Archive for January, 2010

Bent Bars Project: volunteers needed

January 31, 2010

Via the Bent Bars Project website:

The Bent Bars Project is a new letter-writing project for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, gender-variant, intersex, and queer prisoners in Britain. The project aims to develop stronger connections and build solidarity between LGBTQ communities outside and inside prison walls.

Bent Bars aims to work in solidarity with prisoners by sharing resources, providing mutual support and drawing public attention to the struggles of queer and trans people behind bars.

We are looking for non-imprisoned and formerly imprisoned LGBTQ people who are interested in becoming penpals. In the first month since we initiated the project, we received more than 100 requests from LGBTQ prisoners for penpals, and the requests keep coming. So we are urgently looking for non-imprisoned folks to write to prisoners. We are especially looking for gay/bi men and transwoman to be penpals.

Becoming a penpal can give a person in prison vital emotional support, help prisoners be less vulnerable to violence and assist in building networks and resources for release. Time commitment is whatever you want it to be – writing one letter a month, which can take as little as half and hour, would be great.

We are also looking for folks who want to get involved in the Bent Bars Collective, which coordinates the letter writing program, collects resources for queer/trans prisoners and does public education work on queer/trans prison issues.

Letter writing nights are held at 7pm on the third Thursday of every month at:

London Action Resource Centre
62 Fieldgate Street
London
E1 1ES

Tube: Whitechapel/Aldgate East

Streetmap UK | Google maps

Not in London? – or for further information on becoming a penpal or becoming part of the Bent Bars Collective, please contact the project at:

Update: Protest against “Queer Question Time” event at RVT London, 29 January

January 30, 2010

Despite freezing weather, about 40 or so people attended the demo which went off peacefully and with good humour. Although we were fewer in number than at 2008’s Stonewall UK protest, I believe we made our point and I hope that the organisers of any similar Queer Question Time events in the future will think twice before inviting known transphobic bigots into trans/queer friendly spaces.

It was great to catch up with people I haven’t seen since the TDOR vigil, and a good opportunity to make new friends, too. All in all, despite not having felt that cold since I don’t know when, I believe that a united (and vocal!) group of people made our point peacefully and positively.

onequeerone has posted a photo set up at Flickr and Facebook.

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Photo from onequeerone’s QQT Protest at the RVT set and used in compliance with the Creative Commons License for non-commercial use.

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ETA, Saturday 30 January: Here’s a direct link to a PDF file of the flyer that was handed out to all attendees of the event

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ETA, Sunday 31 January: There’s a selection of videos from the demo up at YouTube:

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Previous related posts:

Italy: trans only prison update

January 28, 2010

Following on from my recent post (Italy “to open first prison for transgender inmates”), I’ve seen updates at UPI, IOL South Africa and others.

Italy is nearing completion of a prison cell block intended exclusively for use by transgender prisoners beginning in March, officials said.

Formerly a low-security facility for women, the cell block at the Pozzale penitentiary will house about 30 inmates currently in a Florence prison [UPI]

I still have reservations about this idea, and I find the comments by Regina Satariano, of the Italian Movement for Transgender Identity, especially problematic.

“The facility will motivate the ‘trans’ to get involved in social reintegration programmes.”

I keep re-reading that and I just can’t follow the logic. Is Ms Satariano really saying that, in order to be “socially reintegrated”, we must be segregated from cis people? There’s an underlying ciscentrism at work there – that we must become motivated to join cis society – which, coming from a so-called trans advocate doesn’t really inspire confidence.

“Transgenders cannot build a future for themselves unless they are detained in a facility specially made for them,”

[...]

“It will not be a ghetto but a way to avoid the experience of isolation in ordinary prisons.”

I can’t help thinking that creating a ghetto is exactly what this proposal is doing. If there is segregation, not only are cis people de facto isolated from us, but it then becomes even easier for them to forget about us, to invisibilise us. If cis people don’t try and integrate with our community, to get to know us, to interact with us – then the risks to our safety aren’t likely to decrease. Fear and ignorance are the causes of much of the bigotry and transphobic violence that cis people show us and, to my mind, a good way of rehabilitating them could well be to help them realise that they, in fact, are a far bigger threat to us than we are to them. I don’t believe that an “out of sight, out of mind” policy is going to help anyone.

