Archive for November, 2008

Trans rights abuses in Turkey

November 29, 2008

Turkish flagTwo separate but related news items from Turkey.

First, the Legal Aid Bureau Against Sexual Harassment And Rape In Detention has announced that, between January and November 2008, 35 women made formal representations to the Bureau.

Via Bianet:

…five of the applicants were the transvestite and transsexuals

[...]

Harassment was done by touching using one’s hand or other objects, threat of rape and verbally about woman’s sexuality.

The Medical Examiner’s Office continue to be a problem

Although it was not applied before 2008, article 227/8 of the Penal Code that says the person who is engaged in prostitution will be subjected to treatment and therapy was applied to the transvestites and transsexuals. In one case, the Criminal Court of First Instance of Beyoğlu, Istanbul demanded that the transvestites and transsexuals sent to the psychological therapy, but it was reversed when the lawyers objected to it.

A depressingly familiar tale: if you are trans, and a prostitute, and are unlucky enough to be caught, the state can, and will, send you for undefined “treatment and therapy”. Note that cis women prostitutes do not appear to be subjected to this potentially severely damaging – and in the case of therapy, ineffective – punishment.

Small wonder, then, that (according to EurActiv), the European Parliament’s annual report on Turkey’s progress towards EU membership is warning of a slowdown in reforms for the third consecutive year.

The draft report [link to PDF file], by MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten (EPP-ED, Netherlands), contrasts with a recent Commission report [link to PDF file], which presented a mixed picture of Turkey’s advances but recognised for the first time that it had reached “market economy” status (EurActiv 06/11/08).

Almost half of the paragraphs in the nine-page report, to be discussed and voted in the Parliament’s foreign affairs committee next Tuesday, start with the words “regrets” or “is concerned”.

[...]

The report is critical of human rights in fields such as the freedom of expression, the freedom of press, freedom and respect of different religious communities, as well as the need to find a lasting settlement of the Kurdish issue. Also, the report voices concern over “continuing hostility and violence against minorities”. Forced marriages and so-called “honour killings” are condemned in a separate paragraph.

In addition, Hurriyet reported:

The president of the European Parliament’s human rights sub-committee asked a Turkish deputy if the rights of homosexuals and transsexuals would be safeguarded in the constitution.

Helene Flautre held talks Thursday with Zafer Üskül, head of Turkish Parliament’s Human Rights Commission. In response, Üskül said time and patience was needed for improvement on the issue. “I cannot say they are not experiencing any problems – but some positive developments have been seen.”

Mr Üskül, I see nothing remotely positive in the way that your Parliament condones the inhuman treatment of my trans siblings. Your vague assurances are as meaningless as your obvious complacency is unacceptable. The time is now and our patience has run out.

NSOH?

November 27, 2008

Anyone who’s been following Natalia’s two compilation posts:

Awesome Names For Radfem Blogs (The Special Kind) Vol 1

and

Awesome Names For Radfem Blogs (The Special Kind) Vol 2

- should click over to Fetch Me My Axe, where Belle has now put together the. ummm, brother post:

Awesome Names For MRA Fuckwit Blogs.

Very silly, and tremendous fun.

Stonewall and PFC “not a cabal” – Official!

November 26, 2008

Facebook trans logoFurther to my numerous previous posts on the subject, I see that Roz K has received a response from Stephen Whittle over at her LJ, about the position of PFC in relation to the numerous doubts expressed by some trans people regarding Stonewall’s position on transphobia. You can read the full response over at Roz’ place, but I want to talk about Stephen’s penultimate paragraph:

I cannot answer any more for what happened in PFC about the Bindel protest; I have tried to explain the position as best I can. We did not all agree with each other, as one might expect, but we are democratic within our workings. I would hope everyone would wish us to be so. I think we were all very pleased to see the success of the protest, and if work commitments and other issues had not prevented me from attending, I would have been there, as all PFC VP’s were free to do so. Unfortunately only one of us lives in London, and 3 of us are disabled, so such events are very hard for us to attend, with health often being the final factor.

