Tag Archives: discrimination

Police Blotter – April 2, 2014

Captain Roberta MonellIt’s pure coincidence that I have two Police Blotter posts in a row – it seems like there have been several law enforcement-related transgender stories lately.

This post features one positive and two negative stories. Let’s lead with the positive one, the story of Captain Roberta Monell, who is also our featured main photo today. Twenty years ago the 49-year-old Roberta – born Robert – started dressing female while working as an investigator at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. She bravely used the more feminine version of her name, ignoring criticism and losing her job. She went bankrupt, then became a truck driver for five years. In 2000 she reapplied to the police department but was rejected. She took them to court and won, was hired, and fought through the ranks to eventually become a captain in the Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office. Facing mandatory retirement after a solid career she enjoys, she said:

“I wanted to prove that transgender people are just as normal as everybody else. We just identify with the opposite gender,” she said. “But we’re still human beings.”

Toilet_Terror
Next, we have a negative item – the case of a transgender student who allegedly was harassed beyond all belief by campus security at a North Carolina Community College. Why would I report what right now appears to be a “she-said-and-the-other-side-can’t-get-its-story-straight” piece? Because her story is very believable – I’ve seen verified cases where the same thing has happened to other transwomen. I think reading about the Keystone Kops routine of the school administration could be useful for being forewarned about how “trans toilet terror” can turn really ugly even in a professional setting.

Amira_Gray
As negative as this story of a transgender woman being harassed by police during a routine traffic stop is, what is heartening is that she’s standing up for her rights and suing their asses. Amira Gray, a 26 year-old transwoman from New Jersey, alleges that she was:

…was pulled over while driving through North Bergen six months ago, she was humiliated, she said, by the police officer calling her “Mr.” And “sir.”

Almost three weeks ago, Gray sued the North Bergen Police Department, saying she was a victim of discrimination, targeted because of her sexual orientation, and accused of driving on a suspended license despite proof that it was not suspended. Police impounded her car.

Unfortunately the article does not talk much about Ms. Gray’s case, but there is a video with her and her attorney which is worth viewing quickly.

Police Blotter – March 28, 2014

Police_Measuring_Skirt_LengthPoliceman Chuck Peyton checks to see if the old-fashioned bathing suit worn by actress Myrna Ross complies with 1933 Redondo Beach ordinance banning women’s suits that are more than 3 in. above knee.

This “police blotter” posting contains three law-related stories involving the transgender community – one positive, and two negative.

Let’s start with the positive, and discuss a new program by the Department of Justice to train local police officers across the nation to better protect and serve transgender persons. As National Public Radio reports,

The new initiative is aimed at helping police identify hate crimes and build trust with a community that law enforcement officials say is too often reluctant to report crimes.

“It’s clear that such a training is as necessary as it is overdue,” Associate Attorney General Tony West said at a ceremony unveiling the program. “Because too often, in too many places, we know that transgender victims are discouraged from reporting hate crimes and hate violence due to their past negative interactions with and perceptions of law enforcement.”

Deputy Attorney General James Cole said it was unacceptable that transgender people don’t report crimes against them “based on the community’s fears about law enforcement’s support and perceptions.”

“This is not a result that can or will be tolerated by the Department of Justice, and it runs counter to the very role your community public safety officials want to promote,” Cole said.

Strong words which I hope form a new basis for trust between our people and law enforcement.
Francesca_QuarantaOfficer Francesca Quaranta

Now a negative report – last November I reported on the case of a Connecticut police officer who filed harassment charges against her department after coming out at work. Unfortunately for Officer Francesca Quaranta, an investigation undertaken by the City of Middleton, Connecticut has found “no evidence that a transgender police officer was subject to discrimination or a hostile work environment.” Now, I report this as bad news not because I’m passing judgement on the city – I’m sitting 1,500 miles away and know nothing at all about the case, although I can point to a history where discrimination against our people is the norm, rather than an exception. It’s bad news because Officer Quaranta obviously feels she was the victim of harassment, and this investigation provides no closure for her.

