Archive for September, 2008

Reminder: Demo against Zucker at RSM tomorrow

September 30, 2008

Just a brief reminder about tomorrow’s demonstration against Kenneth Zucker at 8.30am outside the Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 0AE.

The demo is organised in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police and will take place outside the Royal Society of Medicine (just behind Debenhams/House of Fraser; nearest tubes are Bond Street and Oxford Circus)

Full details in my earlier post.

Hoping to see a good turnout – and if I haven’t got rid of this stupid laryngitis-bug-thing that totally poleaxed me yesterday, then I’ll be the one that’s miming not chanting ;)

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Edited to add: Sarah and Natacha have each posted full reviews of the morning’s events; links here:

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Here are the links to my previous posts (newest first) on the subject of DSM-V/Zucker/Blanchard:

“Toilet signs ‘too PC’”

September 30, 2008

The restroom panic about Tanya White was reprehensible, and we know the appalling treatment of Roz at London Pride was equally unnecessary – and the subtext of this latest panic attack (via The Manchester Evening News) makes me question, once again, non- trans people’s groundless and faintly absurd fixation that they are going to be assaulted by massed throngs of trans people if they don’t keep us out of public toilets.

toilets with urinalsToilet signs ‘too PC’

STUDENTS say new signs on toilets at their union building might be making their WC just a ‘bit too PC’.

The traditional sign on the door of the Gents has been temporarily replaced with one that says ‘toilets with urinals’.

And the sign on the Ladies now simply says ‘toilets’ in a move to make the lavatories more inclusive for trans-gender students.

The signs on the toilets in the basement of Manchester University students’ union were changed after a meeting of the union’s executive in the summer.

[...]

toiletsJennie Killip, women’s officer at the students’ union, put forward the idea of installing the new signs after receiving complaints from trans-gender students about the facilities.

She said: “The idea is that trans-gender people feel more comfortable using their student union.”

“Trans-gender people can face violence and abuse when they go into toilets and we wanted to provide a place where they can feel comfortable.”

“I have had complaints from people who said we didn’t have any facilities for them.”

[...]

Gender-neutral

Minutes from the union’s executive meeting in July said: “The women’s officer asked if any action could be taken following the directive from the council to look into gender-neutral toilets in the union.”

“After discussion, the women’s officer felt the solution would be to change the signs on one set of toilets in the building to `with urinals’ and `without urinals’ with explanatory signage.”

“She felt the basement would be the most appropriate area to trial this. This was agreed.”

[...]

And leading the charge of the gender-specific brigade:

Second-year literature and linguistics student Jane McConnell, 19, is a news editor on the Student Direct student newspaper.

She said: “While these signs might be appropriate for people with different sexualities in the community of the University of Manchester, I also think that many people from different religious and ethnic groups are going to feel uncomfortable using these facilities.

“I think they might believe the university union aren’t reflecting their beliefs and choices and that they are going to feel very uncomfortable using these toilets.

…But it’s perfectly acceptable for trans people to feel uncomfortable, is that what you’re saying?

And your comments about people from different religious and ethnic groups are a red herring in this context as the report clearly states that the signs have only been changed “on one set of toilets in the building“.

Note also that these toilets are in the basement, so we don’t know what access there is for disabled people, be they trans or other.

But the last part of Ms McConnell’s quote is really very special:

“Even though they’re just two signs, at the end of the day, toilets should be for women and for men specifically, not for both.”

Because as everybody knows, there is only the gender binary. Male, female. Man, woman.

Nice’n’easy.

And the 1 in 4000 who are gender dysphoric (or is it 1 in 1400?) – well, we just don’t count, apparently.

And you a journalist an’ all; maybe you need to work on your researching skills a little more before launching into thoughtless op-ed pieces like that?

And is this anonymous person (below) actually not a student but in fact a retired colonel from suburbia?

Another student, who did not want to be named, said: “This is ridiculous.”

“It is just too much political correctness.”

“I can not believe they are changing the signs – everybody knows the traditional male and female toilet signs.”

“It could lead to some confusion.”

Too much political correctness“? I wonder what the recognised maximum limit actually is. Y’see, Nonny, actually it’s attitudes like yours which continue to drive the need for political correctness, as you call it. Tell me -

- What’s too politically correct about providing public toilets which don’t add to trans people’s existing concerns about their gender identities?

- What’s too politically correct about providing public toilets where trans people don’t feel they’re going to be humiliated, verbally abused and possibly even physically attacked by non- trans members of the public?

What is your problem exactly, hey Nonny?

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ETA, 28 October 2008: Updated – see Trans people are a bit like spiders

Disorders of Sex Development

September 27, 2008

The Organisation Intersex International (OII), one of the largest international intersex organisations (based in Canada), has a new site called Disorders of Sex Development.