My reading of this is that there are some people within PFC (“campaigning for respect and equality for ALL trans people”) who agree with Stonewall’s nomination of a transphobe for an award. Which is cause for concern in itself, but to then apparently suggest that it’s okay because PFC is “democratic within our workings” is, in my opinion, no different from liberal feminists saying that transphobic attitudes within certain feminist groups are equally okay, because they illustrate the diversity of feminism.

Well, no, I’m sorry, but it isn’t okay; it’s not okay at all. Because it suggests that there are some people at PFC who apparently think it’s okay to give someone an award for holding transphobic views, and that there are other people at PFC – who should know better, and are in a position to tackle the transphobe supporters in their midst – who don’t seem to be doing anything about it.

————

ETA, 1 December 2008: Tracy Dean, a VP of PFC, has announced that she’s leaving PFC “to concentrate on my own campaigning work“.

————

Previous, related posts on this blog:

ID Cards update

November 24, 2008

ID card (front) smallThe Home Office’s Identity & Passport Service (IPS) which is charged with implementing the National Identity Scheme (the introduction of national ID cards for all UK residents over the age of 16) has announced the second round of legislation for the ID card scheme. Amongst other things, the announcement gives details of the price of the card and potential fines for non-compliance.

From the IPS press release:

The first identity cards will be issued to non-EEA foreign nationals from 25 November, with 40,000 expected to be in circulation by April 2009.

In autumn 2009 the first cards for critical workers, starting at airports, will be issued.

From 2010 young people will be offered the chance to sign up for cards to help them as they start out their adult lives. And from 2012 the National Identity Scheme will begin to roll-out for the general population with identity cards available in significant numbers.

As you can see from that short extract, the official government website is not entirely helpful in explaining the implications in an easy-to-follow way. Thankfully, the IT Pro website isn’t so reticent and their reporter Nicole Kobie has published this page, which is a mine of useful information.

The article is well worth reading for its coverage of the main issues – and it touches on the security and privacy aspects too (as does the IPS site’s FAQ section), which seem to be the main concerns of a lot of people.

However…

I also noticed – via the Daily Mail, of all places – this rather troublesome aspect which seems likely to affect trans people who wish to change their documents as part of their transition:

People who are undergoing a sex change will be allowed two cards – one in each gender. But they will also be forced to pay twice – landing them with a £60 bill.

It has decided they will have to hold a card in their current sex, which can be used for travel in the EU.

But they will also be able to apply for a card – with corresponding picture – in the name and sex they are undergoing treatment to become.

In other words, they will dress and appear as they will once the sex change is complete.

Assuming that the Daily Mail is factually correct in its report (I can’t find the source of its quote in the consultation document [ETA: is in clauses 2.33 and 2.34, see ETA #2 at the foot of this post]), then I must say I’m pretty outraged by this proposal by the IPS.

It seems that if you’ve not had surgery, you will only be allowed to travel in the EU using an ID card containing your ‘old’ details. Doesn’t matter if you’re living entirely in your ‘new’ role, you’ll have to pretend to be someone you used to be. Sure, you can have a card that gives the ‘new’ details – but you won’t actually be able to use it for travelling. (And what about travelling outside the EU?)

This is, quite frankly, outrageous. Like we don’t face enough prejudice and bigotry in our everyday lives as it is? No, apparently not – so the state has decided to continue its institutionalised marginalisation of us. Let’s just chuck in some cissexist treatment of trans people by the state, shall we? Just in case we still hadn’t got it; that we’re not even second class citizens. Hardly even human, really.

And what of the equally obvious, and equally wrong, subtext that someone needing documents which provide for two identities means that one of those identities can’t possibly be “real”? Would you like some trans misogyny with that cissexism, sir – or is it madam?

