Monthly Archives: March 2014

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.

Una Attends the 8th Annual Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Celebration

Hallmark_1aYours truly was fortunate enough to attend the 8th Annual Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Celebration here in Kansas City tonight. Held at the Hallmark Visitor’s Center, the event included more than 100 professionals from more than 20 local corporations who gathered to celebrate local companies whose Corporate Equality Index (CEI) as determined by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) was 65% or greater. I was invited because my company was included in the celebration for the first time ever, largely because of the transgender protections and policies put into place in conjunction with my personal gender transition.

Hallmark_0sAttendees mill about at the HRC event.

The event was very classy, with nice snacks and desserts, an open bar (the pinot noir was much better than the chardonnay), a live Jazz band, and many HRC personnel to answer questions and meet and greet with everyone. I found my fellow corporate attendees to be very engaging and interested in TLGB rights, some of them seemingly almost as militant as I! And I was both surprised and gratified that no one knew I was a transsexual woman until I told them (and I did tell everyone when the subject arose). Several attendees took my business cards and promised to contact me, saying they would like me to come and speak to their company directors and employees. I was able to spend a little personal time with Don Hall, the CEO of Hallmark, who I found to be a very polite and thoughtful man, and who directed me over to the small museum at Hallmark which is attached to the Visitor’s Center. I recognized immediately one of my favorite Normal Rockwell works, “The Kansas City Spirit,” and was also tickled to discover that Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali had been contracted to design some Christmas cards, none of which were released to the public due to the images being too…well, surreal.

Kansas_City_Spirit“The Kansas City Spirit” by Norman Rockwell.

I was ever so pleased and proud when my company was up for our award, and I found many of the short speeches by the other recipients to be entertaining and in some cases touching – such as one speech by a woman who brought her wife up to the podium with her, to both praise her wife and use their experiences as an example of how much more still needs to be done for TLGB rights.

Hallmark_4sThe award recipients pose for the camera.

There were two messages which I took with me from the event – the first one was a recognition that the HRC has done banner work to date, but the road ahead is still long and a bit rocky. But the second message was that so much progress has been made, and there is more opportunity for hope than ever before in our history.

2014_03_26_Selfie1In my power suit prior to departing for the event…

The companies who were honored last night, and their scores are listed below:

Company/Entity Score
City of Kansas City, Mo. Perfect Score
Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics Perfect Score
AMC Entertainment 100
Sprint 100
Shook, Hardy, & Bacon LLP 100
Bryan Cave LLP 100
Monsanto Co. 100
Thompson Coburn LLP 100
ConAgra Foods Inc. 95
Hallmark Cards 90
Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. 90
Cerner 90
Husch Blackwell 90
Kutak Rock 90
Principal Financial 90
Rockwell Collins 90
Stinson, Morrison, & Hecker LLP 90
Polsinelli Shugart PC 85
Nestlé Purina PetCare Co. 85
Ameren Corp. 85
Laclede Group 80
Express Scripts 70
Union Pacific Corp. 70
Enterprise Holdings Inc. 65
Black & Veatch Corp. 65

Anti-Trans Slurs and Drag: Who Exactly Is Transgender, and Does It Matter? by Dana Beyer

Rupaul PerformsThis is an essay by Dana Beyer at the Huffington post, which I read twice, and which I confess does not really reach any conclusions nor really take any hard positions, but does cover a bit of ground and raises some things to think about. Most specifically:

The schism that is uncovered by this debate is between the gay male and trans female communities. It arose very recently in the wake of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor being given to Jared Leto for what was viewed by many as a very drag-queen-like portrayal of a trans woman, Rayon, in Dallas Buyers Club. These communities have never really been politically comfortable with one another, and some of that discomfort is now erupting publicly.

(The pedantic professor in me does object a bit to her relying upon Wikipedia as a reference for the etymology of “drag” and choosing what she refers to as a “folk etymology.” The earliest references to “drag” both appear in 1870 (Reynolds’s Newspaper  and the London Figaro), and neither they nor the 1887 and 1927 references in the Referee and the Sunday Express respectively, let alone the other 7 historical references,  make any reference to drag meaning “dressed as girl.” (source: Oxford English Dictionary). It is almost certainly an ex post facto acronym.)

Anti-Trans Slurs and Drag: Who Exactly Is Transgender, and Does It Matter? | Dana Beyer.

Lagniappe Transgender News for March 25, 2014

This is a collection of various small news items, assembled together so I don’t end up spamming the 50+ folks who follow this news feed via e-mail.