The site has been launched to protest the replacement of the term “intersex” by “disorder of sex development” (DSD); a proposal made by the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA)/Alice Dreger.

We in OII firmly reject the idea that our sex is a disorder and we therefore reject the pathological definition of our sex as a “disorder of sex development” or DSD. The real danger and disorders are the racism and sexism which are developing eugenic ideologies and technologies to deal with what are social problems. Instead of empowering and valuing sex variations, the solution is to eliminate us.

Open discussions about the abuse of power by those who control the definitions is one important way to confront the real problem – eugenics, Euro-centric racism and male patriarchal models of power which are at risk of collapse if the current binary male/female dichotomies are not firmly held as sacrosanct.

We in OII do not accept the current male/female binary categories imposed on all people in most countries as sacrosanct and hope that others will help us confront the political agenda of those who would eliminate us.

(Via)

‘Disordered’ is such a horrible, offensive and oppressive word.

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ETA, 4 Oct 08: Stephen Whittle has written about Alice Dreger here.

He also documents an apparent disagreement between him and OII (links here and here) which is frankly depressing reading. Whilst I believe that transparency is essential in any activist work, the fact is that such public disagreements ultimately only divert attention from the key issue.

I really can’t say it any better than Lisa does in the comments to this post (link):

It’d be cool if OII and trans people were working in coalition against this stuff, presenting a unified voice against all of the work they’re doing regarding intersex and transsexual people. What they’re doing is reprehensible and extreme, and they need to be stopped.

Consider yourselves told, Stephen, Curtis, okay? This is not a good time for passive-aggressive “ze said, ze said” schoolyard spats.

So can we please stop fighting amongst ourselves and start working together to tackle the real problems? The real lives of real people are, and will be, affected by these issues – and it is these people’s interests that must take priority.

P.S. Also, please read Cedar’s post Oppressive Tactics and Coalition Building. It’s about forming coalitions around combating oppressive tactics as opposed to focusing on specific identities.

PFC Needs Your Help in Raising Funds

September 27, 2008

Press for Change is a political lobbying and educational organisation, which campaigns to achieve equal civil rights and liberties for all trans people in the United Kingdom, through legislation and social change. Among its leading campaigners it includes Tracy Dean, Lewis Turner and Stephen Whittle.

PFC has been instrumental in lobbying for such things as the enactment of the Gender Recognition Act (2004), employment protection, and legislation on the supply of goods and services.

But as you might expect from their motto – ‘Campaigning for respect and equality for ALL trans people’ – their mission to advance trans people’s social equality is as important today as it always has been.

Now it’s time for trans people to help PFC in raising funds to keep this important organisation afloat.

PLEASE FORWARD TO YOUR TRANS FRIENDS

PFC is always short of money, and as we start the next round of consultation with Government, we have to deal with the extraordinarily high rises in Train Fares, and other means of transport.

We have also recruited 2 part time members of staff: Dr Lewis Turner and Ryan Combs, in order to maintain office cover. We cover utilities costs by having them work in a room in my home. We have paid the wages of the staff, by the PFC VP’s and the staff acting as training and research consultants to various organisations such as the Dept. of Health or the European Union. But we find the very heavy workload we are having to take on to meet the salary costs, means the staff have little time to do ‘PFC work’. We need to try and get a better balance but we can only do that by having more money.

Our current income is around £250 per month in standing orders, and occasional small donations and anything we earn. This is only 1/6th of the wages bill each month.

PFC NEEDS YOUR HELP IN RAISING FUNDS.

You can do this by:

  • Holding a tea and biscuits evening, indoors picnic or just asking your friends for money
  • Selling your junk on ebay
  • Being sponsored for an event – e.g. abseiling down Canary Wharf

Or simply by making a donation – details below:

Write a CHEQUE in favour of Press for Change and send it to our main address: Press for Change, BM Network, London WC1N 3XX

Or pay by CREDIT CARD: We can now accept credit card payments over £10 through Paypal. Click on http://www.paypal.com/. The payments are to Press For Change, required payment email: letters@pfc.org.uk

Or BETTER, write to letters@pfc.org.uk and ask for a Standing Order form in order to send a regular amount of money each month or year.

Finally, you can also send money from anywhere in the world, direct to our bank. Simply use your online or telephone banking system, visit or write to your bank and ask them to transfer the amount you want to give to:

Press for Change
c/o National Westminster Bank PLC
280 Claremont Road
Manchester
M14 4EP
ENGLAND
Bank sort code: 01-02-02
Account: 21752486

Paying internationally, you also need the following 2 numbers
Iban number: GB 72 NW BK 01020221752486
Swift Code: NWBKGBZLMCR

The bank makes a £7 charge for each credit received from the international banking system (CHAPS), so please bear this in mind when deciding how much to give. If you need an acknowledgment then email us and we’ll confirm when your payment has been cleared.