Just to add insult to injury, there’s the classist assumption that a trans person in transition is wealthy enough to afford a double fee. You could buy three months’ supply of estrogen tablets for that duplicate £30 you’ve just paid.

But never mind, eh? – now you’ve got your two ID cards, how about a new passport to go with them? You know, since it’s the same department and we need to make sure we keep our records in order? Sure, no problem, Sir, Madam, Thing, whatever you’re called – that’ll be another £72, please.

When I got my new passport a couple of years ago – so I could travel to Thailand for my surgery – I also needed to provide a letter from my gender doc to confirm that yes, Helen really is Helen and won’t be changing back. Because, obviously, as a sub-human I couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth. That wasn’t free, either.

But you needn’t think you’ll just do nothing and avoid the issue, either: if you refuse to update the ID database of any change in circumstance then there’ll be a fine to pay – starting at £125 and rising to a maximum of £1,000.

And what if you’re not planning on medically/surgically transitioning but are still transitioning legally/socially? There are people in that position, y’know? Real people, with real lives.

There’s also the question of those who live in stealth: there may be some damn good reasons why you might not actually want to have two ID cards – for example, you’d like to keep your job, or your house or something minor like that. How’s all that going to be handled?

And where does the GRC fit into all this? The Equality Bill? Has any of this actually been considered?

But how silly of me to think that any of this matters as long as the state can label us as they see fit – and charge us money for the privilege. Once again, cis people’s theories are more important than trans people’s very real, lived experiences.

However, there is possibly one tiny ray of light in this murky darkness that is the labyrinth of the proposed ID card system: the IPS is consulting on the proposals for the next 12 weeks. The consultation document (in PDF format) is available here, and you can contact them directly by using this online form.

ETA: Also – if the card in your ‘new’ ID is not accepted for travel – then where is it accepted? Is it good for proof of ID at – let’s say – the bank? Or does the one in your ‘old’ name still take precedence? If so, then why even bother with a card in your ‘new’ ID?

And – after your surgery (did I mention the other issue I have there, aside from the classism, about objectification of trans bodies?) – after your surgery, then what? Presumably you have to return both cards for a single, unified replacement. On receipt of a further fee, no doubt.

————

ETA #2: So I finally figured out how to search the consultative document (it’s a 97 page PDF) and found chapter and verse. It’s either on page 14 or page 16, depending on whether you’re looking at the page count on the PDF viewer (p14) or the document itself (p16):

Applications from those living a Dual Gendered Life

2.33 The representation of identity is a particularly complex and difficult issue for those who are moving from living in their birth gender to an acquired gender. In particular, those who are seeking to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate need to be able to demonstrate that they are taking steps to live in their acquired gender as part of that process. The Identity and Passport Service has engaged with a number of groups representing the transgender community before and after the passage of the Identity Cards Act. This has been helpful in understanding how we can best meet that community’s needs whilst ensuring the integrity of the National Identity Register

2.34 Regulations 6,7,9,11,12 and 13 provide that those who are living a dual gendered life will, if they so choose, be able to apply for two identity cards relating to their unique entry in the National Identity Register. They can hold a National Identity Card which can be used for travel in one gender as well as an Identification Card which is not valid for travel but can be used to prove their identity in a second gender reliably and securely and reflects a different name, signature and photograph. This will be dependent on the provision of a recognised report from a registered medical practitioner or chartered psychologist confirming that the individual experiences gender dysphoria.

So, not just the additional £30, but also the cost of “a recognised report from a registered medical practitioner or chartered psychologist confirming that the individual experiences gender dysphoria”. And, as far as I can see from that, my questions above still stand.

Guess I’ll just have to wait and see what kind of a response I get from the IPS.

