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News of interest to the transgender/transsexual community

From 2011-JAN until 2012-NOV

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Events related to the transgender/transsexual community:

  • 2011-MAR-22: NY: Two transgender suing New York City to have their birth certificates changed: The New York Times reported that:
    Two transgender New Yorkers say that their birth certificates incorrectly identify their sex, subjecting them to awkward and humiliating public moments. So they are suing the city to change a requirement that transgender people have genital surgery to get their sex changed — corrected, as they say — on their birth certificates.

    Noah Lewis, a lawyer for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund brought the lawsuit. He explained why genital surgery should not be required:

    "For one thing it’s expensive, and insurance companies often deny coverage for this. ... It’s just a highly individual decision about whether you want to have surgery on your genitals. There are risks with this surgery. People might be more inclined to stick with what they have."

    He noted that 80% of transgender women and 95% of transgender men in New York have not undergone this surgery. The lawsuit is asking that New York City adopt the policy found in most states: that to change one's birth gender on their birth certificate, a letter from a doctor certifying a sex change would be sufficient. 1

  • Report cover 2011-MAR-31: USA: Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report: The IOM is the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. It mission is to serve as adviser to the nation to improve health. The have issued a report: "The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding." They note that:

    "While LGBT populations often are combined as a single entity for research and advocacy purposes, each is a distinct population group with its own specific health needs. Furthermore, the experiences of LGBT individuals are not uniform and are shaped by factors of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, geographical location, and age, any of which can have an effect on health-related concerns and needs. Researchers still have a great deal to learn and face a number of challenges in understanding the health needs of LGBT populations."

  • "To help assess the state of the science, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) asked the IOM to evaluate current knowledge of the health status of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations; to identify research gaps and opportunities; and to outline a research agenda to help NIH focus its research in this area. The IOM finds that to advance understanding of the health needs of all LGBT individuals, researchers need more data about the demographics of these populations, improved methods for collecting and analyzing data, and an increased participation of sexual and gender minorities in research. Building a more solid evidence base for LGBT health concerns will not only benefit LGBT individuals, but also add to the repository of health information we have that pertains to all people." 2

  • 2011-APR-05: CA: Assembly Judiciary Committee passes Gender Nondiscrimination Act (AB 877): Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) sponsored AB 877. The bill is co-sponsored by the Transgender Law Center and Equality California. The bill, if signed into law, would strengthen employment, housing, and other civil rights protections for transgender people and other non-cisgendered persons.

    In testimony before the committee, Transgender Law Center Executive Director Masen Davis said: "All hardworking people in California, including transgender people, should have the chance to earn a living and provide for their families. The Gender Nondiscrimination Act would strength existing protections and ensure that confusing legal language does not come between transgender people and our rights." 3

  • 2011-SEP-16: Australia: Third gender option introduced for passports: In the past, an Australian citizen could only alter the gender on their passport if they had undergone sexual reassignment surgery. However, they are no permitted to choose male, female or indeterminate. Transgender people require supporting documentation from their physician. Intersex people can list their gender as "X."

    Kevin Rudd, Australia's foreign minister, said: "This amendment makes life easier and significantly reduces the administrative burden for sex and gender diverse people who want a passport that reflects their gender and physical appearance."

    Peter Hyndal of A Gender Agenda, who engaged in negotiations with the government said the new guidelines were similar to those in U.S. and British passports. He said: 'It's amazingly positive. It's the biggest single piece of law reform related to transgender and intersex issues at a commonwealth level ever in this country. Mind-blowing.'

  • 2012-JAN-23: Canada: Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird criticizes other Commonwealth countries for anti-LGBT laws. Same-gender sexual behavior is a criminal act in 41 of the 54 Commonwealth states. Speaking in London, England, he said:

    "Dozens of Commonwealth countries currently have regressive and punitive laws on the books that criminalize homosexuality. ... We will continue to press countries in the Commonwealth to live up to their international obligations, and uphold the basic contract any government should have with its people. To inform, to educate, to be tolerant and accepting. ... we cannot be selective in which basic human rights we defend, nor can we be arbitrary in whose rights we protect."

    The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that:

    "Baird said Canada will speak out on issues that matter to Canadians, including on how women are treated around the world, the persecution of gays, lesbians, bisexual or transgendered [sic] people, and targeted attacks on those practicing their faith.

    '"We will not sit in our far-off homes and plead ignorance to crimes against those who seek the same freedoms we enjoy,' he said."

  • 2012-NOV-28: Canada: Parliament reviewing transgender bill C-279: Member of Parliament (MP) Randall Garrison (Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca, BC) of the New Democratic Party -- introduced a private member's bill to guarantee equal rights to transgender individuals and transsexuals throughout Canada. Although the Conservative Government is actively pressuring other countries to treat their LGBT citizens fairly, the Conservative Caucus is divided over their response to the private member's bill.

    Conservative MP Rob Anders from Calgary, Alberta appears to profoundly misunderstand the nature of gender identity. He used an argument heard often among religious conservatives and Republicans in the U.S.: He referred to the bill as a "bathroom bill" saying that the goal of the legislation is to give men access to women's washrooms. However, some Conservatives on the Justice Committee handling the bill may vote in favor of the bill. Shelly Glover (PC-Manitoba) who once worked as a police officer in Winnipeg and saw cases of extreme brutality victimizing some transgender individuals said:

    "It is important that we embrace the notion that we invite other Canadians to feel that sense of belonging that this bill will give them. ... When people say it's symbolic only, I disagree wholeheartedly. I want to see transgendered [sic] individuals feel they can go to a police service or a court, knowing that gender identity is in the Criminal Code and the human rights act.

    Ian Fine, senior general counsel of the Canadian Human Rights Commission testified before the committee, saying:

    "This would promote acceptance and send the message that everyone in Canada should be treated with equality, dignity and respect."

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  • 2013-JUL-03: California: Senate passes pro-transgender student bill: Assembly Bill 1266, the "School Success and Opportunity Act" was passed by a vote of 21 to 9. Since it had passed the State Assembly during June by a 46 to 25 vote. it has been sent to Governor Jerry Brown (D) for his signature. The bill allows transgender students to fully participate in school activities and facilities in accorance with their gender identity. Its passage was supported by the Transgender Law Center, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, Gender Spectrum, Equality California, ACLU of California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, statewide teacher and parent organizations, and dozens of other organizations.

    Shannon Minter, Legal Director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights said:

    "This law is necessary to ensure that California schools do not discriminate against transgender students. California is falling behind other states on this important issue, and this law is urgently needed to ensure that all California students have an equal chance to thrive and succeed.”

    Ashton Lee, 16, a transgener boy, had testified before the Senate Education Committee in late June. He said:

    "I’m so happy the state is taking action to make sure I have the same opportunity as everyone else to go to school and graduate, ... I just want to be treated the same as all the other boys, but my school forces me to take P.E. in a class of all girls and live as someone I’m not. I can’t learn and succeed when every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone." 4

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. John Eligon, "Suits Dispute City’s Rule on Recording Sex Changes," New York Times, 2010-MAR-22, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  2. "The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People..." Institute of Medicine, 2010-MAR-31, at: http://www.iom.edu/
  3. "Gender non-discrimination act advances!, Transgender law center, 2011-APR-05, at: http://transgenderlawcenter.org/
  4. "CA Senate Passes Bill Supporting Transgender Student Success," National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2013-JUL-03, at: http://nclrights.wordpress.com/

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Copyright © 2011 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-JAN-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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