2017: The Year in Review for the Trans Community

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

This year has been a profoundly scary roller coaster for the trans community.  We’ve seen incredible successes, suffered incredible defeats, protested like heck, secured great allies as well as great enemies, and sparked outrage like few can do with greater finesse than transpeople.  Enemies have risen and fallen.  A media-advanced “spokesperson” also fell.  Threats have been pushed back but will return in 2018.

Digging into the archives for the year’s stories, here are some highlights in retrospect.  Not one month has passed without stories of significance.

 

January, 2017:  National Geographic publishes an entire issue dedicated to changing views on gender.  It gave attention to transpeople, intersex individuals, and other variations equally with issues of typical females and males.  NatGeo also broadcasts a special on the same subject matter.  The appearance of transpeople on the front cover brought an outcry against National Geographic from religious elements on the Far Right.  The family of a transgender child whose image appeared on the cover would receive threats from anti-transgender extremists.1

 January 1, 2017:  The world’s first reported murder of a transperson takes place in Sioux Falls SD with the death of 2-Spirit Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, age 28 and an active trans community member on Facebook.  The death would be followed 3 days later with the shooting of Mesha Caldwell, age 41, Canton OH.  The 2 deaths forewarn an exceptionally deadly 2017 for transpeople.2

January 18, 2017: The inauguration of Donald Trump. At the same hour as he takes the oath of office as President, the new administration removes the White House website page pertaining to LGBT rights.  One activist says upon seeing the page removal, “So it begins.”3

February 22, 2017: Trump rescinds the Obama Era guidelines allowing transgender to use rest rooms consistent with their gender identity, rejecting the application of Title IX protections for transpeople.  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expresses her misgivings about the action but obeys the executive order.4

March 2017: Busses appear in Europe and the United States with anti-transgender slogans like: “Boys have penises, Girls have vaginas. Nobody can change sex. It’s biology, not bigotry.”  One of the busses is temporarily impounded by Spanish authorities.  Another is vandalized by protesters in New York City, situations which proponents use to smear the character of opponents and unsympathetic law enforcement agencies.5

 March 2017: Intersex groups gather in Australia and issue the Darlington Statement in which intersex people declare themselves a separate and distinct demographic from transgender peoples:

Allies

“47. Intersex is distinct from other issues. We call on allies to actively acknowledge our distinctiveness and the diversity within our community, to support our human rights claims and respect the intersex human rights movement, without tokenism, or instrumentalising [sic], or co-opting intersex issues as a means for other ends. “Nothing about us without us.”

“48. We encourage all organizations [sic] and bodies that support the intersex movement to recognize [sic] this Darlington statement.

“49. We call for intersex people, and the intersex human rights movement, to be allies to the LGBTQ, disability, Indigenous, anti-racist, and women’s movements.

“50. We call on intersex people to recognize [sic] our own diversity, and call for intra-community dialogue and mutual support.”6

 March 1, 2017: South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard, who vetoed anti-transgender legislation in South Dakota in 2015 signs a bill permitting rejection of LGBT peoples in adoption or foster services on the basis of “religious freedom.” Activists are reminded how fragile the legal tide concerning transpeople can be.  Anti-transgender legislation would continue to erupt in many states throughout 2017 with the greatest battles erupting in the state of Texas with various bills battled back and forth into the middle of August.7

 

March 6, 2016:  The U.S. Supreme Court sends Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., Gavin Grimm back to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, largely because of Trump’s position on transgender students the previous month.  Gavin Grimm commits to continue his activism.8

March 23, 2017: The brutal murder of Brazilian transwoman Dandara dos Santos, age 42; her pleas for her assailants to stop beating her was recorded and posted in an online video.  When she could no longer move she was loaded into a wheelbarrow and wheeled away where she was shot dead.  The horrific incident so outraged the international trans community including activists in the United States, extra pressure fell upon law enforcement to bring her assailants to justice.9

