Archive for the 'Questioning Transphobia' Category

Josie Romero: daughter, sister, trans child

July 25, 2010

The recent New York Times article, When to Out a Transgendered Dater?, written by a cis man posing as an ethicist, was notable more for its display of blatant cisupremacism and noxious subtext of anti trans sentiment than for answering its own question in any useful way. Thankfully, it’s been thoroughly and deservedly deconstructed in numerous responses (see Questioning Transphobia, The Bay Area Reporter, Feministing and Bilerico, to name but a few).

In the light of that unnecessary reminder that many cis people will always make it about them, it’s a real breath of fresh air to read about two cis parents, Venessia and Joseph Romero, who are as open, supportive and loving as any child could wish for. Four years ago they found that their elder daughter Josie is transgender and since then, according to the Arizona Daily Star (see also the site’s health blog), have worked hard to follow her lead.

And Josie is not only adamant that she’s a girl, but also that she’s transgender. She doesn’t want to hide who she is, and her family says they respect and support that. Telling her story validates her, her mother says.

“Josie is very proud of who she is,” Venessia says. “Why go through life with a secret? Where’s the health in that? There should be no shame.”


“Josie will change her mind on many issues in her life. Halfway through grad school she may switch her major,” Venessia says. “But her blood type will never change, and she’ll always be female. All through Josie’s life she has persistently and consistently identified as female. Josie is a girl, has always been a girl, and will grow up to become a woman. That is just part of who she is.”

Josie Romero (image via Mamta Popat/Arizona Daily Star)

Needless to say, the Romero family has received a lot of criticism, not least for being the focus of a significant amount of media attention.

A year ago, National Geographic contacted TransYouth Family Allies seeking a family with a transgender child, and the group contacted the Romeros. Venessia says the family gave it a lot of thought, including talking with Josie. Ultimately, they decided it would be a good idea and other media appearances soon followed.

“This world isn’t going to change on its own,” Venessia says as Josie and sister Jade, adopted from China when she was 2 and Josie was 3, ride their pink and purple bikes. “I don’t want her growing into a world that isn’t ready for her.”

Which, to me, is the heart of the matter. Articles like the NYT piece I mentioned above have only one purpose: to reinforce the ciscentric (and cissupremacist) values of a world which is transphobic by default. All anti trans rhetoric is fundamentally and intractably aimed at upholding the essentially (and essentialist) transphobic belief that trans people simply shouldn’t exist. As Alison Davison, coordinator of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance points out, in the debate about whether TS/TG people should be ‘out’:

Many transgender folks prefer to live what we call a ‘stealth’ existence.

If they are transsexual, they will go through the stages of transition and often do their best to quietly blend in. There are philosophical and political discussions about the importance of being ‘out.’

Personally, I think there is strength in being out and public. I think the rest of society needs to see faces and hear stories of transgender people so they can develop greater understanding and compassion.

Whilst I’m broadly in agreement with this, I doubt that any cis person can ever truly understand our experiences of being trans; however, it’s true that a little more acceptance wouldn’t go amiss. And a useful place to start for cis people who want to show solidarity with, and support for, our communities would be to actually listen to us with the same degree of care and attention as Venessia and Joseph Romero have shown for Josie. If we were able to feel safe enough around cis people that mentioning, or not, that we’re trans wouldn’t be putting our lives at risk whether we self-disclose, or not – then just maybe the world could take another small step towards being a better place for all of us.


Edited to add: There are a couple of YouTube videos of Tyra Banks’ interview with Josie and her family, televised in January 2010. Despite the poor quality of sound and images, either is well worth taking 10 minutes to watch. Here are the links:


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

U.S. passport fees increase

July 4, 2010

There’s always a catch, isn’t there? After last month’s announcement by the State Department that trans people will no longer be required to have undergone surgery in order to change gender on passports comes a further announcement that passport fees are set to rise on July 13.

Via the Seattle Times and others (the State Department website’s link won’t open for me, for some reason):

US passport - image via AFPIf you need a U.S. passport, get one soon before fees increase steeply in mid-July.

The cost for a first-time passport for an adult (age 16 and older) will increase to $135, up from the current $100, on July 13. A renewal for an adult passport will be $110, up from $75. A first-time passport or renewal for a minor (younger than 16) will be $105, up from $85.

The U.S. State Department noted the price increase on its website this week. The prices include an “acceptance fee,” payable to facilities where passport applications are taken.

