Month: May 2004

commentary

Posted by – May 31, 2004

I recently read an article by Chip Johnson of the SF Chronicle on the responsibility TG women have to disclose their transgender history with potential partners, and it occurred to me that the one thing I haven’t yet read about is that the problem is not with the TG women – it’s with the violence perpetrated by men whose egos are so fragile they must defend their machismo and heterosexuality at a tremendous cost. I’m tired of it.

I’m sharing a letter I wrote to Chip Johnson articulating these concerns:

Thanks for your article about Gwen Araujo about the danger for TG women of not disclosing their TG history. My husband is TG, & is often assumed to be female even when presenting as male. I have seen the impact this “surprise” can have on people first-hand, even in a non-sexual situation.

That said, I would love it if you and other columnists would clarify that the whole responsibility should not be on the shoulders of TG people, especially – as you pointed out – now that TG women are transitioning at younger and younger ages. What about these homophobic, small-minded bigots who think violence is an answer to everything? When do we write articles about their responsibility in the violence? As you know from the defense that is being offered in Gwen’s case, it is absolutely necessary that we point out the macho, heterosexist attitudes that have got to change – or, at the very least, the idea that violence is any kind of response to a surprise of this kind.

I am what’s referred to as a ‘genetic woman’ in the TG community, and I am astounded over and over again that the unspeakable behavior of some men when faced with a TG woman – or with a genetic woman who says no – is not the issue that is called out in the press.

TG women, like genetic women, have the right to feel safe especially within sexual contexts. Sexual attention from men is not always wanted, but women still have the burden of making sure the men – who are being sexually aggressive – not only know what our parts look like but that their fragile male egos are not bruised by rejection. Why can’t we call them out, for being immature and so locked in macho idiocy, instead? Certainly the gay male community is also all too aware of the violence inflicted by straight men who must preserve their macho pride, at all costs. All of us – gay men, genetic women, TG women – have got to take a stand against this neanderthal behavior, and start demanding that courts not let these bullies have their way.

Thanks again,
Helen Boyd, author of My Husband Betty

SF Chronicle article on Gwen Araujo & deception

Posted by – May 31, 2004

No issue of sexual deception
Gwen Araujo was just who she was

Dylan Vade
Sunday, May 30, 2004

link”

Don’t talk to me about deception.

Gwen Araujo, a beautiful young transgender woman, was brutally beaten to death the fall of 2002. In the trial of three men accused of murder in her slaying, defense attorneys Tony Serra and Michael Thorman are using the “transgender/gay panic” defense. Their argument essentially is that Gwen deserved to be killed because she deceived, and thus stole the heterosexuality of the men she had sex with.

No one deserves to be killed for deception.

But in Gwen’s case, there was no deception. Gwen was just being herself. In a world in which we are all told we have to be more feminine or more masculine — Gwen was wise enough to know herself and brave enough to be herself. That is beautiful. She should be our role model.

Instead, transgender people are seen as deceivers. The word “deception” comes up often in our lives.

I will share one of my experiences with deception. I am a female-to-male transgender person. One day, I flirted with someone I assumed to be a gay man, got his number and later went over to his place. He opened the door, and we kissed. A couple of minutes later, I came out to him as transgender. I did it casually. I do not make a big deal out of it, because to me it is not a big deal.

It was a big deal to him. He immediately stopped being interested and told me that I had deceived him. He said: “I thought you were just a cute gay guy.” He said that I should have told him that I am transgender and what my genitalia look like before he invited me to his place.

I was not hurt, aside from my feelings. I was lucky.

What I did not say to him then, but wished I had:

“You deceived me. All this time I thought you were just a cute transgender guy. You really should have told me you are a nontransgender person. I cannot believe that you did not tell what your genitalia look like. I cannot go through with this. I would have never come over to your place had I known.

“Yes, you are right. I did not wear a T-shirt with a picture of my genitalia emblazoned on it. But, honey, neither did you. If we, as humans, decide that proper dating etiquette requires us all to disclose the exact shape and size of our genitalia before we get someone’s number, then, sure, maybe I will go along with that.

“You deceived me. You should have told me that you are transphobic. You should have told me that your head is chock full of stereotypes of what it means to be a ‘real man’ and a ‘real woman.’ You should have told me that when you look at someone, you immediately make an assumption about the size and shape of that person’s genitalia, and that you get really upset if your assumption is off.”

Why do some folks feel that transgender people need to disclose their history and their genitalia, and nontransgender people do not? When you first meet someone and they are clothed, you never know exactly what that person looks like. And when you first meet someone, you never know that person’s full history.

Why do only some people have to describe themselves in detail — and others do not? Why are some nondisclosures seen as actions and others utterly invisible? Actions. Gwen Araujo was being herself, openly and honestly. No, she did not wear a sign on her forehead that said “I am transgender, this is what my genitalia look like.” But her killers didn’t wear a sign on their foreheads saying, “We might look like nice high school boys, but really, we are transphobic and are planning to kill you.” That would have been a helpful disclosure.

Transgender people do not deceive. We are who we are.

Dylan Vade, co-director of the Transgender Law Center, is a lawyer and holds a Ph.D. in philosophy. Sondra Solovay, director of Beyond Bias, contributed to the article.
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NY LGBT Film Festival: Trans-film

Posted by – May 28, 2004

A few of the films playing at the SF Int’l GLBT Film Festival are playing here in NY next week, too.

For information, tickets, memberships and descriptions, check www.newfest.org

Third Gender (Muxe) in Mexico

Posted by – May 28, 2004

http://www.oaxacatimes.com/html/third.html#

The Third Gender
By JULIE PECHEUR

Photo by Julie Pecheur

In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, some children are born neither boys nor girls.They are muxe.

Under the still fiery rays of the late afternoon sun, two dozen ox-carts decorated with flowers, palms, and multicolored banners parade down the center of Juchit�n. The convite, the traditional procession announcing a special mass, brings together the whole neighborhood. In one cart, sit erect dignified old men
in white shirts and straw hats; in another, motionless boys in blue shiny costumes with their palms joined in prayer; and in a third one, little made-up girls in regional embroidered dresses throw plastic cups and plates as gifts to the enthusiastic crowd.

As the procession moves forward, standing on the upper part of another cart, two children energetically ward off the branches of the surrounding trees to protect the cart�s adornments. They are about 12 years old, with narrow bodies and loose hair down to their round naked shoulders. One wears a pair of blue jeans and a short white top that reveals a flat belly and no waist. They both look like boys, but they could be mistaken for girls. Here in Juchit�n, on the pacific
coast of the Tehuantepec Isthmus, Mexico�s narrowest land near Guatemala, they are neither girls nor boys. They are muxe (pronounced Mooshey).

