Mercedes Allen

Scenes From the Trans Struggle

Filed By Mercedes Allen | August 25, 2008 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Cleveland, Jacksonville, Kuwait, Sweden, T Job Bank, transgender

Some of this is belated again, my apologies, but is important to note:

1) Sweden is drafting a plan to legislate mandatory physical sterilization of transsexuals,

2) The potty wars rage on in Jacksonville and Cleveland,

3) Murders of transfolk continue to be regarded differently from murders of humans,

4) A Kuwaiti law specifically targeting transgender people has spurred a fledgling human rights action,

5) The T Job Bank launches, connecting trans-friendly employers with job seekers. So far, there are 12 jobs listed: let's get our GLBT and diversity allies involved!

Details below the fold...

1) Out of fear of transsexuals parenting children -- apparently sparked by the news coverage of Thomas Beatie -- a proposal is in the works in Sweden to implement mandatory physical sterilization of transsexuals via removal of the testes or ovaries. These procedures are, of course, a part of full transition, assuming that all transsexuals wish to go that route (not all do), but the proposal is overly-sweeping, takes the decision (and a fundamental human right) away from people and is clearly driven by fear of transsexuals parenting. In addition to smacking of eugenics, there are serious flaws with the plan. In the case of male-to-female transsexuals who are not able to get GRS at the same time (finances, perhaps not completed their RLE yet, depending on when castration is required to occur), there are additional consequences. General surgeons who perform orchiectomies have a reputation for butchering the surrounding tissue in the process, and for this reason, many GRS surgeons are reluctant or flatly refuse to accept a patient who has had the procedure performed.

2) The washroom and shower debate continues. In Jacksonville, Florida, a transsexual was cited for using the ladies' room at a bus station. She lives full-time as female. '"Because he's a man, he don't need to be using no woman's bathroom," one bus customer said. "What if we came in and seen he's standing up instead of sitting down."'

Another transwoman, who needs aquatic therapy while recovering from a stroke, had been forced by her gym to use the mens' locker room for a year, but following a boy's curiosity as to why a woman was in the men's changing rooms, she defied the order, bringing her into conflict with gym management and the City of Cleveland. The City views this policy as non-discriminatory: '"We are being as accommodating as we possibly can, given the request that's been made, given her own personal situation, given where she's at in life," [Cleveland Law Director Robert] Triozzi said. "We're trying to be sensitive."' Consequently, they are not considering a gender-neutral locker room or the possibility of clearing the women's locker room for her use. Instead, the offer of "private toilet stalls as a dressing room" (which apparently have no doors) in the mens' room are thought to be good enough.

3) Murders of transsexuals still remain relatively unpunished or minor offences. In Philadelphia, Terron Oates has had his charges downgraded to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Alexis King, and faces a minimum of five years in prison, but could be out in as early as 30 months due to credit for time served. Terron, of course, successfully used the panic defense, despite a number of inconsistencies. In spite of being relatively streetwise, he claimed not to have known that the area he picked King up in was a known hangout for trans sex trade workers. He alleged that King grabbed his hand and intentionally placed it on her genitalia, an action that I've never known a trans sex worker to do (most go out of their way to avoid such a thing, because even "tranny chasers" can go volatile when faced with things that make them question their orientation). King was also securely "tucked." Additionally, it was claimed that they fought for Oates' gun, and then she lunged for him. The judge felt that this was supported by the fact that she was shot in the back and side. Assistant D.A. MK Feeney also disputes the contention that the murder happened during a heat-of-passion: '"He immediately got rid of the weapon," Feeney continued. "If you can't think straight, you're not going to do that. Then he calls 911, does this act on the phone about a robbery and unknown gunman and lies to the responding officer and detectives. To me, that shows a pretty good presence of mind, don't you think?"'

