Archive for the 'healthcare' Category

Indonesia: Fundamentalist group attacks transgender human rights workshop

May 13, 2010

Via email from Kamilia, Excecutive Director of Institut Pelangi Perempuan (Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center) comes the disturbing news of three recent attacks by members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) on transgender human rights workshops and HIV/AIDS seminars in West Java.

Dear all,

I just got an information, last night May 11, Islamic Defender Forum again attacked HIV/AIDS seminar in Bandung West Java. One of the participant wrote on mailing list said that they all fine at this moment and just stay in the hotel room for their safety. Within a month, it’s been 3 times they attacked LGBT groups in Indonesia.

The last incident happened several days ago in Depok West Java, transgender group hold a human rights workshop attacked by Islamic Defender Forum. it was actually organized by National Human Rights commission and one of the speaker is the commissioner, and they could not do anything at that time. It is too ironic even police asked the National Human Rights commission to leave the workshop. You can see this video of how fundamentalist groups attacked LGBT people on ILGA Asia conference in Surabaya Indonesia and Transgender group workshop in Depok West Java.

YouTube link:

YouTube link:

Sass Rogando Sasot, who forwarded Kamilia’s email, adds:

According to the news:

Dozens of members of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) stormed a human rights training program intended for transgender individuals at a hotel in Depok, West Java.

The program, organized by the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), had just begun when dozens of FPI members forced their way (past police) into the room.

The FPI is the same fundamentalist group that forced the cancellation of the ILGA-Asia Conference in March.

BBC profiles FPI in the same light as other radical groups in Indonesia.
Here’s the link:

For the news coverage about this incident, please visit:

  2. –> this is the video of how FPI raided the workshop (as you will see the police just allowed it to happen!)

One more time – “gender reassignment surgery is not a lifestyle choice”

February 25, 2010

I’ve run into the barely-contained hysteria of the Manchester Evening News’ tabloid journalism before (“Toilet signs ‘too PC'”), so although the tone of this piece is tediously familiar, the content is possibly more alarming.

Health bosses have been ordered to slash spending plans for the NHS in Greater Manchester by almost ONE BILLION pounds.


The ‘efficiency savings’, which are outlined in several of Greater Manchester’s PCT board papers, will begin in April and must be made by 2014.


It is understood that other savings could be made through a reduction in lifestyle services such as […] gender reassignment.

Yep, that old chestnut: “gender reassignment surgery is a lifestyle choice”. Except that it isn’t. Neither is it anything to do with sexual orientation; it’s not a disease, or a mental disorder, or any of the other timeworn transphobic tropes.

Interesting that the source of that particular assertion isn’t named. It couldn’t possibly have been made up by a journalist, could it? Oh uncharitable Helen, how could you be so cynical to even think such a thing?

But hey, why let the facts get in the way of another round of offensive disinformation from a tabloid newspaper? And don’t even start me on the racist hate speech in the comments.

Oh Manchester, so much to answer for…

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)


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.


Previous related posts:

Trans suicide prevention

October 11, 2009

mtpc logoMassachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) has available for free download the following two brochures addressing the issue of trans suicide:

  • Saving Our Lives: Transgender Suicide Myths, Reality, and Help

    Information for transgender people, family, friends, and allies. Includes warning signs, do’s and don’ts, helpful tips, contact information, and myths and realities.

    Click here to download PDF

  • Preventing Transgender Suicide: An Introduction for Providers

    Includes definitions, warning signs, victimization and PTSD, systemic stressors, protective factors, where to learn more, and references.

    Click here to download PDF


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

Results of survey on health of Massachusetts LGBT community published

July 30, 2009

mass-logoThe Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has published the results of “the largest survey to date comparing the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) residents to heterosexual and non-transgender residents in Massachusetts”.

[Click here to download a PDF copy of the report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Persons in Massachusetts]

The Executive Summary points out that the health of trans people is worse than amongst cis people; and that we also have “worse outcomes with respect to self‐reported health, disability status, depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, and lifetime violence victimization”.

