Archive for May, 2009

UK trans survey on domestic violence

May 31, 2009

tg_black-on_pink_100x107My community seems to have seen the launch of more than a few surveys recently; I’m happy to see this one especially – a UK Trans Survey on Domestic Violence – given the abject failure of at least two other UK-based, high profile campaigns to include trans people.

I’m looking at you, HM Government (who still haven’t even bothered to reply to my email of two months ago, asking about trans inclusivity in their VAW campaign) and you, Amnesty UK (who made no secret of the fact that we were excluded from their 1:10 campaign).

So without further ado, via my friends at Spectrum London:

Domestic Violence and abuse is in the limelight more than ever before. The levels of abuse to heterosexual women are 1 in 4 – the same figure experienced by LGBT people.

“Domestic violence is still invisible in our communities,” says Rita Hirani, CEO of Broken Rainbow, funded by the Home Office to run the national LGBT domestic violence helpline.

“Limited research in terms of domestic violence and abuse amongst transgendered people suggests the figure may even be higher,” adds Denise Anderson from Spectrum London, a peer support forum for all trans people and those questioning their gender.

In previous research carried out by Brighton’s Spectrum LGBT Forums Count Me In Too project, along with Press For Change’s research in their Endangered Penalties report, it was shown that an alarming figure of 64% of Trans people had experienced Domestic Violence at some time.

“This is a large percentage of transgendered people, one that when presented to various organisations brings looks of surprise and alarm, because many have not encountered transgendered people contacting them for assistance,” says Denise.

With this in mind Spectrum London along with Broken Rainbow feel it is time to revisit this subject, consulting Transgendered people, investigating if these levels are more indicative of a wider audience nationally. The survey hopes to confirm previous research, and raise awareness to agencies and service providers of the issues surrounding domestic violence in the transgendered communities.

“With increased awareness of these issues to support organisations, we hope transgendered people will feel more comfortable to be able to report issues of a domestic violence nature, knowing support is available,” says Denise.

The Online survey can be found here:

http://www.questionpro.com/akira/TakeSurvey?id=1012451

The survey will be open from 1st June 2009 until the 1st September 2009. We will then collate the information and will be presenting the findings from early October.

Editor’s Notes:

Spectrum London is a peer support forum for all trans people and those questioning their gender.

http://www.spectrumlondon.org.uk

Broken Rainbow is a registered charity in the UK, number: 1103624

http://www.broken-rainbow.org.uk

Broken Rainbow run the national LGBT helpline on 0300 999 LGBT (5428) on Monday 2-8pm, Wed 10-1pm, and Thursday 2-8pm.

Research:

Women’s Aid Domestic Violence Statistics:
http://tinyurl.com/WomansAid

Spectrum LGBT Forum Brighton?s Count Me In Too:
http://www.spectrum-lgbt.org/cmiToo/downloads/

Press for Change Report:
http://www.pfc.org.uk/files/EngenderedPenalties.pdf

Let me just repeat that estimate: 64% of trans people have experienced domestic violence at some time.

Got that, my cis friends and allies?

SIXTY-FOUR PERCENT

Two out of every three of us. Frankly, it’s nothing short of a national disgrace that cis society stands idly by while my trans siblings are subject to this degree of violence.

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ETA, June 2, 2009: I’ve just heard from Denise at Spectrum London that technical issues have delayed the launch date of the survey to Monday June 8, 2009.

The closing date remains at September 1, 2009, and all trans women in the UK are urged to complete the survey, even if they themselves haven’t been subject to domestic violence.

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Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

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The stars go over the lonely ocean

May 31, 2009

Unhappy about some far off things
That are not my affair, wandering
Along the coast and up the lean ridges,
I saw in the evening
The stars go over the lonely ocean,
And a black-maned wild boar
Plowing with his snout on Mal Paso Mountain.

