuPaul’s Drag Race (the link below will take you to another copy), recent Drag Race winner Bianca Del Rio takes to the microphone to tell what she really thinks of us in the transgender community:
“And let’s face it, we wouldn’t know who the fuck Carmen Carrera was if she didn’t fuckin’ get on Drag Race. Maybe she should take what’s left of her dick and stick it in her mouth and shut the fuck up.”
Absolutely no apology has been made, nor even an attempt by RuPaul to distance himself from the slurs and hate speech posted by his protégé.
It’s long past time for the community of transgender and transsexual women to stand up and shun RuPaul. Send him to Coventry, and stand up to anyone who idolizes him and ask “how can you do this?” For all that people can argue that RuPaul raised awareness for LGBT causes in the past, his flurry of recent capers and antics show that at best he’s a woefully clumsy dinosaur, unable to comprehend a world where transgender and transsexual women finally take their rightful place at the table.
If you want to see an example of bravery, consider these Malaysian transwomen who are fighting Shariah law and a large conservative Muslim majority in their country.
What’s at stake here is the right of these women, who are sometimes known as Mak Nyah, to dress in gender-appropriate clothing. What complicates matters is Malaysia has two different legal systems – one which is secular and primarily concerned with civil and criminal law, and another one reserved for Muslims which is based on Shariah law, and focuses on family law issues. However, a person convicted under the Shariah system can still be fined and imprisoned just the same as they can be under the secular system.
These women lost an earlier court decision, which said that because they had been born male and were Muslim, they had no rights to dress as women under the secular law. However, Malaysian secular law does have broad protections for transgender persons, and so these women are appealing to a higher court to force a resolution between the Malaysian secular constitution and Shariah law.
One might ask why the women couldn’t just renounce their religion and thus not fall under Shariah law, but the problem is Muslims who try to leave the religion can be tried in Shariah courts under the principle of apostasy. How serious is the punishment for apostasy in Malaysia? Pretty serious.
A Malaysian woman held for months in an Islamic rehabilitation centre says she was subjected to mental torture for insisting her religion is Hinduism.
Revathi Massosai, the name by which she wants to be known, says she was forced to eat beef despite being a Hindu.
When in January she asked a court to officially designate her a Hindu she was detained and taken to an Islamic rehabilitation centre. Her detention was twice extended to six months, during which time she says religious officials tried to make her pray as a Muslim and wear a headscarf.
His interrogators stripped him naked and forced him to enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As he was made to crawl naked on the floor, for 10 minutes, one Inspector Yusoff told several other Special Branch officers in the room, “Ini orang Melayu tak sedar diri.”
He was not allowed sleep for days at a stretch and was warned that he would not be fed unless he co-operated. The same Inspector Yusoff also threatened to “disturb” his girlfriend if he did not divulge the information they demanded. Inspector Yusoff and two other Inspectors, Zainudding and Ayub, assaulted him on several occasions, causing him to injure his back and pass out blood in his urine.
At one stage of interrogation, he was made to stand for two hours on one leg with both arms outstretched holding his slippers. A woman constable and her young daughter were brought in to watch him while a police constable said, “Ini Melayu tak sedar diri, tukar agama, tak malu.”
Jamaluddin was also coerced to convert back to Islam.
“I got the clear impression that all my interviews with the Special Branch was for the purpose of getting me to change my religion from Christianity to Islam,” he told the Supreme Court.
In effect, it’s like the Hotel California – you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
Some days I want to rage against the proverbial machine, and other days I just want to bury my face in my hands and give up. The newest transgender rights law in Maryland passed the Senate and House of Delegates, and hasn’t even been signed by the freaking governor yet – and a conservative Republican group is trying to force a referendum on the law for this year’s elections.
Among other things, the legislation protects transgender people against discrimination in employment and housing. It also upholds a transgender person’s right to use public bathrooms and locker rooms for the gender with which they identify.
Those provisions have prompted opponents to label the measure “the Bathroom Bill” and to warn that it would make it easier for sexual predators to gain access to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms.
Thirion said the law would apply only to people who have shown that they clearly identify with one gender, and not to a man who might put on a dress to sneak into a women’s bathroom. Supporters note that any illegal acts committed by a person in a bathroom remain illegal.
But don’t think for a minute that any reason is going to stop those who hate and fear transgender persons. These haters simply hate us for existing – for sharing their space. We’re the 21st-century version of witches. And these people cannot be placated, they cannot be reasoned with, and they cannot be happy until every last one of us either withdraws from the world and hides in our homes – or dies.
After a contentious school board meeting in Lumberton, Texas, a transgender substitute teacher who was suspended purely on account of being transgender (after complaints from
concerned parents the usual transphobic bigots was reinstated at her job.
This is awesome news, although it’s clear form this and other reports on the incident that the sole reason the School Board decided to keep her on was fear of a costly EEOC lawsuit – one which they would likely lose. Some comments from the parents are either saddening or disgusting, depending upon how much credit you want to give them.
“This has caused elementary students to be confused. Asking questions of their parents wondering why a female teacher has facial hair,” said one parent.
“We’re just now talking to our kids about the birds and the bees. I’m not sure how we’re supposed to explain this. He hired in as a male. He is a male,” said another parent.
Just think about explaining your bigotry to your kids someday. Like when I heard a woman in her 70’s say once “well, white’s only drinking fountains were just a ‘thing’….everybody did it.” Nope, nothing wrong there!