Tag: transition

WI Prison Law & GID

Posted by – March 27, 2012

A while back, a federal judge here in Wisconsin ruled that the 2005 Sex Change Prevention Act (really? was that necessary?) was deemed unconstitutional because it represents:

“deliberate indifference to the plaintiffs’ serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment,” because it denies hormone therapy without regard to those needs or doctors’ judgments.

The U.S. 7th District Court of Appeals upheld his ruling last year, and just this week, the Supreme Court turned it down for review.

Which means, overall, that trans prison inmates in WI, IL, and IN can get medical care for their transition while in prison.

Medical Treatment of Trans Youth

Posted by – February 22, 2012

This is the kind of progress that is long overdue.

Switching gender roles and occasionally pretending to be the opposite sex is common in young children. But these kids are different. They feel certain they were born with the wrong bodies.

Some are labeled with “gender identity disorder,” a psychiatric diagnosis. But Spack is among doctors who think that’s a misnomer. Emerging research suggests they may have brain differences more similar to the opposite sex.

Spack said by some estimates, 1 in 10,000 children have the condition.

and

These children sometimes resort to self-mutilation to try to change their anatomy; the other two journal reports note that some face verbal and physical abuse and are prone to stress, depression and suicide attempts. Spack said those problems typically disappear in kids who’ve had treatment and are allowed to live as the opposite sex.

No kidding.

Transition-Related Care is Tax Deductible

Posted by – January 6, 2012

How’s that for good news for an upcoming tax season?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has affirmed that transgender people can deduct their hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery expenses. This announcement indicates that the IRS will follow the U.S. Tax Court’s 2010 ruling in O’Donnabhain v. Commissioner, which held that gender identity disorder (GID) is a medical condition, and transgender people receiving hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery as treatment for GID may deduct these costs as medical expenses.

NCTE has links to the .pdf of the IRS announcement as well as the tax trial that set the precedent.

Miles to Miles

Posted by – September 10, 2010

An FTM transition story on NPR:


“We have had this tumultuous year of all the emotions, and as you said, the mourning,” Vicky says. “And then to finally get you here. And by this time, now we’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to see you and meet you and say, oh, here’s Miles. And there you were, and it was like. oh, your shoulders are bigger. And the hug. You appear to me to be happy in your own skin.

“But you said you lost a daughter,” Miles says. “I’m here you know, it’s not like I died.”

Nice bit of wisdom there from Miles. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people blithely talk about how “Michael died – now it’s Martha’s turn!” or something similar. Oh, the drama! No one dies when someone transitions. No one dies when someone transitions. No one dies when someone transitions. Rinse & repeat.

(For those who are FTM spectrum & now confused, this is the kind of language that can be really popular in MTF circles.)

One Parent’s Path

Posted by – September 4, 2010

It’s rare to see an article by a parent about a child’s transition, much less one that openly struggles with the issues a religious faith brings into the mix.

Inwardly I wrestled with the changes in my child: shoulders broadening, cheek fuzz turning into beard, voice deepening. In a way it was fascinating: Who could imagine that a body would respond so dramatically to hormone treatment? And yet…where was my daughter? I couldn’t bear the thought of her disappearing before my eyes.

Outwardly, with the exception of my mother and one or two other people, I kept what was happening private. Talking about the situation felt too uncomfortable. I was embarrassed and ashamed that such a shande (shameful thing) could have happened in my family.

That year I met with a therapist several times. I also prayed. Psalm 118 was my daily focus: “I called on God from a narrow place; God answered from a wide expanse.” I hoped that God would help me open my heart in acceptance and love.

I thought of the story of the heartbroken father who came to the Baal Shem Tov for advice: “My son has turned his back on Judaism. What should I do?” The great Chasidic master replied, “Love him even more.”

I’m happy to add that I gave someone who knew this parent a few resources a couple of years ago when she was first struggling with her child’s transition. I hadn’t heard an update, & this one is about the best I could have hoped for.

Post Trans Post

Posted by – August 28, 2010

Here’s a copy of a a guest bit I wrote recently for T-Central for a small series there on transitionn. Lots of the posts that appeared there were interesting, from FTM & MTF, a 17 year old & a 90 year old & every age in-between. I haven’t written very much about the experience of being “post trans,” so here you go.

**
Post Trans Post: Life After Transition – August 2010

Betty transitioned. Apparently we’ve forgotten to announce that officially. I can’t imagine anyone is surprised; looking back, I see chapter 5 of My Husband Betty as tea leaves neither of us wanted to read. But I wrote My Husband Betty seven years ago (and it’s still in print!), and that old joke says it only takes 2 years, right? Maybe that’s from crossdresser to transsexual, because surely it takes more years than that to become a woman or a man. It certainly took me a few more than 2 to become a woman, and that was without any trans interference. (Sometimes, when someone asks me if I’m trans myself, I wonder if I ever did make it to “woman,” but for me, that’s a compliment, that all of my genders are showing.)