April 2017: The Secrets of My Life, an autobiography about Caitlyn Jenner with Pulitzer Prize winning author Buzz Bissinger is released.  Though the book hits store shelves on a massive scale, the trans community largely ignores it, many already feeling exploited and alienated by Caitlyn’s political and social status despite her attempts to advance trans causes.  The book also deepens a rift between Caitlyn and other family members.10

April 11, 2017:  The General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists issues its Statement on Transgenderism which parallels a corresponding statement by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2015 and formally establishing anti-transgender church policy.11

 April 21, 2017: Chechnya President Ramzan Kadyrov announces that “gays” will be eliminated from Chechnya by Ramadan.  Homosexuals and transgender people were herded into concentration camps and tortured into revealing names of other LGBT people.  Few would escape death.12

May 3, 2017: Donald Trump issues an executive order delegating decisions on religious liberty issues to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  The language in Section 4 reads:

Religious Liberty Guidance. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.”13

May 17, 2017. Former Army Intelligence Analyst Chelsea Manning is released from prison at Ft. Leavenworth.  After her release Chelsea sports a pixie cut and becomes a media darling even as many continue to renounce her as a traitor for releasing U.S. intelligence information to Wikileaks.  Others hail her as a prisoner of conscience.14

 May 17, 2017: British survey site YouGov releases results from a sample taken February 8 and 9, 2017.  YouGov identifies 21% of American respondents to believe that transgenderism is either a choice or a mental illness.15

June 7, 2017: HR 2796 “The Civil Rights Uniformity Act” is introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives with Vicki Harzler [R] MO as main proponent.  It is referred to the House Judiciary Committee the same day.  It includes 2 rules expressly intended to ostracize transpeople:

“(a) Rule of Construction.—In determining the meaning of any Federal civil rights law, and of any related ruling, regulation, guidance, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the words “sex” and “gender” and their equivalents shall not be interpreted to mean “gender identity” or its equivalent, and the words “man” and “woman” and their equivalents shall refer exclusively to a person’s genetic sex.

“(b) Rule of Interpretation.—No Federal civil rights law shall be interpreted to treat gender identity or transgender status as a protected class, unless such law expressly designates “gender identity” or “transgender status” as a protected class.16

 July 12, 2017: HR 2796 is referred to the Subcommittee in the Constitution and Civil Justice.17

July 5, 2017: Congressmember Vicky Harzler introduces an amendment to the Defense Budget titled,  Prohibition of Department of Defense Medical Treatment Related to Gender Transition, calling transgender military service a threat to national security comparable to North Korea, ISIS, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.”18

July 6, 2017: Trans activist and leader, Brynn Tannehill, writes an ominous op-ed in LGBTQ Nation on behalf of the Bilerico Report concerning the liberties won over the past 35 years in response to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and related federal actions, articulating a widespread belief in the trans community:

“The conservative plan to end the LGBTQ rights movement as we know it snapped into clear focus. It’s not a short term plan, but one that will take place inexorably over the next five to ten years. The scary part is that it is not just feasible, but also highly likely to succeed, and there’s very little the movement can do to prevent its own demise.”19

July 15, 2017: The amendment Prohibition of Department of Defense Medical Treatment Related to Gender Transition introduced by Congressmember Harzler is defeated 209-214 after Defense Secretary James Mattis lobbies against it.20

July 19, 2017: The Defense Department delays implementing acceptance of trans service members for 6 months “pending further study” on the eve of scheduled implementation established in July 2015 by then Defense Secretary Ash Carter.21

July 26, 2017: Donald Trump, after being urged by Steve Bannon to end trans military service, tweets that transgender people will not be permitted in the military, sending shock waves through the Defense Department:

(5:55 am) “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow……”

(6:04 am) “….Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming…..”