PFC NEEDS YOUR HELP IN RAISING FUNDS.

Our grateful thanks in advance
Stephen

Invitation to submit testimonies to a document concerning transgender rights breaches in Europe

September 27, 2008

ILGA-Europe (the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association) is currently compiling an advocacy document concerning transgender human rights breaches across Europe.

The intention is to illustrate such breaches by means of real life examples (eg personal testimonies, discriminatory practices/policies currently in place and/or discriminatory court decisions.

Privacy is guaranteed.

Any relevant information/documentation should be emailed to Silvan Agius (Policy & Programmes Officer) at silvan@ilga-europe.org as soon as possible, and ideally by not later than 15th October 2008.

The trans panic defence – a legal analysis

September 24, 2008

Via Lisa, I see that Dr. Jillian T. Weiss has posted a legal analysis of the trans panic defense at The Bilerico Project.

This is a very timely, and welcome, post in the light of the recent preliminary hearing in the Angie Zapata case – and let’s not forget the pre-trial hearing in the Larry King case, either.

Dr Weiss’ piece looks to be a very comprehensive explanation of the theory behind this defence and is well worth reading.

Demonstration against Kenneth Zucker at RSM, 1st October 2008

September 22, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that Kenneth Zucker will still be speaking at the conference on Medical Care for Gender Variant Teenagers, to be held at the RSM in London.

I’m a bit slow to pick up on this – Natacha blogged it a week ago – but a demonstration against Zucker is planned for 1st October at 8.30 am outside the Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 0AE.

The demo is organised in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police and will take place outside the Royal Society of Medicine (just behind Debenhams/House of Fraser; nearest tubes are Bond Street and Oxford Circus)

As Natacha says in this PFC News Alert:

It is important to come for two reasons:

  1. to show opposition to Ken Zucker’s ‘treatments’ being used on children and
  2. to oppose the nature of the Royal Society of Medicine’s highly political conference on trans identified adolescents

Natacha adds:

[...] The conference seems to have been set up to push a UK-based treatment protocol for GV children and trans identified adolescents. This protocol will not involve the use of hormone blockers to delay the onset of puberty. Puberty can not only be extremely distressing for some GV YP’s particularly those that grow up to be trans adults. Furthermore, as legal research has shown the refusal to consider this treatment means that trans adolescents develop secondary sexual characteristics, such as beard or breast growth that ultimately lead to major health interventions, in the future, which could have been avoided. In this sense it seems that it is also particularly politically motivated and as such as large presence outside is vital to make our feelings known and to distribute leaflets to delegates to make sure they understand the other side of the story.

Demonstration against Ken Zucker (the man who proposes reparative therapy for gender variant young people):
October 1st, 8.30am, The Royal Society of Medicine, 1 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 0AE

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Here are the links to my previous posts (newest first) on the subject of DSM-V/Zucker/Blanchard:

Happy unbirthday to me

September 20, 2008

Today is my first unbirthday.

A year ago today – 20 September – I underwent surgery in Thailand.

What can I say? :)

I wouldn’t have missed it for the world; it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.

No regrets.

Actually, I’d also like to take the opportunity to say thanks once again to my support network: Vix, Lucy, Rachel, Jacqui P, Jacqui B, Sarah F, Dom, Martin. It was so reassuring to know that, just a phone call away, there were people I loved, who I could talk to and who I could trust implicitly when times got tough.

It’s a little sad that my Mum, Dad and sister weren’t there for me, then or now, but I have to count my blessings – so many of my trans sisters and brothers lose everything in transitioning: family, friends, houses, jobs, the lot. So if all I’ve lost is my family, then really, I’m doing very, very well and have nothing to grumble about.

And now I should go and celebrate a little…

Meanwhile, here are a few of the key tunes from my general day-to-day iPod soundtrack of the time:

The The – This Is The Day

This is the day your life will surely change
This is the day when things fall into place

(YouTube link)

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Talking Heads – This Must be The Place (Naive Melody)

…Home – is where I want to be
But I guess I’m already there…

(YouTube link)

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Robert Plant – Big Log

…My love is exceeding the limit
Red-eyed and fevered with the hum of the miles
Distance and longing, my thoughts do collide…

(YouTube link)

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Roy Harper – Twelve Hours Of Sunset

…Twelve hours of sunset, six thousand miles
Illusions and movies, far away smiles
Twelve hours of sunset, half a day in the skies,
Be with you tomrrow, as the steel crow flies…
Oh, how time flies…

Twelve hours of sunset, twilight sublime,
Be with you tomorrow, backwards in time…
Oh, how time flies…

(YouTube link)

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Happy unbirthday…

Angie Zapata trial – preliminary hearing

September 19, 2008

Previously (link here) I wrote about the court date having been set for the preliminary hearing of the trial of Allen Ray Andrade.