*watches tumbleweed blowing past*

LGBT History Month pre-launch

November 23, 2008

LGBT History Month 2009The LGBT History Month takes place every year in February. It celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGBT community. A pre-launch event was held recently, to draw attention to next February’s event. The fifth 2009 LGBT History Month theme is Education and Youth, and the key-note speaker was Baroness Morgan of Drefelin (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Children, Schools and Families).

Baroness Morgan expressed her wish to see a light shining in the dark corners of classrooms and for the reality of LGBT lives to be fully realised in the curriculum. She also announced that new guidance is being developed for schools on gender and gender identity with the consultation starting soon.

As councillor Kahn, another speaker, reminded the audience in his own speech: “if, for some reason, you can’t be a friend, there is no reason why you should be an enemy”.

For those who could not attend and still wish to make a difference in their own school, advice and tips are available in the new School Toolkit (a Word document) which can be downloaded here.

2008 Weblog Awards

November 23, 2008

The 2008 Weblog Awards have now closed for public nominations. The categories include an LGBT category, amongst others. I’m glad to see that Lisa, Belle and Milly have all received at least one nomination each, although whether that’s going to be enough, only time will tell. Results will be announced in a couple of weeks.

Miss You Bow Wow

November 22, 2008

Girls Aloud – Miss You Bow Wow

Everybody love love loves, everybody
Everybody love love loves, everybody
Everybody love love loves, everybody
Everybody loves a lover

Everybody love love loves, everybody
Everybody love love loves, everybody
Everybody love love loves, everybody
Everybody loves a lover

All I do, do, do when my demons hit
I dial 9-9-9 saying get a doctor
So damn tired of your shadow breaking my heart in two oh baby
At night, when my demons hit
I dial 9-9-9 say I need a doctor
So damn tired of your shadow making my heart and soul go crazy

I miss you now, now, now
You’re looking bow wow, wow
I’m slipping down, down, down
I miss you now, now, now
I miss you now, now, now
You’re looking bow wow, wow
I’m slipping down, down, down
I miss you now, now, now

I remember living that dream
20 minutes in a hotel bar
Then I slip into your girlfriends jeans
And I remember, saying baby hold tight
20 hours in the twilight zone
The only lovers in the world that night
Oh I

You’re talking like your gonna do the stupid thing
Everybody wants to see you do that thing
We’re jumping in together when the bottle spins
They wanna see it stop and let the fun begin

You’re talking like your gonna do the stupid thing
Everybody wants to see you do that thing
We’re jumping in together when the bottle spins
They wanna see it stop and let the fun begin

All I do, do, do when my demons hit
I dial 9-9-9 saying get a doctor
So damn tired of your shadow breaking my heart in two oh baby
At night, when my demons hit
I dial 9-9-9 say I need a doctor
So damn tired of your shadow making my heart and soul go crazy

I miss you now, now, now
You’re looking bow wow, wow
I’m slipping down, down, down
I miss you now, now, now
I miss you now, now, now
You’re looking bow wow, wow
I’m slipping down, down, down
I miss you now, now, now

I remember living that dream
20 minutes in a hotel bar
And I slip into your girlfriends jeans
And I remember, saying baby hold tight
20 hours in the twilight zone
The only lovers in the world that night

Oh I remember living that dream
20 minutes in a hotel bar
And I slip into your girlfriends jeans
And I remember, saying baby hold tight
20 hours in the twilight zone
The only lovers in the world that night
Oh I

Funny How

November 22, 2008

Rachel Stevens – Funny How

Night got cold, it’s almost three
Take these fools away from me

Funny how I always know before it’s over
Deep down it’s time to go
The night got cold, it’s almost three
Take these fools away from me

What I want, what I need
Is an extraordinary love
I can taste, I can feel
Electricity from up above
What I want, what I need
Oh, a never-ending style
But it seems, it’s in my dreams
Every time I look into his eyes

I’m getting high on emotion
One little kiss, I’m awake
I want to give you devotion
So don’t walk away