Travelers who need extra pages in their passports to accommodate more visas/stamps will pay $82 starting July 13. That service has been free.

The fee also is increasing for a passport card, a more limited form of federally-issued identification that can be used for land/sea travel between the U.S. and Mexico, Canada and a few other Western Hemisphere countries. A first-time passport card for an adult will cost $55 (up from $45). A renewal will be $30 (up from $20). For a minor, a passport card (first-time and renewal) is $40 (up from $35). The passport card is not valid for international air travel.

To get information on applying for a passport, formally called a “passport book,” and to download application forms, see or phone 877-487-2778. Adult passports and passport cards are valid for 10 years, five years for minors.

First-time applicants and those younger than 16 must apply in person at an acceptance facility, which includes post offices, libraries and certain government offices. Find passport-acceptance facilities by ZIP code at

Renewals for most adults can be done by mail.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

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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(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

Seattle: cis man pleads not guilty to hate crime following violent street harassment

June 18, 2010

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a cis man’s violent street harassment of a woman who was waiting at a Seattle bus stop, minding her own business. Now, via KOMO News I see the case has reached the courts (minor edits for clarity):

A man charged with a hate crime for the bus stop beating of a transgender woman pleaded not guilty to the charge on Thursday.

Daniel Patrick Woodward is charged with malicious harassment in connection with the incident at the bus stop at NW Market St. and 15th Ave. NW on May 30.

According to charging documents, Woodward approached the victim, who was dressed as a woman and identifies as one, punched and kicked [her], called [her] a derogatory term for homosexual and said, “You ought to die and go to hell!”

A witness also heard disparaging comments related to the victim’s gender or sexual orientation and told police it was clear Woodward was attacking the victim because she was transgender, charging documents say.

Woodward appeared intoxicated at the time of arrest, according to police. He currently is being held on $250,000 bail at the King County Jail.

At the time of his arrest, Woodward had a no-bail felony warrant for escape. He has had numerous prior convictions, including for malicious harassment, assault, and reckless endangerment.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia


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WPATH identity recognition statement

June 16, 2010

Via WPATH’s website:


June 16, 2010

The Board of Directors of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), in the interest of the health and well-being of transgender and transsexual people world-wide, issued today, 16 June 2010, the following identity recognition statement:

No person should have to undergo surgery or accept sterilization as a condition of identity recognition. If a sex marker is required on an identity document, that marker could recognize the person’s lived gender, regardless of reproductive capacity. The WPATH Board of Directors urges governments and other authoritative bodies to move to eliminate requirements for identity recognition that require surgical procedures.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

Puerto Rico: committee to document the extent of hate crimes

June 13, 2010

Via Associated Press:

A special committee to investigate hate crimes has been created in Puerto Rico, where advocates say gay and transgender people are the victims of an “epidemic” of violence.

The announcement by the attorney general was cheered Saturday by activists who complain the government has yet to invoke 2002 legislation establishing harsher penalties for crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“I think this is a step in the right direction to start to collect statistics that are vital to curb the crisis of violence against the gay community in Puerto Rico,” said Pedro Julio Serrano, a native of the U.S. territory and spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Serrano said 25 slayings of gay and transgender people in the past eight years may have been motivated by bias […]

The new government committee involves agencies including the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Juan, police officials and the island’s civil rights commission, according to a statement release by the attorney general late Friday.

“With the creation of this committee, we will document the extent of hate crimes,” said Attorney General Guillermo Somoza Colombani, who added that the data will help develop policies to attend to the victims.


A recent string of high-profile slayings, however, has put pressure on the government. Some of the cases have received broad local news media coverage, including the April killing of a 31-year-old transgender beauty salon owner.

“It’s sort of an epidemic,” Serrano said. “It’s too much to be ignored.”


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia


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US State Dept announces new passport rules for transgender people

June 10, 2010

Via Associated Press and others:

Surgery not required to change gender on passports

US passport - image via AFPTransgender travelers no longer will need surgery in order to change their stated genders on U.S. passports, the State Department said Wednesday.

Beginning Thursday, a transgender person applying for a U.S. passport will just need to show a physician’s certification that the applicant has “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” to declare a new gender on a passport, the department said.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said appropriate treatment could mean surgery for some patients and non-surgical care for others.

The State Department said there are guidelines detailing what the certification must include, but no other medical records are required. The government also said it’s possible to obtain a temporary passport if a physician’s statement shows that an applicant is in the process of gender transition.