The old monster snuffled, “Here are sweet roots,
Fat grubs, slick beetles and sprouted acorns.
The best nation in Europe has fallen,
And that is Finland,
But the stars go over the lonely ocean,”
The old black-bristled boar,
Tearing the sod on Mal Paso Mountain.

“The world’s in a bad way, my man,
And bound to be worse before it mends;
Better lie up in the mountain here
Four or five centuries,
While the stars go over the lonely ocean,”
Said the old father of wild pigs,
Plowing the fallow on Mal Paso Mountain.

“Keep clear of the dupes that talk democracy
And the dogs that talk revolution,
Drunk with talk, liars and believers.
I believe in my tusks.
Long live freedom and damn the ideologies,”
Said the gamey black-maned boar
Tusking the turf on Mal Paso Mountain.

(Robinson Jeffers)

wish i stayed

May 30, 2009

Turkish policemen on trial for attack on trans woman

May 29, 2009

Turkish flagVia Bianet, this report (link here) provides an update on the long-running trial of two Turkish policemen for violently attacking a trans woman called Esmeray.

According to Blanet’s original report (link here), in June 2007, Esmeray was stopped by a police officer outside an Istanbul police station while returning home. She was subjected to a barrage of verbal abuse before being punched in the face, knocked to the ground and then kicked by two policemen (Mustafa Muhammet Çırakoğlu and Ceyhun Güvem).

Later Esmeray decided to take the matter to the court, since “this was nothing new. Passing by the street in front of the police station (which happens to be one of the major streets in Taksim area in Istanbul and open to public) has been banned to the transvestites and transsexuals for a while.” Esmeray wanted to know if this was legal. She filed her complaint so that others would not have to go through this human rights violation again.

It took over a year for the prosecution of the police officers to begin but finally, almost two years after the assault, the case received its second hearing yesterday, May 28.

Lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu said that the case was not only about police violence, but also about the fact that Esmeray’s gender identity caused her to experience an increase in violence.

Speaking at the Beyoğlu 2nd Criminal Court of Peace, Esmeray said that she wanted the case to set a precedent for the violence that transsexuals and transvestites experienced on a daily basis.

[…]

Esmeray said, “Many of my transsexual and transvestite friends, who are forced into sex labour, experience violence by the police nearly daily. However, many of them are too afraid to file complaints.”

She expressed hope that her court case would encourage others to come forward.

A hope which I certainly share.

[Officer] Çırakoğlu had given evidence at the first hearing and did not attend. Also absent was defendant Güvem, who, despite having been transferred to another police station, had not informed the court of his new address.

Judge Selvinaz Eken postponed the hearing to 8 July.

In passing, as someone who supports many of the basic principles of feminism, it’s encouraging to note that in attendance at the court, as well as a representative of LambdaIstanbul (the LGBT solidarity organisation), were members of the Feminist Women’s Environment, the Socialist Feminist Collective and the feminist organisation Amargi. I hope that other feminist organisations will follow this lead and start showing their support in future court cases involving trans women, in Turkey and elsewhere.

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HRW report on human rights abuses against trans people in Honduras

May 29, 2009

Honduras flagIn January I wrote (link here) about the murder of the Honduran trans rights activist Cynthia Nicole, and the Human Rights Watch’s call for a full investigation of her death. Now, ahead of next month’s General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Honduras, HRW have published a comprehensive report, “Not Worth a Penny”, which makes specific recommendations aimed at ending the abuse of trans people by police. The report is available for download from here.

The theme of the OAS Assembly is “Toward a Culture of Non-Violence” and a proposed draft resolution will be discussed in which:

the states declare their commitment “to promote, within a framework of the rule of law, a culture of peace and non-violence” and specifically note “the importance of adopting measures necessary to prevent, impede, and punish violence … against women, and groups in vulnerable situations.”

While Honduran authorities have been prompt in signing international agreements pledging to curb violence and protect vulnerable groups, attacks on transgender people—often targeted because their looks and demeanor challenge prevailing sex-role stereotypes—continue to be commonplace in the country.

