Tag Archives: international

Positive International Transgender News You Missed This Week

Geraldine Roman 1

It seems that nearly every item of transgender news that landed in my brain this week concerns toilets, toilets, and still more toilets. And of course that’s important news, and an issue which will eventually impact every transgender person in the United States. In my last “Trans Talk” program on 90.1 FM KKFI I spent perhaps 5 minutes of my news update focused upon the toilet issue, so I do recognize its importance. But I’m also uncertain what my adding another article to be shared on the subject will do to add to the debate. I have no original research to present upon the subject, and while some may cry “every article creates awareness!”, when even people in the transgender community are tired of hearing about toilet news…how interested can the cisgender community be in the subject at this juncture?

Instead I want to share a couple of positive transgender news stories from the international scene which you may have missed this week. Note my post title implies that you did in fact miss this news, which is rather presumptuous, but that’s what gets posts shared – a bold, presumptuous title. I’ve also led this article with a photo of an attractive transgender woman, which also encourages folks to click on links to this article. Because that’s what blogs do, right? At least I don’t have, and never will have advertisements on Transas City. It’s frustrating to see so many on Facebook and other social media share clickbait sites with transgender “news” which is culled from BBC and other actual news sources, then loaded up with 50 advertisements per page. The ironic thing is the person making those pages is probably some sweatshop employee in China who couldn’t give a toss about transgender rights in any way – but they do know how to make a flashy title and put a teasing graphic to get clicks – and ad revenue. For all you know the most heavily-distributed transgender clickbait “news” is funding a group of skinheads sitting around a Starbucks, sipping $5 Frappuchinos while they plan their next “pride” rally.

I’m sometimes asked why we should care about international transgender news at all, and that question always baffles me. Normally I look at the questioner with the same stare our cat gives a new variety of food – he knows what it is, but he simply can’t understand why he’s even being presented with it. There are a million possible reasons, but the primary one is that sometimes I feel as if I can close my eyes and feel a giant transgender family which exceeds the bounds of Kansas City, the Midwest, this nation, and all political boundaries. I’ve traveled extensively in both this country and the world as a transgender woman, and everywhere I go I carry with me this sense of family. Sure, sometimes members of your family really piss you off – family doesn’t imply universal love and acceptance (a fact which ever-so-many of my transgender siblings have experienced first-hand!) – but a family nonetheless. I believe I once described it as a Fellini version of The Waltons, but there you go.

Geraldine Roman 3

With no further self-editorializing, I present to you Ms. Geraldine Roman, the first openly transgender politician elected to the Parliament in the Philippines. Not only that, according to the BBC she is also the only out LGBT politician in the heavily conservative and Catholic nation. While on the campaign trail Ms. Roman reflected upon one of her secrets to success in her election and life – the support of her parents.

During the campaign trail Ms Roman shared that her family always remained supportive of her, and her father advised her to “remain confident” despite being bullied for her gender identity in school.

“That somebody of my condition is going to enter congress for the first time is a statement that even transgender people can serve our country and should not be discriminated against,” Ms Roman told the AFP news agency during her campaign.

Ms. Roman left home to study in Spain, where she focused on language studies, learning 5 languages and earning two Masters degrees. She later worked as an editor at a Spanish news agency, and underwent her gender transition two decades ago. In 2012, she returned home to repay the love her parents had shown her, taking care of them in their old age while promising to continue their political legacy (her mother was a former Parliament member, and in fact the seat held by Ms. Roman was once held by her mother).

Geraldine Roman 2

After winning 62% of the popular vote in her native Bataan, Ms. Roman promised to not be a one-issue candidate, emphasizing that she intends to be open and vocal regarding her gender identity.

“I’m elated; very, very happy. I’m also excited to work. I realize that the burden is bigger because the stereotype of [LGBT] people … is we are frivolous, that we have nothing substantial to say, so I have to prove them wrong…”

For one thing, in 2001 a law was passed making it impossible for transgender Filipinos to change their name and gender. Ms. Roman has vowed to campaign to lift those restrictions, and to push for an anti-discrimination bill that ensures equal treatment in the workplace, schools, commercial establishments and government offices.