(6:08 am) “….victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”22

July 28, 2017: Senator Jeff Flake [R] AZ releases Conscience of a Conservative, decrying how badly the GOP it has strayed from the values that had given strength to Conservatism while denouncing the current trend as destructive.  His book signals a rift in the GOP.  He would later announce that he would not run for re-election.  His retreat signals a further decline of bipartisanism, a necessary component that drove passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.23

August 1, 2017: Sylvia Leveque releases the book TRANSACTIVE: A Biography of Gwendolyn Ann Smith.24

August 5, 2017: Caitlyn Jenner is caught by paparazzi driving in public with a Trump supporter’s “Make America Great Again” hat.  She later apologizes to the trans community calling it a “stupid mistake.”  But her standing with the trans community continues to decline as well as relations with the Kardashian family.  TMZ, quotes Kim Kardashian to say she “betrayed the transgender community,” “flaunting her pro-Trump views in a ‘heartless’ way”, promoting transgender rights “selectively and only when useful to her,” and that the Kardashians “want nothing to do” with Caitlyn Jenner.25

 August 14, 2017: Transgender pioneer activist and longtime spiritual leader Holly Boswell dies.26

August 15, 2017: Violence erupts in Charlottesville VA between Anti-Fascists and Alt-Right organizations including the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis.  The Transgender and LGBT flags are seen in the protests on the side of the Anti-Fascists.  The Alt-Right describes itself as “not non-violent” and directly oppose LGBT people.27

August 27, 2017: Ashlee Marie Preston confronts Caitlyn Jenner at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center at a concert conducted by Trans Chorus LA.  To the horror of Trans Chorus LA and the center, she calls Caitlyn a “fraud and a fake”.  Caitlyn Jenner leaves the event and very little about her appears in the news thereafter.28

September 1, 2017.  A trans Chechen gains asylum in the United States despite changes in federal policy.  She had survived an assassination attempt in the Russian Federation and tells of the horrors resulting from Ramzan Kadyrov’s decision to eliminate “gays”.29

October 3, 2017: The United States delegation to the United Nations votes against Resolution GE.17-16638(E), condemning the death penalty being applied to LGBT peoples and other demographics.  The vote results in widespread condemnation by LGBT activists.30

October 6, 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions issues a memo outlining policy on religious liberty.  The language includes:

Employers covered by Title VII may not fail or refuse to hire, discharge, or discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of that individual’s religion.  Such employers also may not classify their employees or applicants in a way that would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities because of the individual’s religion.  This protection applies regardless of whether the individual is a member of a religious majority or minority.  But the protection does not apply in the same way to religious employers, who have certain constitutional and statutory protections for religious hiring decisions.”

The policy sets sweeping changes in terms of discrimination, giving virtually carte blanche acceptance of any hiring (or other) decision pertaining to LGBT peoples as directed by religious leaders.31

October 15, 2017: Attorney General Jeff Sessions orders prosecution of Jorge Sanders-Galvez, the alleged murderer of gender non-conforming individual Kedarie (Kandicee) Johnson in Missouri pursuant to the terms of the Matthew Shephard Act, also called the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.32

October 26, 2017: Intersex activists hold the First Federal Parliamentary Forum in Canberra on Intersex Awareness Day.33

October 30, 2017: Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia finds the Trump ban on transgender military service likely to be unconstitutional and rules against it.34

November 7, 2017: Several transgender candidates win election including Danica Rohm to Virginia’s House of Delegates, Stephe Koontz to the Doraville GA City Council, Tyler Titus as a write-in candidate to the Erie PA School Board, Andrea Jenkins to the Minneapolis City Council (Ward 8), Philippe Cunningham to the Minneapolis City Council (Ward 4), Lisa Middleton to the Palm Springs CA City Council, and Gerri Cannon to the Somersworth NH School Board.  Andrea Jenkins was the first transwoman “of color” elected to office and Philippe Cunningham the first transman “of color.”  Danica Rohm’s election was especially significant because she ran against Robert G. Marshall who had written anti-transgender legislation in Virginia and who attempted to make Danica’s trans status as an impeachable liability during the campaign.35

November 12, 2017: California approves 10 textbooks for elementary grades telling of contributions by LGBT peoples including transpeople.36

November 14, 2017: The Pentagon approves gender confirmation surgery for an active duty service member despite the pending ban on transgender servicemembers.37