Finally, a story no one wants to see, but which we need to report upon, because the haters out there will report on it, and we need to be informed so we can be ready for those who want to “teach the controversy.” A Columbus, Ohio transgender woman is being charged with one felony count each of sodomy and child molestation, resulting from an alleged incident between the defendant and a 15 year-old boy. The accused, Christopher Antwain Russell, told police that the teen claimed to be 18 years old. Reading the details as reported in the link above, it really appears to be a case of “she said, he said,” with little to no physical evidence.

What’s the truth? I’ll keep an eye open for developments.

RuPaul Stokes Anger With Use of Transphobic Slurs

RuPaul really tries the patience of some in the transgender community. For others, however, he really pisses us off. He simultaneously will claim to speak for the transgender community while mocking it with an “I don’t give a shit” attitude.

Unfortunately, while that attitude may be endearing with honey badgers, it really isn’t fetching when it comes from a drag queen with a drastically inflated sense of self-worth.

A few choice quotes from this article:

Last night’s episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race featured a contest many on Twitter are calling transphobic. The game, “Female or Shemale,” pitted the contestants against each other in a quest to determine whether they were being shown a picture of — as RuPaul phrased it — “a biological woman or a psychological woman.”

In announcing the name of the game, “female” was said in a higher-pitched tone, while “shemale” was said in a low, gruff, masculine-sounding tone.

Nope, nothing wrong here! Oh, wait…

This is far from the first time RuPaul has stoked the ire of trans people. He has famously defended his use of the word “tranny” on Drag Race and in his music, and once claimed that the only difference between a transgender woman and a drag queen was “$25,000 and a good surgeon.”

Ah…good plan, dude. Next time, try saying something intelligent for a change.

RuPaul Stokes Anger With Use of Transphobic Slur | Advocate.com.

Personal Reactions to the KC Star Article on a Local Transgender Family

Local_Transkid

I didn’t post this on Sunday when it ran, because I wanted to get some “reactions” from my co-workers and others who I know are frequent readers of the Kansas City Star.

I started receiving e-mails and IM’s yesterday, and then today fielded a variety of questions from interested co-workers. The reaction from those who read it and contacted me was highly positive. Many asked if I had seen the article because it was “great,” but most folks assumed I knew the family (of course I do, I consider them dear friends). Comments I received fell into the following lines:

“I didn’t know there were transgender kids that young.”

“I know you had it hard, Una, but I can’t imagine how hard it must be for the girl in the article.”

“Her parents are very brave.”

“I wish I’d had parents like hers.”

“I hope these kids will get protection from bullies.”

“I’d have to hire a bodyguard or send my son[sic] to Tae Kwon Do every day if they did this, but I’d be there for him.[sic]”

“I know you’ve told me a lot about…people like you, but it never hit me that kids could have this.”

“It really helped open my eyes.”

I also received a few questions, mostly along the lines of “are there lots of kids like this?,” “do they give the kids surgery that early?” and “how do you even deal with something like this? It’s hard enough being a parent!” (which is more of a rhetorical question, true)

I have to hope that the large number of positive reactions which I witnessed is at least somewhat indicative of how the public in general views the subject of transgender kids in particular, and transgender persons in general. I have to hope.

There are some other links which you should see, in addition to the primary link at the end of this post. This link takes you to an extensive gallery of photographs of local transgender children going about their everyday lives. And this link takes you to a local video on this subject.

‘I am a girl’: Transgender children face a society slow to accept them – KansasCity.com.

ESSAY: Una Rambles a Bit About the Cisgender Focus on Genitals

Vogue-Breathless

I confess that I saw the Barney’s photo shoot for their catalog which featured transgender models when the news first ran, and I didn’t feel it was really newsworthy enough to report upon. Vogue disagreed, and ran a transgender advocacy piece on their website, which is linked below.

The article is an interesting read, but there’s nothing really groundbreaking. However, this quote from the article caught my eye:

It’s astonishing the amount of time that certain straight people devote to gay sex—trying to determine what goes where, and how often. They can’t imagine any system outside their own, and seem obsessed with the idea of roles, both in bed and out of it.

