1) An article about an 11-year old English girl who lectured at a conference in Geneva about her non-traditional family,” including her father, an ftm transsexual:
2) An article entitled “Gender blending: Facing difficult decisions, intersex people and theirfamilies push for understanding”:
3) An article about that renegade school board in California, which unfortunately seems to have gotten away with their refusal to adopt the anti-discrimination policy that would protect tg students, by relying on some sort of technicality:
School’s No-Bias Wording Gets OK State’s acceptance of Westminster board’s
antidiscrimination rule defuses funding crisis.
By Joel Rubin, Times Staff Writer
California’s schools chief on Monday reluctantly accepted Westminster School District’s novel approach to an antidiscrimination law – a decision that grants a dramatic victory to three beleaguered trustees and removes, for now, the threat of lost funding.
The three, who form a majority on the Westminster board, have cited their Christian beliefs in insisting that the district not adopt word-for-word a statepolicy that allows students and staff members to define their own gender.
Westminster is the only one of California’s 1,056 school districts that has refused to adopt the language, and faced the loss of $8 million in annual state and federal funding. The stance, which angered many parents and teachers, led to a recall campaign and proposed legislation that would allow the state to take over the district.
California Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced Monday that the modified policy the board adopted last week technically complies with state law that protects gays, as well as transsexuals and others who do not conform to traditional gender roles.
But in a stern letter to the district’s five trustees, O’Connell said he did not trust that the board’s majority intended to adhere to the law and promised to scrutinize the district for possible violations.
“I want to again express my disappointment that those who took an oath to educate children would abuse their elected positions and attempt to flout the law,” O’Connell wrote. “This sets a destructive example for our children and is contrary to the democratic values of our society. Our children deserve better.”
But trustee Judy Ahrens, who led the board’s resistance to the state law, said students were the winners.
“This is a victory for the kids. Anything else would have been dangerous for them,” Ahrens said. “I’ve been through so much, so much. Finally, something right has been done in Sacramento.”
For months, she and fellow trustees Helena Rutkowski and Blossie Marquez-Woodcock rejected the wording of the state law that allows students and teachers to define their own gender when making a discrimination complaint. The three said the law was immoral and would allow transsexuals to promote alternative lifestyles in the classroom.
Last week, as a state deadline expired, the divided board voted to revise the district’s policy for handling discrimination complaints as O’Connell’s office had demanded. But in rewriting the policy, they rejected the idea that someone can define their own gender when making a complaint.
Instead, the trustees approved a policy that defines a person’s gender as their biological sex or, in the case of discrimination, what it was perceived to be by an alleged discriminator.
The three trustees’ stance has pitted them against other board members, teachers and parents who have accused them of jeopardizing district funding, while following personal beliefs instead of state law.
Louise MacIntyre, president for the district PTA, said O’Connell’s decision would not alter plans to recall Ahrens and Marquez-Woodcock. Rutkowski, whose term expires in November, is not targeted.
“I’m relieved that there will not be any financial impact, but these women have gotten by on a technicality,” she said. “For the past two months they have held our 10,000 kids hostage. Their agenda is obviously not in the best interest of the children.”
Similarly, state Sen. Joseph Dunn (D-Santa Ana) said he would continue to pursue a bill that would allow the state to take control of any school district that failed to comply with state law.
“In no way am I going to terminate my plans for legislation,” Dunn said. “If there is ever a future claim of discrimination, this board will never act in compliance with the law.”
In an interview Monday, O’Connell also was skeptical that the Westminster board majority would follow the law: “They are on my permanent watch list. I have many friends in the district and will keep an ear close to the ground.
“They are complying with the law; however, their prior rhetoric and action is unacceptable. I will never condone any discrimination against anyone.”
In his letter, O’Connell also ordered the district to inform its parents, employees and students of the changes to the gender policy. Trish Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the district, said administrators were discussing how best to notify the community.
Mark Bucher, the lawyer hastily hired by the board this month to represent the district, dismissed O’Connell’s promise to keep close watch on Westminster. Bucher said Monday’s decision not only vindicates the three trustees, but calls into question the state’s gender definitions.
“Mr. O’Connell’s decision proves that the three trustees were right from the beginning,” Bucher said. “He can dance around it all he wants – but our definition follows the letter of the law. He is inviting someone to challenge the state law, and I think someone will.”
But education officials and antidiscrimination activists contend the law is solid.
The only question, they said, is whether Westminster will follow it.
“The bottom line is that the test will come when we see how the district handles a real-life case,” said Jennifer Pizer, senior attorney for Lambda Legal, a national nonprofit legal advocacy group for gays, lesbians and transsexuals.
“What we’ve seen is a quibble about technical drafting – but their intention is clear. They plan to deny protection from discrimination to a class of students.”
