Tag: GID (gender identity disorder)

WPATH’S Recs

Posted by – May 28, 2010

WPATH, the World Professsional Association for Transgender Health - the organization formerly known as HBIGDA, or the Harry Benjamin Internaltional Gender Dysphoria Association – has issued a statement/report on their recommendations for the “gender incongruence” (formerly known as GID, & previously as gender dysphoria) for the upcoming DSM V.


You can read the whole of the 9 page .pdf here.

Here are excerpts:

The WPATH Consensus Group believes that gender variance is not in and of itself pathological and that having a cross- or transgender identity does not constitute a psychiatric disorder (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press). However, the WPATH Consensus Group did not reach consensus on whether or not the diagnosis should be retained or removed. Instead, participants chose to present a continuum of positions ranging from removal to reform with the majority advocating for reform (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press; Ehrbar, in press, for a discussion of the pros and cons for removal or reform).

Instead of broadening the diagnosis, the WPATH Consensus Group recommends a narrowing of the diagnosis to those who experience distress associated with gender incongruence (Knudson, De Cuypere, & Bockting, in press). Therefore, we disagree with the absence of a distress component in the proposed criteria. It appears that in an honourable attempt to be inclusive of the wide spectrum of gender variance and gender variant identities, and to account for healthy, well adjusted individuals who might seek hormonal or surgical interventions, the workgroup decided to remove any component of distress or suffering which lead many transgender and transsexual individuals to seek treatment (see also Meyer-Bahlburg, 2010). Above all, it is treatment for the latter group, those who are experiencing distress or suffer, which justifies and might necessitate a diagnosis. If there is no distress or suffering and no treatment is desired, why is a diagnosis needed?

The WPATH Consensus Group recognizes that although some children present with gender dysphoria, it persists in few into adolescence or adulthood (American Psychological Association, 2009). Many of the behaviours captured in the proposed criteria are seen by many as variation in normal development, although sometimes heavily stigmatized, which a diagnostic label might reinforce (Pleak, Herbert and Shapiro, 2009). The WPATH workgroup charged with reviewing and making recommendations for revision considered to recommend removal of the childhood diagnosis, yet consensus on this issue was not achieved. What we did reach consensus on is that, if a childhood diagnosis would be retained, it should only apply to those with a desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that he or she is of the other gender, reflective of persistent and severe internal dysphoria associated with incongruence between sex assigned at birth and gender identity (Knudson, DeCuypere, & Bockting, in press).

(thanks to Courtney)

Co-Signers of the Letter to the APA about GID

Posted by – April 26, 2010

Here is the final list of the co-signing organizations & individuals of the Callen-Lorde/Gay Center letter to the APA about the DSM V revision of GID:

Co-signing Institutions:

  1. CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, New York, NY
  2. Agnodice Foundation, Lausanne, Switzerland
  3. Brainpower Research and Development Services Inc
  4. Brooklyn Community Pride Center, Brooklyn, NY
  5. Capital District Gay and Lesbian Community Council, Albany, NY
  6. Center on Halsted, Chicago, IL
  7. The DC Center for the LGBT Community
  8. Equality Ohio, Columbus, OH
  9. The Gay Alliance in Rochester NY
  10. Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Colorado, Denver, CO
  11. L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, Los Angeles, CA
  12. Legacy Community Health Services, Houston, TX
  13. LGBT Community Center Coalition of Central Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA
  14. The LOFT LGBT Community Services Center, White Plains, NY
  15. Malecare, New York, NY
  16. Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia, PA
  17. Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Milwaukee, WI
  18. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), New York, NY
  19. National LGBT Cancer Network, New York, NY
  20. New Mexico GLBTQ Centers, Las Cruces, NM
  21. New York City Anti-Violence Project, New York, NY
  22. New York Trans Rights Organization (NYTRO), White Plains, New York
  23. Out With Cancer – The LGBT Cancer Project, New York, NY
  24. Pride in Practice, Silver School of Social Work, New York University, New York, NY
  25. Rainbow Heights Club, Brooklyn, NY
  26. Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center, Sacramento, CA
  27. San Francisco LGBT Community Center, San Francisco, CA
  28. Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), New York, NY
  29. Spectrum LGBT Center, San Rafael, CA
  30. Third Root Community Health Center, Brooklyn, NY
  31. YouthPride, Inc., Atlanta, GA

