Archive for June, 2010

Sweden: National Board of Health and Welfare recommends complete restructuring of transgender care and legal gender recognition

June 30, 2010

Via Transgender Health:

Today Wednesday the 30th of June 2010 the National Board of Health and Welfare published their report following the recent overwiev of transgendender care in Sweden that was initiated during the 2009 Stockholm Pride Festival by the Board after demands from RFSL, the National Federation for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Rights.

The report suggests farreaching changes for Sweden’s trans and gender variant people and the most important change is that the Board have put forward a solution on the legal issue. Instead of suggesting that the Parliament (Riksdagen) will initiate yet another proposal, the Board proposes that the present law shall be stripped of those parts that are in violation of the human rights of trans and gender variant people such as described by Thomas Hammarberg the Comissioner for Humans Rights at the Council of Europe in his Issue Paper and in alignemenet with the Yogyakarta principles.


In §1 the conditions laid down for who may apply for a legal gender changeare ” a person who, since youth experiances that he belongs to a different gender then the gender put down in the national register and since considerable time is acting accordingly, and must be assumed to continue to live in this gender can apply for a decision that he belongs to the other (legal) gender.”

The former prerequisites of being a Swedish citizen, unmarried and sterile are removed from the proposed law revision. Only two things remain from the old law of 1972, the age limit for legal gender recognition wich is 18 years of age. The other part of the old law that will be in effect is the special permission by the the Forensic Council of the National Board of Health and Welfare needed to undergo GRS/SRS in Sweden which is due to the present laws on sterilisation and castration. This doesn’t apply to similar procedures performed outside of Sweden.


The report also recommends a general review of the situation for trans youth.

It is hoped that care can be made available to all trans people without need for the ICD-10 diagnosis of transsexualism, thereby making available hormone or other forms of treatment without the need for surgery as part of the process of transition. The aim is to disconnect the process of legal gender recognition from medical/surgical requirements and if the National Board of Health and Welfare gets its wish then as from January 1st 2011, any resident in the Kingdom of Sweden will be able to have their legal gender changed to that which they feel most appropriate.


Curtsey to Maria of RFSL for the heads-up

UK: Identity Documents Bill 2010-11: progress report 30 June 2010

June 30, 2010

Having completed its First and Second Readings, the Identity Documents Bill 2010-11 has now reached the Committee stage of its progress through the House of Commons, according to the Parliament UK website.

The committee’s consideration of the Bill is scheduled to be completed on or before 8 July 2010.

Summary of the Bill

The main purpose of this Bill is to abolish identity cards and the National Identity Register; it repeals the Identity Cards Act 2006. There are no provisions for refunding existing cardholders.

A small number of provisions in the 2006 Act – unrelated to ID cards – reappear in the Bill. These cover offences relating to the possession and manufacture of false identity documents such as passports and driving licences. The Bill also re-enacts data-sharing provisions in the 2006 Act designed to verify information provided in connection with passport applications. Identification cards for non-EEA nationals are not affected by the provisions.

The ‘small print’ in the second paragraph of that quote seems to re-confirm that, even though ID cards may be abolished for UK citizens, the national identity database remains in place and, presumably, active.


Cross-posted at The F-Word


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IAAF: it used to be indecisive but now it’s not so sure

June 29, 2010

Via South Africa’s The Citizen, it seems that the IAAF is likely to miss its next self-imposed deadline for confirming Caster Semenya’s competition status.

The IAAF said it would reach a decision by the end of June, but spokesman Nick Davies said yesterday it still had to have an internal meeting about the case.

Speaking from his office in Switzerland, Davies said a statement would be released as soon as the outcome of gender verification tests were discussed.


While many waited on June 10 for the outcome of the “Caster Semenya dispute”, a press conference, hoped to reveal if she would compete again, was cancelled at the last minute.

Her lawyer, Greg Nott, said at the time that Sports Minister Makhenkesi Stofile had cancelled the press conference as the IAAF exco had not received a formal briefing on the matter from the medical team.