In striking opposition to Mexico�s dominant mestizo culture, which is racially mixed and where machismo prevails, the population of Juchit�n is predominantly
Zapotec and does not condemn or reject effeminate male homosexuals. On the contrary. Here muxe (the word comes from the Zapotec adaptation of the Spanish word for woman, mujer) are generally regarded as part and parcel of society, a third element or gender, combining the assets of both the female and male, and sometimes equipped with special intellectual and artistic gifts.
No one knows how many muxe live in this city of 80,000. Around the shaded plaza at the center of town near the market, one often spots them: slightly
effeminate older men, young transvestites (vestidas), and men dressed in shirt and trousers but wearing make-up (pintadas). The majority of the muxe live in
the two popular neighborhoods where most fishermen and peasants reside. Those in the upper classes however, still tend to stay en closet, in the closet.

�In Juchit�n, nearly all families have a great-uncle, a son, or a bother who is a muxe,� says Adolfina Pineda Esteva, a 47 year-old primary school teacher
whose younger brother, now known as Am�rica, is a muxe. �Not all parents accept them, but they are not rejected,� she explains while her husband Andr�s nods in agreement. �They have their space in the society. They teach dance, sew, head beauty salons, make adornments� Muxe are very active and creative.�

�Here one is born a muxe. One does not become one,� says Ulises Toledo Santiago, a thirty-year-old muxe, echoing the general opinion. Ulises, who dresses as a man but whose face expressions and voice are somewhat
effeminate, has a license in law and works for the city family planning agency. In an article published in 1995, anthropologist Beverly Chi�as confirms that: �The idea of choosing gender or of sexual orientation�the two of which are not distinguished by the Isthmus Zapotecs�is as ludicrous as suggesting that one can choose one�s skin color.�

Much to the annoyance of the 16th century Spanish conquerors, male homosexuality was widespread and tolerated in many North American indigenous societies, such as the Isthmus Zapotecs and the Yucatan Mayas. The Spaniards highly valued �manliness� and �assertive� behavior and placed a stigma on
�submissive� attitudes. Their chronicles never failed to mention the Indians� �corrupt� behavior, which they labeled as �sodomy� after the biblical town of Sodom, destroyed by God because of the sinful mores of its inhabitants. While systematically destroying all statues and frescoes representing male-male sexual
encounters, the Spaniards found in the natives� different approach to sexuality yet another theological justification to annihilate their culture and convert them to Catholicism.

The people of the Isthmus however have always fiercely defended their identity against conquering powers, whether Aztec, Spanish, or later French. Nowadays in
the region, contrary to the national mestizo pattern where men prevail in every strata of the society, women have more outlets for social participation and
enjoy the resulting powers. Typically, Juchitecan men work the fields and go fishing, participate in politics, and shape intellectual and artistic life. Women, on the other hand, do the housework, but also organize the fiestas and take part in various important commercial activities. In Juchit�n for instance, they control the vital daily market, reigning over piles of mangos and dried fish, their full-size bodies wrapped in long black skirts and huipiles, the short dark traditional blouses embroidered with large bright flowers.

Juchitecan women thus enjoy unusual financial autonomy and prestige, which has led many observers, chiefly foreigners, to mistakenly define Juchit�n as a
matriarchal society, a designation which overlooks the male equally crucial, and sometimes domineering, roles. Nevertheless, women and female activities are
not considered secondary, which may partly explain why muxe, who assume effeminate manners and participate in both female and male economic activities, are usually not discriminated against.

When a son prefers dolls to pistols, female cousins to male ones, and dresses to trousers, many mothers rejoice, even if the majority of fathers merely resign
themselves. For women, raising a muxe implies that strong arms will take care of their house while they go out to work and that someone will look after them
as they grow older. (Men have a tendency to prefer younger women and leave the household, even in Juchit�n.) �Parents with a muxe know that he will
always take care of them because he will never get married and leave the house,� says Ulises, who lives with his mother. �Our society is very tolerant because the muxe work hard and support their families.�

Traditionally, muxe are expected to cook, clean, look after the children, take care of the elders, and bring home an additional income. In recent years, muxe, like women, have started to gain access to higher education and careers such as lawyers and doctors.

Moreover, they play a key role in preparing the countless fiestas, essential to the identity of the community. This is not a light task: Juchit�n celebrates at least 20 in-town velas, the round of parties in honor of patron saints or particular events. During virtually the entire month of May, for instance, the streets are filled with parades, music, and flowers. Then, there are 20 or so obligatory national holidays, about 30 unmissable velas in neighborhood communities, plus the frequent weddings, birthdays, graduations. For all these celebrations, muxe design, embroider and sew traditional female outfits, make garlands and paper chains, fix hairstyles and make-up, and set family and church altars.

Less visible however, is the sexual role the muxe play in the Juchitecan society. Although classical heterosexual rigid classifications hardly hold when it comes to homosexual preferences, it is generally true that muxe don�t have sexual relations with other muxe. They see themselves as women and want men. And the men they sleep with, called mayate, are not considered homosexuals because they play the �active� part. �Because a woman�s virginity before marriage is still very important in our society, many young boys are initiated by the muxe,� says Yudith L�pez Saynes, the director of Gunaxhii Guendanabani, an association dedicated to AIDS prevention. �It is widely accepted, but with AIDS now, people are more cautious.� Andr�s L�pez, a thirty-year old pintada nurse who heads a medical service, explains laughing, �You go in the street and the boys play tough with their friends, but then they flirt with you.� His friend Felina
Santiago Vadivieso, a 36-year-old fake blond muxe who heads a beauty salon, confirms that younger boys keep on asking her advice on how to please their
girlfriends. She prefers older men however, although she can�t kiss them or hold their hands in the street. �A lot of Juchitecan men marry women from other towns like Puebla. They are very conservative and more homophobic,� she explains, before adding in a laugh: �But their sons get caught in the local movement, and their husbands never leave it!�

For almost thirty years, muxe have had their own velas in Juchit�n. Ulises for instance, organizes his club�s December 28th vela, baile con migo, or Dance With Me. The first muxe vela, the vela de las aut�nticas intrepidas buscadoras del peligro, or the vela of the Authentic Intrepids in Search of Danger, took place in
1976. The organizer, Oscar Cazorla Pineda, a fifty-four-year old muxe, is the owner of a famous dance hall in the center of Juchit�n and the leader of the Intrepidas club. With large features and figure but feminine movements, he is also a successful and respected businessmuxe, who sells the traditional and
ubiquitous gold jewelry, which he himself puts on to party.

Each year in November, after a special catholic mass held in its honor, the Intrepids� vela gathers all the city�s muxe along with fifteen hundred men,
women�grandparents and young adults�and children. The blast, which now gets national attention, requires a full year of preparation and costs around $10,000
dollars. Oscar and the Intrepidas cover some of the expenses, but most are now paid by others, including the town�s elected officials. In fact, the Intrepidas are partisans of the PRI, the political party in power in Juchit�n, and they regularly participate in political meetings and demonstrations. Conversely, during the vela, it is the city officeholder who crowns the Intrepid beauty queen.

