What happens when your son tells you he’s really a girl? Inside the families embracing the new world of gender variance

Some medical professionals see gender variance as a natural characteristic of human diversity, similar to sexual preference, that should be accepted and even celebrated. An article in Macleans (Jan 6, 2014) explores the lives of supportive families and their trans and gender variant children..

The Public Health Agency of Canada published comprehensive recommendations in 2010 for schools to support gender-variant students and several provincial governments have added “gender expression” to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination. The tides may be turning but the need for education is high. The negative judgement of trans individuals suggests there is a 17% higher risk for suicide and even higher risks for being bullied by others.

The Macleans article also has a short video embedded within and pictures throughout, providing a glimpse into the daily lives of trans and gender-variant children and their families. This is an excellent introduction and movement towards educating the public and advancing the needs of trans youth – which is a natural characteristic of human variation.

You can read the article here: http://www2.macleans.ca/2014/01/13/what-happens-when-your-son-tells-you-hes-really-a-girl/

 

In the United States the National Gay and Lesbian Task Forces and the National Center for Transgender Equality conducted a survey of 6,450 trans and gender non-conforming individuals from all 50 states. This study was the first of its kind and provides us with a clear picture of what needs to change in order to stop the injustice in their lives..

Discrimination against trans and gender variant individuals provides critical data for policymakers, community activists and legal advocates to confront the appalling realities. Respondents experience higher levels of poverty and a staggering 45% of those survey reported attempting suicide. Harassment and discrimination in education was reported at alarmingly high rates and include physical assault (35%) and sexual violence (12%). Harassment was so severe that it led to almost 15% to leave school in K-12 settings or in higher education..

Abuse by Police, discrimination in health care and public accommodations, employment discrimination and economic insecurity, as well as housing discrimination, barriers to receiving updated documents (identification and personal records). The 6,450 individuals all reported that family acceptance was of great importance, although the majority reported experiencing family rejection. Despite all of the harassment, mistreatment, discrimination and violence faced by trans individuals the study demonstrates their determination, resourcefulness and perseverance. This report is a call to action for all of us, especially for those who pass laws and write policies. Inaction is a form of violence that will negatively affect trans and gender variant people. Take up the call for human rights for transgender, transsexual, trans, and gender variant people and confront the patterns of abuse and injustice. Let’s learn (and teach) the values of human variation to our children, to each other and let’s learn more ourselves!.

You can access the full report titled “Injustice at every Turn” here: http://www.TheTaskForce.org or here: wwww.TransEquality.org. You can also get more information about the survey at: http://www.EndTransDiscrimination.org

Pride Week Panel on Reproductive Autonomy: Control of Sexuality

Here’s the poster for the upcoming panel, Reproductive Autonomy: Control of Sexuality that we’re hosting this Wednesday as part of the U of Alberta’s Pride Week.  The sesssion will feature Lise Gotell and Lane Mandlis as speakers, with Moyra Lang and Rob Wilson performing an interpretative dance (ok, perhaps not, … but we’ll do something useful … or at least will be there).  Please print and post, or distribute electronically.  Text only version included as well.

Pride Week Eugenics Panel Poster

Pride Week Eugenics Panel Text

Reproductive Autonomy: Control of Sexuality A Panel Discussion at Pride Week, University of Alberta

Wednesday March 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm in Education South Building at the University of Alberta the Living Archives on Eugenics is sponsoring a panel discussion featuring Professor Lise Gotell, Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies and Dr. Lane Mandlis, with Moyra Lang, and Professor Rob Wilson. ASL interpreting services will be offered at this event. Find us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/events/270019033131796/?fref=ts

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Sweden Moves to End Forced Sterilization of Transgender People

Sweden, “one of 17 [countries] in the European Union,” may soon change a law that requires transgendered people to become sexually sterilized if they decide to officially change gender.  Sweden has made moves to repeal the law in January, only to be stopped by the Christian Democrat Party.  However, this party has recently changed their mind, allowing the repeal to go through.

