NOW Outraged at House Vote on Abortion Coverage — Women’s Rights Traded Away

July 31, 2009

NOW is outraged to learn that the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed an amendment excluding abortion services from the “essential” health benefits package as defined by the government. Under this amendment, subsidies used to help pay insurance premiums for low-income people could not be used for abortion services. The New York Times reports that “insurers must use money from private sources to pay for any abortions.”

“Reproductive health care is a fundamental right. Any health care plan that does not cover the full range of reproductive services, including abortion, discriminates against women,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill. “Once again, our representatives are giving in to the right wing by trading away women’s rights. Well, I have a message for them, our reproductive rights are not theirs to give away.”

O’Neill noted that a majority of voters support coverage for abortion services, with only about a quarter opposed to using tax dollars to pay for abortion. In addition, a recent study found that most people in the U.S. with employer-based insurance currently have coverage for abortion. “Don’t low-income people deserve the same level of coverage as other people in this country?” asked O’Neill. “Our lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves for perpetuating class-based and gender-based biases as they attempt to ‘reform’ our broken health care system.”

Cutting Through The BS

After spending about four years on line as a lonely primary digging at late emergers in a sometimes confrontational manner that I was used to because of consciousness raising/criticism/self-criticism but most of them were not, I managed to arrive at some answers as to why I came out at 21 and they were coming out in middle age.

It wasn’t Androphilia/Autogynephilia.  When one stripped away the bullshit it came down to several factors.

One of the main ones was the ability to hide having been born transsexual.

I’m reading Donna Rose’s Wrapped in Blue and there it is in her own words.  Being afraid of ridicule and loss of relationship coupled with the ability to mask it with sports and body building.

Being attracted to women and settling into marriage early with the belief that if she performed the expected male role her transsexualism would vanish.

The details differ but her story has a great many commonalities to the stories of others who come later in life.

Fear of losing some one you love not autogynephilia.  Ability to pass as male not autogynephilia.

As for those of us who come out young.  It isn’t because we have relationships with men.  It is because those relationships don’t produce children and tend to be more supportive of us living as women.

The looking more like a girl than a boy and passing as female simply by putting on women’s clothes.  Looking forward to an adult life as full of abuse as childhood isn’t much of a motivator to stay male.

Now I don’t particularly obsess on why I am transsexual.  Maybe it is because I pretty much accepteed that as an explanation as a teenager.  Even having Dr. Benjamin, dr. Fisk and Dr. Laub tell me that with me it was physical didn’t much cause me to obsess on being some how or other intersex.  I just didn’t become physically masculine.  Maybe I wasn’t really very androgen sensitive, maybe I didn’t make enough.  Does it really matter?

Seriously… Why should I spend my life looking for an explanation?  The simple explanation of feeling like a girl/woman trapped in a male body is quite adequate.

It isn’t like the religious freaks with their faith based bigotry are going to treat me any better if they found a string of chromosomes that were present in all of us.  If anything it would probably cause the religious freaks to decide to make an exception to their total ban on abortion so they could prevent us from being born.

The faith based psychic establishment created GID so they could continue to torture kids who were potentially gay, lesbian or trans* in order to prevent gay, lesbian or trans*.

If children are really lucky they have parents who advocate for their right to transitin even as a child.

Before the Reagan/Thatcher neo-fascist right wing backlash stuff like that fell under an enlightened idea of “Children’s Rights”

I wasn’t female prior to having SRS or sex change surgery.  I was transsexual assigned male.  They changed/surgically reassigned my sex on an operating room table.

I don’t need a bunch of word games to justify my being.  The more complex the game get the less satifying they become and the more they start sounding like, “I had XYZ therfore I am more female than you are.

If we had this operation we may differ in achievement or in appearence.  Our ability to assimilate sure varies but Cybele’s Knife is the common leveling factor that got us to this point.  Even those of us who are crazy and trash other sisters.

As far as I am concerned transsexualism is about agency in changing your initial sex assignment.  If you decide and you demand reassignment then you have transsexualism.  All the stories are part of your biography but if you have agency and get on that table and get your sex surgically reassigned becaue you were miserable with the original assignment then that is transsexualism.

If you notice I’m in a some what pissy mood this morning it is because of reading some of the stuff I found floating around.

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Intersex People – Disordered or Different? The DSD Debate

Reposted here with the kind permission of Veronica Drantz, PhD From her Blog

Science and Sexuality: The Biology of Sexual Identity, Sexual Orientation, and Intersexuality.

http://drdrantz-sciencesexuality.blogspot.com/2009/07/intersex-people-disordered-or-different.html


Curtis Hinkle – founder of OII

Should intersex people be regarded as having a disorder that needs to be fixed or should they be viewed as natural variations and simply different? Robert Davidson has traced the framing processes executed in a debate over the reshaping of a code among three groups of the intersex social movement in order to understand how the groups engage with the medical discourse on intersex. His paper entitled “DSD Debates: Social Movement Organizations’ Framing Disputes Surrounding the Term ‘Disorders of Sex Development’” is an ongoing PhD research project that summarizes the history surrounding the medical community’s treatment of intersex people. It also includes discussion of the influence of John Money and his nemesis Milton Diamond.

Davidson does a good job of explaining the history of the term Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) and analyzing the different perspectives of the three intersex organizations on the issue of terminology: disorder versus difference/variation. Here is an excerpt from the introduction of his paper:

“In the last 15 years discussions around ‘intersex’ have increasingly moved beyond the medical/biological realm and taken growing prominence in gender studies, within social movements, and in the socio-cultural realm. This shift was highly promoted by social movement organizations (SMOs) that have arisen to address various issues related to intersex and was also encouraged by some academics in the social sciences and the humanities. Social movement research is only beginning to address intersex advocacy in social movement terms (Turner, 1999; Preves, 2005; Greenberg, 2006). Research regarding social movements in the last two decades has paid increasing attention, however, to discourse (Steinberg, 1998) and how social movements engage with cultural institutions and use frames (Snow & Benford, 2000) to reshape cultural codes (Melucci, 1985, 1996). This article traces the framing processes executed in a debate over the reshaping of a code among three groups of the intersex social movement in order to understand how the groups engage with the medical discourse on intersex. A medical discourse on intersex is traced based on a Foucauldian perspective. A textual framing analysis of the websites of three intersex SMOs is then presented to examine the internal frame disputes between them over the proposed terminology ‘Disorders of Sex Development,’ or ‘DSD’. The SMOs included are the Intersex Society of North America/Accord Alliance (ISNA/Accord)1, Organization Intersex International (OII), and Androgen Insensitivity Support Group UK (AISSGUK).”

While it is a minor point in the paper, I wish to inform the reader that Davidson mischaracterizes Milton Diamond when describing Diamond’s role in discovering the John/Joan hoax, when he says: “This discovery led to the critical reevaluation of the Money Protocol but has had other problematic side effects, as Diamond and Sigmundson have used this case to re-institute a binary view of sexuality (emphasis mine) based on prenatal influences of androgens on the brain.” Untrue! Diamond would be among the very last to advocate a binary view. Milton Diamond has an evolutionary perspective (like any good biologist) and has repeatedly demonstrated how he values diversity. Diamond is widely quoted for saying: “Nature loves diversity, society hates it.”

Dr. Milton Diamond

This controversy over whether intersexuality per se is a disorder was addressed in 2006 in the journal, the Archives of Diseases of Childhood. Here is the letter that Dr. Milton Diamond sent to the editor. In this letter, Dr. Diamond chides the medical profession for its arrogance: “What medicine observes are variations in human sex development, it does not know the biological purpose of such variations, and there remains great controversy about how, whether or when to intervene. Terms such as error or disorders reveal an unwelcome arrogance in light of medicine’s limited vantage. Medicine can do better. One way is to, instead, use the term Variation in Sex Development (VSD), a term that is without judgment and neither prohibits or ordains medical intervention”

And here is what Dr. Diamond had to say about this issue in a footnote of his recent historical review of the science on sexual development: “It has been recommended that intersex conditions be referred to as Disorders of Sex Development (DSD) (Hughes et al., 2006. Consensus statement on management of intersex disorders. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 91, 554-563.). This I refuse to do. I consider using the adjective disorder to be demeaning and pejorative to the individuals so identified. And so too does it seem insulting to members of the Organisation Intersex International, the largest intersex organization in the world (http://oii-usa.blogspot.com/2006/08/three-intersex-activists-defend.html). I use the abbreviation but with the meaning of Differences of Sex Development Diamond and Beh, 2008. Changes In Management Of Children With Differences Of Sex Development (Nature Clinical Practice: Endocrinology & Metabolism. 4, 4-5).”

So Milton Diamond refuses to refer to intersex people as disordered and likes to turn the acronym DSD into “Differences of Sexual Development”. He also favors “Variations in Sex Development” that is advocated by Organization Intersex International and its founder Curtis Hinkle.

I agree with Milton Diamond and Curtis Hinkle that intersex persons are natural variations and are not disordered. In my presentation of “Science and Sexuality”, I discuss the different perspectives of biologist versus medical doctor. A dominant theme of my presentation is “Difference does not equal disorder.” Biologists see differences or variations. Medical people are predisposed to see disorders or anomalies or aberrations or faults or pathologies that they can “rectify” (for a fee of course). Medical professionals want to “fix” people even when the people are simply different.

The cultural taboo nature of sexual matters has allowed untold thousands of sexually-different people to be grossly mistreated by the medical profession and to suffer in secrecy and shame. Three sexual groups have been medicalized and pathologized by the medical professions: gay/lesbian people, transsexual people, and intersex people. (Note that intersex people have sexual identity and sexual orientation issues also.)

Gay and lesbian people were mentally-disordered in the United States until the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) was revised in 1973 and remained mentally ill elsewhere in the world according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) until 1992. Some quacks (e.g., Exodus International) still purport to do “reparative therapy” on gay people. Now reputable psychologists and psychiatrists do not treat gay or lesbian people for their sexual orientation but do treat other problems caused by the culture’s treatment of homosexual people. The culture is disordered, not gay or lesbian people!

As for transsexuals, who are currently regarded as mentally disordered in the DSM and ICD, any medical concern (e.g., gender dysphoria) can be treated without considering transsexuality per se as a disorder. (This is my position in my letter to the American Psychiatric Association regarding the revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual).

The same logic applies to intersex people. Treat any problems the patient presents and wants treated but do not consider the intersex condition itself as a disorder – consider it as a natural variation, one of the many differences to be expected in any normal population. The stigma of the label “disorder” should be replaced with “difference” or “variation”.

People do not need surgery just because their genitalia are ambiguous. Many intersex people have an “intersex identity” and their anatomy feels appropriate to them. I know of intersex persons who would gladly identify as “intersex” if the culture permitted. (Of course, intersex persons should be able to decide what surgery, if any, they require. Only they can know that – because only they can know their sexual identity, their unique sensibility which is something else again and is an issue some intersex people share with transsexual persons.)

Intersexuality is natural. Intersex people should come out of the closet. There should be no secrecy or shame. Intersex is beautiful! Intersex people do not need to change; the culture needs to change. Society needs to be enlightened, and the culture should change to acknowledge and accommodate intersex people.

Posted by Veronica Drantz, PhD at 10:29 PM

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A Rorschach Cheat Sheet on Wikipedia?

I have long thought these tests to be inane.  A cult like exercise in mindfucking, hence my cynical telling of people undergoing the Stanford screening about the tests with the admonishment that trying to cheat on them was not in their best interests.  But I also suggested, “Butterflies and flowers = good.”  “Black angel of death reaching out to drag me into the maws of hell = bad.”

Some of this stuff resembles Catechism Classes and their little test to see if we believed in the Pope and the one true path.

Actually they measure dull witted conformity and punish original creative thinking.

New York Times

July 29, 2009

There are tests that have right answers, which are returned with a number on top in a red circle, and there are tests with open-ended questions, which provide insight into the test taker’s mind.

The Rorschach test, a series of 10 inkblot plates created by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach for his book “Psychodiagnostik,” published in 1921, is clearly in the second category.

Yet in the last few months, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia has been engulfed in a furious debate involving psychologists who are angry that the 10 original Rorschach plates are reproduced online, along with common responses for each. For them, the Wikipedia page is the equivalent of posting an answer sheet to next year’s SAT.

They are pitted against the overwhelming majority of Wikipedia’s users, who share the site’s “free culture” ethos, which opposes the suppression of information that it is legal to publish. (Because the Rorschach plates were created nearly 90 years ago, they have lost their copyright protection in the United States.)

“The only winners seem to be those for whom this issue has become personal, and who see this as a game in which victory means having their way,” one Wikipedia poster named Faustian wrote on Monday, adding, “Just don’t pretend you are doing anything other than harming scientific research.”

Continue reading at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/29/technology/internet/29inkblot.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Rorschach&st=cse

For the actual entry in Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rorschach_test

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Sex Change ops under review in Sweden

Submitted by Andrea B.

Published: 30 Jul 09 10:19 CET
Online: http://www.thelocal.se/20996/20090730/

The Swedish Board for Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has launched a review of the healthcare alternatives available to transsexuals seeking to change gender.

Organizations representing gay, bisexual and transsexual people have long argued that often inconsistent healthcare services do not cater fully to their needs.

Criticism has centred on issues such as the long delays in the sex reassignment process with variations of up to several years depending on locality.

There are also significant differences in price for various operations and procedures among the county health authorities and inconsistencies in how much the transsexuals themselves have to contribute.

