The Effect of Class on Gender

Drew Cordes has a must read piece over on Bilerico about class and trans.

Usually when I put up a teaser to try and get folks to read something I recently read and thought interesting I go with the first few paragraphs.  In this case I’m going to use a few paragraphs from a little way into the piece.

From Bilerico:

By Drew Cordes
July 22, 2012

I’m a veteran of successful sex reassignment surgery and facial feminization surgery; I have years of hormone replacement therapy under my belt; I have endured hours upon hours of electrolysis; I’ve had voice modulation lessons/therapy; I’ve spent many hours talking (and some just blankly staring) with a therapist who specializes in gender transition. I know (I don’t “believe,” I know) that I would not be who/where/what I am right now if not for all those things, and more.

I am the end; those were the means.

How did I come to have access to those means, though? Money is the easy answer, but that explanation is reductive. Raw spending power and cash flow is certainly one way to access those things, but the reflexive focus on wealth as the answer ignores how one achieves wealth, in its various forms. A more accurate (albeit still fairly reductive) answer is class. The means to my end were accessible to me through social standing.

Make no mistake – I am not rich, and I do not come from a rich family. What I am is middle class, white, and the only child of somewhat upper middle class parents. This grants me certain privilege – privilege that many people like me don’t recognize because we’re born into the world with it as our “normal.”

This is where a lot of those in the “majority” (white/cis/straight/etc.) freak out and say “Hey, I’m not privileged. I work hard to provide for myself and my family. I don’t have a silver spoon. Nobody gave me anything.” Quite right. I’m not saying there are no hardships and that being white and middle class is a 24/7 happy-hour boat cruise. Everybody has hardships; the difference is merely that if you’re white and middle class, statistics show that chances are you have fewer and/or less threatening problems than someone who’s black and lower class.

Let’s examine just one facet of my gender transition, and break down the role my privilege played. My sex reassignment surgery cost $20,000. I don’t have that kind of money, but I do have health insurance. Because of that, my operation cost me $240 (not counting travel expenses, etc.).

Complete article at:

Too often we act as though class privilege doesn’t play a major role in who gets or doesn’t get SRS during the current era.

I got SRS in the early 1970s which were far more economically advantaged times even got those of us who were in the working poor classes.

I don’t know if I would be able to get SRS today given my socio-economic background.

Too often we over look the role class plays in determining who gets SRS and who does not.

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UK: New search rules for trans police officers and suspects drawn up

From Pink News UK:

23 July 2012

It is all change for trans police and policing, as increased awareness of trans sensitivities sees new rules for searching suspects – both who can do the searching and how people should be searched – emerging in the last few weeks.

First up is a long-awaited sweeping away of some of the last barriers to trans police officers playing a full and effective role in police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last month. New guidelines on the searching of suspects made it clear that there should no longer be any obstacle to trans officers carrying out intimate and body searches of suspects of the appropriate gender.

This follows a change in advice to police forces issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers, overturning guidance in place since 2005 and bringing the Police into line with current legal rulings on this matter.

The issue arose in 2005, as ACPO issued what they then considered best practice guidance to police forces on searches of suspects by trans officers. Under PACE rules, non-intimate searches could be carried out by officers of either gender: but intimate and body searches could only be carried out by officers of the same gender as the suspect.

ACPO guidance therefore stated that officers in possession of a gender recognition certificate – which amends the gender on an individual’s birth certificate and renders them for almost all legal purposes the gender they identify as – could carry out such searches on individuals whose gender matched that now recorded for the officer. However, officers not in possession of a GRC – even those who had fully transitioned – would not be permitted to do so.

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Canada: Pressure grows to improve human rights for transgender people in Newfoundland

From The Canadian Press:

By Sue Bailey, The Canadian Press
July 21, 2012

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – As Newfoundland and Labrador celebrates its gay pride week, pressure is growing on the province to improve human rights protections for the transgender community, one of society’s most marginalized and vulnerable groups.

The NDP has called on the Progressive Conservative government to add gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination under its Human Rights Act.

Openly gay NDP member Gerry Rogers says the province should follow action already taken in the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Manitoba and parts of the U.S. and Europe to distinctly protect men and women who present as the opposite sex or are in the midst of transitioning.

In Ottawa, an NDP bill to include gender identity in federal human rights law has won support from several members of the Conservative majority government.

“We know the research that’s out there. It’s undeniable, the type of discrimination that transgendered, transsexual people experience on a daily basis, whether it be actual hate crimes or very subtle discrimination,” Rogers said in an interview.

“It’s important that our human rights code extends specific protection for them.”

Rogers has repeatedly pushed the government on the issue to no avail. But the passing of a bill last month to add both “gender identity” and “gender expression” to Ontario’s human rights code was hailed by supporters as a breakthrough that could see other provinces follow suit.