The following individuals have requested their names be added to this letter in show of support:

  1. Alison Aldrich, LCSW, Clinical Assistant Professor, NYU Silver School of Social Work, New York, NY
  2. Alison Alpert, New York, NY
  3. Angie Canelli, MA MHP LMHC NCC, Gender and Sexual Minority, Specialist, Seattle Counseling Service, Seattle, WA
  4. Brenda Solomon, Ph.D., M.S.W., Graduate Program Coordinator and Associate Professor, Social Work at The University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
  5. Craig Sloane, LCSW, New York, NY
  6. David J. Brennan, MSW, PhD, Assistant Professor, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  7. David Steinberg, San Francisco, CA
  8. Deanna Croce, LMSW, New York, NY
  9. Dennis Holly
  10. Devon Claridge, Brooklyn, NY
  11. Dr. Karra Bikson, Assistant Professor, NYU Silver School of Social Work, New York, NY
  12. E Maxwell Davis, Ph.D., LISW, Assistant Professor, Human Development & Women’s Studies, California State University, East Bay, CA
  13. Elizabeth Mullaugh, Board Secretary, LGBT Community Center of Central Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA
  14. Fareen Ramji, LMSW, Brooklyn, NY
  15. Foresta Castañeda, MSW, Middlebury, VT
  16. Franklin Brooks, Ph.D., LCSW, Chairperson, Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, National Association of Social Workers, Maine Chapter, Portland, ME
  17. Helen Boyd, author and lecturer in Gender Studies, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI
  18. Holly Rider-Milkovich, Director, Student Wellness Center. New York City College of Technology, New York, NY
  19. Jane Mildred, MSW, MA, PhD, Amherst, MA
  20. Jean Sienkewicz, MSW–Offender Re-Entry Housing Specialist, Burlington Housing Authority, Burlington VT
  21. Jase Schwartz, BA Psychology, MSW Candidate, Hunter College School of Social Work, New York, NY
  22. Jeff Brody, LMHC, ATR-BC, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board-Certified Art Therapist, Licensed School Adjustment Counselor, Braintree, MA
  23. Jeremy D. Schwartz, MSW Candidate, Student Senator, NYU Silver School of Social Work, New York, NY
  24. Jessie Jacobson, Los Angeles, CA
  25. Joyce E. Garee, LMSW, Albany, NY
  26. Justus Eisfeld, co-director, GATE – Global Advocates for Trans Equality, New York, NY
  27. Karalyn Shimmyo, LMSW, Brooklyn, NY
  28. Kayleen White, Thornbury, Victoria, Australia, former co-convenor of Victoria’s TransGender Victoria
  29. Laura Booker, LCSW, New York, NY
  30. Lex Moran, New York, NY
  31. Mauro Cabral, co-director, GATE – Global Advocates for Trans Equality, Córdoba, Argentina
  32. Melissa Sklarz, New York, NY
  33. Michael Miller, MSW Candidate, 2011, Silver School Of Social Work, New York University, New York, NY
  34. Michelle Kay, MS, FNP, New York, NY
  35. Misty L. Wall, PhD, MSSW, LCSW, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Boise State University, Boise, ID
  36. Nerissa Belcher RN, Decatur, GA
  37. Nickerson Hill, LMSW, Masters of Public Health Candidate, Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY
  38. Nicole Paige, New York, NY
  39. P. Swan, MSW, Seattle, WA
  40. Paisley Currah, Professor, Brooklyn College-CUNY, Brooklyn, NY
  41. Pamela Bianco, Staten Island, NY
  42. Pega Ren, Ed.D., Registered Clinical Counsellor, Board Certified Sexologist, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  43. Rebecca Capri-Durkee Transgender Health Advocate, Boston, MA
  44. Robin Mangini, New York, NY
  45. Romy Reading, MA, New School for Social Research, New York, NY
  46. Rosalyne Blumenstein LCSW ACHP-SW, Therapy2Go, Los Angeles, CA
  47. Samuel Lurie, Director, Transgender Training and Advocacy
  48. Sand Chang, PhD, San Francisco, CA
  49. Sari Surkis, MBA, MSW Candidate, New York, NY
  50. Sean M. Endress, MA, LCSW, Albany, NY
  51. Sebastian Colon-Otero, LMSW, Brooklyn, NY
  52. Shelley Schwartz, Chappaqua NY
  53. Sherry Tripepi, MSW, EqualityToledo, Toledo, OH
  54. Stacey Peyer, MSW, LCSW, CalSWEC Field Consultant, CSULB Department of Social Work, Long Beach, CA
  55. Steve Prentice, LMSW New York, NY
  56. Steven Lipsky, LCSW, CASAC, New York, NY
  57. Sue Langer, LCSW, New York, NY
  58. Susan E. Roche, Ph.D., M.S.S.W., University of Vermont Department of Social Work, Burlington, VT
  59. Tim Pierce, President, Community Alliance and Action Network, Joliet, IL
  60. Toby C. Siegel, Astoria NY
  61. Trey Polesky, MSW, Bloomington, IL
  62. Tyler Blake Kim, New York, NY
  63. Yosenio V. Lewis, Transgender Health Advocate, San Francisco, CA