Nearly every transgender person Human Rights Watch interviewed during research in Honduras in late 2008 and early 2009 spoke of harassment, beatings, and ill treatment at the hands of police. And bias-motivated attacks on transgender individuals by private actors are endemic. At least 17 travestis have been killed in public places in Honduras since 2004; many more have been beaten, stabbed, or shot.

Transgender people also spoke of police inaction and failure to investigate cases that they have registered with the police.

Honduran law is a major contributor to these problems by nature of its imprecise wording, which leaves it open to arbitrary interpretation and enforcement by the police. As a consequence, the law is used to justify harassment and detention of trans people for no reason. In addition:

Another factor contributing to ongoing violence against transgender people is impunity. Inefficiency and ineffectiveness in police investigations runs like a thread through all Honduran criminal investigations but they are a particular problem in cases involving violence against transgender people. We are aware of no successful prosecutions of police accused of violence against transgender people over the past five years in Honduras. No one has been prosecuted for any of the 17 murders of transgender people.

When cases are not properly investigated and perpetrators are not adequately punished, the government sends a message to society that it condones violence. It also sends a message to victims that initiating complaints will not result in convictions and redress. State inaction in response to attacks on transgender people in Honduras feeds the violence, and encourages discrimination against them by state and non-state actors.

HRW is calling on Honduras to implement these three key recommendations:

  1. Honduras should end violence against transgender people by law enforcement officers and ensure investigations and prosecutions of state and non-state perpetrators of violence against transgender people.
  2. Honduras should ensure full respect for and protection of the human rights of transgender people in police stations when they are arrested.
  3. Honduras should enact legislation that provides specific protections on the grounds of sexual orientation, and gender identity and gender expression.

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Amnesty International Report 2009

May 29, 2009

amnesty-report-2009The Amnesty International Report 2009 is out (link here) and copies may be downloaded from the website (link here).

Earlier this year, I was extremely disappointed at the exclusionary attitude of Amnesty UK to trans women in its “1 in 10” campaign (link here) so I approached this report wondering how the international organisation view us. I ran searches for trans and transsexual, which returned no results, although a search for transgender (link here) returned three pages – mostly, it has to be said via the typical subheading “Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”, but in summary, items directly concerning TS/TG people seem to be as follows:

Belarus: Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists were denied permission to hold events. […] activists were told that their action would block traffic […] that they had not proved that they would provide adequate medical assistance or stewarding for the event, or that they would clean up afterwards […]

Bulgaria: […] the first LGBT Pride event to be held in Bulgaria was organized in Sofia by Gemini, a Bulgarian organization working for the rights of LGBT people. […] Some 150 peaceful marchers faced violence from counter-demonstrators who threw stones, bottles and Molotov cocktails. […] The Prime Minister, although acknowledging the right to demonstrate peacefully, expressed his personal opposition to the march.

Cambodia: […] a transgender woman submitted the first complaint to the ECCC about gender-related abuse under the Khmer Rouge, including sexual violence in the form of gang rape in detention, and forced marriage.

Czech Republic […] in Brno, around 500 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists took part in the first Pride parade in the Czech Republic. Despite two counter-demonstrations being banned by the city authorities, an estimated 150 far-right demonstrators gathered to protest against the parade.

Honduras: The investigation into the beating and rape of Donny Reyes, treasurer of the Rainbow Association (Fundacion Arcoiris), a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights organization, did not progress. In 2007, Donny Reyes was arbitrarily detained by police officers, and taken to a police station where an officer told other inmates “look, I’m bringing you a little princess, you know what to do”. Other inmates repeatedly beat and raped him. One police officer was punished with one month’s suspension from duty without pay.

Hungary: […] the Budapest Chief of Police decided to ban the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) pride parade scheduled for the beginning of July […] Amid international and national pressure he reversed his decision on 13 June.