November 14, 2017: Australia votes in favor of same sex marriage with 61% of the vote.38

 November 20, 2017: At the International Transgender Day of Remembrance 325 transpeople murdered worldwide in hate crimes are remembered.  The United States particularly remember at least 25 transpeople murdered with slight variations in the count reported.39

November 21, 2017: An Oklahoma jury awards $1.165 million to the transgender plaintiff in the discrimination case Dr. Rachel Tudor v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma. The decision addresses Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, bucking a trend established by the Justice Department.40

November 28, 2017: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issues a public apology to LGBT peoples for decades of government pogroms including an apology to transpeople including indigenous 2-Spirit peoples and intersex individuals.  His speech at the Canadian Parliament include:

“Discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities is not a moment in time, but an ongoing, centuries-old campaign.

“We want to be a partner and ally to LGBTQ2 Canadians in the years going forward. There are still real struggles facing these communities, including for those who are intersex, queer people of colour, and others who suffer from intersectional discrimination.

“Transgender Canadians are subjected to discrimination, violence, and aggression at alarming rates. In fact, trans people didn’t even have explicit protection under federal human rights legislation until this year…

“And, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that earlier today in this House we tabled the Expungement of Historically “Unjust Convictions Act. This will mean that Canadians previously convicted of consensual sexual activity with same-sex partners will have their criminal records permanently destroyed.

“Further, I am pleased to announce that over the course of the weekend, we reached an agreement in principle with those involved in the class action lawsuit for actions related to ‘the purge.’”41

December 8, 2017: The White House requests a delay from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for recruitment of transgender people in the military.42

December 11, 2017: The U.S. District Court denies the White House request for a delay pertaining to transgender military recruitment.  Recruitment is to begin January 1, 2018.43

 December 11, 2017: The U.S. Supreme court refuses to hear an appeal by Jameka Evans, a security guard in Savannah GA.  She was fired because of her sexual orientation.  The refusal to hear serves to further balkanize the national legal position for LGBT rights in a manner not seen since the sectionalism concerning slavery prior to the Civil War, and raises doubts among trans activists as well concerning the integrity of the Supreme Court.44

December 18, 2017: The White House issues guidelines to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that certain words may not appear in documents addressing budget issues.  The words include “transgender:, “diversity”, “fetus”, “vulnerable”, “entitlement”, “science-based”, and “evidence-based.”  Activists see the action as an attempt at erasure of the trans community and suppression of science.45

December 22, 2017: Donald Trump signs his Tax Reform bill into law, repealing the individual mandate to the Affordable Care Act, virtually destroying a health care safety net upon which many transpeople have relied upon for transition.  At the same time the law provides tax benefits to those making over $75,000 per year and permanently reduces the corporate tax rate to 21%.  The bill further caps property tax deductions, impacting larger states like California and New York with large trans communities.46

__________________________

REFERENCES

Featured Image:  A montage of Renaissance woodcuts and image of a stele pertaining to law (Wikimedia Commons) along with one of the books of 2017, TRANS/Active, and a desk calendar.