“The hope is that we shall offer healthcare for this group which is of high quality and which is consistent across the country, and that it should improve the quality of life for transsexual people,” Håkan Ceder at the board said to Sveriges Radio (SR).

According to legislation passed in 1972, to undergo a sex change operation a person must be over 18-years-old, a Swedish citizen, be sterilized and unmarried.

In order to establish a persons gender a psychiatric examination must have been completed before an application can be submitted to the Health and Welfare Board’s legal council for confirmation.

Following the confirmation of a new gender the transsexual person is issued with a new personal identification number (personnummer) and are then able to elect to undergo sex reassignment surgery.

The number of people applying for sex reassignment surgery is increasing.

For thirty years it averaged at about 12-15 people per year until 2003, when it climbed to around 25 per year, according to the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL).

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se/08 656 6518)

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Europe – Issue Paper: Human Rights and Gender Identity… [2009-07-29 Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights]

Submitted by Andrea Brown

https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1476365&Site=CommDH&BackColorInternet=FEC65B&BackColorIntranet=FEC65B&BackColorLogged=FFC679

Council of Europe
Commissioner for Human Rights
Mandate 2006-2012, Thomas Hammarberg

Strasbourg, 29 July 2009

PDF version
https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?Index=no&command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&InstranetImage=1289401&SecMode=1&DocId=1433126&Usage=2

Human Rights and Gender Identity
Issue Paper by Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. International Human Rights Law
III. Specific human rights issues

3.1 Gender identity as a discrimination ground in Council of Europe member states
3.2 Legal recognition of the preferred gender
3.2.1 Conditions for the change of sex and name
3.2.2 Consequences for family
3.3 Access to health care
3.4 Access to the labour market
3.5 Transphobia and violence against transgender persons
3.6 Transgender refugees and migrants

IV. Good practices
V. Recommendations to Council of Europe member states

Commissioner’s Issue Papers
Issue Papers published by the Commissioner for Human Rights highlight human rights aspects and concerns of highly topical themes. They present the main factual and legal data of those themes. They raise questions, propose pointers for any future work, contain suggestions and possible warnings. They aim to inform the public as well as authorities and members of non-governmental organisations working in the field of human rights and to contribute to debate. All Issue Papers are available on the Commissioner’s web-site: www.commissioner.coe.int.

I. Introduction

Gender identity is one of the most fundamental aspects of life. The sex of a person is usually assigned at birth and becomes a social and legal fact from there on. However, a relatively small number of people experience problems with being a member of the sex recorded at birth. This can also be so for intersex persons whose bodies incorporate both or certain aspects of both male and female physiology, and at times their genital anatomy. For others, problems arise because their innate perception of themselves is not in conformity with the sex assigned to them at birth. These persons are referred to as `transgender’ or `transsexual’ persons, and the current paper relates to this group of people.

The human rights situation of transgender persons has long been ignored and neglected, although the problems they face are serious and often specific to this group alone. Transgender people experience a high degree of discrimination, intolerance and outright violence. Their basic human rights are violated, including the right to life, the right to physical integrity and the right to health.

Although the number of transgender persons is small, it should be pointed out that the transgender community is very diverse. It includes pre-operative and post-operative transsexual persons, but also persons who do not choose to undergo or do not have access to operations. They may identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF) transgender persons, and may or may not have undergone surgery or hormonal therapy. The community also includes cross-dressers, transvestites and other people who do not fit the narrow categories of `male’ or `female’. Many legal frameworks only seem to refer to transsexual persons, leaving out a decisive part of the community.

In order to understand the concept of gender identity, it is important to distinguish between the notions of `sex’ and `gender’. While `sex’ primarily refers to the biological difference between women and men, `gender’ also includes the social aspect of the difference between genders in addition to the biological element.

The notion of `gender identity’ offers the opportunity to understand that the sex assigned to an infant at birth might not correspond with the innate gender identity the child develops when he or she grows up. It refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, and includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions of gender (i.e. `gender expression’) such as dress, speech and mannerisms.[1] Most people legally defined as man or woman will correspondingly have a male or female gender identity. Transgender persons, however, do not develop that corresponding gender identity and may wish to change their legal, social, and physical status – or parts thereof – to correspond with their gender identity. Modification of bodily appearance or function by dress, medical, surgical or other means is often part of the personal experience of gender by transgender people.

Both the notion of gender identity and the forms of gender expression used in everyday life are important elements for understanding the human rights problems faced by transgender persons. Some legal frameworks in Council of Europe member states, unfortunately, categorise gender identity under `sexual orientation’, which is not accurate since gender identity and sexual orientation are two different concepts. Sexual orientation should be understood as each person’s capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, individuals of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender (heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality).[2] In addition, many international and national medical classifications impose the diagnosis of mental disorder on transgender persons. Such a diagnosis may become an obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights by transgender people especially when it is applied in a way to restrict the legal capacity or choice for medical treatment.

The challenge of protecting the human rights of everyone is to apply a consistent human rights approach and not to exclude any group of people. It is clear that many transgender persons do not fully enjoy their fundamental rights both at the level of legal guarantees and that of everyday life. Therefore, there is a need to take a closer look at their situation. This Issue Paper is intended to continue the debate on transgender human rights issues and make the problems encountered by transgender people known more widely.[3] The paper outlines the international human rights framework that should be applied to protect the rights of transgender persons. In the following section, it describes the key human rights concerns regarding transgender persons, including discrimination, intolerance and violence experienced by them. The paper concludes with examples of good practice and a set of recommendations to member states of the Council of Europe.

One obstacle in the drafting of this paper was the lack of data, research and reports on the theme. The limited information available often refers to countries that are member states of the European Union. The lack of data on other countries demonstrates the need for further research and information gathering. The Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights has therefore launched a comparative study on the situation concerning homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in all Council of Europe member states, including those countries which are not members of the European Union. Nevertheless, the currently available research already points at a bleak situation and calls for urgent measures to be taken to address the concerns identified.

II. International Human Rights Law

In principle, international human rights instruments protect everybody without discrimination. Despite the fact that gender identity as a discrimination ground, along with sexual orientation, is often not explicitly mentioned in international human rights treaties, these treaties do apply to all persons through their open-ended discrimination clauses. As for the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, this was recently confirmed by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which stated that “gender identity is recognized as among the prohibited grounds of discrimination; for example, persons who are transgender, transsexual or intersex often face serious human rights violations, such as harassment in schools or in the work place”.[4] The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has applied the European Convention on Human Rights in significant judgments ruling that states should provide transgender persons the possibility to undergo surgery leading to full gender reassignment and that this surgery should be covered by insurance plans as “medically necessary” treatment.[5] The Court has also ruled that states should recognise the change of sex in identity documents.[6]

Other instruments, such as the EU Directives implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services, have closed lists of discrimination grounds and do not include gender identity specifically.[7 ]However, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has explicitly ruled that `’discrimination arising (…) from the gender reassignment of the person” is considered as discrimination on the ground of sex in the watershed case P v S and Cornwall County Council. This has been confirmed and extended in later case law of the ECJ.[8]

As the specific wording of the ECJ judgment shows, `sex discrimination’ is, however, restricted to transgender persons `intending to undergo, undergoing or having undergone gender reassigment’ whose sex change should be legally recognised by states as a result of rulings by the European Court of Human Rights.[9] `Sex discrimination’ does not cover non-operative transgender people. The latter group may not undergo gender reassignment because of their free choice, their health needs, or the denial of access to any treatment, which is common in many Council of Europe member states.[10] A recent report of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) states in this regard: “there is no reason not to extend the protection from discrimination beyond these persons, to cover `cross dressers, and transvestites, people who live permanently in the gender `opposite’ to that on their birth certificate without any medical intervention and all those people who simply wish to present their gender differently”.[11] In order to overcome this limitation in coverage of all transgender persons, there is an opportunity to include `gender identity’ explicitly as a discrimination ground in future EU Directives through the review of the EU Gender Directives in 2010.[12]

The recognition of gender identity as one of the universally protected discrimination grounds has also been voiced by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: “Neither the existence of national laws, nor the prevalence of custom can ever justify the abuse, attacks, torture and indeed killings that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons are subjected to because of who they are or are perceived to be. Because of the stigma attached to issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity, violence against LGBT persons is frequently unreported, undocumented and goes ultimately unpunished. Rarely does it provoke public debate and outrage. This shameful silence is the ultimate rejection of the fundamental principle of universality of rights”.[13]

UN Special Procedures and treaty bodies have also applied this approach in their work. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has highlighted several cases of killings of transgender persons and the Special Rapporteur on torture has reported serious abuses against transgender individuals in various country reports. The UN Committee against Torture has specifically addressed the issue of abuses against transgender activists. Moreover, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has addressed problems transgender persons encounter when applying for asylum or being recognised as a refugee, for example on occasions where a transgender individual is asked by the authorities to produce identity documents and his or her physical appearance does not correspond to the sex indicated in the documents.[14]

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a Recommendation on the Condition of Transsexuals in 1989.[15] Currently a report is under preparation within the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights which will cover, inter alia, discrimination based on gender identity. The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has in several replies to questions from members of the Parliamentary Assembly recalled the principle of equal enjoyment of human rights regardless of any grounds such as gender identity. Furthermore, on 2 July 2008, the Committee of Ministers decided to step up action to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. This resulted in the setting up of an intergovernmental Expert Group, which has been tasked to prepare a Recommendation for the 47 Council of Europe member states. The European Parliament issued a Resolution on Discrimination Against Transsexuals in 1989.[16] The Resolution calls on EU Member States to take steps for the protection of transsexual persons and to pass legislation to further this end. In more general Resolutions in 2006 and 2007, the situation of transgender persons has also been paid attention to by the European Parliament.[17]

In a large scale international effort to promote international standards on sexual orientation and gender identity, a group of distinguished experts in international human rights law published in 2007 the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. While not adopted as an international standard, the principles are already cited by UN bodies, national courts, and many governments have made them a guiding tool for defining their policies in the matter. The Commissioner for Human Rights has endorsed the Yogyakarta Principles and considers them as an important tool for identifying the obligations of states to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of all persons, regardless of their gender identity.

Of particular relevance is Yogyakarta Principle number 3: `’Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities shall enjoy legal capacity in all aspects of life. Each person’s self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality and is one of the most basic aspects of self-determination, dignity and freedom. No one shall be forced to undergo medical procedures, including sex reassignment surgery, sterilisation or hormonal therapy, as a requirement for legal recognition of their gender identity. No status, such as marriage or parenthood, may be invoked as such to prevent the legal recognition of a person’s gender identity. No one shall be subjected to pressure to conceal, suppress or deny their sexual orientation or gender identity”.[18]

III. Specific human rights issues

3.1 Gender identity as a discrimination ground in Council of Europe member states

Discrimination based on gender identity is not explicitly covered in legal frameworks in a large majority of Council of Europe member states.[19] The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights reports that 13 EU Member States treat discrimination on the ground of gender identity as a form of sex discrimination, 2 Member States consider it inaccurately as sexual orientation discrimination and in 11 Member States it is treated neither as sex discrimination nor as sexual orientation discrimination.20 This results not only in a situation of legal uncertainty as to the precise protection of transgender persons from discrimination, but also in a much lower level of protection of transgender persons. For the other 20 Council of Europe member states this information is not yet researched systematically, though one may assume, based on reports received by the Commissioner, that gender identity is not explicitly defined as a discrimination ground in any of these countries.

The absence of explicit recognition of gender identity in non-discrimination legislation also has an impact on its inclusion in the work of equality bodies and National Human Rights Structures (NHRSs). Only very few equality bodies and NHRSs actually incorporate discrimination based on gender identity in their mandates or tasks. In addition, these organisations often lack the knowledge and competence to deal with gender identity discrimination, and would therefore require training before embarking on this work.

3.2 Legal recognition of the preferred gender

Article 8 of the European Convention states that “everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence”. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that failure of a state to alter the birth certificate of a person to the preferred gender constitutes a violation of Article 8 of the Convention.[21] Member states are thus required to legally recognise the gender change of transsexual persons.

A common feature of most gender recognition procedures, if in place at all, is the combination of cumbersome legal and medical requirements, the borderlines of which are often blurred. Lengthy processes of psychological, psychiatric and physical tests are characteristic features of such procedures. Some, like genital examinations by psychiatrists, amount to non-respect of the physical integrity of the person. Often transgender people choose not to enter the official procedures at all due to discriminatory medical processes and inappropriate treatment, or due to the fact that only one course of treatment is available. They are then, in turn, denied legal recognition of their preferred gender and name, or gender reassignment treatment that fits their own wishes and personal health needs. Despite ample case law from the European Court of Human Rights in favour of recognition, legal recognition remains a challenging process for many transgender persons in the Council of Europe member states.

3.2.1 Conditions for the change of sex and name

Access to procedures to change one’s sex and one’s first name in identity documents is vital for a transgender person to live in accordance with one’s preferred gender identity. Indeed, the ability to live in the preferred gender and be legally recognised as such is preconditioned by identity papers that are used to conduct everyday life, for example when using a health insurance card, a driving licence or an educational certificate during a job application process. The often lengthy and bureaucratic processes for the recognition of sex and name change result in the inability to travel with valid documents, even to visit relatives in a neighbouring country for a weekend. It could also lead to restrictions on participation in education or employment wherever birth certificates are necessary or sex is indicated on national identity cards. It can mean that transgender people without the correct documentation are effectively hindered from meaningful participation in the labour market, leading to unemployment.