What we are, post transition, is more relaxed. That has something to do with our move from New York to Wisconsin, and something to do as well with us both having jobs we like. It may also have something to do with our being together for 12 years now. But hearing that other shoe drop, at long last, has brought us both relief as well.

We find it easier being perceived as a lesbian couple than as a trans couple. Granted, we “do” lesbian with our bizarre heterosexual privilege – by which I mean we are still federally recognized as legally married. I certainly don’t mean to imply it’s easier to be a lesbian couple; it’s not. It’s way harder then when we were seen as a somewhat eccentric het couple. But you do a lot less explaining at parties, and that’s a nice break. People know what lesbians are, even if, as in our case, the label isn’t wholly accurate. Mostly we don’t prefer to tell people Betty is trans; if they know, & have questions, we answer them when we’re in the appropriate time & place to do so, like in a private conversation and not at a party. But otherwise, I have no interest in outing her on a regular basis.

Often the question of whether or not to be out as trans rests upon the assumption that you’re either out or stealth. Yay, another binary! The reality is that there is a significant gray area. What has surprised us most is that the old advice – to move clear across the country – has its reasons. We did, but not as part of her transition plan. We did, and so we’ve reaped the benefits of being in a place where no one knew her as male, where no one knew us as het, where no one knew us before at all. That is, when we meet people now, they need only know as as a same sex couple. Unlike many if not most trans people, Betty is undeniably out. Once someone asks me what I do, for instance, it is only a few short stops to “She used to be a man?” To preserve some of our privacy – and yes, even memoirists like some privacy – I usually tell people I write gender theory which invariably leads to one of two responses: (1) “Oh.” Or (2) they actually want to know what I think of Lady Gaga’s/Caster Semenya’s gender, at which point the conversation turns away from me and onto cranky female athletes or Gaga’s little monsters. That is, the titles of my books don’t ever have to come up, which keeps me from outing Betty. One of the best parts of working in academia is having people assume they haven’t read your work.

Sometimes I like to joke that I threw Betty over for a “real woman” but that’s only if that someone will get the joke. (The short version: I don’t believe in “real” genders.)

What we’ve found is that the guy at the local equivalent of the 7-11 doesn’t need to know. We are often assumed to be friends, and not a couple, because of general LGBTQ invisibility, and I’m learning to leave with that & all the heterocentric bullshit the world is steeped in. When someone’s head is still getting used to the idea of homosexuality, you don’t really want to hit them with Teh Trans, anyway. They’re not ready.

A friend of mine, both lesbian and trans, was once asked to talk to a student about being out. My friend promptly explained her experiences being out as trans, to which the slack-jawed undergrad responded, “I thought you were just a lesbian.”

So now we’re “just lesbians.”

But is anyone “just a lesbian”? Every lesbian woman I know is a host of other things: parent, daughter, lawyer, trans, Asian, etc. We are not “just lesbians” either. We are something like post trans queers. Or I am, at least. I’m not really sure anymore.

The only sad thing for me is that I have lost my partner in crime. Betty is (quite frustratingly, some days) gender normative, trendy, and magazine feminine. I have to remind her not to flip her hair so much. I love her, but I still nurse a general dislike of normative femininity. I’m naturally suspicious of people who fit in. I assume I’ll get over it. You don’t really make it through transition as someone’s partner without having an awful lot of flexibility.

What I will say to the partners: my resolve to be her friend first, and her lover/wife second, was tantamount. We still worry that our friendship has replaced or supplanted our marriage, but I suspect that’s the kind of thing a lot of long-term relationships wrestle. When it comes down to it, our journey, and my midwifery, has been an honor and a pleasure. It is a remarkable thing to watch someone go through gender transition and to help them do so. She has assisted me through a few life transitions, and we will, no doubt, see a few more in our lifetimes, and any and all of those changes can be a threat to a couple’s permanence and happiness. Her gender transition’s challenge to who we are as a couple was maybe more challenging than others, or maybe just more obvious in the ways it accessed axes of identity. But surely unhappiness, self-repression, and stagnation would destroy any relationship as easily and with far more bitterness and regret, and you know? Phooey to that.
**

Tragedy, Again

Posted by – August 21, 2010

If you can bear to read it, there’s a long story about Christine Daniels / Mike Penner in The LA Times. The whole thing is so fucking tragic, a huge waste. There are times I get so pissed off about how euphoric people get about transition that I want to spit nails.

