Weekly Trans Roundup: 2/4-2/10/18

Since I’ll be doing most of my writing on Patreon these days (do sign up! it’s only $1/month!), I’ve decided that I’ll also do a weekly round up of some of the most trans relevant news I’ve seen in the past week.

Chelsea Manning Isn’t the Only Trans Candidate You Should Know About is a brief article about some of the other awesome trans candidates running in the US.

This cool video by Blake Cully on what it’s like to be trans and deaf.

This awesome sartorial history of pink and blue as the colors for babies from KSPS:

Another great video about Charlotte:

A video by a cis man calling for greater inclusion of trans women (at the women’s march & beyond).

Iowa City added a third gender option.

This cool story about decolonizing sexuality at a Two Spirit Pow Wow.

The announcement that a new book called The Singing Teacher’s Guide to Transgender Voices is now available.

A great article on ‘walking while trans’ about criminalization of trans identities focused primarily on the NYPD.

And sadly, the obituary of the fourth trans woman killed this year, Celine Walker, age 36, who was killed in Jacksonville, FL.

Adieu Holly Boswell, Beautiful Soul

One of the gentlest, most loving, most fierce souls I have known died this past weekend at the age of 66. I don’t know what of; I only know that for 66 short years, the world was a better place and still will be as a result of who she was and how she was.

When we met, just glanced at each other across the room, it was one of those kismet moments of “i get you” and we talked. And talked and talked and talked; Holly and I talked whenever we saw each other, nearly couldn’t stop. I don’t know that I was so extraordinarily special in that, because she was so open and so welcoming and so goddamned beautiful I’m sure a lot of people found themselves wanting to be known when they were in her presence. She could see you, see you for your pain, for your fear, for your beauty. As my wife put it, “She was the first trans woman I met who was utterly confident in her skin and her example has fed my soul from now to the end of days.”

When I first started going to trans conferences, the lingo was all CDs this and TSs that, FTM and MTF, binaries upon binaries, “real” transsexuals vs. I don’t know what. It was at a time when trans women would tell my wife she wasn’t a woman if she expected to stay with me after transition, that “real” trans women didn’t do that. We didn’t feel we fit in well as our queer artsy selves because there was so much prescription to being trans then, so much, with exclusive camps that left anyone who wanted to express a gender without changing their genitals with nowhere to be.

But where you could be was with Holly, and her company more than made up for the folks for whom you were too non-doctrinaire. If you think it was controversial to be “non op” now, it was a million times more then, but she held her ground with grace and a knowing smile.

She invented the trans symbol because she was too much and too many things to be restricted to one gender. She wanted all of her many selves present all the time. She was the first person I knew who embraced a non binary identity. She wrote The Trangender Alternative in 1991. Here’s an interview I did with her back in 2006.

I adored her. I will miss her. I will value how much she made us welcome and how much she validated any emotion, any gender, any pain; she took it all in and transformed it, light in her eyes and an impish smile all surrounded by that beautiful, beautiful hair.

Faerie child, I will miss you. I think, I hope, I told you how much you meant to me, but I’m sure you knew it even if I didn’t. Because you were that good.

RIP Aleshia Brevard

She transitioned in 1958 at the age of 21 and went on to be a Playboy bunny and appear in 8 movies, did numerous TV appearances, and was otherwise a glamorous, beautiful woman.

Here’s a cool interview with her.

RIP Diane Torr

I just showed students in a Gender Variance course some of Diane Torr’s magic in her Drag King workshop from Venus Boyz.

I knew this news was coming but it’s still heartbreaking: so many of the true trailblazers from the early days of genderfuck and drag are heading for the exits.

Diane Torr, thank you so much. Even knowing you existed at one point in my history was more than I needed to get through a day.

She died May 31st in Glasgow. Thank you for everything you were, everything you did, everyone you helped along the way.

A Tale of Two Americas

Two pieces of news. First, the Dems re-introduce the Equality Act:

Democrats including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer are gathering Tuesday morning at the Capitol’s Rayburn Room to announce the re-introduction of the Equality Act, which would ban anti-LGBT discrimination nationwide….