There is a need to distinguish between procedures for the change of first name and those for the change of sex. However, both processes frequently require that the individual concerned must first be considered eligible for the procedure by the medical profession.

It should be stressed that the eligibility conditions for the change of sex in documents vary widely across Europe. It is possible to roughly distinguish three categories of countries. In the first category, no provision at all is made for official recognition. As pointed out above, this is in clear breach of established jurisprudence of the ECtHR.[22] In the second and smaller category of countries, there is no requirement to undergo hormonal treatment or surgery of any kind in order to obtain official recognition of the preferred gender. Legal gender recognition is possible by bringing evidence of gender dysphoria[23] before a competent authority, such as experts from the Ministry of Health (in Hungary), the Gender Reassignment Panel (in the UK) or a doctor or clinical psychologist. In the third category of countries, comprising most Council of Europe member states, the individual has to demonstrate:

1. that (s)he has followed a medically supervised process of gender reassignment – often restricted to certain state appointed doctors or institutions;

2. that (s)he has been rendered surgically irreversibly infertile (sterilisation), and/or

3. that (s)he has undergone other medical procedures, such as hormonal treatment.[24]

Such requirements clearly run counter to the respect for the physical integrity of the person. To require sterilisation or other surgery as a prerequisite to enjoy legal recognition of one’s preferred gender ignores the fact that while such operations are often desired by transgender persons, this is not always the case. Moreover, surgery of this type is not always medically possible, available, or affordable without health insurance funding. The treatment may not be in accordance with the wishes and needs of the patient, nor prescribed by his/her medical specialist. Yet the legal recognition of the person’s preferred gender identity is rendered impossible without these treatments, putting the transgender person in a limbo without any apparent exit. It is of great concern that transgender people appear to be the only group in Europe subject to legally prescribed, state-enforced sterilisation.

It needs to be noted that many transgender people, and probably most transsexual persons among them, choose to undergo this treatment, often including the elimination of procreative organs. The treatment is often desired as a basic necessity by this group. However, medical treatment must always be administered in the best interests of the individual and adjusted to her/his specific needs and situation. It is disproportionate for the state to prescribe treatment in a “one size fits all” manner. The basic human rights concern here is to what extent such a strong interference by the state in the private lives of individuals can be justified and whether sterilisation or other medical interventions are required to classify someone as being of the one sex or the other.

Two important national court rulings support this view. On [27] February 2009, the Austrian Administrative High Court ruled that mandatory surgery was not a prerequisite for gender (and name) change.[25] A transgender woman, who underwent all changes apart from the genital surgery and lived as a woman in all social relations, could establish to the court that her particular employment situation would not be conducive to the several months’ sick leave needed for the operation and that she could not leave her family financially uncared for. This led the court to point out that the legislator had to abolish the original requirement since the court was not able to establish any need for this specific requirement pertaining to transsexual women. In Germany, the Federal Supreme Court has indicated in a judgment that “an operative intervention as a precondition for the change of gender is increasingly regarded as problematic or no longer tenable among experts”.[26]

The key point here is that there is no inherent need to enforce one set of specific surgical measures for the classification of an individual to be eligible for changing sex. Similar reasoning lies behind the Spanish Ley de Identidad de Género and the British Gender Recognition Act.[27] Both laws have recognised that the protection of the majority’s assumed unease with the procreation of transgender people – which is, due to hormonal treatment and the wishes of most concerned individuals, extremely rare – does not justify a state’s disregard of their obligation to safeguard every individual’s physical integrity. States which impose intrusive physical procedures on transgender persons effectively undermine their right to found a family.

Regarding conditions to be eligible for the change of first name, there is a similar pattern to some of the procedures for change of gender described above. The process can be easy or require lengthy and/or costly procedures and medical interventions, or it can be denied entirely. In some countries names can only be changed upon medical testimony that the (full) gender reassignment has taken place, including genital surgeries which are not accessible or wished for by persons for a number of different reasons. In other countries such proof is not necessary but instead, or in addition, people need to have a gender dysphoria diagnosis and two years of hormonal treatment to qualify for the name change. As a consequence, transgender people are, for a long period in their lives, effectively barred from meaningful and full participation in society, education or employment as they may face continuous problems with `justifying’ who they are. The Commissioner’s Office has received numerous individual reports of transgender persons who, as a result of lack of proper documents, report discrimination and exclusion to a worrying extent. It’s also crucial to note that, even when a person has obtained a legal recognition of the new gender, the person may still face practical problems within institutional settings such as hospitals, police stations and prisons.

3.2.2 Consequences for family

In some countries there is a legal obligation that a transgender person who is legally married to his or her different-sex partner has to divorce before his or her new gender can be recognised. This is particularly problematic in states which do not recognise same-sex marriage, where the change of gender would effectively lead to a same-sex marriage. As same-sex marriage is only possible in five member states of the Council of Europe,[28] married transgender persons find themselves forced to divorce prior to their new gender being officially recognised. In numerous cases, forced divorce is against the explicit will of the married couple, who wish to remain a legally recognised family unit, especially if they have children in their care.

Indeed, forced divorce may have a negative impact on the children in the marriage. In several countries the parent who has undergone the gender change will lose custody rights of the children. In other states ambiguous legislation is in place and hardly any attention is given to the best interests of the child. [29] This can lead to hardship as in the case where both spouses wished to remain married so that the non-transsexual male partner would not loose custody of the child and could continue to receive state benefits in addition to his part-time work, in order to support his disabled, and now transsexual, spouse in providing care for the joint child.[30]

The Austrian Constitutional Court has granted a transsexual woman the right to change her sex to female while remaining married to her wife. The court ruled that “changing a sex entry in a birth certificate cannot be hindered by marriage.” The German Constitutional Court has ruled similarly, legally obliging the German Government to change the law before the end of August 2009.[31] Both rulings call on the state to accept that protecting all individuals without exception from state-forced divorce has to be considered of higher importance than the very few instances in which this leads to same-sex marriages. This approach is to be welcomed as it ends forced divorce for married couples in which one of the partners is transgender.

3.3 Access to health care

The right to the highest attainable standard of health is guaranteed by several treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the European Social Charter. However, transgender persons suffer from several problems in achieving this standard. The Transgender EuroStudy sheds an alarming light on the experiences of transgender people in relation to inequality and discrimination in accessing healthcare in Europe.[32]

The first aspect in discussing health care for transgender persons is the existence of international and national medical classifications defining transsexuality as a mental disorder. There are currently two established international systems for classifying mental illnesses: the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which includes the term `gender identity disorder’ as a mental health disorder and uses it to describe persons who experience significant gender dysphoria, i.e. discontent with the biological sex they are born with.[33] Secondly, the WHO International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) lists transsexualism as a mental and behavioural disorder.[34] It is important to stress that transgender persons are thus labelled as having a mental disorder. As the DSM and ICD systems are often reflected in national medical classifications in Europe, they are frequently applied to diagnose transgender persons in Council of Europe member states.

These classifications are in turn problematic and increasingly questioned by civil society actors[35] and health care professionals.[36] Such classifications may become an obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights by transgender people, especially when they are applied in a way to restrict the legal capacity or choice for medical treatment. It needs to be noted though that this question is a significant dividing line within the transgender movement itself. Many transgender people feel threatened by a possible change in the classification systems, since they fear it could result in further restrictions in accessing transgender health care. They consider that because health care systems require a diagnosis to `justify’ medical or psychological treatment, it is essential to retain a diagnosis to ensure access to care. Others, however, argue that being diagnosed as having a mental disorder stigmatises individuals in society and makes them objects of medicine, rather than subjects who are responsible for expressing their own health needs. Alternative classifications should be explored in close consultation with transgender persons and their organisations.[37] From a human rights and health care perspective no mental disorder needs to be diagnosed in order to give access to treatment for a condition in need of medical care.

The second aspect in discussing health care is access to gender reassignment therapy, which is usually available after a person has reached 18 years of age. However, in some countries, like the Netherlands, transgender youth may begin treatment to offset puberty and receive counselling, so as to allow them to make informed decisions about their future gender identity. Then at the age of 18 they can proceed with gender reassignment treatments, if they still wish to. Recently, some other countries, for example Belgium and Germany, have started to provide similar treatment for youth under 18.

The European Court of Human Rights has established as a positive duty that states provide for the possibility of undergoing surgery leading to full gender-reassignment. Depending on an individual transgender person’s wishes and needs, the person thus has to have access to hormone treatment, gender reassignment surgery or other medical interventions, such as lasting hair removal and voice training. It is important to recognise that for most people concerned treatment is a medical necessity to make meaningful life possible. Treatment must be adapted to the individual’s needs in order to have successful results.

The case law of the European Court of Human Rights clearly requires states not only to provide for the possibility to undergo surgery leading to full gender-reassignment, but also that insurance plans should cover “medically necessary” treatment in general, which gender reassignment surgery is part of.[38] The ruling of the Court has been successfully referred to by transgender people in several countries, such as Lithuania and Belgium, to extend the coverage of their health insurance. This standard should be implemented in all Council of Europe member states. However, the Transgender EuroStudy surveying the healthcare experience of transgender persons in the EU found that 80% of transgender people in the EU are refused state funding for hormone treatments, and 86% of transgender persons in the EU are refused state funding for surgery to change their sex. As a result, over [50]% of transgender persons undergoing surgery to change their birth sex pay entirely for the procedures on their own. There is a lack of information about the situation in non-EU Council of Europe member states. However, it seems that most of them do not provide publicly-funded gender reassignment treatment or only offer it partially. This is clearly against the standards set by the European Court of Human Rights.

Experiences of transgender persons with the healthcare system are often negative, with healthcare professionals being uninformed, biased and sometimes overtly rude with their clients, for example referring to the client in the not-preferred gender.[39] The above-cited study found that only [30]% of respondents, when seeking help or a referral for gender reassignment procedures, experienced what the survey defined as the minimum acceptable level of assistance – a practitioner wanting to help, but lacking information about transgender health care. One third reported that they were refused treatment because a medical practitioner did not approve of gender reassignment.[40]

Some countries only allow one clinic in the whole country to provide treatment, sometimes hampering new research and, potentially, the quality of care. The right to access gender reassignment treatment should include a reasonable choice of available treatment centres and treatment expenses should be reimbursed according to the national health care rules. The quality of transgender-related treatment often does not even come close to the `highest attainable standard of health’, sometimes resulting in life-long bodily harm. Many transgender persons who opt for gender reassignment surgery are forced to go abroad, facing great difficulty in reimbursing their expenses. Overall, the situation creates inequalities in access to healthcare within a country and between countries.

In addition, access to gender reassignment surgery is further complicated or conditioned by so-called “protocols” and conditions regarding childhood, sexual orientation, or clothing tastes, which are highly questionable. There are accounts of transgender people having to undergo genital examinations by psychiatrists, having to tell a set story of their childhood which is the only acceptable one; sometimes their claims are only considered genuine if they have at least one proven suicide attempt. Other transgender persons are being forced to stereotype themselves to the extreme in their preferred gender to fit eligibility criteria, leading to ridicule in daily life. The examples are too numerous to list, but it is safe to state that the majority of tests and processes conducted in most countries will usually include aspects that can at best be called incomprehensible.

A third aspect concerns access to general non-transgender related healthcare. The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) reports that `’a quarter of the respondents in the EuroStudy reported adverse treatment by healthcare professionals because they were transgender. A fifth reported that being a transgender person affected the way they access healthcare. As a result many transgender people report avoiding doctors’ visits as much as possible for fear of inappropriate behaviour”.[41] The FRA report also refers to the Engendered Penalties Study which found that [29]% of respondents felt that being transgender adversely affected the way they were treated by healthcare professionals.[42]

The results of the problems transgender persons encounter in accessing their right to health care are reflected in health statistics. Several studies referenced in the FRA study show that a quarter to one third of transgender people surveyed had attempted suicide. In research carried out in Ireland [26]% of transgender persons had attempted suicide at least once[43] and half of the transgender respondents in a large-scale study into the health situation for LGBT people in Sweden had at one point or another in their lives considered taking their own life – [21]% had actually tried to do this.[44]

3.4 Access to the labour market

The right to work is part of the European Social Charter, and includes the right to safe and healthy working conditions. Transgender persons face a number of problems in accessing and maintaining this right.

Employment, and thus financial means, is crucial for transgender people to access health care. Having a job implies, in many Council of Europe member states, having a health insurance which should facilitate reimbursement of expenses related to transgender health care. However, since hormone treatments or surgery for transgender persons are not always covered by health insurance schemes, the income from employment is sometimes the only way for transgender people to pay for their specific health care in practice.

Unemployment is a major concern for transgender persons. The Engendered Penalties study shows that only [31]% of the respondents are in full-time employment. The exact figure for transgender women is [40]% and for transgender men [36]%, while among the non-transgender population these figures are 57% for women and 72% for men. Spanish research into unemployment amongst transgender people showed that 54% of the respondents were unemployed.[45] Some jobless transgender persons, particularly transgender women, are unable to find employment, and see no other option but to work in the sex industry.

When employed, many transgender people face problems at the workplace, in particular continuous bullying by colleagues or being refused use of the preferred toilet. Some people are pushed to resign after being put under pressure, teasing, and insults. The lengthy and time-consuming legal requirements to be recognised by the law force transgender people to lead a double life or to inform the employer and colleagues about their intention to change gender earlier than is convenient. There are many practical problems which have an impact on being able to continue working. For example, a work contract might state `male’, while the legal requirements for accessing gender reassignment surgery state that a transgender woman present herself in female attire at work. This means that the person concerned cannot decide herself when she deems it appropriate to inform her colleagues and employer about her gender identity.