[…] around 450 people took part in the parade during which explosive devices were thrown at police by hundreds of violent far-right demonstrators chanting threatening slogans. The following day, Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány condemned violence against LGBT rights marchers and called for decisive action against extremism and intolerance.

[…] four counter-demonstrators received minor fines and three were acquitted […] after they were taken into custody for throwing eggs and disobeying police orders during the parade. […]

[…] the Budapest Central District Court gave an 18-month suspended prison sentence to a man who attacked police by throwing stones at least three times during the parade.

Latvia: […] a Pride march was held in Riga to celebrate the rights of LGBT people. The march was protected by law enforcement officials and no major attacks were mounted against participants. However, a large number of counter-demonstrators engaged in verbal abuse. Prior to the event, derogatory statements were reportedly made against LGBT people by an official in the Mayor of Riga’s office.

Lithuania: Municipal authorities in Lithuania issued derogatory statements against LGBT people. An EU initiative, the “For Diversity, Against Discrimination” touring truck, aimed at raising awareness about EU legislation prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of gender, disability, age, religion and belief, race and ethnicity, and sexual orientation, was banned […]

Paraguay: The Truth and Justice Commission investigated two cases related to sexual identity, but cited a lack of reliable evidence of wider repression against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population.

Romania: In its May Universal Periodic Review report to the UN Human Rights Council, the government acknowledged that LGBT people continued to face prejudice and discriminatory attitudes.
[…] around 200 LGBT rights activists marched through Bucharest in a heavily policed pride parade, defying efforts by religious and far-right groups to have the annual event banned.

Rwanda: The government was hostile towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, whose members faced harassment and intimidation. In March, two female LGBT activists were accused of forging documents and detained for two weeks after attending a LGBT conference in Mozambique.

Turkey: Laws continued to be interpreted in ways that discriminated against people based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Allegations persisted of violence by law enforcement officials against transgender people.

[…] a local court in Istanbul ordered the closure of Lambda Istanbul, an organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, after the Istanbul Governor’s Office complained that the organization’s objectives were “against moral values and family structure”.

A transgender person […] was picked up on the street, taken to the Ankara Security Directorate and then insulted and beaten by police. She was released six hours later after paying a fine.

Uganda: There were continuing attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and on human rights defenders working on LGBT rights.

[…] a number of LGBT activists and individuals were arrested and faced torture, including sexual assault, and other ill-treatment by police and security personnel while in detention.

Additionally, LGB people are known to have suffered human rights abuses in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cameroon, Gambia, Greece, Jamaica, Moldova, Nigeria, Nepal, Poland, Russia and Senegal.

I can’t help wondering how many more reasons, how much more proof, and how many more of us must suffer these human rights abuses before our cis allies will stand with us against this rising tide of transphobic bigotry and violence.

It’s time to stop looking the other way.

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Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

Turkey: another trans woman stabbed to death – UPDATE

May 29, 2009

cagla_tunali_eylemi_23_05_09_19Further to my recent post “Turkey: another trans woman stabbed to death” (link here) about the murder of yet another trans woman in Turkey, the LGBTT Rights Platform of Turkey has issued a Press Statement (via KaosGL News):

As you were informed before, one of our trans friends Cagla, was stabbed to death on 22 May 2009 in her house, in Ankara. Discrimination and hate crimes against LGBT individuals are commonplace in Turkey and unless necessary de facto and legal measures are taken, human rights violations against LGBTs will not stop.

The murder of Cagla was the proof of this fact. We will not stop our struggle and will put pressure on state officials to make them stop homophobic and transphobic attitudes in their policies.

Our human rights call after the last transphobic hate murders, especially after Cagla’s death, paved the way for civil society to take side with us against perpetrators and the ignorance of state. On 23 May 2009, at 19.00 p.m., LGBTT Rights Platform and several supporters from different NGOs gathered in front of Cagla’s house to protest homophobic and transphobic violence with a press statement.