Funny how I always know before it’s over
Deep down it’s time to go
The night got cold, it’s almost three
Take these fools away from me
I want a love like lovers on the run
I won’t take just any one
My heart got tired, it’s way past three
Take these fools away from me

What I want, what I need
Is an ordinary wonderland
When I’m down on my knees
Something beautiful to hold my hand

I’m getting high on emotion
One little kiss, I’m awake
I want to give you devotion
So don’t walk away

Funny how I always know before it’s over
Deep down it’s time to go
The night got cold, it’s almost three
Take these fools away from me
I want a love like lovers on the run
I won’t take just any one
My heart got tired, it’s way past three
Take these fools away from me

Night got cold, it’s almost three
Take these fools away from me

Funny how I always know before it’s over
Deep down it’s time to go
The night got cold, it’s almost three
Take these fools away from me
I want a love like lovers on the run
I won’t take just any one
My heart got tired, it’s way past three
Take these fools away from me

TUC calls for end to discrimination against transgender people

November 20, 2008

tuc_logoThe Trades Union Congress (TUC) has today called for employers to stop discriminating against transgender people in the workplace.

Violent attacks on people because of their sexuality are well documented – much less well known are the murderous assaults committed against transgender people.

In September 2008 at least 25 transgender people were murdered across the world, for no other reason than the fact that they were different. International Trans Memorial Day [sic] will remember trans people across the world who have been the victims of such crimes, and aims to bring them to public attention.

In Britain the trans community continues to face violent physical attacks, alongside prejudice and discrimination in communities and at work.

The TUC has worked with transgender union members and with representatives of the trans community to campaign for Britain’s equality laws to provide comprehensive protection from discrimination for trans people.

Although there have been improvements to the law, there remain gaps and widespread exemptions that leave trans people without full protection.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: ‘Discrimination, hatred and violence are part of the daily lives of far too many in Britain, and employers need to make sure all their employees are working in safe environments free from discrimination.’

‘Unions need to step up campaigning for equality for trans people in the UK. We will shortly have a new Equality Act and the TUC will be pressing for complete protection for those people who identify with the opposite gender to the one that they were born.’

‘The murderous attacks on trans people worldwide – and the assaults we know take place in Britain – show that this community faces prejudice and bigotry.’

‘If Britain is to be a truly equal and inclusive society we need to understand the issues facing trans people, and develop practical steps to end discrimination in workplaces, and in society at large.’

Now all I need is a unionised workplace…

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2008

November 20, 2008

Today – 20 November – is the Transgender Day of Remembrance

Please spare a few moments quiet contemplation for all those of my sisters and brothers who can’t be here today.

  • Teisha Cannon
  • Dilek Ince
  • Duanna Johnson
  • Aimee Wilcoxson
  • Ruby Molina
  • Nakhia (Nikki) Williams
  • Samantha Rangel Brandau
  • Jaylynn L. Namauu
  • Angie Zapata
  • Juan Carlos Aucalle Coronel
  • Rosa Pazos
  • Ebony (Rodney) Whitaker
  • Silvana Berisha
  • Felicia Melton-Smyth
  • Lloyd Nixon
  • Luna (no last name reported)
  • Simmie Williams Jr.
  • Lawrence King
  • Sanesha (Talib) Stewart
  • Ashley Sweeney
  • Fedra (no last name reported)
  • Adolphus Simmons
  • Stacy Brown
  • Patrick Murphy
  • Gabriela Alejandra Albornoz
  • Brian McGlothin
  • Kellie Telesford
  • Ali (no last name reported) and two other Iraqi trans women

ETA:

Other bloggers who have posted about the TDoR include:

Antony & The Johnsons – Bird Gehrl

I am a bird girl now
I’ve got my heart
Here in my hands now
I’ve been searching
For my wings some time
I’m gonna be born
Into soon the sky
‘Cause I’m a bird girl
And the bird girls go to heaven
I’m a bird girl
And the bird girls can fly
Bird girls can fly

————

Cross-posted at The F-Word on 20 November 2008

————

ETA #1, 21 November 2008: It’s strange how I can publish a post here and comments are by and large carried out in a completely grown-up way. And I can cross-post the identical piece at The F-Word and the first comment I get is this:

m Andrea said:
Normally, we consider people who use their emotions in place of reason to be utter fucking morons.