  1. National Geographic (January 2017) Volume 231, Number 1, National Geographic Society. The cover image in the subscription version appears on page 31 in the newsstand version.
  2. (n.a.) “325 reported murders of trans and gender-diverse people between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017” Trans Respect versus Transphobia, Worldwide, a Research Project by Transgender Europe (TGEU) (accessed November 17, 2017) http://transrespect.org/en/research/trans-murder-monitoring/
  3. Colby Itkowitz. “LGBT rights page disappears from White House web site” Washington Post (January 20, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/2017/live-updates/politics/live-coverage-of-trumps-inauguration/lgbt-rights-page-disappears-from-white-house-web-site/?utm_term=.45bdb8b5cdcc
  4. Jeremy W. Peters, Jo Becker, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. “Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students” New York Times (February 22, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/us/politics/devos-sessions-transgender-students-rights.html .
  5. Lynnea Urania Stuart. “A Color of Hate” Transpire (March 31, 2017, accessed December 22, 2017) https://lynneauraniastuart.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/a-color-of-hate/
  6. Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand intersex community organizations and independent advocates, including the Androgen Insensitivity Support Syndrome Support Group Australia (AISSGA),1 Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ),2 Organisation Intersex International Australia (OIIAU),3 Eve Black, Kylie Bond (AISSGA), Tony Briffa (OIIAU/AISSGA), Morgan Carpenter (OIIAU/Intersex Day Project4), Candice Cody (OIIAU), Alex David (OIIAU), Betsy Driver (Bodies Like Ours), Carolyn Hannaford (AISSGA), Eileen Harlow, Bonnie Hart (AISSGA), Phoebe Hart (AISSGA), Delia Leckey (ITANZ), Steph Lum (OIIAU), Mani Bruce Mitchell (ITANZ), Elise Nyhuis (AISSGA), Bronwyn O’Callaghan, Sandra Perrin (AISSGA), Cody Smith (Tranz Australia), Trace Williams (AISSGA), Imogen Yang (Bladder Exstrophy Epispadias Cloacal Exstrophy Hypospadias Australian Community – BEECHAC5), Georgie Yovanovic. “The Darlington Statement” (issued March 2017, accessed November 2, 2017) https://oii.org.au/darlington-statement/
  7. Jason Silverstein. “South Dakota law allows child service agencies to reject LGBT clients” New York Daily News (March 12, 2017, accessed March 13, 2017) http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/south-dakota-law-lgbt-child-services-denial-article-1.2995885
  8. Emma Green. “The Trump Administration May Have Doomed Gavin Grimm’s Case” The Atlantic (March 6, 2017, accessed December 21, 2017) https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/the-trump-administration-may-have-doomed-gavin-grimm/518676/ .
  9. Marina Lopes. “A horrific murder has awakened Brazil’s transgender community” Washington Post (March 23, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/03/23/a-horrific-murder-has-awakened-brazils-transgender-community/?utm_term=.2134e4925b30 .
  10. Jenner, Caitlyn with Bissinger, Buzz. The Secrets of My Life (April 2017) Grand Central Publishing, Hachete Book Group, New York City.  ISBN: 978-1-4555-9675-1.
  11. (n.a.) 111-17G Statement on Transgenderism (Rev. April 11, 2017 by the General Conference Executive Committee) https://executivecommittee.adventist.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/111G-Statement-on-Transgenderism.pdf . Also found on Adventist News Network (April 11, 2017, accessed May 11, 2017) https://news.adventist.org/en/all-news/news/go/2017-04-11/seventh-day-adventist-world-church-vote-statement-on-transgender/
  12. Kristina Marusic. “Chechnya’s President Vows To Eliminate Gays By The Start Of Ramadan” New NowNext  (April 21, 2017, accessed September 3, 2017) http://www.newnownext.com/chechnya-gay-purge-kadyrov/04/2017/
  13. Washington Examiner Staff. “Trump’s executive order on religious liberty: FULL TEXT” Washington Examiner (May 4, 2017, accessed May 5, 2017) http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trumps-executive-order-on-religious-liberty-full-text/article/2622142
  14. Emanuella Grinbergand Eliott C. McLaughlin. “Out of prison, Chelsea Manning looks forward to exploring life as a woman” CNN (March 17, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/17/politics/chelsea-manning-release/index.html .