Post-operative transgender people are often accidentally referred to in their `old’ gender through numbers on social security cards or mistakes by human resource departments. There is very little recourse available if the effects of this accidental revelation are negative and harassment at the work place becomes unbearable. The Commissioner’s office has received individual reports on consistent and degrading workplace discrimination, which go clearly against the right to safe and healthy working conditions and freedom from discrimination in the workplace.

Research is still quite limited, but the statistics available show a bleak situation. The Engendered Penalties study found that [23]% of the respondents felt the need to change their jobs because of discrimination experienced on grounds of their gender identity. Only about [30]% were treated with dignity by co-workers; 10% experienced verbal abuse and 6% were physically assaulted. Forty-two percent of respondents not living in their preferred gender role did so because they were afraid of losing their jobs.[46] In a Scottish study, [37]% of the respondents were on unemployment benefits.[47] Research from Finland[48] showed similar findings. Seventy-seven percent of transgender employees did not tell their employers about their gender identity, and about [50]% of the respondents found this to be stressful.

The need for national non-discrimination legislation in all Council of Europe member states, which includes gender identity as a ground for discrimination in the labour market is thus evident. It is particularly important that changes to non-discrimination laws are also accompanied by awareness-raising campaigns for employers and employees so that the size and the seriousness of the problem is understood. Employers should be better aware of the situation of transgender people to guarantee a safe work environment for all. Special transitional measures may be needed to amend existing work rules, such as dress codes or the use of restroom facilities. Another important aspect is that educational institutions should have the duty to change retroactively the name and sex of a transgender person in degree certificates. This would ensure that transgender persons can continue to benefit from their vocational and academic training and enables them to apply for work appropriate to their professional qualifications rather than pretending they never had any training.

A final problem related to employment is the inequality in receiving pensions. In some countries, the age for state pension entitlement for men is 65 and for women 60. Prior to legal recognition transgender women who have reached 60, may be refused pensions that they would normally receive if born female. Yet many older transgender women find that they have to leave their jobs, in order to prevent disclosure of their identity by virtue of the fact that they do not qualify for a pension. Then, even after legal recognition, these women are refused backdated pensions for the period in which they had to rely on their own income and savings. In spite of overwhelming legal arguments they have so far been denied pension rights that other women in the country (born female) enjoy without question, despite rulings of the European Court of Justice to this effect.[49] In other countries, where a couple has had to divorce, because the transgender partner is required to in order to receive gender reassignment treatments, or to enjoy legal recognition, surviving spouses of transgender people are barred from receiving their survivor’s pension. A woman who has been a homemaker all her life will find herself without access to her spouse’s pension because they have had to get divorced, against their explicit will, in order to enable her spouse’s gender change.

3.5 Transphobia and violence against transgender persons

Articles 2 and 5 of the ECHR guarantee the right to life and security for every person. In spite of this, many transgender people live in fear and face violence in the course of their lives. This violence ranges from harassment, bullying, verbal abuse, physical violence and sexual assault, to hate crimes resulting in murder. Transphobia – understood as the irrational fear of, and/or hostility towards, people who are transgender or who otherwise transgress traditional gender norms – can be considered as one of the main causes of violence and intolerance that many transgender persons face. Some people seem to have a problem with the mere existence of human beings whose outer expression of their inner gender identity is not the same as their gender determined at birth. Aggression against transgender people cannot, however, be excused as resulting from ignorance or lack of education.

The Engendered Penalties study found that 72% of respondents experienced some form of harassment in public. Forty-six percent stated that they had experienced harassment in their neighbourhoods and [21]% stated that they avoid going out. The EuroStudy found that 79% of respondents had experienced verbal abuse, threatening behaviour, physical or sexual abuse while out in public.

At school and in the family environment, transgender children and young adults often face an unsafe environment with bullying at school and even expulsion from the family. Forty-one percent of female-to-male and 16% of male-to-female teenagers experienced serious insults by their family, to the point that 20% of female-to-male people were disinherited and cut off from their family entirely.[50] When people notice at an early age that they identify more closely with the opposite gender and express the wish to become a girl or boy, there is very little proper counselling and few support networks available for these transgender youth and their parents. Transgender children and youth, therefore, face problems in seeking information, support or treatment. It is in the best interest of the child to receive such information and support, since silence and ignoring their problems only leads to exclusion, self-hatred, bullying, failure in school and exceptionally high suicide rates among transgender youth. In France, research shows that [34]% of transgender youth attempted suicide before having access to information and treatment. Under international human rights law transgender children have the right to access appropriate information, support and necessary protection. This was confirmed by the Committee on the rights of the Child which recommended states provide `’adequate information and support to (…) transsexual young people (…)”.[51]

Transgender men and women have a high risk of becoming victims of a hate crime or a hate-motivated incident.[52] An authoritative OSCE report states that: “Homophobic hate crimes and incidents often show a high degree of cruelty and brutality. They often involve severe beatings, torture, mutilation, castration, even sexual assault. They are also very likely to result in death. Transgender people seem to be even more vulnerable within this category”[.53] Despite these findings, gender identity as a possible bias ground for hate crimes is not explicitly recognised in the legislation of most Council of Europe member states. One of the very few exceptions is the recently adopted Scottish hate crime bill which explicitly mentions transphobic hate crime. It is also not clear whether states, alternatively, include `gender identity’ under the category of `gender’ or `sex’ in their hate crime legislation.

As a result, transphobia is usually not considered an aggravating factor for hate crimes committed against transgender persons, as shown by the sentences for perpetrators of hate motivated killings in for example Portugal and Turkey.[54] Therefore one can only conclude that transgender people are effectively in most countries excluded from specific legal protection, despite their high risk of falling victim to hate crimes. The OSCE has stressed in this regard: “By explicitly condemning bias motives, they send a message to offenders that a just and humane society will not tolerate such behaviour. By recognizing the harm done to victims, they convey to individual victims and to their communities the understanding that the criminal justice system serves to protect them”.[55]

Moreover, most states do not record or monitor hate crimes or hate motivated incidents of a transphobic nature. These crimes normally go unreported by the police. This was also noted by the OSCE report which observed that transphobic hate-motivated incidents are among the most under-reported and under-documented. One of the few exceptions is the UK, which has a policy of documenting the number of hates crimes committed against transgender people. The Crime Prosecution Service in England and Wales has developed a policy and practice to ensure that all transphobic crime is investigated[56] and in Northern Ireland transphobic hate crimes are reported as part of the annual crime statistics.[57]

In practice, transgender people are often afforded little protection by law enforcement officials in the event of a transphobic hate crime or incident. In many cases transgender people who turn to law enforcement agencies for protection are often ridiculed, harassed or just ignored, despite the positive obligation of states under the European Convention of Human Rights to investigate these crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice.

3.6 Transgender refugees and migrants

The UNHCR has confirmed that asylum claims relating to gender identity may be recognised under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees provided the criteria in the refugee definition are met.[58] Transgender persons are considered under the Convention to be members of a `particular social group’. However, in most Council of Europe member states transgender persons are not explicitly defined as a distinctive “social group”, while other countries, such as France and Austria, have done so. In Sweden transgender people are considered legally to be covered by the category “gender”. It would be an important step forward if member states cite gender identity explicitly as a possible ground for persecution requiring international protection. It can also be argued that `gender-specific acts of persecution’, the term used in the EU Qualification Directive, can be understood as including serious human rights violations and other kinds of severe harm experienced by transgender persons.

There is a need for practical instructions as to how asylum claims are processed from persons who are persecuted because of their gender identity. Such instructions should give guidance to asylum officers how to conduct interviews in a `transgender sensitive’ way. Such guidance is also needed for situations in which a transgender person arrives with an identity document which does not indicate the preferred gender.

Transgender persons who have applied for asylum sometimes face problems in detention and reception centres from fellow asylum seekers (often from their home country) and there is a serious risk of re-traumatisation for transgender asylum-seekers.[59] Sometimes transgender persons are not placed in the men’s/women’s living quarters they wish to be in, leading to potentially dangerous situations, including heightened risk of sexual violence, harassment and other ill-treatment. There is a need to create an environment in such centres to avoid harassment of transgender persons. Another problem is the lack of access to health care which can lead to an interruption of the continuous hormonal treatment some transgender persons need.[60]

Besides asylum, migration and travel is another problem for transgender people. The problems faced in obtaining new identity documents with the appropriate name and sex change can prevent transgender people from travelling to a neighbouring country, even on a simple family weekend visit. There is the fear of abuse by border control guards when their physical appearance does not correspond with the name or sex indicated on their identity papers. Freedom of movement can, thus, be severely hampered.

Problems may also arise in the field of family reunification. The country of citizenship sometimes forces the transgender person to divorce after gender reassignment, which can become an obstacle to family reunification and the possibility to go on living with the former spouse in another country. This has a detrimental impact on the children involved in the household as well. Finally, recognition of the change of gender is not necessarily accepted in the country that a transgender person migrates to.

IV. Good practices

The human rights situation of transgender people in Europe is not positive. However, some of the problems have been acknowledged and `good practices’ are increasing. In the legal field we have recently seen constitutional courts acknowledging that national laws violate the human rights of transgender persons. In the UK the Gender Recognition Bill can, to a large extent, and excepting the divorce requirement, be considered an example of good practice. It was drafted with the participation of transgender people and led to a viable format, circumventing violations like forced sterilisation, medical treatment conditions, or exaggerated procedures.

In the field of employment, some trade unions have developed guidelines for employers on protecting transgender people at work, such as the Dutch ABVAKABO and the UK trade union UNISON. In the Italian city of Torino a programme has been set up to reintegrate transgender people in employment after their gender reassignment surgery.[61] It consists of a distinct investigation of the needs and skills of the transgender person and gives options for temporary jobs in a number of companies, with the possibility of further permanent employment.

A few countries have developed high quality medical centres providing supportive care without resort to excessive psychiatric assessment procedures and giving health insurance coverage that includes all available forms of gender reassignment surgery and hormone treatment.

In the UK, Germany and the Netherlands there are support groups for children, teenagers and their parents who have questions around gender identity. Their work is crucial. However, there are not enough of these services available and the public funding for those that do exist is scarce, most are under constant threat of closure.

A few local school and university boards across Europe have acknowledged the need to address the high instances of bullying and exclusion experienced by transgender youth. For example, the UK Government Department for Children, Schools and Families is working with the major transgender support groups in the UK to produce guidance for schools on transphobic bullying. Moreover, the Centre for Excellence in Leadership has worked with a transgender rights group to publish a self-study course on transgender issues for senior staff and managers in colleges and other higher educational institutions.[62] Regarding the issue of university degrees and papers with the new name and sex of a transgender person, the University of Torino issues student identity cards with the chosen name before the legal name change has occurred in order to facilitate matters for transgender students.

In 2008 and 2009 European-wide research projects started on human rights of transgender persons. Some Council of Europe member states have started nationwide research on the situation of transgender people. The European Commission is planning to publish in 2009 a report on transgender discrimination in EC law, which is being drafted by the EU Network of Legal Experts on Non-discrimination”. And the year 2010 will hopefully lead to solid recommendations by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers that should include, for the first time, gender identity-specific human rights concerns.

What is now needed in particular is promotion of a human rights approach to the challenges transgender people face. To help with this, educational campaigns promoting respect and mutual understanding are needed. The information deficit on the specific problems of transgender persons and the bullying and ridiculing they receive need to be addressed. The Commissioner’s Office has launched a comparative study on the situation of LGBT persons in Council of Europe member states, and gender identity discrimination will have a prominent role in this research. The results are expected in autumn 2010.

It is important that gender identity discrimination be addressed by NHRSs and Equality Bodies. A good example of this is the 2006 New Zealand Human Rights Commission’s report on discrimination experienced by transgender people.[63] In 2008, the Belgian Institute for Equality between Women and Men also launched a study on the situation of transgender persons in Belgium. The results are expected in 2009.

Support for civil society organisations promoting human rights of transgender persons, on the national and European level, is crucial for their ability to conduct lobby and advocacy activities. Only a handful of governments, such as the Netherlands, Norway and Scotland, have so far provided funding to transgender NGOs. The city councils of both Vienna and Berlin financially supported the first two European Transgender Councils in 2005 and 2008, which is currently the only specific forum for transgender people on a European level.