This is very true when I debate transgender rights on various message boards across the net, but in a different way. Many cisgender people want to focus on our genitals. It’s the first thing they think of when they meet a transgender person, and if they are socially inept enough one may be asked “OMG! Are those tits real? Did you have your dick cut off? OMG!” When a transman is encountered, the reaction can be “OMG! So do you like wear a strap-on all the time?! OMG!”

This of course is at best willful ignorance, and at worst thinly-disguised hate.

The questions also come fast and furious about our sexual preference: “So, um, do you date men? Does that make you gay, or ‘something else?’ So you stayed married to your wife? Are you, like, a lesbian? How do you have sex? Doesn’t the wife miss ‘the dick?’ ” (well if she did, I could introduce her to the giant talking one I’m facing right now…) And most charming of all, “um, hey, can I watch?”

Charlie Sheen; Jon Cryer
Yeeees…lesbians…

For all that many cisgender people define transgender persons by our genitals and sexual intimacy, they miss the glaringly obvious point that it’s they who are thinking about the penis, the vagina, the breasts, and all the rest of the naughty bits which fill the average American with a frisson of glee whenever the subject arises. In doing so they admit their ignorance on understanding what gender really is. What is a man? What is a woman? They ignore the entire 99% or more of our lives which are spent in a gender role – living, loving, going to work, playing, shopping, and everything else – outside of sex.

Conservative religious followers scream with fury “THEY WANT TO PUT BOYS IN OUR GIRLS’ BATHROOMS!” and contemptuously brush aside the overarching whole of “what does it really mean to be a girl?” Others claim that the Bible, Koran, and other holy books are always and forever literally true, every word of them: God created men and women, there is nothing else, and you don’t dare presume to change that fact. When confronted with the fact that intersex people exist, they either brush it off as a birth defect, deny that intersex people exist and claim it’s all part of a government conspiracy, or go so far as to claim that intersex people are demonic spawn who God personally wants them to ostracize, mock, hurt, and kill.

And these folks can vote. Think about that for a golden moment.

I’ve told these folks “Me personally, I don’t believe God makes mistakes. The fact is, intersex people do exist, transgender people do exist, and we are all children of God, a creator, or nature and the universe, depending on your beliefs. You believe in an omnipotent and omniscient God, but think they made a mistake somehow? What the hell, do you think they were they doing Jäger shots when they created me?”

Jager
God doesn’t make mistakes, nor did they do Jäger shots when creating intersex and transgender persons.

Rarely are their hearts and minds open to the possibility that their own God did not make a mistake, and rather it is ever-so fallible human beings who are mistaken when they wrote the Bible.

Perhaps if as a society we educated our children on understanding gender – not just the traditional roles, but the reality of gender fluidity and gender ambiguity – rather than sex, we would raise a generation of children wherein small-minded, hateful bigots would be a vanishingly small minority.

Breathless: Ignorance or Insensitivity? Dealing with Transgender Culture – Culture – Music, Movies, Art, Profiles, and More.

No Clear Message from the Obama Administration Over ENDA Executive Order

Obama_SigningOK, this is a little long, but I really need to lay down some background first about what could, if fortune favors us, be one of the most important transgender advances in recent history.

The President of the United States has some modest authority to use Executive Orders to direct how the Federal government behaves, so long as such orders are lawful. For example, the President could in theory order that all Federal employees must wear pink on Fridays, unless or until the Legislative Branch (Congress) passed a law forbidding such, or the Judicial Branch (the Supreme Court) declared such an order to be un-Constitutional.

This power, however, also allows the President to influence broad areas of America indirectly by directing how Federal contractors must behave if they are going to be qualified to bid on Federal projects. This is an incredible amount of implicit power, as a very large number of American companies are Federal contractors, or else wish to bid on Federal contracts. Wikipedia has an impressive list of the top-100 Federal contractors, and the total number of employees among these companies are in the millions. Take a look at the list – is your company on it? Mine does tens of millions of dollars of Federal work every year, and we probably are barely in the top-1000.