Response to the APA’s New GID

Posted by – April 19, 2010

Callen-Lorde and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center, both of New York, have written a response to the APA’s revised DSM diagnosis for Gender Identity Disorder — which is now being re-named Gender Incongruence. They make a few important and valid points in a statement which is tidy, well-written, and well-argued. I’m impressed & will be added as a signatory.

Re: Comment on the proposed “Gender Incongruence” in the draft revision of the of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5
(DSM-5)

American Psychiatric Association:

The undersigned providers of and advocates for medical and mental health services to transgender and gender non-conforming communities welcome this opportunity to offer feedback and comment on the American Psychiatric Association’s draft revision diagnosis for Gender Identity Disorders (GID), “Gender Incongruence” (GI).

The lead organizations facilitating this response are Callen-Lorde Community Health Center and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of New York City. Each of these organizations started providing community services in 1983 and together serve over 2,000 people of transgender experience with primary health care and hormone care as well as substance abuse, mental health, and community building services. Our organizations, as well as the other signatories to this letter, represent the largest settings providing health and social services to transgender and gender non-conforming people and their families in the United States.

We appreciate the APA’s proposed “Gender Incongruence”(GI) diagnosis is an effort intended to de-stigmatize gender non-conformity and improve transgender-identified people’s access to mental health care. We agree with the intention behind this effort; however, we endorse an alternative viewpoint, based on our years of collective practice knowledge. We believe GI will continue to inappropriately pathologize gender non-conformity, maintain barriers to medically necessary health care, and lend justification to gender based stigmatization and discrimination.

Prior to addressing the reasons behind our recommendation, we would like to respectfully address the process by which the APA undertook this effort.
From the vantage point of LGBT health and community centers, the conceptualization of “Gender Incongruence” occurred without valuable and necessary input from community providers who serve and are accountable to significant numbers of people affected by this diagnosis. The November 2008 Report of the DSM-V Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group indicates that the “sub-work group has addressed feedback from interested advocacy groups and other stakeholders. Surveys were sent to more than 60 organizations.” While other agencies have provided feedback in this process, we are concerned that the institutions that provide the bulk of medical and mental health services to transgender people nationwide were not asked for input. We have reached out to LGBT community health centers and LGBT community centers; none of these key, high-volume, client-centered, community-driven stakeholders seem to have been included in the research or vetting process. Without input from a representative sample of such organizations and their clients, the conclusions of the sub-work group regarding GI cannot be considered generalizable.