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/sweden-moves-to-end-forced-sterilization-transgender-people

This move was partially in thanks to an online petition, by AllOut (http://allout.org/en/actions/stop_forced_sterilization), which gained 80,000 international signatures to repeal the law.  However, the date for repealing the law is still pending.

Countries that still require sterilization include France, Italy, Romania, Poland, Greece, and Portugal.  For a map outlining the current status of European sterilization, you can link here: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/most-european-countries-force-sterilization-transgender-people-map

Forced Sterilization for Transgender People in Sweden

An article at Mother Jones looks into an obscure Swedish law that requires those who want to legally change their gender to first get divorced and sterilized. The article uses this law to transition to a discussion on the long history of eugenic practice and sterilization in Sweden — a practice that surprises many, considering the general impression of Sweden as a bastion for liberal ideals and equality.

Sweden is considered extremely gay-friendly, with one of the highest rates of popular support for same-sex marriage, and more than half the population supports gay adoption. Arguing that the current law is both unpopular and abusive, the country’s moderate and liberal parties want to see it repealed. In response, the small but powerful Christian Democrat party formed a coalition with other right-of-center parties to join in upholding the requirement for sterilization. End result: a proposal for new legislation that allows trans—a preferred term for many people who undergo gender reassignment—to be married but continues to force them to be sterilized.

Head on over to Mother Jones to give it a read. Also check out another article about the same story in the Swedish press.

 

 

A UN case study in Muslim, African and communist homphobia by Jonathan Kay

Today is World AIDS Day and a good time to reflect on many advances, or is it? National Post Journalist, Jonathan Kay presents  interesting details  about International as well as Canadian homphobic politics in this article, dated November 22, 2010. Apparently “killing someone because they’re gay just isn’t that bad.”

No one expects Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Liberia to start printing gay-marriage licenses any time soon. But would it be too much to ask that these countries at least oppose the targeted murder of homosexuals?

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It Gets Better

Dan Savage’s launch video for the It Gets Better Project.  An amazingly good video for its spontaneity, honesty, and message.  The project started as a response to a particular teen suicide case.  200 000 views in the last week, and counting …

No captions, though bits of the auto-captioning on Youtube works.  Sort of.

Woman with Male Chromosomes

Katie Baratz thought she was a typical teenage girl. Katie was born with XY chromosomes a condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome, or AIS.  This intersex condition is one of many that pushes the boundaries of “normal” sex categories.

In 1990, AIS was still called “testicular feminization,” a name I hate. It makes me sound like a failed man, not a woman at all. The belief since the 1950s was that if a woman knew she had this, she’d go crazy or become a lesbian. The doctor told my stunned parents that I could grow up normally, even adopt, but I shouldn’t know I had XY chromosomes or testes. My parents decided to tell me gradually.

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ACT UP NEW YORK: ACTIVISM, ART, AND THE AIDS CRISIS, 1987–1993

EXHIBITION: ACT UP NEW YORK: ACTIVISM, ART, AND THE AIDS CRISIS, 1987–1993

running until December 23, 2009; for an earlier What Sorts post on the ACT UP Oral History Project, click here

the exhibition poster below is worth downloading for both the images it contains and the schedule of events it lists.

Harvard exhibition of visual media in AIDS activism marks 20 year anniversary of the formation of ACT UP New York — Premiere of the ACT UP Oral History Project

exhibition poster pdf file

The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts and the Harvard Art Museum present ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987–1993, an exhibition of over 70 politically-charged posters, stickers, and other visual media that emerged during a pivotal moment of AIDS activism in New York City. The exhibition chronicles New York’s AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) through an examination of compelling graphics created by various artist collectives that populated the group. The exhibition also features the premiere of the ACT UP Oral History Project, a suite of over 100 video interviews with surviving members of ACT UP New York that offer a retrospective portal on a decisive moment in the history of the gay rights movement, 20th-century visual art, our nation’s discussion of universal healthcare, and the continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic. The exhibition opens just over 20 years after the formation of ACT UP and also marks the 40 year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States. The exhibition ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987–1993 provides an opportunity to reinvigorate a debate around the realities of HIV/AIDS today, and about the links between visual art, political activism, health, and human rights.