The basic premise of transgender ideology is that girl and boy brains exist, and are different from each other. Girl brains luv pink, and are rilly soft and gentle. Boy brains luv blue, and are rilly hard and aggressive.

The basic premise of feminist ideology is that no such difference exists. Oops, we have a discreptancy!

Since some women are quite the aggressive fuck, they must be a boy. Therefore, they are transgendered. Amazingly enough, wanting a penis is not required for women to be an aggressive fuck, so something is quite illogical regarding your theory.

Perhaps insanity is the answer.

(Posted on 21 November 2008 at 4:03 PM)

This is almost a stereotypical comment from this character, but I was very cross at her for doing this on a post about such a sensitive subject – but that’s why she did it, let’s be honest. So I replied as follows (I want to record this exchange for posterity):

Helen G said:
Hello mAndrea.

It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?

So then. This comment of yours: even though it’s transphobic hate speech, plain and simple, I feel it’s worth publishing as an example of just one sort of violence that people like you use to attack trans and other gender non-conforming people across the world on a daily basis.

Of course, your violence isn’t the physical violence used to murder my trans sisters and brothers named in my post; and it isn’t the mental violence that pushes others of us into taking our own lives. But even verbal violence such as yours is still violence, and it cannot be tolerated by anyone with even an ounce of humanity, with a heart, with a soul. Logic and reasoning aren’t even required.

And it hasn’t gone unnoticed that you singled out a post made on our Remembrance Day. It’s my guess that you have done this as a shock tactic similar to the desecration of headstones by fascist thugs.

It’s a means of getting attention, and on this occasion I’ve decided to oblige you.

Why? Well, here’s the deal, girlfriend:

As long as I am a blogger at The F-Word, I will never again publish any comment of yours that may arrive in any mod queue for which I’m responsible.

That’s all. Game over.

Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your 15 minutes.
Helen

(Posted on November 21, 2008 7:49 PM)

————

ETA #2, 22 November 2008:
This was my closing comment at The F-Word. There was a wonderful response to m Andrea’s words; I think she was roundly condemned by someone from every point on the gender spectrum. There were a couple of minor trolls made a late appearance, but weren’t saying anything we haven’t heard before. Don’t feed ‘em, was my view.

M Andrea herself won’t learn anything from it, of course, but the sense of solidarity amongst the commenters was inspiring to see.

Helen G said:
I write this on Saturday morning, two days after my community’s Remembrance Day. It’s the one day of the year which allows us, collectively, to focus on and grieve for our sisters and brothers whose rights to life have, without exception, been violently denied by those who have appointed themselves as judge, jury and executioner.

But it is only one day, and my community remembers and mourns our loss each and every day, we carry their memories in our hearts always, and we do not need a specific day to think of those whose existences have been so brutally extinguished. So I believe it is now time to begin to move back into our lives and to continue our daily struggle to survive, to maintain, to learn, to progress – and to live.

Trans people cannot and will not be morally mandated out of existence, nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in this thread. However we self-identify, trans or cis, we move forward together and continue our collective work to help bring about the time when we can know, without doubt, that a specific Remembrance Day will not be needed. Sadly, I do not believe this time is yet with us.

I read many, many people’s words as I compiled the link round-up in my post and one comment has been coming back into my mind on an almost hourly basis. I would like to leave you with it:

If you’re human, you’re entitled to human rights

Comments are now closed.

Thank you
Helen
22 November 2008

(Posted on November 22, 2008 7:07 AM)

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