Nowadays during fiestas, many muxe wear traditional women�s dresses or drag queen outfits. An increasing number, and virtually the entire new generation, also dress like women in every day life. To Filiberto Cruz, who, at 89 is the oldest Intrepid, this new tendency is rather shocking. In his time, nobody would do it,
although he confesses with a shy smile that he himself would sometimes wear gold buttons and discreet bracelets.

This new transvestite tendency has created dilemma and friction in the society as well. In schools, for instance, some teachers, often from other parts of the
country, do not tolerate the new trend and children, as mischievous as anywhere else, make fun of it. Many Juchitecan women also twitch at the sight of their
traditional dresses on muxe.

�This transvestite process is rather new,� says Amaranta G�mez Regalado, a 26 year-old beautiful muxe who wears traditional huipiles and became famous last
year when she ran for congressional in the Oaxaca state elections. �It started about twenty years ago and I think it has to do with the advent of marketing
and television.� In her low caressing voice, she says she understands the debate about traditional clothing, but states, �It is part of our culture, and I consider
myself a vehicle of that culture too.�

Vicki Santiago Lu�s, a twenty-year-old muxe who was born Jorge and came to Oaxaca because she found Juchit�n intolerant towards gays, decided to wear
women�s clothing when she was 13, against the advise of a muxe her age who thought it could be dangerous. She received the support of her mom, grandfather, and a couple of girlfriends who helped her define her style�western and sexy. But to these days, her grandmother has refused to accept it. Next December nonetheless, Vicki will wear to the vela club baile con migo the regional dress her uncle bought for her to receive the 2004 beauty queen crown. �I am so happy to be the queen,� she confesses with a soft, but rasping voice, her ecstatic eyes twinkling. �I have admired the transvestite muxe since I was a very little boy.�

�The new generation is only interested in dressing up like women and looking beautiful. They don�t think at all about their future,� argues Felina who herself
wears a knee-long blue jeans skirt. �We follow the examples of the older muxe: we work and take care of our parents. My motivation is my parents. I live alone
and it is my duty to help them.�

The new generation’s attitude is not limited to clothing. A few muxe have also started considering using hormones, breast implants or aesthetic surgery to narrow their noses. Only one so far is said to be thinking about getting an operation to remove his genitals.

For Amaranta, who was able to travel around the world as an anti-AIDS activist and is considering furthering her education in social studies, muxe ought to create different roles for themselves within the Juchitecan society. �When I was 13 or 14, it was impossible for a muxe to enter politics, to write articles, to be an
activist, an opinion maker. We had to embroider and create adornments,� she says. �Now the muxe who wants to should be able to open up intellectual spaces for herself.� With her charming ironic smile she adds: �It has not been easy for me. My mom wanted me to learn a traditional muxe job. Between two conferences she would tell me, �at least bake a cake or something.�� When asked if marriage is part of the agenda, the vast majority of muxe seem perplexed, as if they had never thought of it. �People get married, and then they
divorce,� says Felina. �I don�t want that. I want my relationships to last the time they should last and that�s it. And I want to enjoy all the men I want.�
�In Juchit�n marriage is not a necessity,� says Ulises. �It is an issue that you find in other societies, where homosexuals are discriminated against. Here we don�t need a political movement or the creation of special space in society. We already
have it.�

New York Times To Protect Trans Workers From Discrimination

Posted by – May 27, 2004

New York Times To Protect Trans Workers From Discrimination

by Beth Shapiro
365Gay.com Newscenter
New York Bureau
May 26, 2004

http://www.365gay.com/newscon04/05/052604timesTG.htm

(New York City) The New York Times has announced it will add “gender identity or expression” to the nondiscrimination terms of its corporate human resource policy.

The announcement was made in a corporate email to employees this week. It said that the New York Times is “committed to maintaining a fair and professional work environment for all our employees and, to that end, we routinely review our policies and practices. Our policy now makes clear that we provide equal
employment opportunity regardless of gender identity or expression, in hiring and all other terms and conditions of employment.”

The change in policy was hailed by LGBT journalists.

“Transgender employees are often most at risk in the workplace, facing harassment, ignorance and instances of discrimination,” said Steven Petrow, President of the Board of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.

“The New York Times once again is a leader in recognizing its responsibility to treat all of its employees fairly and without bias.”

The new policy will not only extend to all Times employees, but also to other New York Times corporate properties, including the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram.

Last year the Times became the first major newspaper to print same-sex marriage announcements.

UK: Sex change birth certificate legislation approved

Posted by – May 27, 2004

link

Sex change birth certificate legislation approved

May 27 2004

A Birmingham MP has celebrated victory in a ten-year campaign to win new rights for people who have a sex change. Transsexuals will now be able to demand new birth certificates – with their correct gender, thanks to a
change in the law.

Lynne Jones (Lab Selly Oak), a long-time supporter of the change, described the introduction of the legislation as “a wonderful moment”, in a House of Commons debate.

But the measures in the Gender Recognition Bill were condemned by Midland MP Sir Patrick Cormack (ConStaffordshire South). He said it would force registrars, the people responsible for issuing birth certificates, to “lie” by issuing birth certificates with genders which “were not true”.

Sir Patrick said: “It is not just the road to hell that is paved with good intentions; so is the road to bad legislation. This is bad legislation, because legislation that calls upon people to tell lies is fundamentally flawed.” He added: “We are faced with a Bill that obliges people to say things that are not so. “We know that those who are persuaded that they are of the wrong sex or gender do not necessarily have physical differences and do not necessarily have to undergo surgery of any sort, yet they are to be recognised and issued with a birth certificate that
contradicts the natural facts of life.”

The Gender Recognition Bill will enable an estimated 5,000 transsexuals to have secret changes made to their birth certificates. It will also allow them to
marry in their acquired gender. Churches will have the right to refuse to conduct such a marriage. Ministers have already amended the Bill to allow sports governing bodies to make special rules for transsexual competitors.
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A Non-Partisan Plea

Posted by – May 26, 2004

Dear Judith,

In order for your vote to affect the outcome of this election, it must be counted. As November nears we must act now to ensure that our voting systems produce accurate and verifiable results.

Right now, some states are planning to use machines that will not allow voters to verify their choices. This means that any flaws in the machine or software will never be caught — and no recount will be possible. And the head of the largest e-voting machine company — who is a major contributor to George Bush and has promised to deliver Ohio to him — asks that we just trust him.

Today we call on Congress and the states to require any electronic voting machine used in this election to produce a paper trail — one that allows voters to verify their choices and officials to conduct recounts. Add your name to the call for accountability:

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/verify

We will deliver the petition to Congress and the secretaries of state of every state planning to use electronic voting machines.