Finally, discussions are also needed to link the human rights of transgender persons to a variety of other debates and topics: violence against women, domestic violence, multiple discrimination, economic, cultural and social rights. A good example of this is the UK Public Sector Gender Equality Duty which requires all public authorities in the UK to eliminate unlawful discrimination and harassment on the grounds of sex and to promote equality of opportunity between women and men `’including transsexuals of both genders”.[64]

V. Recommendations to Council of Europe member states

Member states of the Council of Europe should:

1. Implement international human rights standards without discrimination, and prohibit explicitly discrimination on the ground of gender identity in national non-discrimination legislation. The Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity should be used to provide guidance for national implementation in this field;

2. Enact hate crime legislation which affords specific protection for transgender persons against transphobic crimes and incidents;

3. Develop expeditious and transparent procedures for changing the name and sex of a transgender person on birth certificates, identity cards, passports, educational certificates and other similar documents;

4. Abolish sterilisation and other compulsory medical treatment as a necessary legal requirement to recognise a person’s gender identity in laws regulating the process for name and sex change;

5. Make gender reassignment procedures, such as hormone treatment, surgery and psychological support, accessible for transgender persons, and ensure that they are reimbursed by public health insurance schemes;

6. Remove any restrictions on the right of transgender persons to remain in an existing marriage following a recognised change of gender;

7. Prepare and implement policies to combat discrimination and exclusion faced by transgender persons on the labour market, in education and health care;

8. Involve and consult transgender persons and their organisations when developing and implementing policy and legal measures which concern them;

9. Address the human rights of transgender persons and discrimination based on gender identity through human rights education and training programmes, as well as awareness-raising campaigns;

10. Provide training to health service professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists and general practitioners, with regard to the needs and rights of transgender persons and the requirement to respect their dignity;

11. Include the human rights concerns of transgender persons in the scope of activities of equality bodies and national human rights structures;

12. Develop research projects to collect and analyse data on the human rights situation of transgender persons including the discrimination and intolerance they encounter with due regard to the right to privacy of the persons concerned.

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[1] Definition as used in the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, available at www.yogyakartaprinciples.org.

[2] Ibid.

[3] See also the Commissioner’s Viewpoint “Discrimination against transgender persons must no longer be tolerated” published on 5 January 2009.

[4] UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No 20 on Non-Discrimination.

[5] ECtHR, van Kück v. Germany, judgment of 12 June 2003.

[6] ECtHR, B. v. France, judgment of [25] March 1992 and Christine Goodwin v. U.K., judgment of 11 July 2002.

[7] Sex discrimination has for long been included in relevant European Community legislation. Since 1957, the EEC Treaty has contained a provision prohibiting unequal pay for men and women, which has been revised in the Treaty of Amsterdam. From 1975, the EU has issued several directives on sex discrimination

[8] ECJ, Case C-13/94, P. v. S. and Cornwall City Council judgment of [30] April 1996, ECR [1996] I-[21][43], ECJ, Case C-117/01, K.B. v. National Health Service Pensions Agency, Secretary of State for Health, judgment of 7 January 2004, ECJ, Case C-[42]3/04, Sarah Margaret Richards v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, judgment of [27].4.2006. See for an explanation of the progressive nature of the Judgements, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Homophobia and Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the EU Member States, Part I Legal Analysis, p.1[24].

[9] ECtHR, B. v. France judgment of [25] March 1992 (Series A no. 2[32]-C) (distinguishing the Rees and Cossey judgments); Sheffield and Horsham v. the United Kingdom judgment of [30] July 1998; Christine Goodwin v. the United Kingdom, Appl. no. [28]975/95, judgment of 11 July 2002; Grant v. the United Kingdom, Appl. no. [32]570/03, judgment of [23] May 2006.

[10] It is assessed that only 10% of all transgender persons actually choose, have access to or to are able to undergo gender reassignment surgery.

[11] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Homophobia and Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the EU Member States, Part I Legal Analysis, p.1[26].

[12] See Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services, OJ L [37]3, [21].12.2004, p.[37]; and Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast), OJ L 204 of [26].7.2006, p. [23] (Recast Gender Directive).

[13] Statement of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the International Conference on LGBT human rights, Montreal [26] July 2006, available at www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/0/B91AE5[26]51D[33]F0DC1[25]71BE002F172C?opendocument.

[14] UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, 21 November 2008, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/[48]abd5660.html

[15] Recommendation 1117 (1989)1 on the condition of transsexuals available at http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/adoptedtext/ta89/erec1117.htm

[16] European Parliament Resolution of 12 September 1989 on discrimination against transsexuals cf. Recommendation 1117 (1989) on the condition of transsexuals, available at http://tsnews.at.infoseek.co.jp/european_parliament_resolution890912.htm

[17] European Parliament resolution on homophobia in Europe (2006), available at www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&language=EN&reference=P6-TA-2006-0018; European Parliament resolution on homophobia in Europe (2007) available at www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2007-0167+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN

[18] Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, p. 11-12.

[19] Sweden prohibits discrimination on the ground of a person’s `transgender identity or expression’ in the new Discrimination Act that entered into force on 1 January 2009.

[20] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Homophobia and Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the EU Member States, Part I – Legal Analysis, p. 20.

[21] See Eur. Ct. HR, B. v. France judgment of [25] March 1992 (Series A no. 2[32]-C) (distinguishing the Rees and Cossey judgments), Eur. Ct. HR, Sheffield and Horsham v. the United Kingdom judgment of [30] July 1998, Eur. Ct. HR, Christine Goodwin v. the United Kingdom, Appl. no. [28]975/95, judgment of 11 July 2002. Eur. Ct. HR (4th sect.), Grant v. the United Kingdom, Appl. no. [32]570/03, judgment of [23] May 2006.

[22] See European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Homophobia and Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the EU Member States, Part I Legal Analysis, p. 1[31]-1[33].

[23] This is the phenomenon pointing to the discontent persons feel with the biological sex they were born with. See paragraph 3.3 for a more detailed explanation.

[24] Additionally, people may also have to demonstrate that they have lived for a long period of time in the new gender – the so called `real life experience’. The `real life experience’ preceding hormonal treatment and sex reassignment surgeries forms the three elements of the `triadic therapy’ often in place in member states as a requirement for recognition of the new gender.

[25] After the constitutional court ruled against the case (VfGH [29].09.2008, B [41]1/08, B [41]2/08), the Administrative High Court made the legal change possible in 2009 (VwGH [27].2. 2009).

[26] BVerfG, 1 BvL 3/03 (6 December 2005).

[27] More on the Spanish law, see Raquel Platero, Open Forum on Spain: Outstanding challenges in a post-equality era: The same-sex marriage and gender identity laws in Spain, University of Madrid (2008); on the UK law, see . http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2004/ukpga_200[40]007_en_1

[28] Belgium, Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden.

[29] Prof Stephen Whittle OBE, Dr Lewis Turner, Ryan Combs, Stephenne Rhodes – Transgender EuroStudy: Legal Survey and Focus on The Transgender Experience of Health Care – 2008 — Transgender Europe and ILGA-Europe, pages [22]-[23].

[30] In the country concerned custody is usually awarded to the mother and the transsexual law specifies that the relationship with previously born children remains that of the former registered sex.

[31] Austrian Constitutional Court, BverfG, 1 BvL 1/04 (18 July 2006); German Constitutional Court, BVerfG, 1BvL 10/05 ([27] May 2008).

[32] Prof Stephen Whittle OBE, Dr Lewis Turner, Ryan Combs, Stephenne Rhodes – Transgender EuroStudy: Legal Survey and Focus on The Transgender Experience of Health Care – 2008 – Transgender Europe and ILGA-Europe.

[33] The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV-TR) lists `gender identity disorders in adolescents and adults’ (category [30]2.85) under the chapter `sexual and gender identity disorder’ and `gender identity disorder in children’ (category [30]2.6). See www.icd9data.com/2009/Volume1/[29]0-[31]9/[30]0-[31]6/[30]2/[30]2.85.htm.

[34] The ICD can be found at www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/. Transsexuality is listed under chapter 5 (Mental and Behavioural Disorders), category F64.

[35] Statement on the Reform to the DSM, Transgender Europe (TGEU), 2 November 2008. TGEU is the European network of transgender groups and individuals.

[36] Many specialised health care professionals point out that the treatment consists primarily of physical modifications to bring the body into harmony with one’s perception of mental (psychological, emotional) gender identity, rather than vice versa. This line is maintained by WPATH, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. However, WPATH has not yet updated its Standards of Care from 2001 and still includes transsexualism as mental disorder yet changes are currently under discussion.

[37] There is now an opportunity to change this position as the DSM catalogue is currently reviewed. A working group will revise the DSM and this will result in the DSM-V scheduled to be published in 2012. See also the joint statement of [28] May 2008 issued by the American organizations National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the Transgender Law and Policy Institute (TLPI), the Transgender Law Center (TLC) and the Transgender Youth Family Allies (TYFA).

[38] van Kück v. Germany (Application no. [35]968/07) – paragraphs 47, 73 and 82 and L. v. Lithuania (Application no. [27]5[27]/03) – paragraphs 59 and 74.

[39] Another example is when a transsexual man enters hospital to have his internal female organs removed, but is placed on a female ward.

[40] Transgender EuroStudy loc. Cit. p.55 and 58. See also the report of Slymár Bence (2005), The situation of Transgender People in the Hungarian Social and Health Care System, in: Takács J. (ed.): A léöek mütétei (Surgery of the Soul), Budapest: Új Mandátum Kiadó.

[41] European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Homophobia and Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU Member States: Part II – The social situation, p.1[22].

[42] Stephen Whittle, Lewis Turner, Maryam Al-Alami, Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual People’s Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination available at http://www.pfc.org.uk/files/EngenderedPenalties.pdf and as referenced in ., as referenced in European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Homophobia and Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU Member States: Part II – The social situation

[43] French research was conducted by HES and leMAG-Young LGBT Mvt, see www.mag-paris.fr. The Irish research, Supporting LGBT Lives: A Study of the Mental Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People, was published in 2009. Information on suicide among transgender persons can be found on page 95.

[44] Statens Folkshälsoinstitut (2005) Homosexuellas, bisexuellas och transpersoners hälsosituation, Återrapportering av regeringsuppdrag att undersöka och analysera hälsosituationen bland hbt-personer, Östersund: FHI, p. [21].

[45] Data, as referenced in European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Homophobia and Discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the EU Member States: Part II – The social situation and Esteva, I et al. (2001) Social Inequalities: Demographic Characteristics of Patients Treated at the First Gender Identity Disorder Unit in Spain available at www.symposion.com/ijt/hbigda/2001/71_eteva.htm

[46] Whittle, S, Turner, L, Al-Alami M (2007) Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual People’s Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination, Wetherby: The Equalities Review.

[47] Scottish Transgender Alliance (2008) Transgender Experiences in Scotland – Research Summary, Edinburgh: Equality Network, p. 14

[48] Lehtonen, J, Mustola, K (2004) “Straight People don’t tell, do they…?” Negotiating the boundaries of sexuality and gender at work, Helsinki: Ministry of Labour

[49] Case C-[42]3/04, Sarah Margaret Richards v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, judgment of [27] April 2007.

[50] Whittle, S, Turner, L, Al-Alami M (2007) Engendered Penalties: Transgender and Transsexual People’s Experiences of Inequality and Discrimination, Wetherby: The Equalities Review.

51 Concluding observations on United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, CRC/C/15/Add.188, October 9, 2002.

52 See for example Basaran, Y, Aybasti, I and Cakmak, S (2009) Problems of Transgender Women: A Survey Conducted in Istanbul ( forthcoming publication) and European Commission’s Turkey 2008 Progress Report, p. [23].

53 OSCE/ODIHR (2007) Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region: Incidents and Responses; Annual report for 2006; Warsaw: OSCE/ODIHR, p. 53f.

54 Human Rights Watch, We need a law for liberation – Gender, sexuality, and human rights in a changing Turkey. OSCE/ODIHR (2007) Hate Crimes in the OSCE Region: Incidents and Responses; Annual report for 2006; Warsaw: OSCE/ODIHR, p. 54.

55 Hate Crime Laws: A Practical Guide, p.7 available at
http://www.osce.org/publications/odihr/2009/03/[36]671_1[26]3_en.pdf.

56 http://www.cps.gov.uk/Publications/prosecution/homophobia.html ([26].10.08).

57 PSNI Statistics (2008) Annual Statistical Report, Statistical Report No. 3; Hate Incidents & Crimes; 1st April 2007 – [31]st March 2008; Belfast: PSNI; 2008.

58 UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, [21] November 2008. This Guidance Note supplements UNHCR’s earlier Guidelines on International Protection No. 1: Gender-Related Persecution Within the Context of Article 1A(2) of the 1951 Convention and/or its 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees from May 2002. Both guidelines are relevant for the assessment of asylum claims made by transgender individuals.

59 See for example research conducted by the Helsinki Citizens Assembly and the Organisation for Refugee, Asylum & Migration (ORAM): Unsafe haven – the security challenges facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey (2009).

60 Similar problems are faced by transgender people in prison who may face periods of time without hormone therapy. This may result in a long time without treatment and may cause serious health problems, such as the development of osteoporosis in transsexual men, and irreversible physiological changes to take place such as the development of baldness in transsexual women. Transsexual people will frequently face difficulties in accessing assessment, hormone therapies, or surgery as many prisons or prison systems feel they do not have the facilities to manage transsexual prisoners, or in some cases they are seen as forging their right to such treatments because of their conviction.

61 This is an initiative in which NGOs, job agencies and the city council work together.

62 Whittle, S; Turner, L (2007) Leading Trans Equality: A Toolkit for Colleges, Lancasteer: The Centre for Excellence in Leadership, available at http://services.pfc.org.uk/files/CEL_toolkit.pdf.

63 To be who I am. Report of the Inquiry into Discrimination faced by transgender people, available at www.hrc.co.nz/hrc_new/hrc/cms/files/documents/[21]-Jan-2008_19-03-12_Transgender_Final_2.pdf.

64 Equality and Human Rights Commission (2008) Overview of the gender equality duty, Guidance for public bodies working in England, Wales and Scotland, available at www.equalityhumanrights.com

END

The Mother-Daughter Talk Every Transkid and Her Mom Should Have

I was pretty obvious as a kid.  Labeled as a sissy and abused from when I first started going to school.