Satariano said that “women in prison don’t want ‘trans’ co-detainees, and to avoid problems they are not housed with men either. Spaces are created for them in prisons, but it amounts to isolation.”

If “women in prison don’t want ‘trans’ co-detainees” then I have to ask, whose problem is that, exactly? Why are trans people made to pay for cis people’s intolerance and prejudice? To me, that is nothing more or less than victim-blaming and I’m left wondering just what’s being done to help cis people come to terms with, and control, their sociopathic attitudes and behaviours?

However, having been thinking about this, off and on, for a few days now, I can actually see some advantage in segregating the cis prison population from us. Provided that the scheme accounts for such things as the provision of trans prison staff; appropriate facilities and services for trans men and women, etc, then maybe it could offer us a comparatively safe(r) space in which to exist while the cis prison population is rehabilitated to the point where they can rejoin us without our having to incur all those well-known, long-established risks to our well-being.

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Previous related posts about the (mis)treatment of trans women by the prison system:

Another pregnant man is pregnant

January 27, 2010

Again, no particular comment, I just want to record the news that, following in the footsteps of Thomas Beatie and Ruben Noe Coronado a third trans man has publicly announced his pregnancy.

Scott Moore and his partner, Thomas, with whom he lives in California, already have two adopted boys and Scott is expecting his first baby next month.

If this quote from the Metro is to be believed, it’s depressing to see that the medical profession in the U.S. is just as transphobic as anywhere else:

Doctors advised Scott to have an abortion and the couple, both 30, faced difficulties finding medics who would accept their unconventional circumstances.

“It was hard when people didn’t want to treat me”, said Scott.

“No pregnant person should be denied healthcare just because they are a man.”

My best wishes to Scott, Thomas and their family.

Lu’s Pharmacy update

January 27, 2010

VWHC logoIn July 2009 I wrote here and here about Lu’s Pharmacy in Vancouver and their denial of access to transsexual women to their services on the grounds that we aren’t “women who were born women” (Via Vancouver Women’s Health Collective’s Our Political Agreements statement – direct link to PDF here).

However, it seems from the transcanada LJ comm (via Google blog search) that, as from 21 January 2010, Lu’s Pharmacy will offer its services to transsexual women.

A further post (via Google blog search), suggests that at least three trans women have been to Lu’s Pharmacy without being thrown out. It’s to be hoped that the women were able, without hindrance or harassment, to access the resources offering a “full-service pharmacy” as well as “advice on your medication and your healthcare”. (Via VWHC website – Lu’s Services)

Additionally:

Vancouver Womens’ Health Collective changed their policy, and Transphobe Caryn Duncan resigned the same week.

Of course it’s heartening to hear of cis women not only recognising their cissexism but also taking positive steps to begin putting right some of the wrongs they have committed in the name of a toxic and elitist feminism, and for that alone, this news is to be welcomed. However, there is no excuse for complacency on the part of any of the staff at Lu’s Pharmacy and it’s to be hoped that all concerned will now work with trans women to ensure that the transphobia so shamefully enshrined in the former regime under the directorship of Caryn Duncan is comprehensively and permanently rooted out.

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Previous related posts:

Turkey: cis man sentenced to life imprisonment for deliberate homicide and aggravated looting

January 25, 2010

cagla_tunali_eylemi_23_05_09_19In May 2009 I wrote about the murder of Çağla, who was stabbed to death in her home in Ankara.

Now, via Bianet, I read that last Wednesday (20 January 2010), the Ankara 5th High Criminal Court found Murat Olgun G, the cis man accused of Çağla’s murder, guilty of deliberate homicide with the aim of concealing a crime.

[...] the defendant had confessed the murder of his victim Çağla at her home in Ankara on 21 May 2009. He admitted that he had stolen three mobile phones from the apartment and also took TL 400 [less than £170], money he was going to receive for a web site. Murat Olgun G. furthermore said that he cut the cables of the security cameras when he left the building and dropped the murder weapon, a knife, into a trash container at Demetevler.

The prosecution had demanded that the cis man be charged under the Turkish Criminal Code (TCK) for “aggravated looting of the victim’s home at night” and “intentional murder to conceal the crime”. The defendant’s council countered with every cis murderer’s excuse of choice, the trans panic defence (known as the clause of “unjust provocation” under the TCK).