Please forward this message to everyone you know who wants to see that every vote is counted this year. You can also spread the word by using our grassroots action center, Organize for America, to invite your friends to sign the petition:

http://www.democracyforamerica.com/verifyinvite

Casting a vote is the most fundamental action we take as citizens. But voting is not a symbolic act — the last presidential election demonstrated that every vote matters. Our responsibility in the months before November is to ensure that this time, every vote will be counted.

Thank you.

Governor Howard Dean, M.D.

Betty’s Next Performance!

Posted by – May 24, 2004

Betty will be performing two roles (one en femme, one as a male) in the next Butch McCloud, this Memorial Day weekend!

check www.butchmccloud.com for more info!

NY TG Bathroom case

Posted by – May 20, 2004

http://www.365gay.com/newscon04/05/051904tgNYC.htm

Uphold New York Gender Identity Protections Court Urged
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: May 19, 2004 8:02 pm. ET
(New York City) In the first transgender discrimination case to reach a New York state appeals court, the American Civil Liberties Union today urged the court not to deny transgender New Yorkers protections against discrimination.

“The laws of New York State clearly protect transgender people from discrimination, yet our opponents are trying to take those protections away,”
said ACLU attorney Edward Hernstadt.

“We asked the court to make it clear once and for all that gender identity discrimination is not somethingNew York will tolerate.”

Hispanic AIDS Forum, an AIDS service organization represented by the ACLU, brought suit against its former landlord after it was evicted because other
tenants complained that HAF’s transgender clients were using the “wrong” bathrooms.

The landlord banished all transgender people from the common areas of the building, including all restrooms.

Although the landlord’s lawsuit centers on the claim that transgender people are not protected by the state’s civil rights laws, the ACLU points out in its brief that trial courts in four previous cases have all held that discrimination against transgender people is illegal in New York.

“The landlord argues that transgender people are completely without civil rights protection in New York State,” said James Esseks, Litigation Director of the ACLU’s Lesbian & Gay Rights and AIDS Projects. “This could place transgender New Yorkers in jeopardy of losing their jobs, their housing, and even their
lives, if they are unable to receive public health services – all because someone wants to keep them out of the so-called ‘wrong’ bathroom.”

The ACLU brought the lawsuit on behalf of HAF in June 2001 after the agency was forced out of its home of 10 years in Jackson Heights, Queens – an epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in U.S. Latino communities. HAF repeatedly tried to negotiate with the landlord to reach an agreement over the use of the restrooms that
would be acceptable to all parties, but the landlord refused to renew the lease, saying he didn’t even want the transgender clients in any of the common areas of the building.

“This case shows all too clearly the far-reaching effects of prejudice and discrimination,” said Heriberto Sanchez Soto, Executive Director of HAF.
“Kicking us out of our home didn’t just hurt our transgender client but made it much more difficult for many Latinos and Latinas living with HIV and AIDS to
receive treatment.”

Transgender people living in New York City are protected from discrimination under the city’s human rights law, which was amended in 2002 to clarify that
it covers gender identity. The state human rights law does not explicitly address gender identity, but previous trial court rulings have held that transgender individuals are covered under the law’s sex and disability provisions.

New Review/New Interview

Posted by – May 19, 2004

There’s a new review of my book up at www.eroszine.com

and a new interview with me at www.tgforum.com – you have to scroll down a bit to find Gianna Israel’s Gender Articles column.

Olympics okays TS athletes

Posted by – May 18, 2004

IOC clears transsexuals for competition
Associated Press
Posted: 18 hours ago
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – Transsexuals have been cleared to compete in the Olympics for the first time.

Under a proposal approved Monday by the IOC executive board, athletes who have undergone sex-change surgery will be eligible for the Olympics if their new gender has been legally recognized and they have gone through a minimum two-year period of postoperative hormone therapy.

The decision, which covers both male-to-female and female-to-male cases, goes into affect starting with this summer’s Athens Olympics.

The IOC had put off a decision on so-called transgender athletes in February, saying more time was needed to consider all the medical issues.

Some members had been concerned whether male-to-female transsexuals would have physical advantages competing against women.

Men have higher levels of testosterone and greater muscle-to-fat ratio and heart and lung capacity. However, doctors say, testosterone levels and muscle mass drop after hormone therapy and sex-change surgery.

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said the situation of transsexuals competing in high-level sports was “rare but becoming more common.”

IOC medical director Patrick Schamasch said no specific sports had been singled out by the ruling.

“Any sport may be touched by this problem,” he said. “Until now, we didn’t have any rules or regulations. We needed to establish some sort of policy.”

Until 1999, the IOC conducted gender verification tests at the Olympics but the screenings were dropped before the 2000 Sydney Games.

One of the best known cases of transsexuals in sports involves Renee Richards, formerly Richard Raskind, who played on the women’s tennis tour in the 1970s.

In March, Australia’s Mianne Bagger became the first transsexual to play in a pro golf tournament.

Michelle Dumaresq, formerly Michael, has competed in mountain bike racing for Canada.

Richards, now a New York opthamologist, was surprised by the IOC decision and was against it. She said decisions on transsexuals should be made on an individual basis.

“Basically, I think they’re making a wrong judgment here, although I would have loved to have that judgment made in my case in 1976,” she said.

“They’re probably looking for trouble down the line. There may be a true transsexual – not someone who’s nuts and wants to make money – who will be a very good champion player, and it will be a young person, let’s say a Jimmy Connors or a Tiger Woods, and then they’ll have an unequal playing field.

“In some sports, the physical superiority of men over women is very significant.”

The article can be found at www.foxsports.com

The latest on Eddie Izzard

Posted by – May 18, 2004

www.itv.com/news/641203.html

Izzard to star in his own life story
7.02PM, Sun May 16 2004

Comedian Eddie Izzard is making a feature-length documentary about his life.
Cameras have been following cross-dressing Eddie for the past three years in preparation of the documentary, called Diva 51, which will feature footage from his shows, backstage scenes and interviews with family and friends.

It will explore the subject of his transvestism, which he once described as being like “a lesbian trapped in a man’s body”, and follow his rise to fame in the States culminating in two Emmy awards for his stand-up show and a Tony nomination for his performance in A Day In The Death of Joe Egg.

Robin Williams, Tim Roth and Eric Idle also feature in the documentary, paying tribute to Izzard’s talents. Izzard is currently promoting the film at the Cannes
Film Festival which is scheduled for release in 2005. “There’s an element of my wild and large, rollicking ego about doing it, but I want the film to dig deep,”
he said.

Transgender Veterans

Posted by – May 13, 2004

The Transgender Americans Veterans Association recently visited DC and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Here’s Phyllis Frye’s report from www.texastriangle.com:

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Cry
TG veterans lay wreath at Tomb of Unknown Soldier
By Phyllis Randolph Frye

We met in D.C. as part of an event sponsored by the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA) (www.tavausa.org).