I started fully dressing up around ten or so but the role-play had started much earlier.

I was busted and labeled by my parents when I was thirteen and they found some reason to bust me or yell at me for being a teen queen just about weekly until I left home for good seven years later.

When they first caught me dressing up, they started accusing me of having sex with men.  They also warned me that unless I seriously butched up people would know I was queer just by looking at me.

In 1960s, America that meant the police could arrest me for being and make up something.

But, it was also a time when the mythic three items of non-specified clothing could mean the difference in being arrested for impersonation or simply being abused by the police.

When I was 15, they found some clippings I had of April Ashley’s life to that point.  They waved them in front of me asking if that was what I thought I was.

I said, “That’s what I am, isn’t it?”

A few months later and another bust for something and my parents laid down rules.  I wasn’t to have any boys in the house when one of them wasn’t home.  And when my mother was home and I had a boy from school over we weren’t allowed to go up stairs to my room.

My mother told me, “You look and act  more like a girl than a boy.  If that is how you are going to act then you are going to be treated like a girl.”

Ironically, was already a surrogate big sister for my brother and did the chores an oldest daughter would do.

The next summer my mother asked me to help her do some canning.  She told me that one of the neighbors had told her that, because I was more like a girl than a boy, she never worried about her daughter and me being close friends.  She had also told my mother that I was more help around the house than both her daughters were.

My mother then said we had to have a talk she never expected to make and wasn’t sure of how to make.

She told me that she had hoped I would out grow wanting to be a girl but I was growing up and becoming more and more obvious.

She asked if I knew certain girls at school who were considered easy. She told me that they didn’t actually have to have sex to get that reputation.  “People talk.” she said.

People already talk about you. You’ve been called sissy since you first went to school. There will be boys who will try to get you to do things with them.  If you even think about it they will lie and tell everyone you made a pass at them.  Even if they approached you.

Men beat up and kill people like you.  Some of them pretend they are like you and if you try anything then they will hurt you.  Or they will tell everyone and this being a small town you will have to leave home.

She asked me if any of the boys had tried anything and I told her that this one boy would try to get me to wrestle and I didn’t like it because he would rub against me like a dog trying to hump your leg.

She told me to be careful of him because he would try to get me to do something and if I did once I would have to keep on doing it for him or he would talk.

She also told me I should watch how I walked and stood because I was sending out signals that I was available.

The beatings I had received as a child coupled with my mothers warnings along with hearing guys talk about rolling queers kept me a virgin until I was 20 and was ready to actually leave home.

I was far wiser when I finally did have sex with a man than I was when my mother gave me the big talk.  I had several years of getting to know the world. Time to learn how to avoid danger.  When I finally lost my virginity it was to a man I met near Sheridan St Station in Greenwich Village about 100 feet from where the Stonewall Rebellion would take place a couple of years later.

Ten Most Common Lies (or being kind, misconceptions) About Transsexuality

1) Most transsexuals never have surgery.

Transsexuality is a neurological birth condition (the scientific proof is in unless you are a total Luddite) and a female (male) neurology will always eventually reject a male (female) anatomy. What that means is that the condition is actually defined by the absolute need to correct one’s body to the maximum degree possible. Tens of thousands of surgically corrected women live in the US. A couple of hundred vocal transgenders inhabit the cybersphere braying their nonsense. Do the math. Here’s a hint, anyone who makes such a statement almost certainly has a penis and is planning on keeping it. Whether or not you wish to consider someone like this female is up to you.

2) “Woman trapped in a man’s body” is an over simplified trope.

Nope, as it turns out, this is one of those occasions when a complex subject CAN be reduce to a literal, simple statement.

(You got that one right.  We used that metaphor long before we had idiots with too many degrees tell us why we shouldn’t.  It is  ours and we should use it.)

Continue reading at:

http://radicalbitch.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/ten-most-common-lies-or-being-kind-misconceptions-about-transsexuality/

Cybele’s Knife

I use “Cybele’s Knife” as a form of Occam’s razor rather than as an actual historical referent.

Joanne Proctor said:

Trying to comprehend WBT-Classical-HBS transsexualism as an identity problem is what causes the misunderstandings, both between us and TG affected individuals, and with the way our condition is understood by psychologist, psychotherapists and all the other so-called experts.

We are simply not being listened to and that is what creates our frustration!

Please accept that this post is not a personal criticism. Its the beliefs that are wrong. And those beliefs a precisely why WBT-Classical-HBS transsexuals need a distinct voice of our own.

Let me return to the pregnancy analogy to explain why. Joann introduced the transsexual who doesn’t want to change sex into the discussion. Yet changing anatomical sex is precisely what Classical- WBT – HBS transsexualism
is all about. It isn’t an add-on, designed to complete a change of gender role behavior and expression.

The argument that some individuals, who don’t want to change sex, must be accepted as WBT-HBS-Classical transsexuals is one of the many claims that conflates our experience with transgenderism, and frustrates our attempts to obtain an independent voice.

SRS cuts through the bullshit.  As far as I am concerned it is the Cybele’s Knife that cuts through all the transgender blather.

While I am willing to work with transgenders on an ad hoc basis regarding certain issues I still think their convoluted gender arguments are nothing but reactionary bullshit that is in total accord with some of the most misogynistic, anti-progressive reactionary thinking I have seen in the 60+ years I’ve been on the planet.

The idea of making gender the prime consideration determining women or men is incredibly oppressive to women since it makes women into a permanently submissive class defined by the patriarchal power structure.

It means any woman not conforming to the feminine mystique becomes ‘transgender” and any man who does not meet the ascribed standard of masculinity is also considered transgender.

Then there is the blither about identity.  I am not because of anything I do but because I identify as comes across as mentally disturb ed.

I can buy some one deserving respect when they live as a member of a sex not consistent with their current genitals.  The respect is earned by the act of doing.  However sans the doing one is left with delusion and I do not feel constrained to honor delusion.

I also highly value individuality over conformity, the social individualist who challenges authority including that authority that dictates proper gender behavior.  The woman who tells anyone who calls her “lady” to fuck off because she isn’t royalty. The queen who makes the entire bar or street magical as she sashays her gender fucking,  finger snapping drag queen ass down it up setting the straights and wrecking the entire idea of normal.

The reduction of this to transgender word games should be a felony.

Cybele would not be amused

Gender Non-conformity

Jessica wrote in a comment regarding Quid Pro Quo:  “In recent national political action, “gender non-conformity,” which I had always assumed to be a synonym for “transgender” has been claimed as part of “all things associated” with homosexuality.”

I never thought of “gender-non-conformity” as a synonym for transgender or for homosexuality.

I’ve never thought of myself as much of a conformist in much of anything.  Raised Catholic, I became atheist.  In spite of forced indoctrination I never became very masculine.  And in spite of the expectations laid on someone who was a pretty as I was when I came out I never valued the expectaitions of femininity all that much.

I resisted the working class idea of striving to emulate the stereotype of middle class in favor of hippie/bohemian culture.

I see so many of these expected roles as being selling points aimed at attacking my insecurities.

Many years ago, a few months after I had SRS I was in the Macy’s in San Francisco buying some make-up.  A very attractive hippie guy whispered to me as he walked past, “Buying make-up won’t give you better orgasms.”  I shot back, “Buying make-up is my orgasm.”

I was a model at the time at the time and starting to be interested in photography.  I thought a lot about what he said.  I stopped spending so much on clothes and make-up and bought a Nikon and lenses instead.

Along the way I kind of abandoned the whole glamour bit and came out as a lesbian feminist.

I can cook.  I can play guitar, I can paint both rooms and pictures.  Look good when the occasion calls for looking good and I used to change the oil in my car before the EPA and design of cars made that one difficult for end users.

I have a WBT partner but I have had male partners  in the past. I used to own a black leather jacket with many zippers and have many piercings in my ears.

I have tats and cats.  I’m a left wing anarcha-feminist in Texas.

I think conformity of any sort is highly over rated.

As for what the guy said about buying make-up wouldn’t give me better orgasms..  He was right.  Make-up failed miserably when it came to getting orgasms. The Hitachi Magic Wand was a hell of a lot better purchase for that desired end.  Along with the lessons in self-pleasuring I got from the consciousness raising group I was in at the Women’s Building

I’m reading Phyllis Burke’s Gender Shock.  The psych establishment condones torture of children to prevent gender non-conformity, something I consider important in being a whole self actualized human being so a lot of special elite interests seem to have a whole lot invested in keeping the artifice of the social constructs of gender in place.

Quid Pro Quo

Folks may be right.  It may well be that the TGs are the ones unwilling to make even a minor compromise.

I’m not seeing any evidence that they are willing to go along with even making a minor peace offering.

But, there is no reason for us to continue to act like Jennifer Ushers spouting forth the rhetoric of the Christo-Fascists.

Especially since much of it is stupid, our spouting it makes us less credible, and that we are just saying it to be hurtful.  We come off as bullies and validate their charges of our being foul mouthed generally more privileged elitists.

In the long run this undermines us more than being civil and pressing our positions in a way that causes us to be seen as sane and reasonable.

For those of us in the US having ad hoc coalitions work on certain matters would increase the chances for legislation that would benefit all.

Some like hate crimes bills and a trans inclusive ENDA are obvious.  Especially since no matter how stealth you think you are records are out there.

Others like Same Sex Marriage are less obvious due to the framing of the bills.  In essence, they are not gay marriage bills.  They make the sex of those getting married irrelevant.  Now, I have heard  the HBS faction is not anti-lesbian, but on our Woman Born Transsexual mailing list the group led by Diane Penn certainly was.  We were expected to defend heterosexual marriage rights since that would validate her marriage but we were not supposed to publicly pursue laws that would give us the same rights.

Government funded health insurance that included treatments necessary for people with transsexualism or transgenderism without discrimination or pre-existing condition clauses.

Ending GID and removing it from the DSM.  GID is a cancer that metastasized from the remnants of homosexuality as mental illness.  They removed gay in 1973 and seven years later in the new edition the same pseudo-scientific bigots stuck in GID.  While we are at it get rid of transvestism too.

All of this garbage is simply the rewriting of religious superstition in pseudo scientific jargon.  Out with it all.

I also realize that the TG people I knew and consider friends were probably way too lumpen to fit with the newer Tapestry set but there are a lot of really damaged folks who are more like the sisters I know who got SRS than like the straight CD set.  Maybe they got more abuse than I did or maybe I had better tools for handling it.  A lot of substance abuse and abuse issues that build those reasons some people never pull it together and get SRS.  But then they aren’t very represented among the organized either.

It wouldn’t take much in the way of quid pro quo to get me to agree to work together on some of those things.  A little respect would do it.

In the mean time I’m still going to follow a policy of dropping the trash talk.  Mostly because it’s a waste of my time.

Compromises rev. 3.2

Suzan Cooke

A few days ago,  before heading off to work, I tossed off a few thoughts that have elicited numerous comments as well as a couple of ad hominem attacks by a couple of other Bloggers.

I stand by my original comments and think they require expanding upon.

I am sick and tired of all the in fighting between people with transsexualism and people with transgenderism.  While many of the more reasonable members of both groups have quietly agreed to work together on issues such as hate crimes bill and ENDA,  extremists of both factions are doing their best to keep the horizontal hostility going.

Often times the ring leaders who are taking the most radical of the positions are misfits who have been around since the days of Usenet.  While many of us moved on and have worked through our issues these people, have not.  When they attack our Blogs we try to ignore them as trolls.  Or we ban them.

I know about anger.  I still haven’t surrendered my anger regarding the hegemonic erasure of transsexualism under the ideology of “Transgender as Umbrella”.  It was that anger that led to Tina and me creating the Women Born Transsexual meme.  But the meme had other purposes too. Those include pressing the idea of transsexualism as innate and  countering the women born women position that placed us in the status of non-legitimate women.

I have rethought my positions, worked through much of my anger.  I have been influenced in my rethinking process by the level of brutal murders and gratuitous hate mongering on the part of the religious right.

I am in my ninth year of sobriety.  I have had to take stock and admit my own shortcomings.  Re-channeled my anger toward real oppressors instead of toward people who may irritate the hell out of me but who are not the people actually creating the laws and policies that oppress me.

Working together with people who are attempting to remove GID from the DSM has had a big influence on me.  Taking responsibility for my words since I am both blogging at Women Born Transsexual and being asked to write for other forums including TS-SI has also played a role in my losing the angry rhetoric.

I still think people with transsexualism are inherently different from people with transgenderism.  Just as I believe that lesbians are different in many ways from gay men. I know from history that saying both are homosexual (one element of their being) therefore gay should be the umbrella term lead to a nearly 10 year conflict in the 1970s. People ended this conflict with a compromise that led to what had been the “Gay Community” now being called the “Gay and Lesbian Community”. This allowed lesbians and gays to work together on specific issues such as fighting the bigotry that surfaced when Anita Bryant lead the campaign to repeal a Gay and Lesbian anti-discrimination bill in Miami, Florida.  Crisis brought unity.  In 1978, California gay men and lesbians worked together to defeat Prop. 6, the Briggs Amendment, a pernicious law that would have barred not only gays or lesbians from teaching school but anyone who supported them..