Anwen Muston 1

The second transgender politician I want to highlight did not win so lofty a seat as Parliament, but nonetheless she won an important seat as the UK Labour Party’s first openly transgender councilor, and the only current elected Labour transgender politician in the UK. Last week Anwen Dawn Muston won the city of Wolverhampton’s East Park ward with 1,022 votes, running a campaign focused on local issues for her constituents. While other political parties in the UK have elected transgender councilors (the UK being somewhat more progressive than other countries in that regard), Ms Muston is the first Labour politician to win.

Anwen Muston 2

According to her campaign site, Ms. Muston is an Army veteran and has been continuously involved in civic projects and charity work since her retirement. Her focus is on community services, helping elderly residents of her city, and campaigning against anti-social behavior and promoting community safety.

Ms. Roman and Ms. Muston, I salute both of you. Well done!

Russia Says “Nyet!” to Transgender Drivers

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.

One hopes.

BBC News – Russia says drivers must not have ‘sex disorders’.

Trans[ition] in Iran


The World Policy Institute has published a very informative and interesting article on the lives of transgender people in Iran. Why should you care about this? For one reason Iran is one of the very few Muslim countries where being transgender is not in itself a crime – with a qualifier, of course, that you are expected to transition if you ever want to have sexual or marital relations of any kind.

In fact, this places Iran in the odd position of performing more gender transition surgeries than any other country except Thailand (2012). It was the Ayatollah Khomeini of all people who paved the way for easily available SRS in Iran, as a result of a 1985 reissuing of his fatwa declaring support for transgender persons and transsexual surgery.

The problem in Iran is threefold, however. The first is that considerable gatekeeping exists for transition and SRS, although the cost is covered by the government. Second, many homosexuals feel pressured into, and sometimes fake being transgender to be allowed to be with their loves and to marry. Finally, just because the government recognizes that transgender people have the right to exist and to surgery doesn’t mean Iranian society accepts them. In fact, discrimination within Iranian society is harsh and sometimes deadly.

I invite you to read and learn.

Trans[ition] in Iran | World Policy Institute.

Two Steps Backwards (and one Update) for Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex marriage is an issue which is closely linked with transgender civil rights, as somewhere from 33-70% of transgender persons identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Just in the past week there have been two significant defeats for same-sex marriage in the world, which I thought I would report on.

First, in India their Supreme Court has upheld a colonial-era law which criminalizes homosexuality by a 10-year prison term. The Court essentially said there was no constitutional protection for homosexuality, and that lawmakers were the ones to decriminalize it. This brings up an interesting question, in that given the hijra of India often identify as “third gender”, I wonder if a lower court will find that a hijra (who is typically an XY male) can marry either a man or a woman.

Second, in Australia we have their Supreme Court going out of its way to overturn a same-sex marriage law passed in the Australian Capital Territory. Basically, this case is a “states rights versus national rights” issue, and the Court decided here that there was no over-riding civil rights protection for same-sex marriage, and therefore the federal law banning same-sex marriage takes precedence.

Finally, in more positive news, Ireland appears to be headed for a vote on same-sex marriage in 2015. It’s going to be a close vote by most news reports I’ve read, with the conservative religious rural areas strongly against. The media campaigns have started, and this is a sweet video spot which is running in Ireland now.

Cuban Transgender Activist Comes to the US

Wendy_Iriepa1The lovely Wendy Iriepa Díaz and her husband have traveled to the US to tell the truth about the way LGBT persons are treated in the country, but especially the Transgender population, as Wendy is a post-op transwoman legally married to Ignacio Estrada Cepero. For example, although some trans activists like to shame the US by saying that “even Cuba gives SRS for free,” according to Wendy only 20 surgeries have been approved in five years.

I had to include the photograph below, because Wendy made such a beautiful bride.


Florida congresswoman meets with Cuban LGBT rights activists : Washington Blade – America’s Leading Gay News Source.