Some of the results do stand out – they may not be particularly surprising, given the amount of anecdotal evidence one hears from conversations with other trans people, but they do seem to confirm it:

  • While 10.4% of heterosexual respondents and 7.8% of gay men and lesbian respondents did not have a personal doctor, 17.6% of bisexual respondents and 17.3% of transgender persons indicated that they did not have a personal doctor.
  • With respect to overall health, respondents were asked if their general health was excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. Heterosexual respondents had 82.5% responding Excellent or Very Good while gay men or lesbian respondents reported 78.0%, bisexual respondents 73.5% and transgender persons 67.3%. Self‐reported general health has been found to be a good indicator of an individual’s actual health status.
  • Respondents were asked to report how many days in the past 30 days they have felt sad, blue or depressed. Heterosexuals reported 3.97 days, gay men and lesbians 4.18 days, and bisexuals 6.38 days. Transgender persons reported 7.79 days, higher than non‐transgender respondents (4.29 days).
  • Respondents were asked if during the past 12 months they had seriously considered attempting suicide. Among heterosexuals, 2.3% reported having considered suicide and among gay men and lesbians, 4.4% reported suicide ideation. Transgender persons (30.8%) and bisexuals (7.4%) reported higher rates of suicide ideation.
  • Respondents were asked if they had ever been threatened with physical violence by an intimate partner. Among heterosexuals (12.3%) reported a lifetime history of being threatened with intimate partner violence victimization, compared to gay men and lesbians (14.0%), bisexuals (18.4%). Transgender persons (34.6%) were more likely to report being threatened with physical violence by an intimate partner than non‐transgender persons (13.6%).
  • Respondents were asked to report whether they had ever had an HIV test. Gay men and Lesbians (72.2%) had the highest rate, followed by bisexuals (66.7%), transgender persons (65.4%) and heterosexuals (49.0%).

To my mind, what’s missing from a lot of these data is the “why” aspect: why are trans people less likely to have access to a doctor than gay and lesbian people, why do we feel depressed more often than cis people, why do we feel suicidal more often, why are we more likely to report being threatened with physical violence by an intimate partner than cis people, and so on. Of course, those reasons will undoubtedly vary widely between individuals, but it would have been interesting to know if any patterns had emerged, and if there were any differences between trans and cis populations.

Overall, I think the report is to be welcomed, cautiously – but I also hope that a more rigorous (and bigger) survey can be carried out in the near future. If nothing else, it suggests that the problems we face in our everyday lives are in urgent need, not only of study, but positive and supportive action by the mainstream cis society which oppresses us in so many ways. However, I also think that for there to be any real improvements in our circumstances there first needs to be a substantial change in cis people’s attitudes to us – and that doesn’t look likely to happen any time soon.


Curtsey to Stefani for the heads up


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

NYAGRA’s first Public Directory of Trans-Sensitive Providers launch event

July 20, 2009

Via The Center:

GIP Presents: NYAGRA’s 1st Public Directory of Trans-Sensitive Providers Launch Event

Event Date
Tuesday, July 21 2009 : 7:00pm

The Center

Gender Identity Project will be hosting the following event:

The New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) has compiled the first public directory of transgender-sensitive providers in the New York City metropolitan area and will be distributing hundreds of copies of the directory to members of the transgender community.

NYAGRA’S 1st Public Directory of Trans-Sensitive Providers

The 26-page directory – which includes of physicians, mental health professionals, acupuncturists, and AIDS agencies as well as other health care providers – is a project of the Transgender Health Initiative of New York (THINY), a community organizing project established by the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), NYAGRA, and the Center GIP in 2004.

Some of the providers listed in the provider directory will be on hand at the event, along with light refreshments. Come get your own copy of the directory and meet some of the providers!

Find this event on Facebook, and invite your


For More Information
For more information please contact: Kelly White (760) 473-2476 or Pauline Park (212) 675-3288, ext.338

If only there was a similar initiative here in the UK, she murmurs, wistfully…


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

Lu’s Pharmacy refuses to fill trans woman’s prescription

July 16, 2009

Makeup artist Raigen D’Angelo (left) and activist Jamie Lee Hamilton hold up a prescription that was refused by the staff of Lu’s: A Pharmacy for Women - image via straight.comI know I said I would be writing less about news-related items, but I want to record this prime example of gobsmacking hypocrisy in the name of feminism, by way of a follow-up.

Remember that we’re living in the 21st century; it’s been 40 years since Second Wave feminism in all its transphobic glory was adopted unquestioningly by so many naive and unthinking cis women feminists…

In my earlier post (link here) I wondered if Lu’s Pharmacy in Vancouver was perpetuating the discrimination agains trans people (initiated and maintained by VRR for nearly a quarter of a century) with its stated policy of offering services only to “women who were born women” (direct link to PDF of VWHC statement here).

Well, it seems that I’ve now got my answer – and I’m disappointed to say that Caryn Duncan – the executive director of Vancouver Women’s Health Collective (VWHC), which runs the pharmacy – comes out of it looking like the narrow-minded, bigoted, dogma-driven drone she apparently is. Via (link here), I gather that on Tuesday, July 14, Jamie Lee Hamilton, a local resident in the area, called in at Lu’s Pharmacy to ask for a prescription to be filled, and was refused “because she wasn’t born female”.

