Archive for March, 2010
Council of Europe adopts recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity
Via the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers (link here):
Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 31 March 2010 at the 1081st meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers [...] Recommends that member states:
- examine existing legislative and other measures, keep them under review, and collect and analyse relevant data, in order to monitor and redress any direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;
- ensure that legislative and other measures are adopted and effectively implemented to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity, to ensure respect for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and to promote tolerance towards them;
- ensure that victims of discrimination are aware of and have access to effective legal remedies before a national authority, and that measures to combat discrimination include, where appropriate, sanctions for infringements and the provision of adequate reparation for victims of discrimination;
- be guided in their legislation, policies and practices by the principles and measures contained in the appendix to this recommendation;
- ensure by appropriate means and action that this recommendation, including its appendix, is translated and disseminated as widely as possible.
The Recommendations establish how international human rights standards should be applied and contain specific measures for Member States on how they should improve their legislation, policies and practices. Additionally, the Recommendations require Member States to ensure that national human rights structures are clearly mandated to address discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. They also encourage Member States to address multiple discrimination experienced by LGBT people.
That 47 European countries have unanimously agreed to adopt such a comprehensive list of recommendations through common action is without precedent: it’s the world’s first intergovernmental agreement of this nature. The potentially far-reaching implications of this are hard to imagine but do offer a significant hope for the future; now we need to see some practical action to begin implementing these adopted recommendations Europe-wide as soon as possible.
So today is the first International Transgender Day of Visibility*
Transgender Day of Visibility is in full swing, slated to take place for the first time in history on March 31. Events will happen locally, but also across the country and in England and Canada.
Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, Crandall said, the day of visibility aims to focus on all the good things in the trans community, instead of just remembering those who were lost. “The day of remembrance is exactly what it is. It remembers people who died,” she said. “This focuses on the living. People have told me they love Remembrance Day but it really focuses on the negative aspect of it. Isn’t there anything that could focus on the positive aspect of being trans?”
Facebook group here. So is anyone doing anything? Anyone inspired to create an event for next year?
* The editor in me thinks this surely needs a tweak – “International Day of Transgender Visibility” makes more sense.
And per the story, it is ridiculous that she was placed under this scrutiny in the first place, and that it is taking IAAF seven months (+) to simply allow her to compete. It’s almost like they’re looking for something, anything, to use against her.
“Unfortunately, these processes have dragged on far too long and with no reasonable certainty as to their end,” Semenya said. “The result is that my athletic capabilities and earning potential are being severely compromised. I am an athlete first and foremost, and it is vital for my competitiveness, my well-being and for my preparations for the European summer that I measure my performance against other athletes.”
She hasn’t even been barred from competition, she simply agreed to not compete until the test results were returned to her. However, since she’s been barred from one event already, this may be a moot point.
Despite being a mostly-unknown trans activist and blogger whose target audience is usually quite small, I recently found myself at the centre of some internet drama over a piece I wrote at my blog critiquing Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video for what I perceived as transmisogynist content. My arguments were initially picked up and discussed on a few feminist blogs, Twitter, and the typical places I was used to seeing these kinds of ideas debated. A few days after I put up the post, though, it was cross-posted in its entirety to Oh No They Didn’t, a pop culture community on Livejournal. Almost immediately, my page hits increased by orders of magnitude. With the shift from academic/queer/Feminist/oppression politics sites to a mainstream audience came a nearly complete disintegration of argument, and my inbox and comment queue began to fill with hate mail. In almost every letter the author concluded with an accusation like “And maybe you ****ing trannies would get somewhere if you weren’t so ****ing angry!”
I get the irony.
Of course the rest is at the link.
I will say upfront that the health care bill is a horrible bill and fails to really accomplish full reform. That said, it is an improvement because the US health care system (and I use that term very loosely) is beyond horrible. A system that makes it easier for everyone to get and keep coverage is better than a system that makes it easy for people to be excluded for arbitrary reasons. It still doesn’t go a fraction as far as it needs to, and of course disallowing transition-related health care is still legally allowed discrimination under the reformed health care. The new boss is only slightly friendlier than the old boss.