Under previous rules, the State Department would only change the sex on passports if travelers had completed sexual reassignment surgeries, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

But Keisling said that policy put some transgender people in jeopardy when they traveled through countries where changing genders is dangerous.

The State Department says the new policy is based on standards and recommendations from the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

AFP adds:

“Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance,” [the State Department] said in a statement.

From June 10, “when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender,” the statement said.

“As with all passport applicants, passport issuing officers at embassies and consulates abroad and domestic passport agencies and centers will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity.”

The State Department said the new rules mean “it is also possible to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician’s statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition. No additional medical records are required.”

Definitions of “appropriate”, anyone (“appropriate clinical treatment“, and “appropriate questions“)?


Edited to add: The State Department’s press release announcing the new policy is here.

The official document containing the full details of the policy (including details of the criteria to be met; the list of required documents; model letters, etc) is available for download from the State Department’s website – here’s a direct link to the 8-page PDF – or I’ve saved a copy locally here at BoP.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

Seattle: cis man charged with hate crime following violent street harassment

June 4, 2010

Via Seattle PI and King5:

A man was charged Thursday with malicious harassment — the state’s hate crime statute — after police said he yelled a derogatory slur at a transgender woman and assaulted her.


Court documents allege the suspect, 51-year-old Daniel Patrick Woodward, told the victim she “ought to die and go to hell” after yelling the slur. [Via Seattle PI]

“The victim was waiting minding her own business when the suspect approached her and without provocation began assaulting her,” said Renee Witt, Seattle Police spokesperson. “Apparently he punched her in the face a number of times, threw her to the ground and kicked her.” [Via King5]

The Ballard victim told police she was fearful for her life and wanted to have medical attention for face and neck pain. She was taken to Ballard Swedish Hospital.


A witness who reported seeing Woodward yelling at the victim after the assault followed the suspect as he walked into a nearby store. He later pointed out the suspect to officers.

Police say Woodward was found near Northwest 54th Street and 14th Avenue Northwest and arrested for investigation of assault.

“The suspect appeared intoxicated and had a strong odor of intoxicants,” Officer Trung Nguyen wrote in an incident report. “He would not respond to my questions of whether he understood his rights.”

The victim was ashamed that someone would assault her based on gender, according to police. Nguyen photographed the victim’s injuries as evidence, and a witness said she did not fight back. [Via Seattle PI]

There’s also coverage in The Seattle Times but the misgendering by the writer, staff reporter Susan Kelleher, is pretty close to hate speech of itself, in my opinion. I realise that the police report also misgenders the victim, but I’m not convinced that is reason enough to use the kind of language that Ms Kelleher does – especially when “a police spokeswoman clarified that the victim identifies herself as a woman” [Via].


Curtsey to Stefani for the heads-up


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia

Puerto Rico: another woman murdered in her own home

May 26, 2010

Via Primera Hora, El Nuevo Dia and EDGE Boston:

According to police reports, the body of […] Angie González Oquendo […] was found completely naked, gagged, hands [tied] and strangled with an electrical cord in the living room of her home […] [Via Primera Hora and Google Translate]

[…] Angie was last seen alive […] last Thursday [20 May] and it is suspected that [this was the] day she was murdered because “the state of decomposition of the body is compatible with that of a person carrying three to four days dead”, said Lt. Charles H. Cruz Burgos, director of Criminal Investigations Cuertpo (CIC) of Caguas. [Via El Nuevo Dia and Google Translate]

The director of the CIC of Caguas, Carlos Cruz, [said that] at the moment there are no suspects for the murder because the investigation is in preliminary stage.

The prosecutor promised to investigate the crime as a possible hate crime case of sexual orientation.


“At the slightest suspicion that a crime may have been committed by prejudice against sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim, the authorities have an obligation in law to investigate this angle of hatred”, said Pedro Julio Serrano, a spokesman for [the human rights organisation] Tod@s. [Via Primera Hora and Google Translate]

“I urge the Latino community to be united as one voice and with our personal actions reject any type of homophobia, transphobia and discrimination,” said Guillermo Chacon, president of the Latino Commission on AIDS, in a statement released shortly after news of González’s death broke. “We are one family; we must pursue the well-being of all our members. We must address homophobia and transphobia by putting a stop to the jokes, slurs, discrimination and hatred faced by our LGBT brothers and sisters, not just in Puerto Rico but across the entire country. Hatred and violence is never the answer.” [Via EDGE Boston]


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia


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