Our specific concerns regarding the validity and utility of the proposed inclusion of GI are as follows:
- Gender non-conformity is not a mental disorder: The proposed definition of a mental disorder in the DSM-V expressly prohibits the inclusion of diagnoses that are “primarily the result of social deviance or conflicts with society” (APA, 2010). The “Gender Incongruence” diagnosis inherently contradicts this tenet. Whereas the criteria for other psychiatric diagnoses are lists of symptoms that impair functioning, the proposed criteria for GI are a list of characteristics of gender non-conformity. There is no evidence or need for treatment that decreases gender non-conformity or crossdressing, as noted in “Transvestic Fetishism.” The GI diagnosis obfuscates the root cause of the distress many transgender people experience – pervasive discrimination. It is commonly acknowledged among mental health providers that being gay, bisexual or lesbian is not a disorder, but that the social impact of stigma, discrimination and homophobia can cause the individual great distress. GI falsely assigns dysfunction to the gender non-conforming person, rather than within the social environment.

– An inappropriate pathway to transgender-specific medical care: There is legitimate community concern that removal of a mental health diagnosis would limit access to transgender-specific medical care. While a minority has succeeded in using the legal system or in fulfilling their insurer’s requirements for coverage to access care, the majority of people needing transgender-specific medical care are denied coverage. GI maintains these barriers to care. Medical interventions are better substantiated by the use of medical diagnoses, not psychiatric diagnoses. Access to transgender-specific, medically necessary care can be directly and more effectively addressed by utilization of a revised medical diagnosis in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The psychiatric needs of transgender people are better addressed by existing psychiatric diagnoses.

– GI lays the groundwork for unethical and harmful reparative therapy: A GID diagnosis has historically been misused to justify treatment of “pre-homosexual” children in the hope of preventing or delaying the development of a positive and healthy gay or lesbian identity. With adults, transgender-specific medical intervention is often offered only if reparative therapy fails to relieve distress and improve social functioning.
The GI diagnosis will continue to lend false credence to interventions that foster shame, encourage children and adults to betray their true selves, and delay healthy identity development. This practice is harmful and unethical.

In summary, we propose all diagnoses addressing gender non-conformity and identity be eliminated from the DSM-5. The mental health needs – when present – of gender non-conforming people are addressed by existing diagnoses. We ask the APA to formally renounce reparative therapy addressing gender non-conformity in children, adolescents and adults. We acknowledge that a diagnosis must exist for those who require medically necessary transgender-specific care, and ask the APA to advocate for a viable transgender-specific medical diagnosis in the ICD. Finally, we respectfully request that the APA include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender healthcare institutions and community centers in these processes.

Sincerely,

Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City More

US Tax Court Rules GID Expenses Deductible

Posted by – February 2, 2010

From TaxProf Blog:

In a long-awaited decision, a fractured (8-5-3) Tax Court today ruled in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner, 134 T.C. No. 4 (Feb. 2, 2010), that male-to-female gender reassignment surgery qualifies as a deductible medical expense under § 213, reversing the IRS’s position in Chief Counsel Advice 200603025.  The 8-judge majority held that:

  • TP’s gender identity disorder is a “disease” within the meaning of  § 213(d)(1)(A) & (9)(B).
  • TP’s hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery were for the treatment of disease within the meaning of  § 213(d)(1)(A) & (9)(B), and thus not “cosmetic surgery” excluded from the definition of deductible “medical care” by § 213(d)(9)(A).
  • TP’s breast augmentation surgery was directed at improving her appearance did not meaningfully promote the proper function of her body or treat disease within the meaning of § 213(d)(9)(B), and thus was “cosmetic surgery” excluded from the definition of deductible “medical care” by § 213(d)(9)(A).

Judge Gale wrote the 69-page majority opinion, joined by Judges Cohen, Colvin. Marvel, Morrison, Paris, Thornton, and Wherry.  Judge Halperin (12 pages), Judge Holmes (joined by Judge Goeke) (23 pages), and Judge Goeke (joined by Judge Holmes) (6 pages) wrote separate concurring opinions.  Judge Foley (joined by Judges Gustafson, Kroupa, Vasquez, and Wells) (8 pages) and Judge Gustafson (joined by Judges Foley, Kroupa, Vasquez, and Wells) (21 pages) wrote separate opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Amazing news. GLAD is having a community conference call with the attorneys who worked on the case, and NCTE is supporting the call. For more info on how to participate, check after the break.