First up, media whore Jerry Springer has somehow learned how to use Google or spoken to an actual transperson, as he is shocked, shocked to discover that “tranny” is an offensive word! While part of me can appreciate that Mr. Springer, host of such episodes as “Trannies Twerk It Out,” “Mom Don’t Ruin My Tranny Wedding,” “Tranny Take Downs,” “You Got Me a Tranny Stripper!?,” “Online Tranny Trap,” “My Girlfriend is Leaving Me for a Tranny,” and “Tranny Bomb!” would like to turn over a new leaf, the cynical part of me says “oh jeeze, next thing you know he’ll learn grass is green and the sky is blue, and then there will be no stopping him…”

Next on the menu, the blogosphere is abuzz over an important gender-related incident a tempest in a teapot where an eight year-old girl has been taken out of her Christian school for behaving and looking too much like a boy.

The family received a letter telling them that if their eight year old granddaughter didn’t follow the school’s “biblical standards,” that she’d be refused enrollment next year. She’s out and in public school now.

Sunnie Kahle has short hair and a huge heart, and as far as her grandparents are concerned, she is a completely normal little girl.

The letter goes on to say that students have been confused about whether Sunnie is a boy or girl and specifies that administrators can refuse enrollment for condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.

The letter goes on to reference specific Bible verses that affirm these beliefs.

The letter reads in part, “We believe that unless Sunnie as well as her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education.”

Here is where I will interject some opinion and state that folks, this is a private Christian school. They have the right to discriminate in just about any way imaginable, and there’s really not much that can be done about it. At heart, this is little different than a Muslim student being asked to leave a Jewish School because…wait for it…she’s not Jewish. This is not a gender hate crime, this is business as usual for private religious schools.

Next we do have a success story, albeit an international one, so it’s not really in the news so much in America. India’s transgender community is very large and diverse, but often lives in the shadows, the slums, or must exist as hijra, who often are performers and entertainers as part of their begging for alms. This report from India says that the members of the hijra community will be allowed to register as “other” in their gender category for their voter ID. However, of the 3 million or so estimated hijra, only 28,000 have taken advantage of the scheme thus far.

Next we have what should be an inspiring story, but which I feel is marred somewhat by poor visual composition in its reporting. In this testimonial story, a California teacher talks about her return to the classroom after her legal and social gender transition. However, spattered around the article, which tells of the journey of educator Gary Sconce to his new life as Karen Adell Scot, we have photos of:

  • Karen without her wig, bald head clearly shown.
  • Karen shaving her face in the mirror, with clear beard stubble and shadow showing.
  • Karen working out with free weights and looking very masculine in pose.

Thank goodness she’s at least gendered properly throughout the article, but seriously, they were not exactly the best photographs a transwoman could have to tell her story to the cisgender masses. I feel badly for her, and even if she fully intended to focus on these visual misgenderings herself, I still feel badly for her.

Last and certainly least, those wacky legal Hamburglars, the Pacific Justice Institute, have yet again filed suit to try to revive their failed effort to put the rights of transgender schoolchildren up for a vote. No legal observers I have read on this subject appear to be concerned about the PJC’s latest effort, but I’m certain that this won’t be the last of these madcap Legal Smeagols.

TransGriot Asserts: Drag Culture Is A Major Reason We Even HAVE A Trans Community. Una has her say too.

I approached this essay on TransGriot with some trepidation, as I’ve been experiencing recent backlash by crossdressers and drag performers who want to assert themselves under the transgender umbrella, sadly taking down transgender persons in the process. However, this article appears well thought out and reasonable, and I think is worth a quick read.

One quibble I have is with regards to the title. There is often an implication that without crossdressers and drag, the transgender community as such would not exist, and I disagree with that very strongly (and to their credit, that’s not really what the author on TransGriot is saying either).

We transsexuals were born this way. We don’t wear our clothes to feel sexy or good or to put on a show. At the end of the night we don’t get to take off everything and be a cisgender person. And the next morning, we have to put on our gender-appropriate clothes and live our lives in our gender-appropriate manner. We go out every single day and put our jobs, families, and lives on the line to live as the mental gender we are. It isn’t a performance nor a game to us.

We are a unique ethnic group, and we have always been here, and very likely always will be here as well. Short of ethnic cleansing or genocide, transgender people are here for the long haul.

So yes, Virginia (Prince), there is a trans community which exists fully independently of the crossdressing and drag community. We’re not “superior” to crossdressers or drag performers, we’re not “better” – we’re simply unique and different. I love my crossdressing and drag sisters and brothers, I just want to emphasize that there is a difference between us and them. Differences which should not be leveraged to divide us, but rather be recognized as making us special and awesome in our own ways, and which need a little recognition and tolerance – both ways, transgender to crossdresser, crossdresser to transgender. Mutual respect and sisterhood (or brotherhood as the case may be).

TransGriot: Drag Culture Is A Major Reason We Even HAVE A Trans Community.

Why did this Transgender Woman Have to Take Her Name Change to Appeals Court?