… but VP Pence could be the only winner:

President Donald Trump has invited conservative leaders to the White House on Thursday for what they expect will be the ceremonial signing of a long-awaited—and highly controversial—executive order on religious liberty, according to multiple people familiar with the situation.

(Please, if you haven’t sent a check to the ACLU recently, please do. They are our best bet to fight this hateful idea. )

I’m a little astonished at how we are so obviously, as a nation, going in two different directions at once. The basic rights that have not yet been granted to LGBTQ Americans are still up for argument.

Victim Blaming Dr. Dao

Now journalists are starting to dig into Dr. Dao’s past, as if some criminal history or other misdeed somehow “explains away” the violence done to him by United.

This is victim blaming.

I hope, if anything like this ever happens to me, no one asks me how I dressed, what I did in the past, or whether or not I have a criminal history.

I would just want people to respond to the unfair and violent way I was treated after having done nothing wrong but bought a plane ticket and gotten in my seat.

In gender studies we often use the idea of “asking the other question” – to see what kind of power structures might be at work. The obvious one here is capitalism, where it’s seen as legitimate for a company to protect its property instead of treating people with respect. But there’s patriarchy, too, which trains men to believe that violence is an acceptable way to protect property. I’d add as well racism – Dao is Vietnamese-American – and orientalism, if you read some of the descriptions of the way he behaved. (Honestly, if I see the word “unusual” one more time I’m going to scream.)

Other articles are pointing up sexual misconduct, too, and honestly, the whole thing is sickening. He was brutalized by a company he paid to transport him. That is all. There was no good reason for it, and the behavior of United should be roundly criticized by all of us who fly.

ACLU Sues WI Over Trans Health Coverage

At long last, some good news:

MILWAUKEE – The national ACLU, ACLU of Wisconsin, and volunteer attorneys from the law firm Hawks Quindel sued Wisconsin’s state university system and insurance board today over their refusal to provide gender-affirming health insurance coverage to state employees who are transgender.

The suit was filed on behalf of Alina Boyden, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Shannon Andrews, a cancer researcher at the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

“The state continues to deny our clients coverage for medically necessary treatment simply because they are transgender, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” said John Knight, of the ACLU’s national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and HIV Project. “All that transgender people like Alina and Shannon are asking for is to be treated like everyone else, and that includes respect and coverage for the health care you need.”

May they win, and win well, and set the bar high for all employers in WI.

WI State Detransitioning Trans Employees

Imagine, married folks, how it would feel if you got a cheery email from your university or from the state you live in telling you that due to some clerical reorganization, you and your spouse, and all married people in the state, had been re-set in their files to SINGLE and that, in order to be reclassified again as married, you had to provide documentation of your marriage as well as scientific evidence, say DNA, to prove you aren’t related.

IMAGINE.

That’s exactly what the state of Wisconsin is currently doing to trans state employees: reverting their gender markers to the gender they were assigned at birth and asking for “additional documentation” to change the gender marker back.

Cary Gabriel Costello, who works at UW Milwaukee, just got that email. You can read Costello’s description of this event on his blog TransFusion.

This is happening to people who have ALREADY transitioned, who have legally been their gender for years, and who had been entirely accepted as that gender legally, professionally, and medically. ETF is requiring them to do three things:

1 – The employee must notify ETF (Employee Trust Fund, the state’s administrative board) directly, providing their old and new names, old and new gender markers, ETF ID number, and a declaration that they are gender transitioning. (Previously, employees notified HR at their place of employment, and employer HR staff changed the gender marker directly in the benefits system. But now ETF will centralize control over implementing transitions, and maintain a database of gender transitioners. In essence, we are being required to register with the state.)

2 – Trans people are required to provide “proof of identity,” such as a driver’s license or military ID showing the new name and gender marker. (This is the easiest one for people who have already transitioned.)

3 – Trans people must produce “proof of gender.” These options include (a) a correctly gendered passport, (b) a court order – often requiring proof of genital surgery, such as in WI, or (c) a birth certificate which is correctly gendered.

THIS IS NUTS, folks. It’s creepy, it’s the worst governmental intrusion, and it’s turning the clock back on trans rights and identity a decade.

Please stay informed. As I know more, you will too.