According to Hamilton, the collective’s executive director, Caryn Duncan, explained that the pharmacy won’t serve male-to-female transgender people. Hamilton said she told Duncan that this policy is discriminatory.

“She then said, ‘No, you have to be born female,’” Hamilton claimed.

“Male-to-female”, “born female” – these are phrases with their own subtle toxicity: I, for one, never considered myself male, so the idea that I would transition from male to female is entirely inappropriate, as is the assertion that I wasn’t born female. The terms are fundamentally cissexist – they imply that, irrespective of how we self-identify, to cis people we are always and forever the gender we were assigned at birth. It’s interesting that an organisation like VWHC, which makes such a point of preaching its feminist views, should choose to use such an essentialist stance to base its discriminatory policies on. And this is a feminism which asserts that gender is entirely socially constructed?

[Ms Duncan] added that she isn’t sure that she would describe what happened as “refusing her service” […]

Right, right… Remind me again: did Jamie Lee Hamilton leave the pharmacy with her prescription filled? No? And how did that happen then, if she wasn’t refused service?

[…] and claimed that Hamilton tried to force her way inside. Duncan also said she feels “very overwhelmed” by the pressure she’s received to provide service to transgender women.

“I have felt that people are employing intimidation tactics, and it’s hurtful to me personally,” she said.

Ooh, nice use of the ‘Drowning Maestro’ attack there – filtered through the lens of cissexism:

It matters not that the [trans] person might be speaking passionately of hurts they have suffered their entire life, hurts they suffer as they speak, starving children, raped women or murdered millions. The person hurling the Wite-Magik Attak fixates upon the TONE of the complaint or insight. Because what really bothers them is that a [trans] person has the nerve to speak with such self-confidence and passion. This, in fact, scares them. If it weren’t such a demeaning move when you have something you feel is important to say, this Attak would be downright comical. Just picture a conductor waving his wand as he plummets to the bottom of a darkening sea.

(Curtsey to Nezua)

Yep, us trans women sure are meeean to our oppressors…

Meanwhile, back in the topsy-turvy world of Caryn Duncan:

“As I said to Jamie Lee Hamilton, we want to help women here. We want to focus on the work that we do that’s very important to us and to the women who want to use our services. That’s where I want to put my energy.”

In fact, it’s so important for her to focus on her client base that she’s prepared to refuse service to that proportion of it to whom she’s ideologically opposed. And this is a feminism that’s about equality for all women?

Duncan said she informed Hamilton of a pharmacy a couple of blocks away that would provide adequate care.

NIMBY-ism at its most obnoxious. And this is a feminism that’s about choice?

But at least Ms Duncan is consistent in her foolishness:

According to Hamilton, Duncan told her that Lu’s pharmacy will serve transgender men who were born female. “It’s an ideology that’s really, really bizarre,” Hamilton said.

Hello, cluephone calling: there’s a bit of a revealing phrase there: “transgender men”. Ms Duncan, that description is usually taken to refer to trans people who self-identify as men, who live their lives as men, who are passed by your very own cis society as men – and you’d welcome them with open arms even as you’re pushing trans women out of the door?

When asked about this, Duncan responded: “We will serve all women born women.”

That sound? That’s me, banging my head against the desk.

“We will serve all women born women.”

Oh shut up, you clueless, bigoted transphobe.


Previous, related posts:

Endocrine Society recommendations for the long-term treatment of transsexual people

July 15, 2009

Via Endocrine Today:

New guidelines from the Endocrine Society call for close and continued collaboration between endocrinologists and mental health professionals for the treatment of transsexual people.


Long-term Care for Transsexual People: Recommendations from the Endocrine Society

  • Regular clinical and laboratory monitoring every three months during the first year then once or twice yearly.
  • Monitor prolactin levels in male-to-female transsexual people treated with estrogens.
  • Evaluate all transsexual people for cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Obtain BMD measurements if risk factors for osteoporosis exist, particularly in those who stop hormone therapy after gonadectomy.
  • Follow breast screening guidelines for biological women in male-to-female transsexual people with no known increased risk for breast cancer.
  • Follow screening guidelines for prostatic disease and prostate cancer for biological men in male-to-female transsexual people treated with estrogens.
  • Evaluate the risks and benefits of including total hysterectomy and oophorectomy for female-to-male transsexual people as part of sex reassignment surgery.