The total number of Federal contractor employees is not public data, and I struggled with a variety of half-baked sources and WAGs, often from Tea Party “conspiracy” sites. As best as I can tell, there are perhaps 7-10 million employees working for companies which are performing on Federal contracts, and perhaps 20-30 million employees of companies which have pursued Federal contracts. If you add this to the number of employees in the Federal government itself (4.3 million), we have somewhere between 11 to 44 million employees in the United States who would be potentially impacted by any Executive Order impacting Federal contractors.

Given that the total size of the employed United States workforce is about 144 million, and you can see that at a minimum we’re talking about 8%, and at most 31% of the American workforce is potentially impacted by an Executive Order.

So now that I’ve bored you with some statistics, now to the heart of the matter: to be blunt, President Obama has within his authority the ability to declare that all government contractors must have a strict non-discrimination policy in hiring, firing, and worker treatment to protect gender identity and gender expression, sexual preference, and sexual identity. In short, overnight President Obama could potentially make the lives of a very large percentage of the transgender community better overnight!

An order such as this would help get unemployed transgender persons off the streets and into the workforce, allowing them to start living better lives. It would protect the innumerable closeted transgender persons, who live in fear every day of being outed at work and losing their livelihoods. And it would change the entire dialog and force the issue to be confronted among many employers who aren’t even currently Federal contractors. As the size of our Federal government grows the attraction of the money available for private companies will increase, leading more and more discriminatory companies to throw in the metaphorical towel and enact their own anti-discrimination policies on their own.

However, according to the Washington Blade (link below), the Obama Administration is giving some mixed signals on whether or not they will use an Executive Order to do what the House of Representatives refuses to do – enact ENDA in any way, shape, or form.

I won’t spin the story below – it speaks for itself. There appears to be some confusion over where in the process of “consideration” an ENDA Executive Order lies. This sort of confusion is hardly new – President Obama’s staff have been historically much better at keeping secrets than past Administrations, so I don’t really think one can say for certain what will happen. President Obama may be concerned about the November elections, as the possibility of losing seats in the Senate, and more in the House, is a clear and present danger due to dissatisfaction over the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a “Obamacare”).

I hope that President Obama does enact an Executive Order ENDA soon, so precedent can build to help create change. The 2016 Presidential election is entirely up in the air, and a backlash from the masses sending in a Conservative President could easily result in a repeal of any Executive Orders which were thought to be “too Liberal.”

W.H. adviser says ENDA executive order ‘under consideration’ : Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source.

Exclusive to Transas City – Part 3 of Our Series on Transgender and Intersex Persons in Sport

Mianne Bagger
Part 3 of my research article on transgender and intersex persons in sports has been posted on Transas City. Covering the post-Richards era to the Stockholm Consensus, this installment covers the treatment of transgender and intersex persons in sport from the 1980’s to 2004. The stories of the athletes and the discrimination they faced should touch us all, and perhaps their perseverance will give us hope at the same time.

Trans Woman Dares Bible-Quoting Councilman to Stone Her to Death

I admire her courage for standing up and confronting this dingus. It never ceases to stun me how ignorant Christians can be about their own Bible. And how so hypocritical even literalists can be, openly violated the Bible while they dare to try to judge others. Once I had a short conversation with a Biblical literalist, which went like this:

Them: “…and what’s the most disgusting of all is we have these homosexuals spreading Satan’s teachings in our schools! You know the Bible says we should stone them to death, and maybe it’s about time we realized we’re a Christian nation and need to follow Christ’s teachings!”

Me: “Jesus said you were supposed to murder homosexuals?”

Them: “It’s not murder if you’re doing God’s will.”

Me: “OK, two questions. First, are you saying Jesus said you are supposed to kill your fellow humans if they’re gay, and second, why does the most powerful being in the Universe, who created the Universe and everything in it, need to have you as their personal hit man? Are you saying God is so helpless they can’t punish these evildoers themselves?”

Them: “Jesus loves us and wants us to obey his teachings. That’s all you need to know.”

Me: “You haven’t broken any Commandments or teachings in the Bible? How about the ones about never shaving and wearing tassels on your clothing? How about not stealing, something I know you’ve broken?”

Them: “We’re all sinners.”

Me: “So should I punish you? Can I put you to death for violating God’s will?”

Them: “No, because you don’t believe.”