Amicus Brief

A remarkable document, signed by 101 trans individuals – some celebrities (Jen Richards, Laverne Cox, Zachary Drucker, the Wachowski sisters), activists (Beck Bailey, Diego Sanchez, Jamison Green), professors (Ben Barres, Jenny Boylan, Paisley Currah), and lawyers (Zoe Dolan, Mik Kincaid, Jillian Weiss) – was filed today in favor of trans use of bathrooms re: Gavin Grimm’s SCOTUS case.

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
Bathroom restrictions are proxy battles for who is considered fully human. If you can’t use a public facility safely, how can you be an active member of the community? How can you be a citizen if the message of your own government is that you don’t belong? And what are you without community or citizenship? – Ms. Jen Richards, 40, Writer, Actress and Producer

Amici respectfully submit that the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals should be affirmed for the reasons set forth in the Brief for Respondent. Amici further submit this brief to highlight for the Court the perspectives and experiences of transgender individuals who are vulnerable to the pernicious effects of Petitioner’s proposed interpretation of Title IX. Amici offer their personal stories to illustrate that they, like other Americans, strive to contribute to their communities, raise healthy, loving families and succeed professionally. Amici also detail the support that they have received from their families, friends, schools and employers, which has helped them to achieve their full potential. Amici believe that their ability to contribute to society and lead lives of “equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584, 2608 (2015), would be upended by Petitioner’s interpretation of Title IX, which would humiliate and discriminate against them on the basis of sex.

It’s a remarkable document, worth reading in full.

US Trans Survey Now Out

Today, the most recent US survey of trans people is out.
Tune in at 1PM EST for a live launch event. Register to watch it.

Here are some of intitial findings, about bathrooms:

  • 59% have avoided bathrooms in the last year because they feared confrontations in public restrooms at work, at school, or in other places.
  • 12% report that they have been harassed, attacked, or sexually assaulted in a bathroom in the last year.
  • 31% have avoided drinking or eating so that they did not need to use the restroom in the last year.
  • 24% report that someone told them they were using the wrong restroom or questioned their presence in the restroom in the last year.
  • 9% report being denied access to the appropriate restroom in the last year.

  • 8% report having a kidney or urinary tract infection, or another kidney-related medical issue, from avoiding restrooms in the last year.

A recording of the event will be made available after the launch for those who are unable to watch live.

Mara Keisling Gets Herself Arrested in NC

Mara Keisling has been one of our very favorite people for a long, long time now, and today even more so.

Today she used the ladies’ room in the NC state house and was interviewed by Buzzfeed about it. She was there delivering petitions to get HB2 revoked:

Keisling was with a group from the NAACP delivering proposed legislation that would repeal the state’s anti-LGBT law, which also prevents cities from raising the minimum wage or from passing new nondiscrimination ordinances.

The state has been sued in federal court over the law, dozens of businesses have asked state officials to repeal it, and numerous businesses have canceled ventures in the state.

Protests, attended by thousands, were held on Monday to urge lawmakers to repeal the law — the first day the legislature convenes for its spring session. LGBT groups said they delivered petitions signed by more than 150,000 people asking for the law to be reversed.

She has since gotten arrested with a few others who proceeded to conduct a sit-in after her use of the ladies’ room.

More news as I get it, but let me say: Mara has been a stalwart activist who energizes her dedication with humor and love. The trans community could not ask for a cooler person.

 

Seattle: Trans Activist Danni Askini Is Running for Office

She’s running for an open seat in the Washington State House of Representatives, 43rd legislative district.

She’s 33, trans, and awesome. She’s the founder and director of the Seattle-based Gender Justice League, and would be the first openly trans person ever elected to the Washington State Legislature.

“It will send a really powerful message that extreme attacks in Olympia from ultra-conservative Republicans are not going to deter people from fighting for our shared values in the 43rd,” Askini says. “I think it would have a lot of meaning to the whole community.”

What she does need is your vote of support – financially. Backers are not convinced a trans person can run and win, so she needs donations from all of you – whatever you can manage.

I met Danni a long time ago now (and interviewed her a few years back) and she has consistently, overwhelmingly, earned my respect over the years.

Look Up Here, I’m in Heaven

My wife told me this morning as she left for work & I still slept, and I fell back asleep, fell right into a dream where I was living in a tiny, crowded artists’ commune somewhere in the row houses of Pennsylvania on a steep slope where we had to hang the laundry to dry and there was this older man at the table with two different colored eyes and he made us promise we wouldn’t tell.