Frankly, this amount of stonewalling by the international governing body for athletics is inexcusable. Every deadline it breaks serves only to prolong its attack on a woman athlete who happens not to conform to stereotypical female gender norms.

It’s time for the IAAF to stop sitting on the fence and start making amends for the human rights abuses it has been inflicting on Ms Semenya for nearly a year.


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Mongolia: serious concern for trans women’s situation

June 28, 2010

Coming the day after many trans people around the world have celebrated LGBT Pride, it’s sobering to remember that even the small gains in civil rights and social justice for which many have fought are still brutally denied to others of our community. Via email from the Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide monitoring and research project comes this disturbing news from Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia about the situation for our sisters there:

Transgender Europe’s “Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide” research project receives a lot of information on the situation of trans people worldwide. At the moment we are particularly concerned about the situation in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.

LGBT people in general have to live under extreme conditions and at the moment especially the transwomen of Ulaanbaatar are subject to physical violence, gang rapes, abductions, and death threats. They are being told that they will be killed if they continue to be who they are. The perpetrators belong to a well-organized ultranationalist group, which is protected by the police. We received all this information from the Mongolian LGBT Centre, the only group that cares for LGBT people and especially for the transwomen in Mongolia. They managed to get two transwomen out of the country after they received death threats. In February they produced a really shocking documentary.

Here is the documentary, called The Lies of Liberty, broken into three parts on YouTube, with English subtitles:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The transwoman appearing in the documentary has received a death threat after the documentary was shown. The Mongolian LGBT Centre managed to get her out of the country.

The Mongolian LGBT Centre has no funding and its activists are working voluntarily and under extreme conditions as they are threatened by the ultranationalist group, too. They already tried to abduct an activist.

I think it is absolutely important and urgent that we support them, exchange with them and include them in our networking and movement.

At present the Mongolian LGBT Centre is leading the development of non-discrimination legislation. This will be a long-term process, but it is a much-needed step forward in terms of the protection of human rights in Mongolia. Last weekend they started filming an awareness campaign for LGBT rights, using high-profile people from a range of different fields, which will be broadcasted over a series of months with accompanying informational and promotional material.

If you have any means to support them (financially, knowledge-wise, contacts etc), please do so and contact them at:

Thank you very much for your support!


Curtsey to Carla at Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide for the heads-up


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia


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Breaking down Internet Eurocentrism, one byte at a time

June 28, 2010

ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the non-profit corporation responsible for managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses, recently announced that for the first time in the history of the Internet, non-Latin characters can be used in things like website and email addresses.

These changes will enable countries and territories to represent their names in scripts other than Latin, and Arabic was the first non-Latin script to be implemented (Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates being the first three countries to take up the option).

Now ICANN has announced (direct link to PDF of ICANN Press Release) that a set of Chinese language internationalised domain names will be the next to be made available. Other languages scheduled to be implemented include Russian, Sinhalese, Tamil, and Thai.

“This approval is a significant change for Chinese language users worldwide,” said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN. “One fifth of the world speaks Chinese and that means we just increased the potential online accessibility for roughly a billion people.”

While the introduction of non-Latin domain names is – in the words of Egypt’s communications minister Tarek Kamel – “a milestone in internet history” and a welcome move to breaking down Eurocentrism on the Internet, it should be remembered that this is a technical change only and does not address the wider issues around, for example, the digital divide; digital literacy; malware and internet censorship.

Additionally, and I’m sure that there’ll be a few people who won’t be happy to hear it, the ICANN board also voted to allow the application for the controversial .XXX top-level domain (TLD) name to move forward. ICANN envisage this domain being used by what it politely calls “the adult entertainment industry” – or “omg pr0n”, as it’s known to the rest of us.


June 26, 2010

Elephant Parade logoThis afternoon I went on my final ‘elephant spotting trip’: the Elephant Parade’s viewing days are almost at an end, when all 250+ members of the happy herd were gathered together for the public to see before the auction takes place on 3rd July. The herd had been divided into two, the majority on show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea were the “outdoor elephants” (whose decorative finishes were weatherproof) while the Westfields mall hosted the (I think 18) “indoor elephants”, whose finishes were less likely to withstand the vagaries of the British summertime climate.