He is charged with first-degree murder after deliberation, bias-motivated crime, felony motor vehicle theft and felony identity theft in the death of Angie Zapata.

That hearing took place on 18 September and, according to 9news:

A Weld County district judge ruled Thursday that there is enough evidence against a man charged with killing a transgender woman to proceed with a trial.

There is coverage of the hearing in a couple of places, but the most chilling quote is in the Greeley Tribune:

A man accused of beating a transgendered woman to death told his girlfriend in a phone call that he “snapped” and that “gay things need to die.”

The phone calls made by Allen Andrade, charged in the murder of the transgender woman Angie Zapata, while in jail to his girlfriend detailed that something bad had happened and that Andrade had made a mistake.

Andrade, 31, of Thornton expressed that he was out of control, outside himself and not a coherent person the day of the murder.

The phone calls were also laden with derogatory remarks towards homosexuals, and he stated that people in jail are scared of him because of his reputation for wielding a fire extinguisher, which is the suspected murder weapon.

“Gay things need to die”.

Things.

And this… this man – has the bare-faced cheek to say he had “made a mistake”? Damn right you made a mistake, Mr Andrade. And, no, you may not use the trans panic defence.

…*breathes*…

From the Denver Channel:

An autopsy found Zapata died from blunt-force trauma.

Prosecutors said he then took off in Zapata’s 2003 PT Cruiser and was arrested on July 30 at his home in Thornton.

Andrade is being held at Weld County Jail without bond. He’s due back in court Nov. 16. The motor vehicle theft and felony identity theft charges allege that he stole Zapata’s car and debit card.

A bias-motivated crime is a crime committed based on a person’s race, religion or sexual orientation.

Andrade faces life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.

So now we wait, again – this time for two months, until the case goes back to court on 16 November.

My thoughts are with Angie’s family and friends. Nobody deserves to die in the way that Angie did.

Nobody.

Mr Andrade, in my view, life in prison without parole doesn’t even come close to what you deserve. Fortunately for you, I don’t get to make the rules.

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ETA, Saturday morning: Over at Pam’s House Blend, Autumn Sandeen points out a truly breathtaking nuance in the Defense Attorney’s clumsy and cynical attempt to engineer a trans panic defence as justification for Andrade’s actions, as reported in the Denver Post:

Only when Andrade grabbed at Zapata’s crotch did he discover the truth. But when she smiled at him and said, “I’m all woman,” it drove an enraged Andrade to commit murder, attorney Annette Kundelius said.

“At best, this is a case about passion,” Kundelius said. “When (Zapata) smiled at him, this was a highly provoking act, and it would cause someone to have an aggressive reaction.”

(Emphasis added for clarity)

Bear in mind that we only have Mr Andrade’s word that this is actually what happened, but even if he is telling the truth, the subtext is pure hatred. The only inference I can draw is that trans women who smile are “asking for it”.

“It” apparently being shorthand for “being sentenced, by a transphobic knuckle-dragger, to being beaten to death with a fire extinguisher”.

This is victim-blaming, and the related refusal to accept responsibility for one’s actions, taken to new depths, and it turns my stomach.

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I have previously written about events in connection with this hate crime here:

Police confirm there was no trans violence at Pride London

September 17, 2008

Via Facebook, Roz has passed on the link to this article in Pink News:

A senior Metropolitan police officer has apologised for the confusion over an incident at Pride London earlier this year.

Commander Steve Allen said that “deep upset” had been caused to the trans community by earlier reports, based on a joint response to the incident from the police and Pride organisers and distributed to the press.

[...]

“It is clear that members of the trans communities and the officer found themselves involved in a set of circumstances for which the trans communities were not responsible. [...] They were clearly the victims. It has been claimed that the demonstrators assaulted stewards – examination of CCTV evidence demonstrates that these claims are mistaken.”

Christina Alley, one of the trans people who witnessed the event, welcomed Commander Allen’s “gracious and comprehensive” apology.

[...]

“It is a gracious and comprehensive apology, setting the record straight about the peacefulness of the trans protesters, committing to a thorough investigation of the attacks on two trans people in the toilets, and to trans awareness training for all LGBT liaison officers within the Police Service.

This is a definite step in the right direction – not that any of this should have happened in the first place – and we are hopefully now that much closer to a meaningful resolution.

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ETA: There doesn’t seem to have been any response from either Capita or SFM as yet. Perhaps they’ve been delayed in the post…

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My previous posts on the subject are here (newest first):

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