Because the judge who was handling her name change petition decided not to grant it. Why not? Because he objects to people who don’t fall within his definition of gender identity. In fact, the Oklahoma ACLU, who took up her case, reports that this is the second time that a gender-based name change has required going to the Appeals Court in order to allow the change.

Monologuing a bit here, what’s somewhat darkly amusing to me about this case is when I also listen to the recent screeds from religious conservatives that “activist judges” across the nation are responsible for all sorts of terrible injustices – such as ruling for same-sex marriage, transgender rights, or preventing animal abuse. But when a judge can’t even handle a simple name change without injecting his own personal bias, and is over-ruled by the Appeals Court (twice now) – that same crowd pounding their holy books and decrying activist judges is strangely silent.

The whole issue of “activist judges” is a logical fallacy in its application – for instance, the same people I know who celebrated in the streets over the United States Supreme Court’s pro-gun Heller and McDonald decisions decry the DOMA-ending Windsor decision for being the result of a “tyranny of activist judges.” The same thing happened with Lawrence, a vital decision which decriminalized homosexuality in America and which few Americans even know exists.

Even stepping away from the issue of TLGB rights or guns, other vital decisions in our nation’s history were the result of 5-4 rulings. One notable case even the layperson will know of is the Miranda decision, which defines many of our legal rights when we are arrested.

Who is or isn’t an “activist judge” only depends on whose respective ox is being gored.

Transgender woman finally granted name change |

Transgender Woman Blames Firing On Using the “Wrong” Bathroom

It’s a case of TTT (trans toilet terror), and in this case the victim is Miss Kaye Bowens of Star City, Arkansas, who was fired when her shift manager noticed her using the women’s bathroom – something she had done since her first day at work.

The store has issued a wishy-washy carefully crafted general legal statement. While some local McDonald’s franchises have made transgender rights an important part of their business model, corporate headquarters has been completely silent on the issue.
From the article:

Bowens says she was offered her job back later that day after threatening a lawsuit, but only if she agreed to use the men’s room.

How freaking insensitive and totally missing the point. The article further says:

Bowens says she filed a complaint with EEOC and is considering hiring a lawyer, after feeling her rights have been violated.

I hope she does, because given the findings in Macy v. Holder and subsequent rulings, and the Obama Administration’s focus on transgender rights, she’s going to win.

Transgender Woman Blames Firing On Using Wrong Bathroom –

Transgender Oregon Mayor Stu Rasmussen Auctions off Shoes for Charity

I’m torn about this article…it’s not a bad little piece, and it treats her honor the mayor respectively, but you have to deal with about a score of misgenderings in both the written article and the video clip (which is worth seeing). However, according to the mayor’s Facebook About page,

“Stu never sought this recognition out,” said JustOut reporter Stephen Marc Beaudoin. “He’s interested in doing a great job for the community that he loves. The gender identity thing is just a total backseat thing.”

That comes across when Rasmussen speaks in his decidedly masculine voice.

“I am a dude,” he said. “I am a heterosexual male who appears to be a female.”

His longtime live-in girlfriend, Victoria Sage, told The Oregonian newspaper that she and Rasmussen have been an item for almost 35 years.

So don’t get too concerned about the use of “him” in the article.
Transgender Oregon Mayor Stu Rasmussen auctions off shoes for charity.

Negative Publicity: Transgender Woman Says Her Male Persona Is the Serial Killer

This news item has been bumped around local news in the American Northwest, and it’s also appeared recently on several conservative blogs as “proof” that all transpeople, everywhere, are nutrageously nutty.

Transwoman Donna Perry, who is accused of being a serial killer of prostitutes, claims that she is not responsible for anything that Douglas, her “male persona,” may or may not have done. The unfortunate side effect of her outrageous claim is that she is attempting to throw the trans community under the metaphorical bus in order to make a gamble to avoid sentencing for three brutal murders.


Transgender Woman Says Her Male Persona Is the Serial Killer – ABC News.

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 |

Gender Stereotypes for Kids Are Taking a Toll

"My Little Pony" promotes friendship, but an MLP backpack promotes bullying. Photo: WLTX

“My Little Pony” promotes friendship, but an MLP backpack promotes bullying. Photo: WLTX

If you have been on Facebook lately, you’ve probably seen one of the many posts about 9-year-old Grayson Bruce who was told by his school not to continue carrying his beloved “My Little Pony” backpack. While this isn’t an issue of discrimination or bullying towards a transgender child, the seemingly growing divide between what is accepted as “ok” or “normal” for each gender certainly is a problem that can and will affect the transgender community.

In Grayson’s case, rather than deal with the bullies (at of the time of this post, the school still hasn’t done anything to reprimand them), the school counselor told Grayson that the backpack is a “trigger for bullying” and should be left at home to prevent more problems. Grayson’s mom wisely pointed out that blaming the backpack is akin to saying a woman’s short skirt was to blame for her being raped. Blaming the victim never makes sense.