Lesbians were there to keep the community going during the darkest days of the AIDS Crisis.  Sometimes it seems more like working in parallel than together for the same basic goals as gay men, nonetheless the in fighting has decreased markedly

For people with transsexualism and people with transgenderism a similar compromise would be Transsexual and Transgender Communities.  We could modify the alphabet city of special interest initials to LGBT/T with TS/TG used when referring specifically to transsexual and  transgender people. I have already started to notice greater proper usage of the label transsexual to people who identify as TS and not TG.  I also occasionally see LGBT/T or GLBTT.  It is a start.

Certain events caused me to question some of the positions I went along with even if I no longer felt them to be either ethical or worthy of support from someone with my ideals. Last fall Jennifer Gale, a transgender veteran and gentle soul who lived in Austin died of exposure.  Each week in the US seems to bring news of either another murder or violent assault of a transsexual or transgender person, someone generally of the poverty class and often but not always a person of color.

How can I be an ethical, caring human being and not be moved?

I plead guilty to lashing out in anger and using hurtful language like, “men in dresses.” I had forgotten a lesson learned many years ago when the bullies at school offered to stop bullying me and let me join their group.  All I had to do was beat up a younger child who even more obviously feminine and an unrepentant sissy than I was.

I read the unemployment statistics.  I know that the figure of 9.5% doesn’t take into account those whose unemployment has run out, the chronically unemployed, part timers. I also know that for many TS/TG people coming out and living a life that is true to yourself is a matter of hitting the down arrow on the social mobility elevator.

I am still not willing to allow the erasure of my reality of having been treated for transsexualism by a compulsory “Transgender Umbrella”.  Nor are many other WBTs and I will add a few MBTs.  Yet we are in crisis.

Forty years of public health and public service cuts have removed even the minimal safety net from those TS/TG folks at the bottom end of the economic scale.  Those of us who have time or money, a voice to advocate with and a will to agitate need to create or push for support services to assist these folks who have fallen through the cracks.

When I started, my blog the first thing that happened was that, a few people made snide remarks about Andrea James and Lynn Conway. Later Donna Rose, Monica Helms and others were spoken of as though they were the problem and not part of the numerous people working to advance non-discrimination and anti hate bills.

People wanted me to take their position in the transsexual vs. transgender war.  Instead, I was tired of fighting and I declared the war over.  As a former hippie, I can do that and for me the war is over

Over the past couple of years, people have been after me to start using HBS instead of transsexual.  Someone came on our Women-Born-Transsexual mailing list a few years ago.  If I recall correctly she claimed to be from Spain  she wanted us to start using BS or Benjamin’s Syndrome instead of Transsexualism. Without knowing there was already a Benjamin Syndrome: A rare disorder characterized mainly by anemia, bone abnormalities and mental and growth retardation, I objected.  I pointed out that in English BS had a scatological interpretation.

Since then it has been modified to HBS or Harry Benjamin Syndrome.  I still have no desire to embrace it for the same reason I have never referred to myself as one of “Dr. Laub’s girls”; for the same reason I used to cringe when Officer Elliott Blackstone used to refer to those of us who ran the National Transsexual Counseling unit as “his girls”.

I actually like the term “Transsexual” for the name of what I was born.  Not so much as an identity but it gives clarity to the oppression I endured as a transkid and it doesn’t hide the reality of my life journey behind a bunch of jargon aimed at obscuring.

Sometime it seems like some women born transsexual are as eager to erase the history and agency of other women born transsexuals as those transgenders who wish to co-opt us into disappearing under the umbrella.

Some WBTs think their ways of dealing with having been born with transsexualism make them vastly superior to all the others who either came out later in age or who choose to live in a different degree of stealth/openness.  I have recently come across the term “classic transsexual”.  Looking at one of the sites where I have seen it used it seems to have homophobic connotations and be a slam on sisters who are lesbian in their post-SRS lives.

I have been assured it isn’t and that it means someone defined as transsexual in Dr. Benjamin’s book, The Transsexual Phenomena. Great except I was one of dr. Benjamin’s patients.  I went through the process way back when and pretty much the same mix of people transitioned then as transition now.  The main difference was that more poor people were able to get SRS than now and there were fewer computer industry people than now.

As for “classic transsexual”  I recognize it for what it is, code for heterosexual transsexual.  As such, I tend to see it as both homophobic and as a slam against sisters who come out later in life.  It goes against my theories that the root cause of transsexualism is the same for almost all transsexuals.  As well as believing, the truth can be found in people’s narratives.  Reading biography after biography leads me to this conclusion that actual people with TS knew as early as their first conscious memories.

The rest is a matter of existential circumstance.  I trust the veracity of our narratives more than the theories of the misogynistic psych establishment.

As for WBT homophobia; many heterosexual sisters have taken a homophobic stance in reaction to having been improperly described as homosexuals by both the public and by professionals like Bailey and Blanchard.  Voicing homophobia while embracing some of the most reactionary and bigoted elements of our society can be a way of declaring one’s dissociation from gay and lesbian people.  This has an ugly history filled with gay bashing homophobes who were later discovered to be gay themselves.

But there is another form of homophobia among WBTs and that is directed at sisters who are lesbian or bisexual.  A pointing of fingers and calling lesbian sisters, “Men who made a mistake.”  This can take a more subtle form in the expectation that lesbian sisters will put their energies behind the validation of straight sister’s marriages without the expectation of quid pro quo in the form of straight sisters supporting same sex marriage.

So even within WBTs there is a lot of fighting over who is transsexual in the correct way.

Horizontal Hostility…  A better description might be a circular firing squad where the game is not co-operation to gain rights for all but rather spiteful fighting for your own particular factions rights by cutting special deals and agreeing to attack someone who may not be your sister but is your first cousin.

As an avowed lefty I rather prefer a unity in struggle to obtain a result that is of common interest. If you are not willing to be part of the solution then you are part of the problem.

I can not tell you to come to the same conclusions I have and compromise. As for me… I’m tired of fighting.  I don’t like how much I have sounded at times like people I abhor.

If people with transgenderism are willing to compromise on TS/TG communities instead of Transgender (as umbrella) Community I am quite willing to extend my hand in peace.

This probably isn’t going to satisfy the straight CDs nor will it satisfy the straight WBTs but they locate their lives outside of the alphabet city of the non-straight minorities.  We are the ones who should work on working it out.

There are ideologues on both sides of the equation, on the “Transgender as Umbrella” faction as well as the WBT/HBS side who will be totally unwilling to compromise on this either but the continuing petty fighting among the various oppressed groups only divides us and means we accomplish nothing.

We have worked on anti-discrimination bills and hate crimes bills together.  I’m sure that if we stop the feuding we can make things better for all of us.

Britain – Exorcism of gays in the UK – what you can do to protest…

[2009-07-23 Peter Tatchell]

http://www.facebook.com/inbox/readmessage.php?t=1188713566455

Exorcism of gays in the UK

Protest against abuse by fundamentalist Christians

London – 23 July 2009

Fundamentalist Christian churches in Britain are performing exorcisms on lesbian and gay people in a bid to purge them of their homosexuality.

“The exorcism rituals involve the casting out of alleged demons and witches that supposedly possess a gay person’s soul and turn them away from heterosexuality,” said LGBT human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

“There are claims that gay teenagers and young adults are being subjected to exorcisms at the insistence of their parents and pastors, in an attempt to rid them of same-sex attraction.

“The exorcisms can include traumatic emotional scenes where the victims are surrounded by a group of church elders who scream at them to drive out the evil spirits and who sometimes shake their bodies.

“When this is done to youngsters under 18, it is a form of child abuse and the police should intervene to stop it.”

“Some gay adults have been pressured into exorcisms by their family members or faith communities. Other victims are people with learning difficulties or mental health problems. They have been preyed upon when they are in a vulnerable state and are not capable of giving fully informed consent.

“There needs to be a thorough police investigation of all the churches that are doing these exorcisms,” said Mr Tatchell.

One London church admits it does exorcisms on four or five gay people every year. This church, United Pentecostal Ministry in Harrow north London, was exposed by The Metro newspaper late last month:

* http://www.facebook.com/l/;http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?Homosexuals_left_traumatised_by_ceremonial_cure&in_article_id=692445&in_page_id=34

The church pastor, Rev John Ogbe-Ogbeide, said he did the ritual to cast out the demons and evil spirits that he believes are responsible for homosexuality. Sometimes people were calm during the process but sometimes their body convulsed, he conceded.

Exorcisms can be performed on gay children or on those who are suspected to be gay. There is no minimum age for the exorcism ceremony because a demon could possess a person at any age in life and could incline them to “wrong” sexual thoughts and behaviour, said Rev Ogbe-Ogbeide.

“United Pentecostal Ministry says it performs four or five exorcisms on gay people each year. It is just one of hundreds of fundamentalist churches in Britain. Gay exorcisms are likely to be performed in many of them. It is possible that dozens or even hundreds of LGBT people could be subjected to exorcism abuse in the UK. Because it takes place behind closed church doors and is kept secret, it is impossible to give an accurate assessment of the numbers involved,” added Mr Tatchell.

What you can do:

1) Protest to Rev John Ogbe-Ogbeide

United Pentecostal Ministry
8 Angel Road
Harrow HA1 1Jy
Tel 07957106465
johnogbeuniperm@aol.com

Calm, compassionate, rational arguments are likely to be more effective than a rant.

2) Ask your MP to press the police to investigate this church and other churches who perform exorcisms on gay people, in order to check that criminal acts of assault and homophobic abuse are not taking place. Cite the Metro letter below as evidence.

3) Report Rev John Ogbe-Ogbeide to your local police. Ask them to commence a criminal investigation to determine if the law is being broken. Give them a copy of the Metro article that follows as evidence.

4) Report what responses you get to the LGBT press and to the local paper.

Thank you, Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

==========

* Britain – Homosexuals left traumatised by ceremonial ‘cure…’
[2009-06-29 Metro]

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?Homosexuals_left_traumatised_by_ceremonial_cure&in_article_id=692445&in_page_id=34&expand=true#StartComments

Homosexuals left traumatised by ceremonial ‘cure’

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Homosexuals left traumatised by ceremonial ‘cure’ Gay exorcisms are regularly being performed in Christian churches inBritain, it has emerged.

The ceremony is being carried out to rid worshipers of the supposed demons which make them homosexual.

The pastor of one Pentecostal church in north-west London said he held four or five exorcisms a year and claimed they always worked.

However, gay campaigners said the 20-minute ritual often traumatised those on whom it was carried out.

Details of the practice emerged after a video of the exorcism of a 16-year-old American boy was posted on YouTube.

The footage was taken down amid calls for the church leaders involved to be prosecuted.

Here, the Rev John Ogbe-Ogbeide, who runs the United Pentecostal Ministry in Harrow, said he carried out the riutal to cast out evil spirits that were responsible for homosexuality.

He added: ‘The evil spirits are telling you what’s wrong is right, the opposite sex is not attractive.’

There was no minimum age for the ceremony because a demon could take hold at any point in life, said Mr Ogbe-Ogbeide.

Sometimes people were calm during the process but sometimes their body convulsed.

‘There are some who speak but we know this is the demon. The demon can speak through anybody,’ he added.

Mr Ogbe-Ogbeide last performed the ritual in January to help a young man, who was planning to marry his girlfriend but said he was also in love with another man.

He added: ‘He said if it carried on it would upset their plans to have kids and he wanted to live in matrimony.’

But the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said it was frequently contacted by people left traumatised by the experience.

Chief executive the Rev Sharon Ferguson, said ‘a lot of fundamentalist groups believe homosexuality can be cured’.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said he had heard of exorcisms on children, which was child abuse ‘pure and simple’.

He added: ‘Some adults who have been pressured into exorcisms have been preyed upon when they’re in a vulnerable state and not really able give fully informed consent.

‘They’re maybe people with learning difficulties or mental health problems. There needs to be a thorough investigation of all the churches who are doing these exorcisms.’

In March, it was revealed that a fifth of therapists, many in the pay of the NHS, had attempted to ‘cure’ patients of homosexuality.

-

Related Articles:

Outrage over gay exorcism video
http://www.metro.co.uk/news/world/article.html?Outrage_over_gay_exorcism_video&in_article_id=691857&in_page_id=64

-

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Venezuela – Venezuelan government moves to establish greater LGBT/T rights

[2009-07-21 PinkNews]

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-13353.html

Venezuelan government moves to establish greater LGBT/T rights

By Ramsey Dehani

July 21, 2009

The Venezuelan National Assembly has voted to pass a bill for gender equity and equality through the first round of discussion.

A public debate has raged within the South American country after the Venezuelan Episcopal Church publicly condemned the proposals.

If passed, the ‘Organic Law for Gender Equity and Equality’ would criminalize discrimination, as well recognize the rights of cohabiting same-sex couples and introduce civil unions.

The current wording states: “Every person has the right to exercise their preferred sexual orientation and identity freely and without any form of discrimination, and as a consequence, the state will recognize co-living associations [civil unions] constituted between two people of the same sex by mutual agreement.”

The law would also allow gender reassignment surgery and to create framework to recognize a legal change of identity between genders.

According to Venezualanalysis.com, the implementation of the law would guarantee rights of children of same sex couples.

It would also guarantee the rights of the couple in terms of social security, inheritance, rent and taxes, although no details are explicitly detailed within the article.

One of the proponents of the Article 8 of the law proposal, which contains the amendments, is National Assembly Legislator Romelia Matute.

According to the site, Matute said that if the article passes in its present form, “every person has the right to exercise their preferred sexual orientation and identity freely and without any form of discrimination, and as a consequence, the state will recognize co-living associations [civil unions] constituted between two people of the same sex by mutual agreement.”