He is still & always will be at the table of every group of people imagining a more beautiful world.

 

 

 

 

Thanks from the weird kids, Mr. Bowie. We wouldn’t have had half a chance without you.

And these children that you spit on – as they try to change their worlds – are immune to your consultations – they’re quite aware of what they’re going through

His final video speaks volumes.

EEOC Ruling

So what does this recent EEOC ruling mean? It means that sexual orientation discrimination is now considered sex discrimination, because the gender of you and the gender of who you love means it’s about gender, not orientation, per se.

The first time we saw this in any significant way was when Hawaii’s Baehr v Lewin case left the door open for civil unions back in 1993 (causing, some might argue, the whole DOMA movement at the federal and state levels).

This EEOC ruling is *not* binding in courts, but the EEOC investigates a lot of workplace cases and the courts, in turn, often defer to EEOC rulings precisely because the EEOC has more experience and expertise as their mission is to uphold the Civil Rights Act of 1064.

NCTE adds:

The argument that gender identity, but not sexual orientation, is already covered by Title VII and other sex discrimination laws has sometimes been asserted as a reason to cut gender identity out of LGBT nondiscrimination bills at the state or local level. In fact, all forms of anti-LGBT nondiscrimination are inherently gender-based—and yet we still urgently need legislation to make clear beyond doubt, once and for all, that LGBT people are protected. The EEOC’s underscores that the entire LGBT community is in the same boat in that regard.

Which is NCTE’s way of saying that the EEOC ruling may help, but it does not (yet) invalidate the need for ENDA.

Charleston

They managed to arrest that racist, violent motherfucker without killing him but a dude who sold loose cigarettes & a child who was playing with a toy gun had to be killed.

Nine people were killed while in a church and while praying. A five year old knew to play dead in order to save her own life.

But yeah, it’s not racism.

Take the fucking confederate flag down already. It’s not a symbol of history or pride or Southern culture; it’s a banner of hate and violence.

Love to the families and friends and lovers of those who were killed in Charleston and to the black communities of Charleston.

White people, we must do better.

Done Now.

Melissa Harris Perry asked and it turns out Dolezal does self-identify as black. I’m done and can’t take this seriously anymore.

Here’s a great book about passing and African American experience: better to learn a thing than to continue wondering what is up with this woman.

Ireland Votes for Marriage

Here’s a great story about some of the Irish expats who went home to vote, as it was up by referendum. It’s the first country to do so my popular vote.

Here’s another about #hometovote.

More lovely photos.

Northern Ireland is the only place left in that neck of the woods that doesn’t do or recognize same sex marriage, but that’s expected to change.

Why I Didn’t Even Watch

I know B. Jenner is exciting and trans people are exciting and – well, not so much for me. As I was saying to my wife recently, I wish the only people who did work on trans people found them incredibly boring and ordinary — otherwise the whole “look at this weird exotic thing” happens and it always depresses me.

Aside from the obvious tropes, Allyson Robinson wrote a good piece about why she didn’t watch, which I’m going to summarize: 1) Jenner coming out doesn’t change the work that needs to be done, 2) If anything, Jenner coming out has just increased the work to be done, and 3) the media is a poor tool for the work because it is always, always based on consumerism and advertising dollars. But do go read the whole thing as she makes key points on each of these issues, and her analysis of the usefulness connects right back to why the Trans Documentary Drinking Game exists in the first place.

Also, there’s this: Jenner’s a Republican, and I can honestly say that is disheartening even if it’s not surprising; there are quite a lot of trans Republicans out there, and I think they’re pretty much deluded that the Republican party will be open to defending trans rights — especially at this moment in time where nearly a dozen Republicans have drafted bills that encourage people to report trans people for using the “wrong” bathroom in public places, with some of them offering as much as a $4k bounty.

Wealthy celebrity athletes and reality shows don’t interest me much either.

But mostly, what Robinson says: there’s work to be done and there will be more as a result. So I’m glad for Jenner and glad for anyone whose families come around a little and glad for new allies who will help in the future, but in the meantime: back to it.