Ahrens said the district would follow the law – though she declined to say how the district would respond to a complaint by a transsexual or anyone else who believed they were discriminated against because they do not fulfill traditional gender roles.
“We’re going to treat everyone decently,” Ahrens said. “People are allowed to do whatever they want on their own time, but on the job, if you fall out of line, then that’s a problem.”
4) Finally, an article on transsexual marriage:
Transsexuals a new test of marriage
THE GAY-MARRIAGE DEBATE MAY CAST DOUBT ON VALIDITY OF UNIONS INVOLVING PEOPLE WHO CHANGE GENDER
By Yomi S. Wronge
Depending on how you see things, Fran Bennett and Erika Taylor are a heterosexual or lesbian couple. Either way, under California law, they’re married.
That’s because the couple tied the knot before Bennett, once a popular Bay Area disc jockey known as “Weird Old Uncle Frank,” had what is commonly called a sex change.
Their marriage — and possibly thousands like it involving transsexual women and men across the Bay Area and country — is already testing the boundaries of marriage as the nation wrangles over the rights of same-sex couples to wed.
Many transsexual couples have until now fallen under the mainstream radar as they’ve continued to marry, or remain married despite having changed genders. And now they’re worried the contentious debate over same-sex marriage will cast an unwelcome spotlight on their largely quiet existence.
`If the Orwellian religious right has their way, they could pull the plug on all of us,” said Bennett, 50, a San Jose resident who made national headlines in 2002 when she announced her transition from male to female.
Threats from religious conservatives, as well as President Bush’s push for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, make couples like Bennett and Taylor uneasy.
“I am concerned that if there’s a federal change defining marriage only between a man and woman, and I no longer qualify as a man, then could they try to dissolve my marriage?” said Fairfax resident Dani-Marie Kleist, 54, a transsexual woman who married as a man 12 years ago. Transsexuals — people who have an innate sense they were born the wrong sex — have a legal right in California to change their gender on various forms of identification. Those who elect to have sex-reassignment surgery can also apply for a new birth certificate that reflects their corrected sex. There are an estimated 35,000 to 60,000 transsexuals living in California.
Transsexuals have long been able to marry in California and many other states under a variety of circumstances, including marriages entered into before a person makes the transition to the opposite gender, and those that would be considered heterosexual after a person changes gender. “It’s a precious right that we already have,” said Shannon Minter, a transsexual man and legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of three organizations that filed a lawsuit in March for six same-sex couples arguing that denying them the right to marry violates California’s constitution. While Minter believes marriages like Bennett and Taylor’s can’t be undone, she said they underscore the arbitrariness of using gender as a basis to restrict marriage. If these marriages are called into question, some wonder whether the larger gay and lesbian community will fight equally as hard for the rights of transsexuals to marry.
`I’m scared this will divide the LGBT community as opposed to bring it together,” Taylor, 36, said of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The major groups advocating for same-sex marriages, meanwhile, say it’s all one battle.
“When we look at transgenders, we see that denying same-sex couples the right to marry has all kinds of unintended consequences,” said Jim De La Hunt, policy director for Marriage Equality California, a non-profit, grass-roots group advocating for the freedom of all people to marry. Transgender is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity differs from their anatomical sex. The term includes cross-dressers, people whose sexual organs are ambiguous at birth and transsexuals. Some political analysts believe it benefits gay and lesbian groups to avoid talking about this little-known community in the context of same-sex marriage.
`Middle America is having a hard enough time with just plain old vanilla gay marriage,” said Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Opponents striving to ban gay marriage are already quietly planning ways to head off transgender people before they reach the altar.
`Transgender marriage isn’t marriage. It’s an invention, a violation of a universal social principal law of a male and a female,” said the Rev. Lou Sheldon, leader of the Traditional Values Coalition. Sheldon calls transgender marriage “the next wave” in the battle to protect traditional marriage ideals.
hat sentiment doesn’t surprise Gwendolyn and Bonnie Smith of Antioch, a legally married lesbian couple who have lived in peaceful domesticity for more than a decade, but now fear backlash given the current political climate.
`I’m scared that, somehow, they’ll come up with a way to reverse 12 years of my life,” said Bonnie Smith, 35, who married Gwen Smith before Gwen made the transition from a man to a woman. She cited recent family court decisions regarding transgender marriages, including one involving attorney Mathew Staver, whose Liberty Counsel is representing the conservative Campaign for California Families in suits filed to outlaw gay unions. Staver is appealing a Florida court decision to grant child custody to a transsexual man in a divorce case. Similar divorce issues have been argued in U.S. courts only six times. Those in New Jersey and Florida have upheld the validity of such marriages; Kansas, Texas, New York and Ohio courts have declared them invalid, Staver said.
`I think the whole gay marriage debate, although it may not always be phrased this way, is a debate about gender,” he said.