  15. (n.a.) “21% of Americans believe that being transgender is a mental illness” YouGov (May 17, 2017, accessed May 19, 2017): https://today.yougov.com/news/2017/05/17/21-americans-believe-identifying-transgender-menta/
  16. Text: H.R.2796 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)” https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2796/text
  17. “All Actions H.R.2796 — 115th Congress (2017-2018)” https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2796/all-actions
  18. Zack Ford.  “Conservatives celebrate delay of transgender military enlistment” ThinkProgress (July 5, 2017, accessed July 23, 2017) https://thinkprogress.org/transgender-military-delay-2c4513a2629f
  19. Brynn Tannehill. “Is this the end of the LGBTQ movement as we know it?” LGBTQ Nation (July 6, 2017, accessed July 7, 2017) https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2017/07/end-lgbtq-movement-know/
  20. Michelangelo Signorile. “Vulnerable Republicans Showed Why Fighting For Trans Rights Is A Political Winner” Yahoo! (quoting Huffington Post July 15, 2017, accessed July 20, 2017) https://www.yahoo.com/news/vulnerable-republicans-just-showed-why-135419590.html
  21. Tom Porter. “What Is Behind U.S. Military Decision to Delay the Induction of Transgender Recruits?” Newsweek (July 1, 2017, accessed July 23, 2017) http://www.newsweek.com/what-behind-us-military-decision-delay-induction-transgender-recruits-630906
  22. Emily McFarlan-Miller. “Trump’s Evangelical Advisors Discussed Transgender Ban at White House Meeting” Religion News Service (July 28, 2017, accessed August 5, 2017) http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/trump-s-evangelical-advisors-discussed-transgender-ban-at-white-house-meeting.html
  23. David Brooks.  “Jeff Flake Plants a Flag” New York Times (July 28, 2017, accessed July 31, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/28/opinion/columnists/jeff-flake-plants-a-flag.html
  1. Leveque, Sophia Cecelia. TRANS/ACTIVE: A Biography of Gwendolyn Ann Smith (Winston-Salem NC, Library Partners Press, ZSR Library, Wake Forest University August 1, 2017) ISBN: 978-1-61846-044-8.
  2. Martha Ross. “Caitlyn Jenner Shows Support for Trump after Transgender Ban” San Jose Mercury News   (quoting TMZ, updated August 5, 2017, accessed August 30, 2017) http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/04/caitlyn-jenner-apparently-remains-team-trump-despite-transgender-ban/
  3. Mila Madison. “Transgender Symbol Creator and Activist Holly Boswell Passes Away” Transgender Universe (August 14, 2017, accessed August 21, 2017) http://transgenderuniverse.com/2017/08/14/transgender-symbol-creator-and-activist-holly-boswell-passes-away/
  4. James West. “Vice News Just Released Chilling, Must-Watch Footage From Behind Charlottesville’s Battle Lines” Mother Jones (August 15, 2017, accessed August 17, 2017) http://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/08/vice-news-just-released-chilling-must-watch-footage-from-behind-charlottesvilles-battle-lines/
  5. Daniel Reynolds. “Activist Calls Caitlyn Jenner a ‘Fraud and a Fake’ at Trans Fundraiser” The Advocate (August 27, 2017, accessed August 31, 2017) https://www.advocate.com/transgender/2017/8/27/activist-calls-caitlyn-jenner-fraud-and-fake-trans-fundraiser-video
  6. Adam Taylor. “How a transgender Chechen escaped Russia and found asylum in the United States” Washington Post (September 1, 2017, accessed September 3, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/a-transgender-chechen-woman-and-her-plea-for-asylum-in-america/2017/09/01/0edc5bd6-8916-11e7-96a7-d178cf3524eb_story.html?utm_term=.46e4224e7ca0 .
  7. Alex Emmons. “The U.S. Voted Against a U.N. Resolution Condemning Death Penalty for LGBTQ People” The Intercept (October 3, 2017, accessed October 4, 2017) https://theintercept.com/2017/10/03/the-u-s-voted-against-a-u-n-resolution-condemning-death-penalty-for-lgbtq-people/.
  8. Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty (Memo, Office of the Attorney General October 6, 2017, accessed October 13, 2017), p. 4. https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1001891/download
  9. Brandon Carter. “Sessions sending top DOJ lawyer to prosecute transgender murder case: report” The Hill (October 15, 2017, accessed October 23, 2017) http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/355557-sessions-sending-top-doj-lawyer-to-prosecute-transgender-murder-case.
  10. Tony Briffa. “Intersex Awareness Day: Commemorating the intersex version of Stonewall” Gay Star News (October 26, 2017, accessed October 26, 2017) https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/intersex-awareness-day-commemorating-the-intersex-version-of-stonewall/#gs.WOqpLcQ.