“What do the authorities wait for to act? How many of us should also be murdered? Whose government is this? Whose parliament is this?”

“The murderers are not those just who hold the knives or guns. The murderer is the system which prevent LGBTTs to have their basic rights and freedoms.”

“Those authorities, who do not act to solve these problems and who ignores them are also the murderers!” said the statement.

LGBTT Rights Platform and ally civil society NGOs and groups also conducted a press statement in Ýstanbul, on 26 May 2009.

“Stop hate speech! Get used to it, transvestites and transexuals are here!”

“Down with your morals that encourages hate and murders in the laws and our daily lives!” said the statement.

Every Thursday, at 19.00 p.m., we will continue to gather in front of Human Rights Advisory Board of Prime Ministry in Ankara to protest homophobic and transphobic violence.

I hope that the planned regular protest succeeds in alerting more people to this war against TS/TG people and helps to bring about the changes that are so urgently needed in Turkey. Once again, I voice my support for my trans siblings there, and send my condolences to the family and friends of Cagla.

cagla_tunali_eylemi_23_05_09_02

cagla_tunali_eylemi_23_05_09_05

cagla_tunali_eylemi_23_05_09_06

The photos accompanying this post were taken at the protest and are from the gallery at the KaosGL website.

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Cuba to reinstate surgical procedures for trans people

May 28, 2009

flag of CubaIn light of the growing tendency for governments worldwide to deny access to necessary surgical procedures for trans people, it’s encouraging to see Cuba reintroducing them.

Via The Olympian (link here):

Castro’s daughter: Cuba to reinstate sex changes

Cuba will reinstate sex-change operations previously banned on the island, President Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela said Wednesday.

The Health Ministry authorized the operations last year, but none has been performed since. It was unclear when the surgeries would begin.

Mariela Castro, a sexologist and gay-rights advocate, announced the return of sex-change procedures in comments aired on state television. She runs the Center for Sex Education, which prepares transsexuals for sex-change operations and has identified 19 transsexuals it deems ready to undergo the procedure.

Castro also said she backs efforts to allow lesbians to be artificially inseminated, a procedure currently barred.

The first successful sex-change operation was performed on the island in 1988, but subsequent procedures were prohibited, Mariela Castro told an international congress on assisted reproduction meeting in Havana.

Some Cubans protested the decision last year to allow the operations, either because of general opposition to the procedure or for its high costs for a developing country with economic problems.

The government would bear the cost of the operations because Cuba has a universal health care system.

Head, meet desk. Repeat until you fall off your chair.

May 27, 2009

Via the Psychology Today blog, here’s all the trans-misogyny, cissexism, transphobia and downright stupidity you can eat; free of charge courtesy the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and an alleged clinical psychologist who works for said Department. Take it away, Marisa Mauro, Psy.D:

Transgendered in Prison

During my first week of work at the prison I spotted a beautiful inmate with dark flowing hair, impeccably arched eyebrows, and a trim figure sitting on the bench amongst muscled and tattooed men with her legs primly crossed.

Confused I’d turned to a nearby colleague for answers, “I didn’t know we accepted female inmates,” I half stated and half asked.

“We don’t,” she replied matter-of-factly and then paused to look up at me questioningly. Her furrowed brow showed bewilderment but her eyes gave away her amusement.

Because us trans women, we’re a laugh, aren’t we, with our pretending to be Real Women™ and everything?

“What about her?” I countered, motioning to the inmate.

Her eyes followed my gaze. She spotted the inmate and chuckled to herself. “That’s not a woman,” she managed, shaking her head with disapproval, “that’s a he-she. To be here, he must be a man from the waist down.”

“He-she”. Could you not think of a more offensive term, then? “A man from the waist down”? Because obviously if you have male genitalia, well, how can you possibly call yourself a woman?