Despite Gains, Pakistan’s Transgender Community Under Attack

I thought I should post another international article, just as a reminder that “even though it sucks here, it could be worse…”

The status of transgender persons in fundamentalist countries varies somewhat, typically being assigned an importance between a dog and a small pile of dirt. These women in Pakistan are truly brave transgender soldiers in our global movement, living in a country where not only could they be killed at any moment by someone who took issue with them, but their crime would most likely never be investigated. And if caught, the perpetrators would likely receive a slap on the wrist.

Never mind the fact that the police are sometimes the criminals! From the article:

Zeba, a transgender rights activist in Pakistan who was born with both male and female sex organs, was resting at home in the Imamia Colony neighborhood of Peshawar when the front door was suddenly kicked open.

Local police, together with angry residents of the area, stormed inside — smashing Zeba’s belongings and shouting threats.

Forced outside into the street on that October 20 evening, Zeba saw that the same thing was happening to scores of others from Pakistan’s transgender minority who have moved to the neighborhood during the last 25 years.

Despite Gains, Pakistan’s Transgender Community Under Attack.

Paris Lees: From Prison to Transgender Role Model

In the United Kingdom (where I was recently vacationing; I’m on my way back right now) Paris Lees is a big name, raising transgender awareness on many fronts. From the article:

  • Paris presented a collection of films about transgender people for Channel 4, becoming the channel’s first transgender presenter
  • She presented The Hate Debate, a show about prejudices for Radio 1, becoming that station’s first transgender presenter
  • Paris was the first transgender woman to appear on the cover of DIVA, a magazine for lesbian and bisexual women
  • She became the first transgender judge for the Independent on Sunday’s annual Pink List in 2011 and returned to the judging panel the following year
  • She has previously worked with the Gender Trust and Trans Media Watch, and currently works with All About Trans
  • She challenged Jonathan Ross over a transgender joke he made – and charmed him into giving a video interview

BBC News – Paris Lees: From prison to transgender role model.

New Zealand to Allow Transgender Prisoners Transfer of Jail Fit for Their Preferred Gender

New Zealand has recently been looking more and more like a great place to live. Not only is it an incredibly scenic place (being the set for the Lord of the Rings and many other films), but they recently passed a same-sex marriage law and other major anti-discrimination laws helping transgender persons.

Here they are taking action even though there are only 9 transgender prisoners in their prison system.  Note that this new policy doesn’t care if you are pre-op, non-op, or post-op.

New Zealand to Allow Transgender Prisoners Transfer of Jail Fit for Their Preferred Sex, Not on Birth Gender (VIDEOS) – International Business Times.

Mexican Transgender Women Deported to Life of Peril

Undocumented Immigrants: Faces Of The DisplacedRegardless of what you feel about the necessity of illegal immigration to escape violence, the story of Deborah Alvarez is heartbreaking. I knew Mexico was essentially a hellhole if you’re transgender, but I don’t think that is just because it’s Mexico – most of Central and northern South America is highly unfriendly to LGBT persons. Even Brazil, which has a very large population of travesti women, is a very violent place to be a transgender woman.

Mexican Transgender Women Deported to Life of Peril.

China’s Growing Tolerance of Transgender Rights

Courtesy of The Atlantic, an interesting and detailed story on changing opinions on transgender rights in China. This follows up the story I reported on regarding transgender rights in Taiwan, and apparently a catalyst for this new-found positive interest is the social media exposure over the Oklahoma transwoman-transman couple.

Hey, maybe if China can do it, Kansas and Missouri won’t be too far behind…
From the Shadows: China’s Growing Tolerance of Transgender Rights – Jill Levine – The Atlantic.

Taiwan Upholds Transgender Marriage In ‘Benchmark’ Ruling

In an incredible reversal of their official policy, Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior agreed to validate the marriage of two transwomen, Abbygail Wu and her partner Jiyi Wu. Taiwan does not recognize same-sex marriage, so Jiyi registered as still being male, while Abbygail registered as female. However, action is planned for September to recognize same-sex marriage, provided legislators agree. I have no idea how that will fall out – Taiwan is a curious mix of conservatism and liberalism, so I think it’s impossible to predict.

Taiwan Upholds Transgender Marriage In ‘Benchmark’ Ruling After Couple Has License Revoked.