Thankfully the court rejected the defence plea and sentenced the cis man to life imprisonment in solitary confinement without parole, on the grounds of deliberate homicide with the aim of concealing a crime. Additionally, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment for aggravated looting of Çağla’s home, although the court exercised leniency and reduced this part of the sentence to only 10 years.

Although no prison sentence can ever compensate for the violent murder of any trans woman, it is to be hoped that this generally just and reasonable verdict will send a message to those bigoted cis people who are waging a war against Turkish trans women, that hate crimes like this will not be tolerated by the courts. I also hope that other Turkish courts will take this decision into consideration against transphobic hate crimes in future.

My sympathies go to Çağla’s family and friends.

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Previous posts related to the continuing war against trans women in Turkey:

  • Human rights violations against LGBT individuals in Turkey in 2008 (August 9, 2009)
  • Turkey: trials in connection with the murders of two trans women now under way (July 9, 2009)
  • Unsafe haven: LGBT asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey (July 8, 2009)
  • Turkey – new Chief of Police for Istanbul. Will this bring an end to the “undeclared war” against trans women? (June 15, 2009)
  • Turkish policemen on trial for attack on trans woman (May 29, 2009)
  • Turkey: another trans woman stabbed to death – UPDATE (May 29, 2009)
  • Turkey: another trans woman stabbed to death (May 25, 2009)
  • Turkish parliament questioned on trans safety (May 12, 2009)
  • Lambda Istanbul granted permission to continue operating (May 7, 2009)
  • Suspected murderer of trans rights activist arrested in Turkey (April 21, 2009)
  • Every 15 days, another trans person is murdered in Turkey (April 14, 2009)
  • The undeclared war against LGBTT people in Turkey continues (March 29, 2009)
  • Another trans woman murdered in Turkey (March 14, 2009)
  • Trans woman stabbed to death in Istanbul (March 12, 2009)
  • Lambda Istanbul wins appeal against closure (January 28, 2009)
  • Trans rights abuses in Turkey (November 29, 2008)
  • Major debate on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination at the Council of Europe, 27 January

    January 24, 2010

    Next week will see a major debate on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg – the first for 10 years, and only the third in the history of the organisation.

    The Assembly, which is made up of representatives from the parliaments of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, will debate and vote on two propositions put forward by the Rapporteur for the Assembly, delegate Andreas Gross of Switzerland:

    • a Resolution making recommendations to member states on measures to combat sexual orientation and gender discrimination
    • a Recommendation to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which represents the governments of the 47 member states.

    The Parliamentary Assembly is a consultative body, so its resolutions and recommendations are declaratory in nature. But they do represent an important indication of Europe-wide opinion. The Council of Europe is Europe’s main intergovernmental human rights organisation, and the seat of the European Court of Human Rights. It is of course quite distinct from the European Union, and has a much wider geographical range.

    The draft Resolution contains 15 proposals for actions by member states, in such areas as freedom of expression and assembly, legal remedies for victims, hate speech, anti-discrimination legislation, the human rights of transgender persons, legal recognition of same-sex partnerships, and the possibility for same-sex partners to have joint parental responsibility of each other’s children.

    The draft Recommendation proposes that the Council of Europe takes more action to combat sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination, specifying a number of fields.

    There is widespread hostility to LGBT rights in many Council of Europe member states, particularly, but not exclusively, in some of those in central and east Europe. There is therefore likely to be strong opposition in the Assembly to elements of the Resolution, particularly those relating to legal recognition of same-sex partnerships and parental responsibility, which are being presented by conservative religious organisations as an attack on marriage and the family. It is even possible that there will be attempts to try to amend the Resolution so that it proposes limitations on LGBT rights, for example in relation to freedom of religion. However, the extent of possible hostile amendments will not be known until the day before the debate, which takes place on Wednesday 27 January.

    The text of the draft resolution and draft recommendation are published as part of a report by the Rapporteur (which itself contains much that it will information about LGBT rights), and can be found at:

    The debate will be webcast live at the Parliamentary Assembly website, http://assembly.coe.int/default.asp

    It is likely that the debate will start at 10 o’clock, on Wednesday 27, or soon thereafter. However, the agenda of the Assembly session is not finalised until Monday 25th, so there is a slight possibility that the timing will change.