In our group that weekend were over forty veterans who are transgendered, including a WWII TG Vet, a TG Korean Vet and two who had been in the Gulf War. The rest of us were of various ages and had served our nation in uniform between those conflicts. Significantly, not all of us were white and not all of us were male to female. Those attending reflected the diversity of our country and of our current military.

On Saturday morning, May 1, we loaded up at the event hotel onto a chartered bus and were escorted with sirens and flashing lights by a D.C. police car driven by a member of the gay liaison in the police department. It was strictly V.I.T. treatment.

We offloaded at the Vietnam Veterans Wall and spent several hours with other tourists at the Wall, at the Korean Memorial and at the newly opened World War II Memorial.

As we initially began to walk along the Wall, one of the transgender veterans that I was walking behind began to falter. I quickly came up to her and said, “you have someone on this wall.” She said yes, a cousin, and that this was her first time here, and she did not know it would affect her so strongly. Another vet and I took her to get the cousin’s name location. When we found the cousin’s name, it was high up on one of the tallest panels. The Park Ranger set up a ladder and took a rubbing off of the wall. This transgendered veteran began to sob, and I held her close for several minutes.

I have been to the Wall six times now, and it is always a powerful experience.

We went to the Korean Memorial and to the World War II Memorial. While at WWII, we sat to rest and a woman approached us, saying that she and her husband had met some in our group and were curious as to the name of our group. We gave them the full story. and they sat down to visit and to learn. They were very proud of our coming that day and said they wanted to attend the placing of our wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier scheduled for 3:05 that afternoon.

Throughout the weekend, our entire TAVA group shared similar stories of ordinary citizens, touring the memorials, and showing respect for our being veterans.

Next we bused to the Iwo Jima Memorial for a short visit and picture taking.

Then we bused to Arlington National Cemetery and walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Solder. If there was ever an appropriate place for transgender veterans to be, it was here. For it is truly unknown as to just how many we are.

We were asked that question by people throughout the day. My answer was ‘many.’ When you think of it, what more masculine occupation would an emerging FTM want to try than the military? Indeed there are documented stories of FTM folks serving and fighting in the American Revolution and the Civil War. And for an MTF who is doing everything possible to deny or trying to kill-off the feminine impulse, what better way to try. That is why so many of us MTFs are Eagle Scouts and veterans as well as police officers, firefighters and paramedics. Yes, lots of us.

We watched a Changing of the Guard (twice each hour on the half-hours) and a Laying of the Wreath (four times each hour at 5, 20, 35 and 50 minutes past the hour) for another group.

We learned later that our wreath had been somehow lost, but members of our Transgender Honor Guard (selected by drawing of names from a hat at the previous night’s reception, sponsored by Mara Keisling’s organization, National Center for Transgender Education, located in D.C.) would have none of that. They went up the chain of command and within five minutes, our wreath was found.

And as it was placed, the Sergeant of the Guard announced in his clear and bold voice, just as he had done for the previous group, ‘This wreath is being placed by the Transgender American Veterans Association.’

I began to cry. Others did too. For those of you who do not know, I began to be an out activist on August 20th of 1974 – almost three decades ago. It is always a struggle to get people to give us the simply human dignity of using our name. I was expecting him to short us by saying TAVA, or tgvets, or something less. But as he stood in his dress blues, at that sacred site and proclaimed the words, ‘This wreath is being placed by the Transgender American Veterans Association,’ I began to cry.

Then there was a salute.

And then there was TAPS.

After the ceremony, I went with two transgender veterans to find the markers of people that were significant to them who were buried there. It was a beautiful thing to do.

That night we had a dinner. Speeches were made. More healing took place. The next morning many of us shared breakfast and then we went our ways to our homes.

As much as I have been through for transgender rights in the past, almost thirty years, this was different. I was changed by it.

I hope that the leaders of TAVA do it again.

I hope that you come with us next time.

Phyllis Randolph Frye is a nationally-acclaimed transgender activist and attorney. She received an Honorable Discharge after serving 1971-72 as 1 LT (Reg.) in the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps in Landstuhl, Germany.

There are pictures of the event online, too, at http://www.sheck.com/gallery2/tavatrip?page=1

‘As Nature Made Him’

Posted by – May 10, 2004

Gender change victim dies

WINNIPEG – A man who was born a boy but raised as a girl in a famous nurture-versus-nature experiment has died at age 38.

David Reimer, who shared his story about his botched circumcision in the pages of a book and on the Oprah TV show, took his own life last Tuesday.

His mother, Janet Reimer, said she believes her son would still be here today had it not been for the devastating gender study that led to much emotional hardship. “I think he felt he had no options. It just kept building up and building up.”

After the circumcision accident as a toddler, David became the subject of an experiment dubbed the John/Joan case in the ’60s and ’70s. Janet said she still harbours anger toward a Baltimore doctor who convinced her and her husband, Ron, to give female hormones to their son and raise him as a daughter, Brenda.

Kids were cruel to Brenda growing up in Winnipeg.

This gender transformation was widely reported as a success and proof that children are not by nature feminine or masculine but through nurture are socialized to become girls or boys. David’s identical twin brother, Brian, offered researchers a matched control subject.

But when David discovered the truth about his past during his teenage years, he rebelled and resumed his male identity, marrying and becoming a stepfather to three children.

David recently slumped into a depression after losing his job and separating from his wife. He was also still grieving the death of his twin brother two years earlier, their mother said.

http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Article_Type1&c=Article&cid=1084140608992&call_pageid=968332188774&col=968350116467

More

Two TV shows this week

Posted by – May 9, 2004

On Monday, May 10th, Entertainment Tonight is doing something about crossdressing, although even the participants don’t know exactly what. They stopped by Ina’s Silver Swan to film on May 1st, and also filmed at Fairplay (the transformation salon) in Staten Island. 7:30pm, CBS.

On Wednesday, May 12th, Oprah is doing a show on trans-youth. Here’s the description:

“She’s only 11 years old and wants a sex change. Meet the young girl living as a boy. Then, he’s only 5 years old and wants to be a girl. If this was your son, what would you do? A family torn apart. Meet children who say they were born in the wrong body. “

Mother’s Day

Posted by – May 9, 2004

‘In the Name of Womanhood and Humanity…’

By Geov Parrish, WorkingForChange.com
May 6, 2004

Last year in this space, I took the occasion of an upcoming Mother’s Day weekend to reprint the 1870 call by American poet and women’s leader Julia Ward Howe for the establishment of the holiday. The response was astonishing; the awareness was nearly nil – even by peace activists – that what is now widely viewed as a sentimental tribute to family was originally a call for women to wage a general strike to end war.