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LI: Transgender Voices

Posted by – July 7, 2009

I’ll be speaking out in Bay Shore, Long Island, on July 18th, as part of the Long Island GLBT Center’s “Transgender Voices” series.

Trans Salon

Posted by – July 2, 2009

In today’s Salon, a nice piece about the failure of Thomas Beattie, and another about the romantic failure of Jennifer Finny Boylan.

Mara Keisling, quoted in the first piece:

Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, resents the way that the Thomas Beatie flap has overshadowed more important developments. “The media hasn’t gotten a message yet that they ought to get a life,” she snaps. Last week, Congress held its first-ever hearing on discrimination against transgender employees, and on June 17, the American Medical Association passed a resolution stating that it “supports public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder,” but these items have received nowhere near Beatie’s media attention.

& Boylan, quoted in the second:

The women I knew, for their part, liked the fact that I had a feminine streak, that I seemed to be sensitive and caring, that I didn’t know the names of any NFL teams, that I could make a nice risotto. A lot of straight women love a female sensibility in a man, an enthusiasm that goes right up to, but unfortunately does not quite include, his being an actual woman.

The romances didn’t last, of course. Because, let’s face it: I was keeping the basic fact of myself camouflaged. How are you supposed to fall in love when you’re so frequently lying?

Colbert Report’s “Stonewalling”

Posted by – June 26, 2009

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – Stonewalling
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Mark Sanford

(I got myself in trouble a long time ago for writing a short story about a lesbian teenager who went to her first support meeting at The Gay Center & who found her voice silenced by the voices of the young men around her. I called it “Stonwalled” and my gay but closeted writing professor was not happy with me about it.)

(h/t to Lena Dahlstrom)

France Depathologizes Transsexualism

Posted by – May 17, 2009

Saturday’s edition of the French language newspaper Le Provence headline:

Transsexuality will no longer be classified mental illness in France

and the article explains why France has now become the first country to depathologize transsexualism.

English translation is now online.

Very, very interesting and good news on the eve of the APA conference in California, where protesters will be gathering to protest the GID diagnosis.

SF: GID Protest 5/18/09

Posted by – May 9, 2009

Foster Pets

Posted by – April 2, 2009

April 1st kicks off Prevention of Cruelty to Animals month. I don’t think there’s anything I hate more than the abuse of the goobers who trust us & depend on us. I know there are plenty of people out there “avenging Dusty” but I’d like to suggest we do that in a cool & groovy, pay it forward kind of way instead of in vengeance. (There is definitely a lot of animals out there that need your attention more than that kid does)

During these crap economic times, a lot of people are having to give up their animals, or, at the very least, can’t take care of them for a while in order to pay other bills.

If you have the space, think about fostering an animal or two; our local fostering organization will actually pay you per day to foster, and has a page of other useful information.

You can check in with North Shore Animal League as well, who are another favorite of ours, or the ASPCA (so maybe they can take those heartbreaking ads off TV).

IFGE 2009: “Disordered No More”

Posted by – March 16, 2009

This year I didn’t get to IFGE & this year, Julia Serano & Joelle Ruby Ryan both went. What’s up with that? (Actually, I was expecting to be able to attend in Philly in April but they moved the whole conference to DC in February, when i was teaching too much to be able to attend.)

Either way, they & Kelley Winters presented a panel called “Disordered No More” about GID diagnosis. Lynn Conway, who was also there, has posted a ton of the information they presented, including excepts from all three of their presentations (or in some cases, the whole paper).

So for those of us who couldn’t attend, we can at least read up on their presentations, which is a very cool thing indeed.

Thanks, NYC

Posted by – January 16, 2009

I’m very proud of my hometown for being kick-ass in an emergency, as always. I’ve lived through more than one in NYC – 9/11, the blackout – but those shoes of those people lined up on the plane’s wings in the Hudson – which had to be downright frigid yesterday – is remarkable. They didn’t have a lot of time with the water at 32 degrees and the air at 20; hypothermia would have happened pretty damn fast.