Grayson has received an overwhelming amount of support and even has a Facebook page dedicated to him. Supporters are calling on the school to allow Grayson to carry his backpack and to address the bullying more directly.

In an odd twist, even right-wing Conservatives like Glenn Beck are showcasing their support for Grayson. In a rather bizarre and transphobic comment, Beck stated:

“Here’s why I’m torn on this because in a society where I have to build you a special bathroom because you’re confused… God forbid you were ever born a certain gender. No, no. I have to build a bathroom for you. But a 9-year-old boy can’t choose to be different? A 9-year-old boy can’t choose My Little Pony and be protected by the school? The only ones being responsible here, I think, is the 9-year-old kid Grayson. He’s being authentic. He’s being responsible. He’s saying, ‘This who I am. I don’t care what anybody else says about me.’

Ironic, isn’t it? Glenn Beck sees Grayson as being authentic to himself, but he considers transgender people to be “confused.”

Just in case you don’t think a little bullying of a “Brony” is a big deal, it also led to an 11-year-old boy’s attempted suicide earlier this year. Michael Morones tried to hang himself from his bunk bed railing after being teased relentlessly at school for liking a show that promotes friendship.

As a society, it’s time to put aside the idea that pink, ballet, and ponies are only acceptable for girls, or that blue, football, and lions are only for boys. We are causing serious damage to our children — all of our children — by promoting such strict gender stereotypes.


Dr. Marci Bowers, an Extraterrestrial Religion, and the Pleasure Hospital of Bobo

You must admit, it sounds like the title of the strangest Indiana Jones film ever. But read the article please; it’s both sobering and inspiring.

The setting is Africa, the victims are women who have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM), and the heroine in this case is Dr. Marci Bowers, a preeminent transsexual surgeon from the United States. This interesting and topical BBC News article tells of how the Raelian movement, which some may call a “hippie UFO cult,” sponsored the construction of a hospital in Africa purely to help the more than 125 million girls and women who have undergone FGM. The hospital has the nickname “the Pleasure Hospital” because that’s what it hopes to provide – the ability of these victims of FGM to be able to be happy with their bodies and their personal appearance.

Sound like a familiar goal, anyone?

Thus the involvement of Dr. Bowers, who has championed the cause of ending the practice and helping the victims, to the point where she often does the surgery pro bono.

In the end, of course, there is some psychodrama as the government cracks down for contrived reasons, but 29 women’s lives were made better.

BBC News – The unopened ‘Pleasure Hospital’ of Bobo.

My So-Called Queer Life — Cissexism through Biological Determination

Subtitled, “On why it’s not okay to assume trans women experienced male privilege,” this is an engaging short essay which I was directed to by my friend Amanda. The essay should be of most interest I think to younger transpeople, and families of younger transpeople, as important advice on how to combat assumptions that we transsexual women “had it easy” in our early lives.

My So-Called Queer Life — Cissexism through Biological Determination: On why it’s not okay to assume trans women experienced male privilege.

NEWS: Obamacare Insurers MUST Cover Same-Sex Spouses

This is more huge news which will have an impact on many trans couples. Yesterday the Obama Administration issued a directive that health insurers who participate in the Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges must cover the spouses of same-sex couples, even if they state in which they live does not recognize their marriage! You can read a few more details at the link below.

Business: Washington Post Business Page, Business News.

Transgender Student Inspires in All-Girl Pageant

There’s so much to like about this story. I wish that it could be repeated in so many more places.

A Chapman University senior became the first transgender contestant in the university’s annual all-woman pageant Wednesday night, winning the title of Miss Congeniality.

Addie Vincent, 21, faced off against 15 other competitors for the title of Miss Delta Queen, a competition organized by the university’s Greek system. The pageant’s winner was Alexandria Kessinger.

“Tonight was so awesome,” Vincent said after the pageant. “The fact that I was just able to compete was so amazing on its own.”

Throughout the contest, many of the 500 students and audience members whooped and hollered every time Vincent took the stage at Memorial Hall.

Following the poem, students shouted, “We love you Addie!” and gave Vincent the night’s only standing ovation.

“Addie has inspired so many people,” said Lauren Chouinard, a friend and former pageant contestant. “Addie sent a message so many people needed to hear.”

Each contestant was nominated by a campus fraternity or sorority. The Alpha Delta Phi fraternity chose Vincent with a 20-0 vote, with fraternity members saying they nominated the senior to show support for the transgender community.

I’m a little troubled by the fact that she had to be nominated by her fraternity, but that may just be a necessary incongruence.

Transgender student inspires at Chapman pageant – The Orange County Register.