This year – as more and more mothers, in America as well as Iraq, mourn their fallen sons and daughters, lost to the insanity of organized violence – Julia Ward Howe’s call for women to not allow their men to constantly play at war is suddenly back in fashion. Around the country, her original Mother’s Day Proclamation will be the basis this year for parades, remembrances, and other events that try to reclaim the holiday’s original spirit in a year when the United States’ (male-dominated) government talks seriously not of avoiding war, but staying the course on the multiple ones we’re already fighting.

The radical origins of Mother’s Day – as a powerful feminist call against war, penned in the wake of the U.S. Civil War in 1870 – are fully compatible with the universal notion of honoring mothers. Women, even more so now, are the primary sufferers of warfare. In the 20th Century, civilian populations bore 90 percent of war’s casualties around the world; mass and indiscriminate attacks, popularized in WWII by the Holocaust, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Allied firebombings in Japan and Germany, and the rape of Nanjing, are only the most spectacular examples of a phenomenon in which women become the rape and famine victims, the refugees, the forgotten statistics in what are invariably the wars of men.

I admit it; I’ll send my elderly mother flowers this year. She appreciates them. But a greater gift for the world’s mothers still awaits: a day in which the voices of women – now, as then, less inclined to rush to war or bask in its false glory – are an equal part in the foreign policy of countries like the United States. As with so many other aspects of American history – May Day is another – a legacy that is now celebrated around the world is farthest from its original intent in the land of its birth. The generals have written our historical memory, in the Civil War, in most popular narratives of the bloody trail of modernizing “Western Civilization.”

It’s worth remembering that the Civil War, a political division that lasted longer and was considered more intractable than today’s Palestine/Israel conflict or indefinite “War on Terror,” and that killed well over a hundred times more people on American soil than the attacks of September 11, was not unanimously lauded at the time. And that women thought they could do something to prevent such bloodshed in the future.

Here is the original, pre-Hallmark, Mother’s Day Proclamation, penned in Boston by Julia Ward Howe in 1870:

Arise, then, women of this day!
Arise all women who have hearts,
Whether your baptism be that of water or of tears
Say firmly:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands shall not come to us reeking of carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.
From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!”
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice!
Blood does not wipe out dishonor
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war.
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace,
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God.
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality
May be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient
And at the earliest period consistent with its objects
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions.
The great and general interests of peace.

Maybe next year.

(Lisa sent me the link from alternet.org – thanks Lisa!)

Rainbow Mountain CD/TG Weekend

Posted by – May 5, 2004

I’ll be reading at Rainbow Mountain the weekend of May 21 – 23, and I hope tons of you can come! For those who can’t stay, I’m sure you could come just for the reading (and maybe stay for dinner, or brunch, etc.)

Here’s the description from Rainbow Mountain’s Upcoming Events page:

TG/CD Weekend with a special book reading by Helen Boyd, the author of My Husband Betty (and you can read a review from The Village Voice) plus the Shangri-La-De-Da Show on Friday and Piano Bar with singer/songwriter/musician Michael Ferreri on Saturday. Plus, we’ve got a Fashion Show on the agenda. No, ladies, not just you in your finery this time, but an outside vendor who would like you to see her line. We will be needing models, so contact us if you would like to participate.

Good Article on Intersex

Posted by – May 2, 2004

Gender blending
by By Will Evans — Sacramento Bee on 28 April 2004

David Cameron feels neither completely male nor female. Born with male genitalia, Cameron began growing breasts during puberty and didn’t sprout chest hair until testosterone treatment kicked in. Instead of the typical male XY chromosomes or the female XX set, Cameron has XXY.

“I feel sort of like a blend,” says Cameron, 56, of San Francisco.

Some researchers say that’s a reasonable conclusion. Humans don’t always clearly divide into male and female categories. Some are born with abnormalities that challenge the very definition of sex. The term for them is intersex. Julia, a schoolteacher from a small town in central California, didn’t want to be identified to protect her daughter. Now 4, the girl has a condition that caused an enlarged clitoris.

Doctors couldn’t tell Julia her baby’s sex until after several days of testing. They first came to her with a box of tissues, announcing, “We have a problem.”

Julia felt hot from head to toe from the shock. She remembers the hospital bracelet that said only “baby” instead of “boy” or “girl.” She cried at the thought of her child’s future challenges. “Oh, what a hard life,” she told her husband.

The concept of intersex that links Cameron and the little girl is too blurry to yield a definition with which everyone agrees. Many people with XXY chromosomes, for example, consider themselves absolutely male and distance themselves from the intersex world.

But prominent academics and activists define intersex as anyone whose sex chromosomes, external genitalia or internal reproductive system is not considered standard for male or female.

Peter Trinkl, a computer specialist in Berkeley, doesn’t really know how he looked at birth. All he has to work with are his genital scars, evidence of surgery. His parents didn’t tell him much. In school, he was beaten up and called an alien.

Trinkl, 51, considers himself a heterosexual male, but dating brings up difficult issues, and he hasn’t tried for 20 years.

“If I’m a man or a woman, I don’t want to get too much into that,” he says.

Only recently did Trinkl summon the courage, he says, to research the intersex community and hunt for his medical records.

Some infants are born with ambiguous genitalia while others clearly look male or female and may not find out they are different until they reach puberty. Still others bear a visible difference in anatomy – an enlarged clitoris or a tiny penis – but otherwise can be determined male or female. And some have the standard chromosomes of one sex and the external appearance of the other.

Intersex activists decry the shame and secrecy caging their condition. They urge doctors to avoid cosmetic genital surgery on intersex infants until the children themselves can decide if they want it. Cameron is helping to organize a public hearing on intersex issues to be held by San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission next month.

Children frequently are born with wide-ranging genetic and physical abnormalities. Intersex conditions just happen to manifest in an area that gets at the very definition of who we are.

What defines a person’s sex – their chromosomes, their appearance or their psyche? What if they don’t match?

How can you assign a sex to a child when you don’t really know? How can you not?

What if you surgically reconstruct a baby to look like one sex and the child grows up to identify as the other? What does gay or straight mean, then?

And when everything from color-coded baby presents on out is sexually segregated, is it possible to grow up as an alternative to male or female?

The mind-boggling, gender-bending conundrum plays out in people’s lives.

Intersex people might make up as much as 2 percent of live births, with between 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent of all infants receiving genital surgery, according to a scientific journal article co-written by Anne Fausto-Sterling, a professor of biology and gender studies at Brown University.

“If you look at this from the bigger philosophical view of, ‘Are there really only two kinds of people in the world – either men or women?’ – then the answer to that clearly is no,” she says.

Human sexuality, instead, can be seen as a spectrum or continuum, she says.