Go ferry operators, coast guard, the NYPD & the FDNY, as usual. The crew of USAir rocked especially.

& I also think it rocks that Mayor Bloomberg gives the news in his stilted Spanish.

& No, this does not inspire confidence in me to fly. I still hate flying.

Gainesville’s Fight

Posted by – January 10, 2009

Allyson Robinson posted this message about Equality Florida’s fight for a gender-inclusive non-discrimination law in Gainesville, Florida on our message boards, & I thought it deserved a larger audience:

Many of you are aware of the fight brewing in Gainesville, Florida over their trans-inclusive non-discrimination law, passed by the city council last year. Gainesville’s non-discrimination ordinance had covered sexual orientation for years, but when gender identity was added last year, opposition was activated. The opposition group collected a huge number of signatures–over 10% of the projected voting population–to get the anti-discrimination ordinance placed on the ballot in a special election. That’s tremendous for this kind of municipal issue; more people signed the petition against these protections than voted for the mayor or any sitting city council member in recent elections.

Though the charter amendment the opposition group is pushing would eliminate protections for the whole LGBT community, their messaging is focusing on transgender people–the “bathroom diversion.” Their flyers state, in letters a inch tall, “KEEP MEN OUT OF WOMEN’S RESTROOMS.” As we’ve seen all over the country, and writ large in California last fall, this kind of fear-based messaging is very, very difficult to dislodge from voters’ minds. The special election is scheduled for March 24.

This fight has national significance. The “bathroom diversion” is quickly becoming our opposition’s weapon of choice. They used it successfully in Hamtramck, Michigan, it might have succeeded in Montgomery County, Maryland had the courts not intervened, it’s getting drug out in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it’s already being raised at the state level in places like Connecticut that are considering inclusive non-discrimination bills this year. We must show both our opponents and our supporters that we can consistently defeat this tactic. If we don’t, municipalities or states considering trans-inclusive non-discrimination laws may become gun-shy, preferring not to deal with costly ballot initiatives in response to pro-equality laws.

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World AIDS Day

Posted by – December 1, 2008

Today is World AIDS Day.

Here’s a cool resource from the AIDS Memorial Quilt organization, showing various places in the US & events for World AIDS Day in your area, courtesy of Google Maps.

& Here’s Safe Sex info from Just Say Yes. (I love the little erection/condom .gif.)

I would love to hear from people as to why, say, the Quilt seems so different than the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Both are largely about the death of those we love. Yet they feel different, & I can’t quite put my finger on how.

Weiss Woman

Posted by – October 22, 2008

More and more we’re starting to see some very serious venues take on some aspect of trans issues, whether it’s 20/20 last year with GID and trans youth or The Atlantic Monthly’s current article on the same topic.

But I didn’t really expect Harvard Business Review to publish an article about workplace issues, or rather, I wouldn’t have if I didn’t know how fantastic Jillian Todd Weiss is.

I had transitioned from male to female in 1998, and my new employer neither knew nor suspected that I was transgender. Now I was receiving the condescending treatment that some of my female colleagues had complained about all along. After several such incidents, I quietly left the practice of law, never to return. As a male attorney, my competence had never been questioned so harshly by my employers, so I assumed that reports of gender discrimination were bogus complaints brought by females who didn’t measure up. As a male, I had been privileged, though I didn’t know it at the time, to avoid much of the harsh treatment reserved for females in a male bastion.

I didn’t know Ms. Weiss before her transition so I can’t say “I told you so” but I’m going to anyway! No, women aren’t blowing smoke up anyone’s ass about this stuff. I appreciate her honesty in admitting she thought they were “bogus complaints” and am pleased to know that transitioners, as I expected, are turning out to be the last tool in the feminist toolbox.

It’s one of the reasons I find the slogan “equal pay for equal work” problematic, because so much of the struggle is getting people to see your work as equal to your male peers’ — even when it’s superior.

