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Religious Tolerance logo

News of interest to the transgender/transsexual community

From 2013-JUL until 2014-FEB

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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2013-JUL-29: North America: Televangelist Pat Robertson supports transgender/transsexual individuals:

Pat Robertson, a well known fundamentalist Christian made a remarkable break from the near universal condemnation of transgender people and transsexuals voiced by other religious conservatives. He said on the CBN TV network:

"1 don't know. I don't understand all that. I think there are men who are in a woman’s body. It’s very rare, but it’s true — or women that are in men’s bodies. And they want a sex change, and that is a very permanent thing — believe me, when you have certain body parts amputated and you are shot up with various kinds of hormones. It’s a radical procedure. I don’t think there’s any sin associated with that. I don’t condemn somebody for doing that. But somebody who says 'I'm really a woman' -- I question the validity of that statement. ... You don't count someong as really female unless they really are; you don't count a person as male unless they really are. ... It is not for you to know or to judge" 1

His comment begins at about 2 minutes, 28 seconds into this video clip:


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2013-AUG-03: Huffington Post features relationship between two young adults: 3

Sorry about the alignment of the following video. It just refuses to be centered.

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2014-JAN-19: A major decision by a court for a transgender prisoner:

Michelle Kisilek is a MTF transgender person who was identified as a male at birth. She has been sentenced to life without parole by the state of Massachusetts for committing murder. After serving eight years in prison, she sought hormone treatments in order to change her appearance to be more feminine. She was refused. However after a lawsuit, she was allowed the treatment. Six years later she asked for gender reassignment surgery (GRS) and was again refused by the Department of Corrections.

She then launched a lawsuit Kosilek v. Spencer with the support of the American Civil Liberties Association, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and other LGBT-positive organizations. Luis Spencer was named defendant in his capacity as the commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections. The state argued that the treatments already being provided, which included hormone treatment, permanent hair removal, female clothing and makeup was sufficient. With the help of a group of doctors who testified in federal District Court that to deny GRS would be a violation of the "cruel and unusual punishment" clause of the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment, Kosilek won the case. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf found that the DOC had engaged in a pattern of "pretense, pretext and prevarication" to deny her treatment. The state appealed the case to the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld the lower court's decision by a vote of 2 to 1. The majority decision said in part:

"We are assuredly mindful of the difficult tasks faced by prison officials every day. But as the Supreme Court has cautioned, while sensitivity and deference to these tasks is warranted, [c]ourts nevertheless must not shrink from their obligation to enforce the constitutional rights of all persons, including prisoners. And receiving medically necessary treatment is one of those rights, even if that treatment strikes some as odd or unorthodox. ... In sum, where at least three eminently qualified doctors testify without objection, in accord with widely accepted, published standards, that Kosilek suffers from a life-threatening disorder that renders surgery medically necessary, and the factfinder is convinced by that testimony, we are at a loss to see how this court can properly overrule that finding of fact."

The lone dissenting Judge Juan Torruella, who was appointed by President Reagan, said that the principle:

"That appropriate medical care must be provided does not, however, mean that inmates may seek and receive the care of their choosing. ... Prison officials commit no violation so long as the medical care provided is minimally adequate."

Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said:

"Decisions about treating serious healthcare decisions like sex reassignment surgery need to be made by doctors and patients, not prison authorities."

Jenifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) said:

"Like the [federal] District Court before it, the First [U.S.] Circuit [Court of Appeals] has affirmed that constitutional rights belong to everyone. The Appeals Court affirmed that the District Court properly found that Michelle Kosilek needed this lifesaving medical care. If she needed treatment for cancer or heart disease, this case would never have wound up in court. If we are to call ourselves a civilized society, there is a baseline of care that has to be provided to all prisoners, including prisoners who are transgender. We hope that Michelle will now get the treatment that she desperately needs. ... Not appropriately treating a patient with gender dysphoria can lead to self-harm, and Michelle has in fact mutilated herself and attempted suicide twice while being denied care. This decision is important not just for Michelle, but for all transgender people who have been denied the health care they need. 4,5

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2014-FEB-13: Facebook enlarges the gender options from 2 to 56: In the past, Facebook only gave its members two options: to identify themselves as male or female. On FEB-13, just in time for Valentine's Day, Facebook announced changes on its diversity page. It now gives U.S. members 56 gender identities from which to select. The rest of the world will be stuck at 2 for at least a while.

Facebook posted a note on its diversity page:

"When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self. An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just 'male' or 'female'. So today, we’re proud to offer a new custom gender option to help you better express your own identity on Facebook.

We collaborated with our Network of Support, a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations, to offer an extensive list of gender identities that many people use to describe themselves. Moreover, people who select a custom gender will now have the ability to choose the pronoun they’d like to be referred to publicly — male (he/his), female (she/her) or neutral (they/their).

We also have added the ability for people to control the audience with whom they want to share their custom gender. We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way.

Within 24 hours, they had accumulated about 5,500 "likes" and 2,700 "shares."

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This topic continues in the next essay with a description of
Facebook's revision to its members' gender identification procedure

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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. Jack Ford, "Televangelist Pat Robertson Affirms Transgender Identities," Think Progress, 2013-JUL-29, at: Televangelist Pat Robertson Affirms Transgender Identities, at:
  2. "Bring it On-Line: Am I stealing from God?" You Tube, at:
  3. "A transgender teen love story," Huffington Post, 2013-AUG-03, at:
  4. "Federal Appeals Court rules for GID," The Rainbow Times, 2014-JAN-19, at:
  5. "Ruling in Favor of Treatment for Transgender Inmate Upholds Important Constitutional Principle," The Rainbow Times, 2014-JAN-18, at:
  6. MODIFIED FROM: "Male, female or 48 other varieties? Now Facebook offers users FIFTY different genders to choose from," Daily Mail, 2014-FEB-13, at:
  7. Kashmira Gander, "Facebook's new gender options: 50 new categories include trans and intersex," The Independent, 2014-FEB-13, at:
  8. Joshua Butler, "Facebook's new gender settings earn praise," Illawarra mercury, 2014-FEB-14, at:
  9. Diversity Page, Facebook, at:

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Copyright © 2013 & 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-JUN-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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