The medical profession has traditionally viewed an intersex birth as a “social emergency,” pushing to assign a child’s sex immediately and perform corrective surgery as soon as possible, says Celia Kaye, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Doctors want to avoid traumatizing parents and help the child grow up normally, without confusion or ridicule, she says.

Kaye helped create the American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement on intersex newborns along these lines in 2000. But the academy might revise its guidelines because of a growing number in the field who question whether surgery and sex assignment should take place so early in life.

A baby with an enlarged clitoris or minuscule penis, depending on one’s perspective, conventionally has been more likely to be determined a female because it’s surgically easier to make that happen, Kaye says. But it’s not clear, she says, whether that child will grow to be a happy, functioning woman. Some activists call it “genital mutilation.”

Sonoma County resident Cheryl Chase, 47, had surgery on her enlarged clitoris, leaving a “big, flat scar.” But she says the biggest harm doctors caused was “the idea that this was shameful,” telling her parents to keep it a secret.

In the early 1990s, Chase, who identifies herself as an intersex lesbian female, confronted doctors, called the press and founded the Intersex Society of North America, creating today’s intersex movement.

Because of pressure from advocates, doctors are now more open with patients and more likely to present parents with options rather than telling them what to do, says Amy Wisniewski, who does intersex research at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital.

Julia, mother of the 4-year-old girl, says one of her daughter’s doctors “bullied” her into making a surgery appointment. Some surgery is necessary when the toddler hits puberty, but decreasing her clitoris is optional and cosmetic.

Because doctors can’t guarantee a post-surgery clitoris will retain the same sexual sensation, Julia worried her consent may deprive her daughter of a vital part of life. Julia cried every day until she finally canceled the surgery.

“We’re going to leave the decision up to her and talk to her and support her when she’s old enough to make that decision,” Julia says over the phone.

How old is that? If you can delay surgery, can you also put off assigning a sex?

The questions build quickly, but most people are stuck at the first one: “What is intersex?” The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center at the University of California, Davis, held a talk on exactly that as part of its first Intersex Awareness Week earlier this month.

It’s not clear, Wisniewski says, whether rates of homosexuality are higher among intersex people. But because it shares a battle against the closet, the gay community has embraced the intersex populace, with some organizations adding “I” to the alphabet soup of LGBT.

Still, some with sex chromosome variations keep as far away from both communities as possible.

Those with Klinefelter’s syndrome, or XXY, struggle in a world that glorifies a man’s-man masculinity and sexual prowess, mocking androgynous qualities in men as signs of homosexuality. They’re already marked by that extra “female” chromosome and, for some, breast development and smaller genitalia. The last thing many want is to be aligned with the gay community.

Melissa Aylstock of Loomis is clear: Her XXY son is unambiguously male, and most men with Klinefelter’s syndrome don’t consider themselves intersex. Her son’s doctor, Ronald Swerdloff, chief of endocrinology at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, doesn’t consider Klinefelter’s syndrome intersex, either, because it doesn’t produce ambiguous genitalia.

When her son was diagnosed at age 8, Aylstock was “scared to death.” She wrote to Ann Landers, asking that a post-office box address be published for other parents to get in contact. After the letter ran in 1989, Aylstock received 1,000 letters and hundreds of dollars to start an organization. She founded Klinefelter Syndrome and Associates in Roseville.

Testosterone treatment is the norm for Aylstock’s son, now 23. In the school gym, students asked about his patch. He told them it was for nicotine addiction. “Mind you, we’re Mormon,” says his mother. “That just cracks me up. So he handled it.”

The son declined to talk about his condition in the context of the intersex community.

“So many guys are trying to be just normal,” says Robert Grace of Sonora, who found out at 39 he has XXY chromosomes. When he told people, they thought, “Oh, you’re gay,” he says.

When Grace should have been going through puberty, he watched the other boys whistling at girls and thought, “What jerks.” But he wasn’t gay.

His diagnosis popped up during his premarital physical. “I looked at my (fianc�e) and I said, ‘You don’t have to marry me.’ ”

They did marry and have adopted four children, two of whom also have Klinefelter’s syndrome.

“As a general population, we really would like to be accepted,” says Grace, a “stay-at-home Mr. Mom.” “If I sat next to you, you would have no clue that I was XXY, so why do we need another label?”

Cameron, on the other hand, embraces the other label.

Cameron’s birth certificate and driver’s license declare that “he” is male. With a 6-foot-10 build, a balding head, a deep voice and a beard, Cameron could hardly pass for female yet feels more female than male.

When faced with those annoying little boxes designating “M” or “F” on forms and applications, Cameron might check both or write “intersex.” It somehow seems appropriate that Cameron sometimes goes by the nickname “Iris,” after a favorite flower, the bearded iris.

Cameron got the Klinefelter’s diagnosis at 29 and began testosterone therapy. Where before Cameron had a “really nice smooth body,” now everywhere is hair. “I hate it,” Cameron says. “Quite frankly, I would really like the body I had 27 years ago back.”

Cameron has been with the same male partner for 26 years, though before that Cameron had a girlfriend. Earlier this month, the partner dropped to his knees and presented Cameron a diamond ring.

Cameron wants to wed but first is inquiring with civil rights lawyers because of the radical questions the act could provoke.

After all, would it be a standard marriage, a same-sex marriage or something else entirely?

——————————————————————————–
Misused terms add confusion

The term “intersex,” according to advocates and academics, means anyone with sex chromosomes, external genitalia or an internal reproductive system not considered standard for male or female. Here’s what intersex is not.

Hermaphrodite: The medical definition of a true hermaphrodite is someone with both ovarian and testicular tissue. This is rare and only one of various intersex conditions. Many intersex people consider this term offensive.

Homosexual: Some intersex people are gay, some are not. One doesn’t imply the other.

Transgender: This refers to people who are born one sex but identify as the other. Some choose a sex-change operation.

Eunuch: This refers to a castrated male.

——————————————————————————–

Genetic roots of intersex conditions

Intersex conditions vary in their genetic roots and physical manifestations. Here are details of a few conditions.

Androgen insensitivity syndrome: Patients have male chromosomes (XY) but don’t respond to androgens (male sex hormones, including testosterone). They have undescended testes, normal female external genitalia and breast development. Those with partial androgen insensitivity syndrome have ambiguous genitalia.

Gonadal dysgenesis: Patients have XY chromosomes, but their gonads don’t produce androgens. They have female external genitalia. Those with partial gonadal dysgenesis have ambiguous genitalia.

5-alpha-reductase deficiency: Patients have XY chromosomes but can’t produce the sex hormone dihydrotestosterone. They have testes, a penis resembling a clitoris and a scrotum resembling outer labia. They undergo some masculinizing changes during puberty.

Congenital adrenal hyperplasia: Patients have female chromosomes (XX) but produce excess androgens. They have ovaries, an enlarged clitoris and fused labia resembling a scrotum.