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    Via email from ILGA Europe Council of Europe adviser/TGEU listserv.

    Protest against “Queer Question Time” event at RVT London, 29 January

    January 24, 2010

    This Friday, 29 January 2010, an event called Queer Question Time will be held at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern (RVT) in London. The RVT website says that there will be “Hard Hitting Debate”, featuring amongst its invited panellists David Gold (Conservative parliamentary candidate for Eltham), Ken Livingstone (former Mayor of London) and Julie Bindel, the transphobic cis lesbian woman and lifestyle journalist.

    A protest is being organised against the organisers’ decision to include the last-named person – you can find full details on this Facebook page – and further background can be found in this Facebook Note.

    1queer1, the noted genderqueer, performer and photographer has posted the text of a letter sent to the RVT about the event and the contact email address for the RVT is posted on its website as info@rvt.org.co.uk

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    ETA, Monday 25 January:

    Aunty Sarah has posted an update over at her LJ, and cross-posted at her DW:

    The organisers of QQT responded to our call for a demonstration, which at the time of writing has 73 confirmed attendees and 124 “maybes”, with a defiant claim that we are, in fact, the bad guys. Rather than being silenced ourselves, so the claim goes, we horrid trans and queer people are trying to censor, yes, censor Julie Bindel.

    That’s right – a group of people on Facebook are trying to silence a journalist with a regular column in a major national newspaper and, by all accounts, some considerable influence at Westminster, because we can totally do that.

    [...]

    QQT organisers – over to you.

    “Femme Means Attack” call for submissions

    January 23, 2010

    Via anarchafemme:

    “Femme Means Attack” is a collaborative zine of submissions by people who identify as femme and as radical, anarchist, and/or anti-authoritarian. Femmes are often seen as non-radical or counterrevolutionary in many radical communities, despite the fact that we can take to the streets just as well as anyone else, in heels or steel-toed boots, and are FIERCE while doing it. As radical femmes, we often find ourselves alienated from mainstream femme discourse that focuses on standards of femme/femininity which are white, homonormative, aspire to be bourgeoisie, and rely on conspicious consumption. Thus, we radical femmes often find ourselves alienated from both our radical communities and femme communities.

    “Femme Means Attack” aims to change that by giving us, radical femmes, a voice. We welcome submissions from femmes of all genders, trans and cis, binary gendered and genderqueer, of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, both urban and rural, of all dis/ability statuses, etc. While submissions should touch on both femme identity and radical politics/communities, we leave it up to each contributor to determine what that looks like. We welcome all types of submissions – essays, personal accounts, poetry, artwork, etc.

    Submissions are due by April 15, 2010 and the full details are over at anarchafemme.

    Well, go on, get to it :)

    Houston, TX: Candlelight vigil for Myra Ical on Monday, January 25

    January 23, 2010

    Via the Transgender Foundation of America:

    Myra Ical’s partially clothed body was found Monday, January 18. This was a particularly brutal murder and [Houston Police] confirmed that she went down fighting for her life. Every news report has characterized the victim as a cross-dressing man who was in an area known for drugs and prostitution. The media coverage seems Orwellian considering that the Detective in charge of the case pointedly informed me that “There is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that drugs and/or prostitution was in any way involved with the murder.” Yet, reports continue to insinuate the opposite.

    I want to invite all of you to attend a candlelight vigil to be held on Monday, January 25 at 6 pm to honor Myra Ical, whose body was found last Monday in the 4300 block of Garrott St near Richmond Avenue.

    The memorial will include two moments of silence, one for Ms. Ical and another for the 6 transgender Houstonians who have been murdered since 1999 whose crimes remain unsolved, as well as a moment of noise-making to recognize that it is silence that allows the perpetrators of crime to go unpunished.

    The time for silence has ended

    Houston Police have no leads in the case. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Transgender Foundation of America at
    713-520-8586.

    The Memorial will be held at the site where Ms. Ical’s body was found, at the vacant lot at 4300 Garrott. Attendees are encouraged to bring noisemakers. Candles will be provided.

    After the memorial, you are encouraged to attend the HTGA meeting scheduled for 7:30 at our new location in the Havens Center located about 2 miles from the memorial site: 1805 W. Alabama, Houston

    Further info on these two Facebook pages, here and here

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    Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

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