Archive for the 'U.S' 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

(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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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

Student attacked at CSULB speaks at rally

April 30, 2010

Via Press-Telegram:

Colle Carpenter speaks at the Take Back The Night event - Image via Press-Telegram (Stephen Carr)

Transgender CSULB student Colle Carpenter speaks at the Take Back The Night event at the Cal State Long Beach campus on Thursday. On April 15 Carpenter was attacked while on a break from class; Take Back The Night is an international event held primarily on college campuses and is intended as a protest and direct action against rape and other forms of sexual violence.

There’s a video at the Press-Telegram site but I can’t work out how to embed BrightCove vids in WordPress and couldn’t find a different format anywhere else, so here’s the direct link to the video, and here’s a transcript of the parts of Colle’s speech as shown in that video:

I’ve been terrified to come back to campus… The person who attacked me knew my name… pushed me back into a stall and carved “it” into my chest.

For those of you that don’t know why “it” is such a derogatory term, it takes away a person’s humanity. It takes away their personhood and makes them less than human.

Know that what happened to me didn’t just happen to me – it happened to the entire community… Those of us that are visibly queer, those of us that are out about being queer, are scared.

Campus police are still looking for Mr Carpenter’s attacker.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia


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Transphobic attack on student at California State University: request for further information

April 23, 2010

On Facebook yesterday, Gender Justice LA made this post which shared an email received from Katherine Ojeda Stewart of UCLA School of Law, Class of 2010.

The email stated that:

[…] a trans student left class thu night to go to the bathroom and on the way there was assaulted by someone who knew him by name but whom he didnt know. he beat him and threw him against a wall then carved “It” on his chest with a knife.

I can well believe that this attack on an unnamed trans man at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) took place, but so far I’ve been unable to find any other details of this account outside of Facebook and I find that surprising. I’d have thought that a story of this nature would be in the public domain by now.

So if anyone has any further information/resources such as local and/or national news reports that provide independent verification of the post on Facebook, please would you leave the links in comments?


ETA, Saturday 24 April: The Daily 49er carries this report:

A 27-year-old transgender student at Cal State Long Beach reported that he was attacked in a university restroom on the west side of the KKJZ building at about 9:30 p.m. on April 15.

According to a press release from CSULB Director of Media Relations Rick Gloady, “The suspect called the student by his first name, and the student responded. The student reported the suspect then pulled the student’s T-shirt up and over the student’s head and pushed him back into the stall. The suspect then used a sharp object to slash the student’s chest. The suspect then fled the area in an unknown direction of travel.”

Gloady said that no one has been arrested, and that he cannot say when further information will be released.

The University Police, according to the release, believe that this was an isolated incident and there is no additional threat to the campus community.

“All manners are being handled through our public affairs office,” said University Police Captain Fernando Solorzano, referring to how they are communicating to the press about the case.

Public Affairs Assistant Vice President Toni Beron was unable to be reached for comment.

Officers are continuing to investigate the case and ask that anyone having information regarding the matter contact Det. Johnny Leyva at 562-985-4101.

Let’s hope the University Police are correct in their belief that this was an isolated incident and there is no additional threat to other trans people in the area. Cases like this highlight how vulnerable trans people are to transphobic attacks and I hope that the attacker is apprehended at an early date; there are too many violent bigots ‘out there’ as it is.


Other reports may be found here, all seem to be quoting the same CSULB press release, although Press-Telegram adds that:

The 27-year-old victim was taken to a local hospital by a university instructor, but his injuries were not life threatening, and he was released that evening, said CSULB Spokesman Rick Gloady.

Duanna Johnson: new trial date set

April 22, 2010

Via My Eyewitness News and The Commercial Appeal:

Bridges McRae will face a new jury on July 12, 2010 after jurors in his first trial could not reach a verdict. Eleven jurors thought he was guilty. One juror believed he was innocent.

McRae is accused of violating Duanna Johnson’s civil rights.


Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia


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Duanna Johnson: mistrial declared in civil rights trial

April 20, 2010

Via Associated Press (and many others):

A federal judge in Memphis has declared a mistrial for a former police officer charged with beating a transgender prisoner.

The mistrial was declared Monday after jurors began deliberating last Wednesday in the case against Bridges McRae. He was accused of violating the civil rights of Duanna Johnson […]

Johnson was repeatedly hit in the face with handcuffs as she was being booked into jail on a prostitution charge in February 2008. McRae testified Johnson pushed and scratched him and he was trying to control her.

The 43-year-old Johnson was shot to death later in 2008 on a street corner near her home. No one has been arrested.

Prosecutors say they plan to charge McRae again. He will stay free on his current bond.

And they say justice is blind


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Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar murder: cis man arrested

April 14, 2010

Via ABC Local and others:

A 29-year-old Manhattan man who met a transgender Queens woman in an online chat room was tracked down in Las Vegas and charged with her killing.

Rasheen Everett was taken into custody Friday in connection with the strangulation of 29-year-old Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar.

Everett was charged with second degree murder and tampering with evidence. Other charges are pending. He is expected to be arraigned later today.

Everett was also wanted in Brockton, Mass., for the attempted murder of his ex wife, whom he strangled, according to police.

And what gave him away? Using Ms Gonzalez-Andujar’s cellphone which he appears to have stolen (along with her laptop and perhaps other possessions):

[Detectives] tracked his cell phone activity to Las Vegas, where he had fled.

He was seen on video leaving Gonzalez-Andujar’s apartment building with her laptop and suitcase. Investigators believe he took the computer to prevent them from discovering e-mails between him and the victim.

Police say Everett was also in possession of the victim’s cell phone. Additional cell phone records linked Everett to the victim.

It’s hard not to think of Allen Andrade stealing Angie Zapata’s phone and debit cards and driving around in her car in the days between Ms Zapata’s murder and Mr Andrade’s arrest.

Watch this space for yet another attempt at using the trans panic defence when the case comes to court, no doubt.

Further updates to follow as and when available.


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Cross-posted at Questioning Transphobia