Not long before that, in the U.K., Shanniel Hyatt was acquitted of the murder of Kellie Telesford, and didn't even need the panic defense. Although he was the only person caught on video leaving her home (with an armful of things, including a cell phone later found in his possession), he successfully argued that after he robbed her apartment in her presence, he still left her very much alive... and obviously she was so distraught that her first action was to strangle herself to death in a kinky sex game. Dr Kenneth Shorrock, who examined the body, disputed this, saying, "If I exclude from my mind that this person was a transsexual, the issue [kinky sex] does not appear." But apparently, the assumption that being transsexual equals being a kinky sex afficionado was good enough for the jury.

4)News is not always bleak. In recording international trans situations, one of the first articles I filed this year was regarding a series of arrests in Kuwait stemming from a new law that specifically targets transgender people. However, an inquiry initiated due to a complaint by Chairwoman of the Arab Committee for Human Rights Violette Dagher has resulted in legislators meeting with transfolk to review the law. DSM abolitionists will not like this, of course, but the established medical model and treatment is presenting a strong argument against the criminalization of transsexuality in that nation*. We don't know where this will lead, the battle goes on, but in the face of some of the other disheartening news happening, it gives cause to hope.

* (Just so this comment is not misconstrued, I repeat my agreement that there needs to be a removal of GID from the DSM... as soon as an appropriate medical model is in place. Until then, for the sake of situations like this, the existing model is still vitally needed.)

5) Jillian Barfield is launching the T-Job Bank, connecting trans-friendly and trans-positive employers with trans job seekers. Workplace advocate and advisor Dr. Jillian T. Weiss is helping publicize the launch. A discussion forum has also been initiated for interested parties.

Recent Entries Filed under Transgender & Intersex:

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.

Mercedes, that's great news on #4 and #5. Thanks for sharing them with us.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | August 25, 2008 11:43 AM


1 Sounds like it could never be enforced and Sweden is too liberal a country to actually do this. I propose we point out the stupidity of the proposal.

2. Yep, there's Jacksonville, bus stop en route to the Red Neck Riviera. I maintain there are places too stupid for LGBT persons to live and we should do all we can to remove our vitality from them. Cleveland is stupid, but not as dumb as Cincinnati.

3. As long as I live I will never understand how ignorance has been raised to a legal precedent.

The Sweden one is weird. Do they have laws against LGBT people adopting?

GLB people can adopt, provided they're in a recognized form of partnership, and lesbian couples can seek out artificial insemination. This is sort of a blip on the legal landscape.

Despite the laws, though, agencies behave differently, and I don't know if there have been any particular groups lobbying about trans parents specifically.

1) The idea of castrating someone against their will just seems wrong and if they can get away with it with transsexuals who's next inline? 2)Having been on spironolactone for a while I'm wondering if that couldn't make people wonder if we have a bathroom fetish or not as sometimes I've got to go every fifteen minutes and that isn't a choice.Worse yet is living in a State where many businesses don't allow public restroom use at all.I support unisex restrooms because they make them available to anyone who needs to go.Harassing a transitioned person for using the restroom of their true gender just shows disrespect to the medical community and the guidelines of our transition. 3)I wonder if the same panic defense would work for us killing someone because we assumed they were going to harm us because we're Ts or transgender. 4)I agree that a medical model needs to exist and stated that about the bathroom issue in your post and also in the post by Dr.Winters. 5)A job bank to match employers with T workers is an excellent idea that I hope works well. Thanks for posting these items of importance Mercedes

Rodney A Ballard (Yelhsa),Nottingham,NG3-6FT , 31. | November 4, 2008 5:52 PM

As it is getting near to the Transgender Day of Remembrance a non interactive site will be put up which will be hard hitting and will give the Absolute truth about what happened to Kellie Telesford and who as we already know killed her. Hyatt certainly picked the wrong person. The site will restore Kellie`s peerless character and fine reputation and expose Pillai-Jones and Greenberg et al. And here is a nice surprise for you,Kellie has made this possible,she really is magic. yours, YELHSA,(Nottingham,NG3-6FT,Nr31)GB.