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Sally Ride, First (Gay) American Woman in Space, Dead at 61

From The Advocate:

Pioneer Bravely Fought Cancer

The accomplished pioneer loses a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

BY Neal Broverman
July 23 2012

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, passed away at the age of 61, leaving behind her longtime female partner.

Ride, who suffered from pancreatic cancer, died peacefully Monday. Born in Los Angeles in 1951, Ride obtained degrees in physics and English before signing up to become a NASA astronaut in 1977; it was the first time NASA allowed women in space. Ride apparently wasn’t out then — it’s unlikely an openly gay person would be allowed to become an astronaut at the time, as the government believed gays represented security risks thanks to potential blackmail situations. She was actually married to a fellow astronaut, Steven Hawley, during part of her time with NASA.

Ride was chosen to be an astronaut in 1978 and jetted out of Earth’s orbit in 1983 as the first American woman to go into space. Ride was part of the Challenger mission and would attend another Challenger voyage in 1984. A third trip was halted after the deadly 1986 Challenger explosion killed several astronauts and teacher Christa McAuliffe. Ride retired from NASA in 1987, eventually becoming a college professor in California.

A hero to millions of girls and women, Ride leaves behind her partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, as well as her mother, Joyce; her sister, Bear; her niece, Caitlin, and nephew, Whitney; her staff of 40 at Sally Ride Science; and many friends and colleagues around the country, according to Ride’s website.

“Sally Ride and Tam O’Shaughnessy became friends at the age of 12 when they both played tennis,” an article on Ride’s website recalls. “While their lives took different paths, they stayed in contact over the years.” Ride went onto Stanford and became the first American woman in space, while O’Shaughnessy became a professional tennis player, then earned degress in biology and psychology and became a science teacher. She worked with Ride on six books — Voyager, The Third Planet, The Mystery of Mars, Exploring Our Solar System, Mission Planet Earth, and Mission Save the Planet. She also helped lead Sally Ride Science, which Ride founded in 2001 to inspire children through science.

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Capital of Glitz and Homelessness

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US evangelical Christians accused of promoting homophobia in Africa

From The Guardian UK:

Liberal thinktank says rightwingers are aggressively targeting the continent with an anti-abortion and anti-gay agenda

in Johannesburg
The Guardian, Monday 23 July 2012

Christian evangelical groups in the US are attempting a “cultural colonisation” of Africa, opening offices in numerous countries to promote attacks on homosexuality and abortion, according to an investigation by a liberal thinktank.

American religious organisations are expanding operations across the continent, lobbying for conservative policies and laws and fanning homophobia, argues the Boston-based Political Research Associates (PRA).

The groups include the American Centre for Law and Justice (ACLJ), founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson, which has established bases in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

“The religious right [in effect] claims that human rights activists are neocolonialists out to destroy Africa,” the report states. Groups named in it vehemently rejected the claims.

Entitled Colonising African Values: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa, the study analysed data from seven African countries and employed researchers for several months in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

It identified three organisations that it believes are aggressively targeting the continent: Robertson’s ACLJ, the Catholic group Human Life International and Family Watch International, led by the Mormon activist Sharon Slater.

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Don’t Regulate the Banks, Nationalize Them

From Common Dreams:

Wall Street is too big to regulate and breaking them up — if political will existed to accomplish such a thing — wouldn’t last for long

Published on Monday, July 23, 2012 by The New York Times

The Barclays interest-rate scandal, HSBC’s openness to money laundering by Mexican drug traffickers, the epic blunders at JPMorgan Chase — at this point, four years after Wall Street wrecked the global economy, does anyone really believe we can regulate the big banks? And if we broke them up, would they really stay broken up?

Most liberals in Washington — President Obama included — keep hoping the banks can be more tightly controlled but otherwise left as is. That’s the theory behind the two-year-old Dodd-Frank law, which Republicans and Wall Street are still working to eviscerate.

Some economists in and around the University of Chicago, who founded the modern conservative tradition, had a surprisingly different take: When it comes to the really big fish in the economic pond, some felt, the only way to preserve competition was to nationalize the largest ones, which defied regulation.

This notion seems counterintuitive: after all, the school’s founders provided the intellectual framework for the laissez-faire turn against market regulation over the last half-century. But for them, “bigness” and competition could easily become mutually exclusive. One of the most important Chicago School leaders, Henry C. Simons, judged in 1934 that “the corporation is simply running away with our economic (and political) system.”

Simons (a hero of the libertarian idol Milton Friedman) was skeptical of enormity. “Few of our gigantic corporations,” he wrote, “can be defended on the ground that their present size is necessary to reasonably full exploitation of production economies.”

The central problem, then as now, was that very large corporations could easily undermine regulatory and antitrust strategies. The Nobel laureate George J. Stigler demonstrated how regulation was commonly “designed and operated primarily for” the benefit of the industries involved. And numerous conservatives, including Simons, concluded that large corporate players could thwart antitrust “break-them-up” efforts — a view Friedman came to share.

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