She scanned my face for understanding. Finding only confusion she continued, “They go to the men’s prison if they have male genitalia and the women’s prison if they have women’s. It doesn’t matter what’s going on from the waist up or what gender they think they are.”

Correction: “it doesn’t matter” – to employees of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation – “what’s going on from the waist up or what gender they think they are”.

I finally understood what she was telling me. I began to berate myself in my mind: He is transgendered!

Who’s transgendered? She. She’s transgendered.

I can’t believe you didn’t immediately identify that – how ignorant.

Funny that – I was just thinking the same thing.

And embarrassed by my own lack of understanding, I silently vowed not to be so unperceptive in the future.

Why waste any more time? Why not start being more perceptive right now?

As a psychologist, I had considered myself to be relatively well informed about individual differences […]

And as a trans woman, I’d have hoped that a psychologist would be relatively well-informed, too. So what happened to you, then?

but I must admit that until this particular moment, I had always harbored a certain image of an inmate – male, muscular, tattooed, weathered and tough.

Because everyone knows that all men universally conform to that particular set of stereotypes, don’t they?

The shattering of this stereotype made me realize two things: One, how much more I still had to learn about working with this population and two, that the clinical application of theory is more difficult than reading about it.

1. You got that right.

2. Is it? So how about you take your theories off trans women’s bodies until you’ve got a grip on your subject?

Perhaps most challenging for me is that most transgendered inmates prefer to be addressed by their ‘female’ names and referred to using the feminine pronouns, ‘she’ and ‘her’. Fellow inmates tend to respect these requests, but the issue is rather complicated for staff – it is most respectful to address all inmates in a male institution by their last name, i.e. Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith and may be disrespectful to refer to them as women.

“Challenging”? “May be disrespectful to refer to them as women”? Can you really not see the problem here?

All in all, I continue to be impressed with the showing of tolerance towards these individuals in prison. Some institutions even provide support groups for transgendered inmates. If I were to have guessed, without the benefit of my experience, I would have been confident that the system would somehow not allow for transgendered inmates. I would have been wrong.

“Tolerance”? How can you just sit there, with your cis privilege hanging out all over the place, claiming that the system you work for is “tolerant”? Did you not even bother to read your own article (much less think about it)? Words fail.

Oh, and that noise? That would be me, banging my head against the desk.

TransLondon to boycott Pride London on 4 July 2009

May 27, 2009

Pride London 2009 logoIn a busy meeting on May 19th, members of TransLondon, London’s largest support group for all trans-identified and genderqueer people, voted overwhelmingly for a boycott of the Pride London 2009 march and rally. As a result, for the first time since the group was formed, TransLondon will have no presence in the parade, nor at the rally.

This is part of an ongoing estrangement from Pride. Last year, a successful Pride march was marred at the rally in Trafalgar Square when a number of trans women were denied access to the women’s toilets by Pride security stewards. One woman was subsequently sexually assaulted after being told to use the male toilets. Roz Kaveney, one of the women targeted in the 2008 “ToiletGate” incident, explained how she felt Pride London had only ever provided a grudging apology under threat of legal action, and that she felt they had never taken the discrimination against trans women in the 2008 rally seriously.

During the meeting on May 19th 2009, members heard how the democratic and transparent structure used in 2008 to co-ordinate participation of trans groups and the funds made available for transgender attendees, through the elected Trans@Pride committee, has been abolished by Pride London for 2009. Instead, Pride London have imposed their own unelected “representative” for the trans strand. Furthermore, requests for information about funding, how decisions were made and who participated in the decision-making process, have been rebuffed.

[…]

TransLondon is keen to hear from other trans groups, allies and any groups from other parts of the LGBTQ community who also feel disenfranchised by Pride London this year. We would like to discuss alternative arrangements for a celebration of the diversity of the LGBTQ community, free from cynical corporate politics, where we can enjoy the true spirit of Pride.

The full statement may be viewed on the TransLondon website (link here)

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