Me: “But I do believe. You’ve just borne false witness. That’s another Commandment.”

Them: “Leave me alone or I’ll kick your ass.”

Me: “Did God just tell you to do that? Otherwise you’ve just threatened to break another Commandment.”

Sobering thought of the day: people like that are allowed to vote.

Trans Woman Dares Bible-Quoting Councilman to Stone Her to Death | Advocate.com.

Scandal-Ridden NJ Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Transgender People to Get New Birth Certificates

Christie
Republican governor Chris Christie, is apparently shameless even after his aides orchestrated a bridge-closing as a dirty-tricks political payback which resulted in the death of a 91 year old woman, and not even week later it’s alleged he used disaster funds intended for Hurricane Sandy victims to make campaign ads featuring him and his family. So he has apparently decided to double-down on the stupidity.

Christie’s stated reason for denying transgender persons in his state an easier way to get congruent birth certificates was the massive, sweeping identity fraud committed by transpeople – almost of a Biblical nature. And I mean Old Testament here. Christie’s reasons are absolute bullshit of course, and he’s doing no more than following the recent religious conservative line of “transpeople are icky and as soon as it’s convenient, we’re going to do something about them.”

Disgraceful.

Chris Christie vetoes bill allowing transgender people to get new birth certificates | NJ.com.

California’s Right Wing Taking on Transgender Kids

This is a somewhat balanced article from SFGate which does not demonize either side and presents some basic facts for a person who has not been actively  following this issue.

I however can demonize one side – those who are fighting so hard to remove protections for transgender kids are, speaking frankly, a hate group. Transgender kids are the most vulnerable of all of us, and every time conservatives claim they are doing this to protect their sweet, sweet treasures, I ask them the following:

  • Why do they never evince one shred of concern for transgender kids who are taunted, bullied, beaten, or worse by using the wrong bathrooms?
  • What protections will they guarantee for transgender kids who suffer abuse as a result of the repeal? More or less than “squat?”
  • Can they name even a single case in their state of a transgender teen assaulting a girl in the bathroom? Ever?
  • Why do they never bring up transboys, only transgirls? Are they too stupid to realize the arrow points both ways, or do they just not give a shit about their virginal sons?
  • Why, if their side is so pure and holy, do they not join in decrying the lies and libel and slander by hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage and the Pacific Justice Institute, especially when the latter has manufactured fake news stories of harassment? Why do they allow the law to be misrepresented? Is a lie OK as long as your friends are telling it?

California to some extent drives the nation. If the haters win here, I fear what will happen next. And don’t count on Californians doing the “right thing” and defeating the measure at the polls – remember, this is the same “hippy, dippy” state which thought gays and lesbians were so scary they should be banned by Constitutional Amendment from being allowed to marry someone they love. Large swaths of the state are very conservative, and if the propaganda message gets out that leering, hairy transgender “boys” are sexually harassing the virginal Aryan daughters of California…then all bets are off as to what will happen at the polls.

California’s right pins hopes on transgender issue – SFGate.

Staffers for Former Utah Attorney General Caught Sending Transphobic Emails

This guy and his team are a real piece of work. He resigned in disgrace over campaign finance violations and other misdeeds, and his staffers are apparently a bunch of transphobic haters. I don’t know what’s most idiotic – their transphobic comments, or the fact that they are snarking on one of their own Party!

From the article:

Seth Crossley and Renae Cowley, staffers in Swallow’s 2012 reelection campaign, exchanged several of emails using transphobic terms to describe a transgender woman who was a delegate to the Utah Republican Convention…

“77 graced us with their presence yesterday,” Crossley wrote, referring to the number of delegates who had attended a campaign event in the weeks leading up to the convention. “Including the infamous cross dresser!”

Cowley responded to Crossley’s email by demanding a photograph of the delegate. “I’m still waiting for a picture of the tranny!” wrote Cowley.

“I offered a picture of that thing while it was next to me!” replied Crossley. “You declined.”

“No, I didn’t,” Cowley responded. “I just said not an ‘up the skirt shot.'”

This is what these people think of us.

Staffers for Former Utah Attorney General Caught Sending Transphobic Emails | Advocate.com.