(via Bilerico)

Sunday Night Shimmy

Posted by – October 20, 2008

An old friend of mine is in town, and she was asked to guest drum at a bellydance performance tonight. As I’ve rarely gotten to see her drum, I went, & dragged my sister with me. (Betty, sadly, is not very mobile). I’ve seen bellydance performed before, but tonight, on top of my usual introverted discomfort, I kept thinking about how I was supposed to be in that room.

The dancers were all lovely. The first act, Sri Devi, was (I’m guessing) still pretty young to dancing, but she was fabulously talented and funny and fun in her performance. She seems like the type of performer who has a real star in her.

The final performance, by Hannah Nour, was really a hit out of the park. She had what I call “sea legs” for a performer – the way sailors are more comfortable on a boat than on land, some people are more comfortable performing than not. (Betty was that kind of actor.) She showed no self-concsiousness, seemed like she was really engaged and enjoying herself, and was technically stellar. And her clothes! Like a Hindu Love Goddess, all light blues and greens and whites and pinks – like a female version of the traditional representation of Rama.

Because on one level bellydance is a seductive art, sexual, exhibitionist, and yet it’s also social. It’s not burlesque. And I couldn’t figure out how to watch, at all. Most of the guys sit there just kind of ga-ga (in a more or less sexualized gaze) and a lot of the women were other dancers who were there to cheer on their friends or learn or just to appreciate the art.

But I was just there, looking like a dyke in the corner, and now that I’m aware people see me as a lesbian, it’s all I think about. I suppose if I actually desired women, I’d sit there like most of the guys, enjoying the sensuality & beauty of the ladies dancing without feeling weird about it. But because my desire, per se, is not engaged, I just sit there wondering how to watch, because it’s still titillating – dance is innately seductive, no?. I find myself tied up in knots, and kind of uncomfortable despite the performers being very comfortable with themselves and the dance form.

(I know, I know; I’m self-conscious & I think too much. Tell me something I don’t know.)

But despite my own silliness, DO GO see bellydance if you can! It’s a cool art form. The night I saw tonight happens every Sunday (thought with different performers, I think).

Conservative for Obama

Posted by – September 24, 2008

A remarkable, short column by Wick Allison, a former Editor of The National Review and current Editor in Chief of D Magazine, where this piece appears.

This sentence, especially, stood out:

It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Do read the comments and reactions; it’s a very interesting set of opinions, all pretty articulate.

Living in the Land of the Binary

Posted by – September 4, 2008

Our friend and book reviewer Jude Russell wrote a short, simple piece about the binary that really resonated with me. I hope it does for many of you, too.

There have been a couple of threads recently wherein gender outlaws (and I use that term with utmost affection and respect) have run afoul of cisgendered folks who have gotten the gender wrong – typically persons in “boy mode” who were androgynous or feminine enough to be gendered female – although I am sure it runs both ways.

Now, I spent many years in that gender neutral zone – where I’d be gendered female in one interaction, male in another, and trigger some confusion (and possibly, anger) in a third. It was all very interesting (from a sociological perspective), and fun (from a Loki / coyote / mischief maker perspective) but also somewhat stressful (especially when things like waste elimination came into play, or I’d run into someone who had a problem with it).

I guess my reaction to these experiences has been somewhat different than others. Because I think we need to take some responsibility for choosing to color outside the lines, choosing to bend gender, choosing to break the rules. So when I was in boy mode and got gendered female, I was less pissed off, and more amused – it was my decision to adopt a more feminine affect, and it was, in some ways, rewarding to have that recognized even as it was uncomfortable to be called on it. I began to pay attention to how others were gendering me – and acted accordingly. If I was vibing female that particular day, well, I stayed out of male gendered spaces; opting for unisex or female gendered spaces, or being cautious and quick in male gendered ones. Many a time, I sought out a unisex bathroom, or watched the gendered bathrooms until I was pretty sure they were empty, or wandered towards a pair of gendered bathrooms and decided at the last minute which one to use, based solely on if anyone was going in or coming out of either.

