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Religious Tolerance logo

News of interest to the transgender/transsexual community

From 2011-JAN until 2013-JUL

This topic is continued from the previous essay

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During this interval, the term "Gender Identity Disorder"(GID) was
abandoned because it was viewed as stigmatizing. It was replaced by
"Gender Dysphoria."

"Dysphoria" is a psychiatric term that means: "a state of unease or
generalized dissatisfaction with life."

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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

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  • 2011-APR-05: CA: Assembly Judiciary Committee passes Gender Nondiscrimination Act (AB 877): Assembly member 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-cisgender 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."

  • star 2012-JUN-13: Canada: The Province of Ontario will become the first major jurisdiction in North America to extend its Human Rights Code to also protect transgender persons: Members of all three political parties in the Ontario Legislature -- from the Conservative, Liberal, and New Democratic (Socialist) parties voted to amend the provincial Human Rights Code to add the terms "gender identity" and "gender expression" as protected classes.

    Cheri DiNovo, a New Democratic Party member of the Legislature had introduced three private member's bills in the past, all of which failed to obtain majority support. She called today's vote "historic."

  • star 2012-JUL: Change in transgender terminology: The next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) will replace the term "Gender Identity Disorder" with the term "Gender Dysphoria." The presence of the word "disorder" in the previous term was regarded as stigmatizing. It will be defined as displaying: "a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and [birth-] assigned gender." 8

    Jack Drescher is a member of the American Psychiatric Association subcommittee working on the revision. He said:

    "All psychiatric diagnoses occur within a cultural context. We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize." 8

    Dana Beyer helped the Washington Psychiatric Society formulate recommendations to the APA sub-committee on matters of gender and sexuality. He said that the new term implies a temporary mental state rather than an all-encompassing disorder. He said:

  • “A right-winger can’t go out and say all trans people are mentally ill because if you are ... Dysphoria, that can’t be diagnosed from afar. It no longer matters what your body looks like, [or] what you want to do to it. All of that is irrelevant as far as the APA goes." 8

Unfortunately, most religious and social conservatives ignored the manual change when it was published and continued to use their preferred term "gender confused" to refer to transgender persons and transsexuals. The implication of this term is that their dysphoria can be corrected through prayer or therapy.

  • 2012-SEP-04: Massachusetts: Federal Court orders MA Department of Correction to provide sexual reassignment surgery for transsexual inmate: District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf ordered that the Department arrange and pay for sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) to Michelle Kosilek, a male to female transsexual inmate. She had been convicted of murder.

    Chief Judge Wolf wrote that the only arguments for denying the procedure were based on social bias. He said:

    "This fact that sex reassignment surgery is for some people medically necessary has recently become more widely recognized. Denying adequate medical care because of a fear of controversy or criticism from politicians, the press, and the public serves no legitimate penological purpose. It is precisely the type of conduct the Eighth Amendment prohibits."

US Senator Scott Brown (R) responded to the ruling by saying:

    "This is an outrageous abuse of taxpayer dollars. We have many big challenges facing us as a nation, but nowhere among those issues would I include providing sex-change surgery to convicted murderers."

In 2011, the U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that inmates with gender identity disorder be provided with hormone treatments. Also in 2011, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declared a Wisconsin law that prohibited hormone treatments to be unconstitutional. 6 (Gender Identity Disorder is now an obsolete term, having been replaced by Gender Dysphoria).

  • 2012-OCT-04: Canada: In Ontario, the Toronto District School Board updated their guidelines for accommodating "transgender and gender non-conforming students and staff:"
    • The student's transgender status is not to be revealed to a parent or guardian without the student first consenting.

    • Transgender students and staff may use a washroom that "best conforms to their gender er identity." 7

    • They don't have to "prove" their gender with medical documentation. "A student’s self-identification is the sole measure of the student’s gender."

    • Schools must offer an "accessible all-gender single stall washroom" for any employee or student who needs "increased privacy."

These guidelines were first published in 2011 and subsequently updated. 7

  • 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 was divided over their response to the private member's bill.

    Conservative MP Rob Anders from Calgary, Alberta appeared 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 accordance 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 transgender 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." 5

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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. Milton J. Valencia, "Judge orders Mass. to pay for inmate’s sex-change surgery," Boston Globe, 2012-SEP-1\04, at: http://www.bostonglobe.com/
  5. "CA Senate Passes Bill Supporting Transgender Student Success," National Center for Lesbian Rights, 2013-JUL-03, at: http://nclrights.wordpress.com/
  6. Karissa Donkin, "Toronto school board introduces policy for transgender students, staff," The Toronto Star, 2012-OCT-04, at: http://www.thestar.com/
  7. "TDSB Guidelines for the Accommodation of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students and Staff," The Globe and Mail, 2012-OCT-05, at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/
  8. Camille Beredjick, "DSM-V To Rename Gender Identity Disorder 'Gender Dysphoria' ," The Advocate, 2015-JUL-23, at: http://www.advocate.com/

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Copyright © 2011 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2015-DEC-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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