I came away feeling exhausted and exhilarated, and more than a little sad that these beautiful works of art are no longer to be found in all sorts of unexpected corners of London.

Seeing the Chelsea herd was a particularly memorable experience, over 230 beautiful artistic works of colour and creativity, whimsy and social conscience in one place is something I don’t think I’ll forget for a very long time.

One ellie in particular I found both hard-hitting and haunting, named Phoolan, had been treated by the artists Carrie Reichardt and Nick Reynolds to highlight the plight of the Asian elephant by showing how it is persecuted for its ivory, blown up by landmines and exploited by humans, to the point where this beautiful creature is now an endangered species. There are two short but fascinating YouTube vids about the making of Phoolan here and here.

Phoolan and Helen, Royal Hospital Chelsea, 26 June 2010

More photos to follow; meanwhile my blog page of photos of the 70 ellies I saw “in the wild” during May and June is here.


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(You Make Me Feel Like) An Unnatural Woman

June 26, 2010

Idaho GOP move to define marriage to exclude transgenders
Measure: Bond is between ‘naturally born’ man and woman

Idaho doesn’t recognize gay or lesbian marriage, but some Republicans want the state to go a step further.

A panel of GOP delegates at the state party’s convention passed a measure Friday to define marriage as a bond between a “naturally born” man and woman, effectively barring transgenders.

Bannock County delegate Ralph Lilling says his amendment to the state party’s platform will help further protect the traditional family unit.

But Donna Montgomery, a delegate from Kootenai County, argued that the additional language was unnecessary because people from Idaho understand man is a man and a woman is a woman.

The measure still has to go before the full convention for approval.

Via The Spokesman Review

Words fail me. So here’s some music instead.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

It’s a long road…

June 23, 2010

…there’s no turning back

[Music by Funki Porcini, 1995]

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

[From The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost, 1916]

Another milestone on the road less travelled

June 21, 2010

Irish Government withdraws challenge on trans recognition

June 21, 2010

Via RTÉ News:

Lydia Foy (Image via Irish Times)The Government has dropped its challenge to a High Court declaration that Irish law on transgender rights is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Government must now introduce legislation recognising the new gender of transgender persons and allowing them to obtain new birth certificates or it will face condemnation from the European Court of Human Rights.

Dr Lydia Foy, a transgendered woman registered at birth as a male who had challenged Irish law on this matter, today welcomed the Government’s decision saying it finally marked an end to her 13-year battle for recognition as a woman.

The Government has withdrawn its appeal to the Supreme Court and has set up an inter-departmental group to advise the Minister for Social Protection on the legislation required.

The Free Legal Advice Centre welcomed the Government’s decision, which it described as significant and groundbreaking.


Edited to add: Press Release from the Transgender Equality Network Ireland:

Transgender Equality Network Ireland strongly welcomes the announcement today of the State’s official withdrawal of its appeal against the Supreme Court’s declaration of incompatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights in the case of Dr. Lydia Foy v An t-Ard Chláraitheoir & Others.

This will bring to a close the 13 year long legal battle which Dr. Foy had to initiate following the Register General’s refusal to issue Dr. Foy with a new birth certificate that would recognise her preferred gender.

“Today’s announcement is an important step forward by the Irish State”, said Carol-Anne O’Brien of TENI “It will bring Irish law closer to EU norms and it contributes to the human rights of transgender people in Ireland.”

Carol-Anne O’Brien said: “TENI would like to take this opportunity to warmly congratulate Dr Foy on her victory. Dr. Foy’s courage and tenacity has won an important achievement for all within Ireland’s trans and wider LGBTQ community.”

Martine Cuypers of TENI added: “TENI urges the government to act quickly to honour the commitments given in the current Programme for Government to bring forward Gender Recognition legislation”.


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