Toward the end there’s this soulless quote by Marci Bowers:


Bowers believes Penner put one foot in the grave by abandoning the transition. “If we had done surgery, it probably would have saved her life. Now she died as an unhappy soul who never got a chance to align her body and soul, and that’s the greatest tragedy about her.”

I’m not sure that doesn’t win an award for most self-serving pile of crap I’ve ever seen.

Her whole story, I’m going to say, makes me want to scream. PEOPLE CAN AND DO CHOOSE TO TRANSITION. People can and do choose not to when what they might lose is a too much to lose. It is not “transition or die.” Sometimes it’s “transition and die.” That does not mean I’m saying people shouldn’t transition, or that late transitioners shouldn’t transition. What I’m saying is that the larger trans community – and especially the gender therapists who “serve” this community – have got to get it through their heads that someone who has lived a long time in one gender & who has had something like a good life, career, and marriage, might want to think long & hard before deciding to transition.

Or, as we were told, DO AS LITTLE AS YOU CAN to relieve the gender dyphoria.

New Guidelines for Gender Marker Changes on US Passports

Posted by – June 10, 2010

This just in from NCTE:

Last night the US Department of State announced new guidelines for issuing passports to transgender people. Beginning today, applicants for a gender marker change on their passports will need to submit certification from a physician that they have received “appropriate clinical treatment” for gender transition. Most importantly, gender reassignment surgery is not required under the new policy.

The new rules will also apply to changing a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) for US citizens who were born outside of the United States. CRBA’s are the equivalent of a birth certificate.

For years, NCTE has been advocating with the State Department to change their rules about gender markers on passports and CRBA’s. Previously they had required proof of irreversible sex reassignment surgery before the gender marker could be changed, although there were exceptions for temporary, provisional passports to allow someone to travel for surgery.

NCTE and other advocates have stressed with the State Department that this policy unnecessarily called attention to transgender travelers whose appearance and gender marker were at odds. In some destinations, this had the potential to create an extremely dangerous situation when a traveler is outed as transgender in an unwelcoming environment or in the presence of prejudiced security personnel.

Fortunately, the new rules represent a significant advance in providing safe, humane and dignified treatment of transgender people. There are details in the guidelines about what information a physician must provide and we will communicate those to you as soon as possible. However, the State Department notes that applicants will not need to supply any additional medical documentation and that there is no SRS requirement.

“We want to extend our thanks to the Obama Administration, and particularly to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, for understanding the need for this change and then responding to make travel safer for transgender people,” commented Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE. “This shows how changes in government policy directly impact people’s lives, in this case, for the better.”

In the next few days, NCTE will be issuing a definitive resource that fully explains the new guidelines and outlines the ways in which transgender people can make changes to their passports and CRBAs.

Many people-from elected officials to LGBT advocates-have worked for years to change these policies and deserve credit and thanks. Particularly important work was done by Rep. Barney Frank as well as Rep. Steve Israel in the House of Representatives; Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFAA), which represents LGBT employees and their families working in foreign affairs offices for the US government; all of our allied LGBT organizations who have been committed to this work, including the Center for Global Equality, The Task Force, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Lambda Legal and the Human Rights Campaign; and those working on medical policies, including the American Medical Association and the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

Morehouse Crossdressing Policy

Posted by – October 20, 2009

Morehouse College has chosen to have a clothing policy that prohibits crossdressing:

The dress-wearing ban is aimed at a small part of the private college’s 2,700-member student body, said Dr. William Bynum, vice president for Student Services.

“We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men,” he said.

Before the school released the policy, Bynum said, he met with Morehouse Safe Space, the campus’ gay organization.

“We talked about it and then they took a vote,” he said. “Of the 27 people in the room, only three were against it.”

There has been a positive response along with some criticism throughout the campus, he said.

Senior Devon Watson said he disagrees with parts of the new policy, especially those that tell students what they should wear in free time outside of the classroom.

I’m wondering if someone needs to tell them about straight crossdressers, and about pre-transition MTF trans people. Hopefully Morehouse’s Safe Space already does – but I doubt it.

GRS: No State Obligation

Posted by – July 29, 2009

In an article posted on Law.com today, this news: Federal Judge Says State Not Obligated to Pay for Sex-Change Surgery.

Western District of New York Judge Charles J. Siragusa in Rochester ruled that Morgana Ravenwood’s constitutional rights under the 14th Amendment were not violated by the denial of coverage.

He also refused to order state Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines to rescind 18 N.Y.C.R.R. §505.2(l), the 1998 law prohibiting state Medicaid funding for “care,” “services” or “drugs” related to gender reassignment surgery.

My thought is that it’s all well & good as long as they quit requiring genital surgery for gender marker changes, then.