Becky Kent, Scottish Transgender Woman, Receives Offensive Note With Divorce Papers

It’s not like divorce isn’t difficult enough to go through, but imagine you are a transgender woman and a court official adds a sticky note on your divorce papers, saying the following?

“Colin it’s right! Man — changed his name to woman’s name — statutory declaration attached! Takes all sorts!”

Since it’s Scotland, the likely result will be a single apology, and no real action taken to fix the issue. It’s not only disheartening, it’s scary when people in the government decide to score “points” off your gender. Hey Scotland, 1970 called, it wants its bigotry back…

Becky Kent, Scottish Transgender Woman, Receives Offensive Note With Divorce Papers.

Cross-Training – The History and Future of Transgender and Intersex Athletes – Part 1

Fox-Smith
Exclusive to Transas City, an 8-part research article which attempts to settle the debate on whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete with cisgender athletes. This topic has been increasingly in the news, especially as a result of California’s recent efforts to “mainstream” transgender students, and many ardent transgender activists have struggled to factually defend our rights to compete against our own gender. My hope is that someday, folks can link to these articles to make their points.

The article is more than 13,000 words in length with numerous citations, and walks through the history and present of transgender and intersex athletes. Discussed herein are the cruelty transgender and intersex athletes have had to endure, the flaws and follies of sex testing, medical differences and similarities between transgender and cisgender athletes, and methodical arguments that transgender athletes do not have an unfair advantage in sports.

Part 1 has now been posted, which is an introduction to the topic and a review of early history. I will post the other parts every few days. I spent woman-weeks researching this subject, and I hope that it becomes of use in the transgender community worldwide.

Cross-Training – The History and Future of Transgender and Intersex Athletes (Page 1)

LSU Poll: Louisiana Opposes Gay and Transgender Discrimination

Louisiana
This is somewhat encouraging news, especially given the high number of conservative religious folks in the state. The guts of this very short article:

-89.3% of Louisiana residents agree that nobody should be fired from their job just because they are gay or transgender,

-93.7% of Louisiana residents believe that nobody should be evicted from their home or denied housing because they are gay or transgender, and

-89.5% of Louisiana residents believe that schools should protect gay and transgender students from bullying and harassment.

The support extends across all sorts of traditional dividing lines – Republicans and Democrats, young people and old, north Louisiana and south all agree that LGBT people deserve fair treatment in these aspects of life.

LSU poll finds Louisiana opposes gay and transgender discriminat – WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports.

The ‘Curing’ (Torture and Exploitation) of Australia’s First Transgender Man

A compelling historical piece from the Atlantic magazine. The subject is the life of Ellen Tremaye, one of the first European transgender men known on the continent. Changing his name to Edward De Lacy Evans and living as a man, including having several wives who claimed not to have any idea their husband had a vagina (see the story of Billy Tipton), he found employment as a miner and blacksmith. More importantly, the story focuses on the way he was treated when he was forcibly committed to an asylum for depression. Upon being stripped for bathing, they discovered he had female genitalia and breasts, and then:

Doctors diagnosed him with “cerebral mania” and “mental weakness,” and offered him only female attire to wear. He refused to wear it, or to eat, for days at a time. Over the course of Evans’ three-month treatment, physicians subjected him to extensive vaginal and rectal probing, during which he reportedly “sobbed and wept.”

Well yeah, I’m pretty sure most of us would sob and weep over extensive rectal and vaginal probing.

Evans’ exposure caused, to put it mildly, an incredible stir. One local photographer snuck into the hospital and took photos of Evans dressed in both male and female clothing, as well as in a straight jacket. Local sideshow operators offered the hospital 5 Australian pounds a week to display Evans as an oddity.

After his release, Evans did appear in one such traveling carnival, where reporters noted that he appeared “weak and half-witted” from the ordeal. Sideshows billed him as “The Wonderful Male Impersonator” and a pamphlet about his life, The Man-Woman Mystery, was published in 1880.

I give a spoiler and say that Evans did not lead a long and happy life. Much more information at the link below.

The ‘Curing’ of Australia’s First Transgender Man – Olga Khazan – The Atlantic.