The article also states that people who “change gender by surgical or other means have the right to be recognised by their identity and to obtain or modify the documents associated with their identification”.

It places an obligation on the state to create the conditions for their integration into society “under equal conditions.”

The bill would be a dramatic step forward for gay rights within the country where there is currently no legal recognition for same-sex couples and also no laws on discrimination based on sexual orientation, after a bill to propose this was blocked by fierce opposition from the Catholic church in 1999.

This bill is backed by President Hugo Chávez, who is said to be dissatisfied with current equality and discrimination laws in the country.

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Every third day the murder of a trans person is reported

From Bird of Paradox

Republished with permission
July 21, 2009

Liminalis-Map-JanJune2009

TGEU & Liminalis Press Release:

Every 3rd day the murder of a trans person is reported:

Trans Murder Monitoring Project reveals more than 200 reported murders of trans persons in the last 1 1/2 years

In April 2009 the international NGO Transgender Europe (TGEU) in cooperation with the multilingual Online-Magazine “Liminalis — A Journal for Sex/Gender Emancipation and Resistance” started a new project, the /Trans Murder Monitoring Project/, which focuses on systematically reporting murdered trans people on a worldwide scale.

The very preliminary results of the first step of this project have revealed a total of 204 cases of reported murders of trans people world wide in the last 1 1/2 years. 121 cases of murdered trans people have been reported in 2008. From January to June 2009 already 83 cases of murdered trans people have been reported.

Furthermore, the preliminary results show an increase in the number of reports of murdered trans people over the last years. Since the beginning of 2008 the murder of a trans person is reported every third day, on average.

The cases have been reported from all six World regions: North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The majority of cases have been reported from Latin America and North America. On these continents the majority of cases have been reported from Brazil (59) and the U.S.A. (16) for 2008 and from Brazil (23), Venezuela (20), and Guatemala (10) for the first six months of 2009. Moreover, the preliminary results show a total of 11 murdered trans people reported for Colombia followed by 5 for Honduras and 4 for Mexico and Venezuela for 2008, and 6 for Mexico and 3 for Argentina, and the Dominican Republic for the first six months of 2009.

In total 91 murders of trans people were reported in 11 Latin American countries in 2008, and 73 murders of trans people in 11 Latin American countries in the first six months of 2009. The reported murders of trans people in Latin America account for 75% and 88% of the world wide reported murders of trans people in 2008 and the first six months of 2009 respectively.**

The preliminary results also reveal that murders of trans people have been reported in 5 European countries in 2008 (Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Turkey) and in 4 European countries (Russia, Serbia, Spain, Turkey) in the first six months of 2009. In Asia murders of trans people were reported for Iraq, Malaysia, and Singapore in 2008, and for India in the first six months of 2009. In Oceania murders of trans people were reported for Australia in 2008, and for New Zealand in the first six months of 2009. In total the preliminary results show reports of murdered trans people in 22 countries in 2008, and in 17 countries in the first six months of 2009.

The preliminary results furthermore reveal some terrifying details on the nature of these crimes. The data shows that in 2008 six of the victims were minors and in the first six months of 2009 three minors were among the victims. One of these minors, 15 year-old Leticia King from Oxnard (USA), was shot twice in the head by a classmate in front of the whole class. Apart from these brutal murders, 5 of the reported murdered trans persons in 2008 were found tortured or dismembered, 2 were shot by retired policemen, and 3 were executed in police stations. 5 of the reported murdered trans persons were found tortured or dismembered in the first six months of 2009.

The preliminary results of TGEU’s and Liminalis’ Trans Murder Monitoring project are presented in form of a report, tables, name lists, and maps in the new issue of Liminalis (www.liminalis.de/project.html) in English, Spanish, and German.

Here are the direct links to the PDFs of the report and its component parts:

There are huge amounts of data here and it may be I’ll come back to this report later, when I’ve had a chance to digest it a bit more.

—————

(Curtsey to Vreer for the heads-up)

—————

Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

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NOW Hails Reintroduction of the Equal Rights Amendment

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

July 21, 2009

The National Organization for Women welcomes the reintroduction of the Equal Rights Amendment and the renewal of a national dialogue regarding women’s equality. We applaud Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) for her dedication and commitment in working tirelessly to help women achieve constitutional equality.

Throughout the history of this country, women have faced systematic and purposeful discrimination. Women were conspicuously absent from the U.S. Constitution when it was drafted more than 200 years ago, and today, women still have no explicit legal guarantee of equal protection. While the 14th Amendment to the Constitution is commonly believed to be a source of protection for women, the amendment was not drafted to ensure legal protection from sex discrimination, and the 14th amendment does not provide women with sufficient legal remedies for sex discrimination. As such, we know the ERA must be ratified to ensure meaningful and lasting equality for all women.

Women have been and continue to be the disadvantaged subjects of a privileged male system. As a result, we face many more hurdles in the fight to attain consistent and non-prejudicial applications of justice in the legal system. The recent appointments of conservative judges throughout federal courts have compounded these difficulties.

We hope that progressive leaders will join NOW to begin in earnest an important dialogue among our elected representatives, legal scholars, women’s rights advocates, and the public. This national dialogue should seek to determine the many ways in which an application of an equal rights amendment can resolve sex-based discrimination — as it is much more than a problem of unequal pay and bias in hiring and promotion. In fact, the broadest possible application of this constitutional amendment is critically important as we go forward.

The National Organization for Women has a long and intimate history with the ERA, having mobilized one of the largest grassroots advocacy campaigns in history in support of ratification during the 1970′s and early 1980′s. We can and will undertake the same effort as we believe that the time is long overdue for a constitutional guarantee of equality between the sexes.

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Monday Morning Blues

Got to get ready for work and haven’t finished the serious post.

I could throw up a You Tube video of the Boom Town Rats “I don’t like Mondays”

The Bangles “Manic Mondays” or Mamas and Papas “Monday, Monday”  or maybe even a rockin’ version of  “Summertime Blues”

But instead here’s a link that is good for a giggle.

http://menwholooklikeoldlesbians.blogspot.com/

Until I finish the piece I am working on.

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Max Baucus, get S 703 universal health care enacted or we boycott American Express

National Health Care is a must have.  Bottom line too many TS/TG people either have no health insurance due to either poverty, losing jobs and insurance after COBRA runs out, considered pre-existing condition or are under employed and under insured.

Thus passing National Health Insurance has to be one of our foremost priorities

This came from the Daily Kos mailing list.

Yeah I get all these posts and forward the most appropriate.

Suzan

http://healthcare.change.org/actions/view/max_baucus_get_s_703_universal_health_care_enacted_or_we_boycott_american_express

To: Judy Tenzer (American Express Corp.), Joanna Lambert (American Express Corp.) and Senate Finance Committee, see more…Sen. Max Baucus MT, Judy Tenzer (American Express Corp.), Joanna Lambert (American Express Corp.) and Senate Finance Committee

Started by: Liberal Democratic Party Of The United States

I WANT YOU TO GET EVERYONE THAT YOU CAN TO SIGN THIS PETITION. BECAUSE IF YOU DON’T, THEN THIS PETITION WILL NOT GET THE RESULTS WE WANT. WE NEED 100,000 PEOPLE TO SIGN THIS PETITION TO MAKE AN IMPRESSION ON OUR OPPOSITION.

After you sign this petition please sign these other petitions, the first of which appears our original single payer petition that tells various politicians that we will boycott Rite Aid Pharmacies until we get S 703 enacted into law.

http://bit.ly/single_payer

http://bit.ly/EFCA

http://bit.ly/10_an_hour_min_wage

http://bit.ly/norm_coleman_concede

http://bit.ly/women_freedom_of_choice_act

This petition appears active and will not expire until 2010.

If you don’t like a particular TV program, you call their sponsors and tell them you will boycott them until the program either goes off the air or changes to your liking. This works similar with parties, politicians and their sponsors.

We have to hit the friends of conservatives in their wallets. Oh and if only you sign this petition, this will fail. You need to get friends to sign this petition and have their friends sign this petition and so on.

Thank you!

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Maine rules in favor of transsexual student on restroom use

July 17, 7:20 AM ·

Matt Kailey – Transgender Issues Examiner

The Maine Human Rights Commission ruled in favor of a transgendered male-to-female student who was not allowed to use to girls’ restroom.

The Bangor Daily News reports that the child, who was born male but who has a female gender identity and lives as a girl, had been using the girls’ restroom at school until the fifth grade, when a male student began to harass her and follow her into the restroom, using anti-gay slurs.

The school suspended the male student, but then restricted the trans student to a single-stall faculty bathroom. The Commission ruled that the Orono School Department violated the child’s rights by preventing her from using the girls’ restroom.

This was the second case the Commission has ruled on recently regarding transgendered people and public restroom use. In May, the Commission ruled that a Denny’s restaurant in Auburn had discriminated against Brianna Freeman, a trans woman and a regular Denny’s customer, when the restaurant refused to let her use the women’s restroom. Denny’s told
her that she could not use the women’s restroom until she had sex reassignment surgery, even though she is clearly living as a woman.

Public restroom use is one of the most problematic — and misunderstood — issues that trans people have to face.

In the case of Freeman, another female customer complained that there was a man in the women’s restroom, although Freeman was dressed as a woman, living as a woman, and using a locked restroom stall. This is not an uncommon scenario, but it is an unfortunate one.

The reality is that Freeman, a woman, was using the women’s restroom. The fact that she was born male has no bearing on the restroom that she uses now, regardless of the surgeries that she has or has not had.
The same is true for the transsexual student.

For many trans people, especially early in transition, using the public restroom is one of the most terrifying experiences we must endure. We simply want to get in, take care of business, and get out.
e have no interest in what anyone else is doing, and we prefer that
no one else is interested in what we are doing.

For those who believe otherwise — that we are in the restroom for some nefarious purpose or that we have some concern about what activities you or others are involved in — you can relax. We, like you, are just there to do what we need to do and get on with life.

A public restroom is just that — a public restroom. It is open to the public, of which trans people are members. Restrooms are designated by gender, and we each use the one that is appropriate for us.

I have been in a lot of public restrooms in my life, as a female and as a male, and believe me, a trans person using the facilities should be the least of anyone’s worries.

Copyright 2009 Examiner.com. All rights reserved.

http://www.examiner.com/x-12237-Transgender-Issues-Examiner~y2009m7d17-Maine-rules-in-favor-of-transgendered-student-on-restroom-use

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TLDEF Statement On Verdict In Lateisha Green Court Trial

New York, NY, July 17, 2009 — The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) today hailed the verdict in the court trial of Lateisha Green, a 22-year-old African American transgender women who was shot and killed on November 14, 2008 in Syracuse, NY. A 12-member jury found 20-year-old Dwight DeLee guilty of manslaughter in the first degree as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon.

“Today, justice has been delivered for Lateisha Green with DeLee’s conviction for committing a hateful act of violence,” said TLDEF Executive Director and attorney Michael Silverman. “The jury’s verdict provides Teish’s family with the closure that they deserve and need, and sends a clear message that hate violence targeted at transgender people will not be tolerated.”

Today’s verdict is the first hate crime conviction for the slaying of a transgender person in New York State. It is only the second such conviction in the United States.

TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman has been working with the family since Lateisha’s death in November. Silverman was on the ground in Syracuse, NY throughout this week’s court trial working closely with the family. TLDEF collaborated with its sister organizations including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Empire State Pride Agenda and the Rainbow Alliance of Central New York.

“Despite this legal victory, transgender New Yorkers still face a serious risk of violence and discrimination,” added Silverman. “New York State law does not include gender identity or expression in its hate crime law and that sends a dangerous message that it is acceptable to leave part of our community vulnerable to hateful acts of violence simply because of who they are. We call upon the New York State Senate and the United States Senate to pass transgender-inclusive legislation that will protect everyone regardless of gender identity and gender expression.”

TLDEF will also be attending DeLee’s sentencing on August 18th at the Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse, NY.

Following the verdict, Lateisha Green’s family released this statement:

“Teish, a beautiful girl. A wonderful daughter. A brave soul. Teish was all of these things despite the adversity that regularly tried to weigh her down and overshadow her love of life. She was taken away from us too soon. All it took was one bullet.

“A bullet from a rifle that pierced her lungs and heart. And it took this one mere bullet to end Teish’s life because she happened to be a transgender woman. We have spent months waiting for this day to come.

“8 long months that have kept our family captive to our fears, sadness and anger. Afraid to leave our homes, sad to have lost Teish and angry that we couldn’t prevent this from happening to our little girl. But today, the jury delivered a verdict that will end most of the horrors experienced by our family and friends.

“The jury convicted Dwight DeLee of killing Teish in cold blood. They found him guilty of targeting Teish simply because of her difference. And the jury has made it clear that any loss of life in our city and county because of anti-gay and anti-transgender bias is unacceptable and wrong. Justice has been done.

“But we will never get to see Teish ever again. She will forever live in our hearts and minds. And it is our duty to share her story so that Teish’s memory will be kept alive. We do this so this series of painful events will never happen again to any other person because they are different.

“Our family and friends will continue to talk about Teish so others may know the love and support that every child deserves regardless of their differences. We want to thank everyone who stood behind us and gave our family strength during such difficult times. The overwhelming amount of support has meant so much to us. We want to close by saying life is precious. Teish knew that and that’s why she would tell everyone here to be brave. To be authentic and true to yourself. And Teish would give a beautiful and bright smile to everyone here. Thank you.”

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