What the healthcare reform law will do for transgender people:
Increased access to health insurance: Because of rampant workplace discrimination, transgender people are under- and unemployed at significant rates, with an incidence of poverty at more than twice the national average. The reform law’s provisions that impact low-income Americans will provide new opportunities for many transgender people to access health insurance.
Cannot be denied coverage or dropped: Also importantly, the healthcare reform law would prohibit insurance companies from dropping or denying coverage to individuals or their dependents because of their 1) pre-existing condition, 2) medical condition, 3) claims experience, 4) receipt of healthcare, 5) medical history, 6) genetic information, 7) disability, and 8) any other health-status related factor determined appropriate by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This means that transgender people cannot be dropped or denied coverage by insurance companies because they are transgender or have received transition-related medical care. This is a huge leap forward for the transgender community. However, this provision does not affect insurance companies’ exclusion of transition-related care.
Ban on some forms of discrimination: Additionally, the law also forbids discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sex, age, and disability. If an individual experiences discrimination by a medical provider or organization, (s)he may seek remedies under existing statutes that protect the previously mentioned groups. Even though sexual orientation and gender identity and expression are not included in the anti-discrimination provision, current federal, state, and local anti-discrimination statutes that protect the LGBT community are still in force.
Continued barriers to health care faced by transgender people
Discrimination and distrust: Transgender people suffer from multiple barriers to accessing affordable and quality healthcare, including extraordinarily high rates of discrimination from medical providers and organizations. Lambda Legal conducted a survey which found that 70% of transgender and gender-nonconforming respondents had experience some form of discrimination by medical practitioners. (http://www.lambdalegal.org/publications/when-health-care-isnt-caring/) Because of this discrimination, transgender people mistrust medical professionals and put off necessary preventive care and treatment. This leads to additional complications and deteriorating health, and adds additional costs.
Lack of insurance and denial of coverage: Because of discrimination in the workplace, there is a significant lack of insurance coverage within the transgender community. Even if they do have insurance, transgender people often times cannot access medically necessary care because insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid explicitly exclude transition-related care. Additionally, many insurance companies refuse to cover transgender people at all. Some insurance companies do provide coverage to transgender people but deny claims citing that transition-related treatments can lead to other, unrelated health issues, even when there is no scientifically based link between them.
Warning: Contains quoted descriptions of violence against trans people.
With the state of appropriation of trans lives in the queer community being what it is, I wasn’t terribly shocked when I found out about Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives, a new “comedy/thriller/‘transploitation” film directed by a cissexual gay man, Israel Luna. Trans women especially are subject to being reframed in cis people’s narratives, and gay men especially seem to have a sense of entitlement over the identities of trans women. This piece does a good job of pointing outmuch of the transphobia, transmisogyny, and cissexual privilege in the movie and in Israel Luna’s attitudes towards trans people.
Follow the link to read the full takedown. This is pretty disgusting stuff.
GLAAD has a call to action up about this:
Misrepresenting the Lives of Transgender Women
Writer/director Israel Luna based his film on the “exploitation films” of the 1970s such as I Spit On Your Grave, about a woman who was raped and sought revenge on her attackers. The five lead characters in Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives are brutally attacked by a group of men; two do not survive the attack, but the surviving three seek gruesome revenge on their attackers. The film is a pastiche of graphic violence and horror movie clichés, with a few scenes of campy humor.
By marketing Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives as a “transploitation” film, by using the word “trannies” (a pejorative term for transgender people) in the title of the film, by casting transgender women in some roles, and by citing the murders of Angie Zapata and Jorge Mercado in the trailer, Israel Luna has attempted to place his film squarely within a transgender narrative.
However, while some of the actors in the film identify as transgender, the characters are written as drag queens, “performing” femininity in a way that is completely artificial. The very names of these over-the-top female caricatures (Emma Grashun, Rachel Slurr, et al.) drive this point home.
Because of its positioning as a transgender film, viewers unfamiliar with the lives of transgender women will likely leave this film with the impression that transgender women are ridiculous caricatures of “real women.” It demeans actual transgender women who struggle for acceptance and respect in their day-to-day lives and to be valued for their contributions to our society.