Klinefelter’s syndrome: Patients have the sex chromosome variation XXY and are sterile. They have male genitalia, sometimes with smaller sex organs, and sometimes develop breasts at puberty.

Turner syndrome: Patients have the chromosome variation of only one X. They have normal female external genitalia but can have other physical abnormalities. Because they don’t have functioning ovaries, puberty doesn’t cause breast development or menstruation.

Source: The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center

——————————————————————————–
Resources

* Bodies Like Ours support group with online forums: www.bodieslikeours.org, (610) 258-7466.

* Intersex Society of North America: www.isna.org.

* Klinefelter Syndrome and Associates: www.genetic.org, (888) 999-9428.

* The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center guide for patients and parents: www.hopkinsmedicine.org/pediatricendocrinology/intersex.

http://www.sacbee.com/content/lifestyle/story/8971622p-9897782c.html

UCLA Doctor on Sex Identity

Posted by – May 2, 2004

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-vilain19apr19,1,4766046.story

COMMENTARY
Gender Blender

Intersexual? Transsexual? Male, female aren’t so easy to define

By Eric Vilain, Eric Vilain is chief of medical genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

This was the moment of truth. The ultimate test before the coronation. A deacon would extend his hand below the robe of the future pope and check for the presence of two testicles. Middle Ages legend has it that this rite was started after Joan, an Englishwoman and a cross-dresser, managed to get elected pope in 855 but was discovered two years later because of an ill-timed childbirth.

Will we soon be witnessing such surreal examinations in our city halls? After all, if the Constitution will allow only marriages between a man and a woman, the county clerks had better make sure that they are issuing licenses legally. Patting down the two male organs would ensure an absolute certainty of sex identification. Or would it?

In reality, sex isn’t so straightforward. Let’s take testicles as a defining characteristic of a man. Are individuals with only one testis “real” men? The “two-testicles rule” would disqualify about 3% of male newborns a year � about 4.5 million Americans total. Does one need to produce active sperm or eggs to be considered a man or woman? Adding a fertility criterion would eliminate millions more from both categories.

If conventional wisdom cannot easily define men and women by just a simple look at the private parts, science should help us distinguish between the sexes. Since 1921, we have known that women have two X chromosomes and men an X and a Y chromosome. This is the fundamental genetic distinction between men and women.

But still, it’s been difficult to find clear-cut answers. Olympic Games officials have struggled with the science of “sexing” individuals for many years � often after high-profile cases of gender confusion. In the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, U.S. runner Helen Stephens beat Polish runner Stella Walsh in the 100-meter sprint, winning a gold medal and breaking Walsh’s 1932 record. The Polish press falsely accused Stephens of being a man. Ironically, after Walsh was killed during a 1980 robbery, her autopsy revealed male genitals. Decades later, Erica Schinegger, who won the women’s downhill skiing world title for Austria in 1966, was two years later found to be chromosomally male and, as such, disqualified for the Olympics. Her case forced the International Olympic Committee to require all athletes to take a test counting the number of X chromosomes.

In 1990, scientists learned that a gene called SRY on the Y chromosome is what makes fetuses become boys and not girls. In 1992, the Olympic test was perfected to detect the presence of the SRY gene.

But even that was insufficient. Any genetics expert knows that there are exceptions to the chromosome rules. There are females with a Y chromosome; there are males with no SRY gene. At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the IOC decided to “refrain from performing gender tests,” conceding that no single test provided a complete answer.

Identifying the gender of intersex and transsexual individuals poses an even more complex challenge. Intersexuality is defined as the presence of “ambiguous genitalia,” making it impossible to tell easily whether the newborn baby is a boy or a girl. It occurs at a frequency of 1 in 4,000 births. Plastic surgery of the genitals is often performed to conform a typical appearance of one sex or the other, and a male or female legal sex is assigned shortly after birth. Many of these children grow up feeling alienated from their legal sex identity and undergo reconstructive surgery as adults to regain their dominant gender identity. If intersex adults change their legal sex, which sex should be considered when they marry?

Although the validity of marriage of an intersex person has not been tried in court, legal challenges to marriages of transsexuals abound. Transsexuals believe that they have been born in the wrong body and often pursue a difficult and painful process of surgical reassignment. But courts often don’t recognize the change of sex and invalidate spousal rights of transsexuals. In the 1999 landmark case of Littleton vs. Prange, a male-to-female transsexual was denied the right to sue under a wrongful death statute for the death of her husband. The Texas Court of Appeals referred to sex provided by “our creator” as opposed to sex created by physicians and rejected “man-made” sexual organs.

Sex should be easily definable, but it’s not. Our gender identity � our profound sense of being male or female � is independent from our anatomy. A constitutional amendment authorizing marriages only between men and women would not only discriminate against millions of Americans who do not fit easily in the mold of each category, but would simply be flawed and contrary to basic biological realities.

The Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education

Posted by – May 2, 2004

Murder of Gwen Araujo Spurs Philanthropic Fund

Contact: Julie Dorf
Director of Philanthropic Services
415-398-2333 ext. 103 Date: March 8, 2004
For Immediate Release

SAN FRANCISCO – With the Gwen Araujo murder trial set to begin on March 15, Gwen’s family, community activists, and Horizons Foundation have joined forces to create the Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education. This fund will make small grants to school programs that promote understanding of transgender people and issues among youth.

Gwen’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, said, “I am so committed to ensuring that what happened to my daughter does not happen to anyone else. The hatred of others because they are different must stop, and this fund will help break the cycle of ignorance and violence – with kids in their schools and with their parents.”

Horizons Foundation is a philanthropic social justice organization that has been serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community throughout the Bay Area for more than 20 years. “As a community foundation, Horizons has a special responsibility to pull together all LGBT people in the Bay Area, through a vehicle such as this fund, to help end the kind of violence and hatred that led to Gwen’s death,” said Roger Doughty, Executive Director of Horizons Foundation. “We are proud to be the home of the fund and to work closely with Gwen’s family and other members of our community to have a real impact on youth.”

The Gwen Araujo Memorial Fund for Transgender Education will be advised by a group of transgender and education experts, and will accept donations from the community on-line via the Horizons Foundation website and through the mail. Horizons encourages other community organizations, youth advocates, and communities of faith to consider supporting this fund.

For more information and press photos, see www.horizonsfoundation.org

Horizons Foundation; 870 Market, Suite 728; San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone 415.398.2333; Fax 415.398.4783; info@horizonsfoundation.org

Horizons Foundation is a social justice philanthropic organization serving the entire spectrum of LGBT communities. To fulfill this mission, Horizons creates strong organizations meeting the needs, advancing the rights, and celebrating the lives of LGBT people and communities; generates a diverse group of informed, generous supporters giving time, energy, and resources to the LGBT community; and educates the public about the nature and impacts of homophobia.