So, that penultimate one, the one about screening for prostate cancer in trans women – are you listening, Prostate Cancer Charity and Jon Snow/Channel 4?

Lu’s: a pharmacy for cis women?

July 8, 2009

VWHC logoVancouver Women’s Health Collective has just opened a new pharmacy called Lu’s: A Pharmacy for Women which claims to offer a “full-service pharmacy” as well as “advice on your medication and your healthcare”. (Via VWHC website – Lu’s Services)

The website continues:

By opening a women’s pharmacy, the VWHC is once again providing health care services to women along with health information and our continued advocacy work, from a model that is informed by a feminist perspective. We know that women are still underserved by the current health care model, and we know that certain women face considerable barriers to accessing quality health care, which include poverty, addiction, racism, and sexism, among others. We see Lu’s: A Pharmacy for Women as a unique opportunity to organize in a new way, by bringing together health care professionals both traditional and holistic (in the form of pharmacists, doctors, and holistic practitioners), volunteers, community activists, and community members in one space.

(Via VWHC website – A Brief History of Lu’s: A Pharmacy for Women)

Which all sounds great. A much-needed resource offering access to “quality health care, which include poverty, addiction, racism, and sexism, among others”. A laudable aim, unquestionably.

However, according to The Vancouver Courier (link here):

Starting Tuesday, any woman who was born a woman can visit the pharmacy to have prescriptions filled.

It’s unclear where the phrase “any woman who was born a woman” has come from – The Vancouver Courier is the only source I have seen which uses the term explicitly; note that the VWHC website (link here) refers simply to “women”. Not “womyn born womyn”, and not “self identified women”; just “women”. The contact page of the VWHC website (link here) states that “our Centre is a space for women only”.

However, history has shown us many times that the default meaning of “women” is, in reality, “cis women”, so the use of “women” is a cause for concern if trans women are likely to be excluded.

And the fact that this pharmacy has opened in Vancouver is further cause for concern. The appalling treatment of Kimberly Nixon by Vancouver Rape Relief in 1995 resulted in a huge and destructive legal battle which still has implications today.

Ms Nixon had previously worked as a rape counsellor elsewhere, and the main reason she applied to VRR was because the shelter that she visited didn’t allow survivors they’d served to volunteer until 12 months had passed. She was initially accepted, but when it became known that she was a transsexual woman, she was forced to leave.

Ms Nixon took her grievance to a Human Rights tribunal – and won – but the decision was overturned by the British Columbia Court of Appeal in 2003. And in 2007, the Supreme Court of Canada declined to hear an appeal from the decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

Effectively, the decision legitimised VRR’s “women only space” policy, which translates to meaning that only those who were born and raised female are allowed access. In my view, this is tantamount to holding trans women’s history against us – that something we have no control over is an ineradicable original sin which stains our lives forever.

It is this terrible history of cis women’s mistreatment of trans women in Vancouver that makes me wish that the VWHC would issue a formal clarification of their position on access by trans women to the resources offered by Lu’s Pharmacy.


ETA: Thanks to Carto in comments (link here) for pointing out the paragraph in VWHC’s Our Political Agreements statement (direct link to PDF) which says:

Therefore, we feel that it is essential that a woman be born a woman and have the physiology of a woman and the psychological experiences of living as a girl and a woman in order to embrace the work of the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective. For us, membership and services are open to women who were born women.

So there y’go, that’s as clear as crystal.

And presumably, then, by that same essentialist definition, trans men will be welcomed with open arms…

GIRES Award 2009 announced

July 5, 2009

GIRES logoThe Gender Identity Research and Education Society has announced its Award for 2009:

The Award recognises the excellent work of eight eminent clinicians, who developed “Guidelines on the Endocrine Treatment of Transsexual Persons”

The Guidelines include a clear recommendation that suppression of pubertal hormones should start when girls and boys first exhibit physical changes of puberty, but no earlier than Tanner stages 2-3.


The Award is made in recognition of influential published work that will improve the lives of gender variant people.

The 2009 Award recognises the importance and excellence of the Endocrine Society “Guidelines on the Endocrine Treatment of Transsexual Persons”.


The Guidelines include a clear recommendation that suppression of pubertal hormones should start when girls and boys first exhibit physical changes of puberty, but no earlier than Tanner stages 2-3. That treatment is already available in highly reputable centres in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and the USA. The guidelines should now provide a substantial impetus to improving treatment in other countries, such as the UK, which require these young people to endure inappropriate full pubertal development before any physical intervention is offered.