And when I was called on my gender blur – well, I had a collection of responses ready. “Yeah, I guess I am pretty androgynous” or “I’m still deciding” or “Sometimes I’m not really sure myself”. And yeah, when it got to be too stressful, I’d move in one direction or the other, to reduce the friction. In some ways, my decision to transition was of this nature – that living in between genders required too much energy, produced too much friction in the world.

I guess my point is, we live in this binary gendered world. And slowly, things are loosening up – there are unisex or gender free bathrooms, gender markers are removed from forms and identity documents, salutations are made optional, gay marriage (the prevention of which is, IMHO, the primary reason for rigid binary gender boundaries) is made legal.

But in the meantime, we need to live in this world. And we need to own the fact that we are the gender outlaws, that we need to live on this binary coded planet. Even if the long term goal is a lot less gendered society, we’ll grind ourselves into dust with stress and anger if we do not figure out how to bend and move in the margins at times.

Often starting our journey from a position of cisgenderer privilege – where we could use the right bathroom unconsciously, where we could simply move through the world on automatic pilot, feeling a sense of affiliation and belonging with our gender, its difficult to find ourselves stripped of that gender privilege. But the quicker we realize “I’m privileged differently now, I need to adjust my attitude accordingly”, the more gently we move through society. We can still fight for rights or visibility or a less gendered world. But we can do so without the constant erosion of our energies and self esteem…….

It’s sort of a reframing – becoming less of a victim of a repressive culture, and more of an anthropologist or explorer, carefully moving among this binary culture that we are studying and experimenting with.

The Other Hand

Posted by – June 20, 2008

The AMA passed a resolution attempting to make home births illegal, and yet in the same session, they also passed Resolution 114 (MS Word .doc):

Whereas, Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is a serious medical condition recognized as such in both the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the International Classification of Diseases; and

Whereas, GID, if left untreated, can result in clinically significant psychological distress, dysfunction, debilitating depression, and, for some patients without access to appropriate medical care and treatment, suicidality and death; and

Whereas, The medical literature has established the effectiveness and medical necessity of mental health care, hormone therapy, and sex reassignment surgery in the treatment of patients diagnosed with GID; and

Whereas, Many health insurance plans categorically exclude coverage of mental health, medical, and surgical treatments for GID, even though many of these same treatments, such as psychotherapy, hormone therapy, breast augmentation and removal, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, orchiectomy, and salpingectomy, are covered for other medical conditions; and

Whereas, The denial of otherwise covered benefits for patients diagnosed with GID represents discrimination based solely on a patient’s gender identity; and

Whereas, Our AMA opposes discrimination (AMA Policies H-65.983, H-65.992) and the denial of health insurance (H-180.980) on the basis of gender identity; and

Whereas, Our AMA opposes limitations placed on patient care by third-party payers when such care is based upon sound scientific evidence and sound medical opinion (H-120.988); therefore be it

RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association support public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder in adolescents and adults (New HOD Policy); and be it further

RESOLVED, That our AMA oppose categorical exclusions of coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder in adolescents and adults when prescribed by a physician. (New HOD Policy)

Which doesn’t do the job entirely, but it’s certainly a good weapon in a trans person’s arsenal when arguing for why their transition related costs should be funded.

(thanks to Veronica for the news)

On the One Hand

Posted by – June 19, 2008

The AMA just passed a resolution to outlaw home births. Astounding. As if women haven’t been giving birth for eons at home, with the help of midwives. My own mother was born in her family’s home in PA with the help of a midwife (and she had to fight for the right to have natural childbirth when she was giving birth to her own children in the 1950s & 1960s).

This is baffling, and unfair. For a lot of poor women, the increased costs of health insurance, the debilitating recovery needed from the over-prescribed C sections, and just the sheer cost of a hospital delivery, make it nearly impossible for these women to do anything BUT give birth at home.

& Here I was cheered by the news that the AMA resolved to support the treatment of GID by health insurance coverage (more on that tomorrow). I feel like I’ve just been spun in a revolving door.

(via Feministing)