You can read the full call to action at the link above.
Edit: I didn’t catch it myself, and I apologize for that, but the GLAAD call for action others trans people who are outside the binary and promotes that there’s really one way to be a trans woman. I would suggest also writing to GLAAD about the problematic and offensive aspects of their call to action.
I also copied the link to this post in gudbuytjane’s excerpt above, but I want to make sure people see it. Unfortunately, one of the actors chose to defend the film in the comments, mobilizing transphobia and misogyny against trans women to do so.
If Israel Luna so desperately wanted to make an exploitation film, I think he would have been better off looking to his own community before attempting to claim ownership of trans women’s lives.
From a press release by the Equality Network about Scotland’s new hate crime law, which will come into effect tomorrow, 24 March 2010:
[...] The new law is called the Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act. It will mean that homo/biphobic, transphobic and disability-prejudice crime is properly recognised as hate crime.
This is the first transgender-inclusive hate crime legislation in Europe, and has the most inclusive definition of transgender identity in any European legislation.
From tomorrow, any criminal offence which is partly or wholly motivated by prejudice on grounds of disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity, will be dealt with as a hate crime all the way through the system.
The offence could for example be an assault, or vandalism, or verbal threats and abuse which can be charged as breach of the peace, or any other crime. If the person committing the offence uses homo/biphobic, transphobic, or disability-prejudice language, or if there is any other evidence of their prejudiced motive, that makes it a hate crime.
If anyone witnessing a crime thinks it was a hate crime, the police must record it as a hate incident. If there is any evidence of the hate motive, for example prejudiced language was used, it will be charged as a hate crime. If the person charged is found guilty, the hate motive will be taken into account in sentencing – and the court must say publicly what difference the hate motive made to the sentence. [...]
Rebecca’s expressed her gratitude for all the help, and asked me to take the buttons back down. Thank you to everyone who helped give her a boost. This has helped her perhaps more than you know.
I don’t know how many of you remember the blog Burning Words, but it started up a few years ago, either around the same time or before I started Questioning Transphobia. Rebecca’s blog was always a powerful read for me, even if it was relatively short lived.Unfortunately, right now Rebecca’s in dire need of assistance – she’s just had a huge expense that leaves her with $10 for the next two weeks. On top of this, Monash has canceled her surgery for the second or third time, which has left her in a pretty bad place emotionally. It was scheduled for sometime in the next two months, but her psychiatrist in a moment of cis lady concern, disclosed to Monash that Rebecca was dealing with depression. Monash’s response was to cancel Rebecca’s surgery without a word to Rebecca about why, or what they expect.
I don’t understand the logic behind denying medical treatment that could ease the symptoms of depression because the depression is present in the first place. Unfortunately, ever since three former patients took legal action against Monash and Dr. Trudy Kennedy for approving them for hormones and surgery. There were also concerns about Dr. Kennedy and Monash approving people for trans-related care while dealing with other mental illnesses. Despite the extremely low rate of misdiagnosis and regret among people who have surgery, Monash has decided that it is better to protect the potential handful of cis people who might try to seek surgery than ensure that the significant number of trans people who are seeking treatment get the care they desperately need. And Rebecca’s caught up in this, as she has been for the past year or two.
I am not trying to position Monash as a great place for trans people to seek treatment – it was compared to Jurassic Clarke more than a few times before the legal trouble, but the outcome of what has happened has had a significant personal cost for the people who sought treatment with them.
Any amount will help get her through to the end of the month and beyond. Please, send something.
The donation button is on the right, above “pages.” The second donation button is mine – please don’t accidentally send funds to me (but if you do, I’ll pass them along to Rebecca).
The Attorney General of NSW has pressured the NSW registery of Births, Deaths and Marriages to revoke the Sex Not Specifed status of Norrie May Welby. The inhumane actions and total lack of understanding by the Attorney General in this matter has led to the lodgement of an offical complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission under the 1984 Sex Discrimination Act. [Via]
Both Norrie and SAGE issued statements yesterday, March 18, 2010, at a press conference held at the Offices of the Australian Human Rights Commission where a complaint was lodged against the NSW Attorney General’s Office for sex discrimination under the 1984 Sex Discrimination Act. (Direct link to PDF copy of the statements here).