ACT UP’s demonstrations in the late 1980s and early 1990s reflected the group’s outrage against a governing establishment that ignored HIV/AIDS as a national health crisis; that failed to secure funding for medical research, treatment, and education; that profited from inflated costs for therapeutic drugs; and that perpetuated homophobic misrepresentations of HIV and AIDS. Continue reading

Human Kinds–The Categories of Sexual Orientation in Law, Science, and Society–Part 3

The wrap-up of Ed Stein’s talk at the Human Kinds symposium.  Here Ed talks a little about whether there are natural human kinds, whether male and female, or gay and straight, might be such kinds, and the relationship between such questions and  issues of gay rights.

Social Cleansing in Columbia

In the years between 2000 and 2005, it is alleged that social cleansing was common in Columbia. No one seems to know how many people were killed, details have emerged from a small number of cases while some alleged that these murders were almost daily events. The alleged targets of these killings were people known or thought to be homosexual, addicted to drugs, or mentally disabled. The alleged perpetrators were members of paramilitary militias. And it is also alleged that government prosecutors simply ignored the killings and allowed them to continue. Continue reading

Human Kinds–The Categories of Sexual Orientation in Law, Science, and Society–Part 1

The first part of Ed Stein’s talk at the Human Kinds symposium on sexual orientation, especially in equal protection under US jurisprudence.

Did Governor Richardson get it roughly right about sexual orientation, as Ed claims?

Human Kinds–The Categories of Sexual Orientation in Law, Science, and Society–Part 2

Ed Stein’s talk at the Human Kinds symposium, Part the Second. Here Ed focuses on the appeal to immutability in equal protection analysis in American law concerning sexual orientation.

WAS Socrates a hippie? I always thought so …

Human Kinds: Introduction

Over the next few weeks, we will run videocasts from in invited symposium panel that I organized at the Pacific Division meeting of American Philosophical Association in April, 2009, held in Vancouver. The panel was on human kinds, and topics that we discussed ranged from transhumanism through to disability and sub-normalcy and gay rights and gay marriage. The speakers, in the order in which they spoke, were:

Natasha Vita-More

Gregor Wolbring

Nick Agar

Ed Stein

The talks are relatively short, and we’ll run about 1 per week before linking them all up together. No captioning yet, but we hope to have captioning done by the time the series has run.

The introduction talks a little bit more generally about the panel and the What Sorts Network. You can also watch the videos directly on Youtube, by searching for videos by Rapunzelish. Really.

The Fragility of “Normal”

This week’s print edition of Maclean’s features an article by Mark Steyn blaming gay rights advocates for the “imminent threat” of legalized polygamy in Canada. Once you make one amendment to what is normal, Steyn claims, you won’t be able–or even justified–to prevent further changes.

The article is interesting for two reasons. First, naturally, there is no mention of what relevant differences there are between the two forms of marriage. Steyn ignores a vast body of literature on the subject, which is more than a slight oversight for a journalist. Second, Steyn’s underlying attitude appears to be that we should fear any departure from normal, where the definition of normal he uses is typified by the pretty, white suburbs of 60 years ago.

I recommend reading it, and perhaps writing a letter.

Julia Serano’s “Cocky”

Author of Whipping Girl Julia Serano performing “Cocky”:

h/t to Womanist Musings, including for the transcript beneath the fold (small corrections made by me). Continue reading

Microchipping of HIV carriers… What next?

Here’s a link to the story.

This raises a number of interesting questions… Foremost of which being, why would this strategy be employed?

The capacity for a microchip (basically an implanted ID card) to affect behaviour in those who are reckless or wanton in spreading HIV must be quite questionable.  And this would also be dependent on a range of other supports.  The provision in and of itself makes little sense.

As the Australian national guidelines state:

for people with HIV who place others at risk, a variety of increasingly interventionist strategies may be needed, with preference being given to strategies that are least restrictive, as these will generally be the most sustainable and effective in the long term.”

This author’s statement in Time, is simply insane:

“The chip would send off a signal when infected blood comes into contact with non-infected blood so it would monitor the spread.” Continue reading