From norrie’s statement:
I am devastated by the news. It is a hideously humiliating position to find myself in and makes a mockery of my human rights that I feel have been completely violated by the Attorney General’s Office.
I am being discriminated against because my sex is not the same as the average male or female but I am still a human being and entitled to protection under the law.
My complaint also cites breaches of Articles 1 and 2 of the United Nation’s Charter of human Rights of which Australia is a signatory. My right to socially differentiate myself is being interfered with by the state. Also I am being harassed by the Rudd Government because of my sex. I will continue to fight for my right through the courts to identify myself in society as the person I truly am ‘Sex Not specified’
Tracie O’Keefe’s statement for SAGE suggests that this is nothing other than “a cruel, viciously and politically motivated attack on [norrie's] identity by the Attorney General to woo right-wing voters in a year when the Rudd Government proposes to fight an election” and adds:
In 2009 the Australian Human Rights Commission released its report on the legal disadvantages of sex and/or gender diverse people in Australian society – The Sex Files – and made recommendations for changes in government policy and laws. The government has done very little to implement these changes and still sex and/or gender diverse people are often stuck in a legal disadvantaged situation that would not apply to any other sector of society.
In the report the AHRC recommended that people like Norrie be allowed to have identities that do not specify their sex/or gender. However it seems the Attorney General has dismissed these recommendations and human rights are way down his list of priorities, far below appeasing right-wing Labor party supporters. This is a scandalous abuse of power.
The Trans Murder Monitoring Project (TMM), whose press release last November linked to the results of its research posted on the TGEU website, has now launched its official website, Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide (TvT).
From its press release (direct link to PDF):
TvT is a comparative, ongoing qualitative-quantitative research project which provides an overview of the human rights situation of trans persons in different parts of the world and develops useful data and advocacy tools for international institutions, human rights organizations, the trans movement and the general public. [...]
333 cases of reported murders of trans people in the last 2 years!
The Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project started in April 2009 and is systematically monitoring, collecting and analysing reports of homicides of trans people worldwide. Updates of the preliminary results, which have been presented in July 2009 for the first time, will be published on the TvT website two to three times a year in form of tables, name lists, and maps. The TMM January/February 2010 update has revealed more than 330 cases of reported murders of trans people in the last 2 years.
The number of reports of murdered trans people is increasing!
The preliminary results show an increase in the number of reports of murdered trans people over the last years. In 2008 the murder of a trans person is reported every third day, on average, in 2009 the murder of a trans person is reported every second day, on average. Yet, we know, even these high numbers are only a fraction of the real figures. The truth is much worse. These are only the reported cases which could be found through internet research. There is no formal data and it is impossible to estimate the numbers of unreported cases.
[...] In total 97 murders of trans people were reported in 13 Central and South American countries in 2008 and 156 murders in 15 Central and South American Countries in 2009. The reported murders of trans people in Central and South America account for 75 % of the world wide reported murders of trans people in the last 2 years.
The recent update of the preliminary results also reveal that 11 murders of trans people have been reported in 5 European countries (Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Turkey) in 2008 and 17 murders of trans people in 6 European countries (Albania, Italy, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and the UK) countries in 2009. In Asia 9 murders of trans people have been reported in 5 Asian countries (Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan and Singapore) in 2008 and 8 murders in 2 Asian countries (India and Malaysia) in 2009, in Africa murders have been reported for South Africa in 2008 and for Algeria in 2009, and in Oceania for Australia in 2008 and for New Zealand in 2009.
In total the preliminary results show 136 reports of murdered trans people in 26 countries in 2008 and 197 reports in 26 countries in 2009 adding up to 333 reported murders in 36 countries in the last two years.
The latest updates (January/February 2010) of the TMM results are available to download here and I’d urge anyone with any interest in the spiralling murder rates of trans people worldwide to spend some time on the TMM website.