  11. Dave Philipps. “Judge Blocks Trump’s Ban on Transgender Troops in Military” New York Times (October 30, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/us/military-transgender-ban.html .
  12. Lynnea Urania Stuart “What’s Next? Looking Ahead for 7 Trans Officials” Trans Muse Planet (November 12, 2017, accessed December 22, 2017) https://thetmplanet.com/whats-next-looking-ahead-for-7-new-trans-officials/
  13. Helene Cooper. “Pentagon Approves Gender-Reassignment Surgery for Service Member” New York Times (November 14, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/us/politics/pentagon-transgender-surgery.html
  14. Joseph Patrick McCormick. “California approves LGBT-inclusive history books for primary schools” Pink News (November 12, 2017, accessed November 13, 2017) http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/11/12/california-approves-lgbt-inclusive-history-books-for-primary-schools/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=PNT&utm_content=JPM
  15. Ben Westcottand Lucie Morris-Marr. “Australia votes ‘yes’ to same-sex marriage” CNN (November 14, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/14/asia/australia-same-sex-marriage-yes/index.html
  16. pdf. For a list of domestic cases, see Samantha Allen. “On Transgender Day of Remembrance, these Are 25 Trans People Killed, So Far, in 2017” The Daily Beast ( November 20, 2017, accessed December 22, 2017) https://www.thedailybeast.com/on-transgender-day-of-remembrance-these-are-25-trans-people-killed-so-far-in-2017-10
  17. “Jury Awards Transgender Professor 1.1 Million Discrimination Case” NBC News (November 21, 2017, accessed November 22, 2017) https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/jury-awards-transgender-professor-1-1-million-discrimination-case-n822646
  18. Scott Maucione. “White House asks for delay in recruiting transgender people to military” Federal News Radio (December 8, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) https://federalnewsradio.com/defense/2017/12/white-house-asks-for-delay-in-recruiting-transgender-people-to-military-plaintiffs-call-argument-baloney/
  19. Rebecca Kheel. “Judge denies Trump request to delay transgender military enlistment” The Hill (December 11, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) http://thehill.com/policy/defense/364283-judge-denies-trump-request-to-delay-transgender-military-enlistment
  20. Justin Trudeau (Address to Parliament November 28, 2017).
  21. Will Kohler. “SCOTUS Rejects Lambda Legal’s Appeal In Anti-LGBT Employment Discrimination Case” (Lambda Legal Press Release December 11, 2017, accessed December 20, 2017) http://www.back2stonewall.com/2017/12/scotus-rejects-lambda-legals-appeal-anti-lgbt-employment-discrimination-case.html
  22. Jessica Ravitz and Debra Goldschmidt. “Word ban at CDC includes ‘vulnerable,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender’” CNN (December 18, 2017, accessed December 18, 2017) http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/16/health/cdc-banned-words/index.html
  23. Naomi Jagoda. “Trump signs tax bill into law” The Hill (December 22, 2017, accessed December 23, 2017) http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/366148-trump-signs-tax-bill-into-law
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A New Phase for Title VII: The U.S. District Court bucks the Attorney General

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

In light of recent developments at the Department of Justice, this was an astonishing decision.  It’s also ironic that this should take place in Oklahoma, one of the most staunchly Republican states in the country.  It was even more ironic that this should take place at the International Transgender Day of Remembrance.  On November 20, a jury awarded $1,165,000 to a transitioning professor on a case appealing to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.1

Title VII addresses discrimination on the basis of sex.  Attorneys for transpeople have over many years asserted that sex discrimination should also pertain to gender identity, though others have held that Title VII only pertains to the traditionally intended dichotomous sex and nothing more.  President Barack Obama sided with the former view when he issued guidelines regarding employment of transpeople.2  Those connected with the current administration hold the latter view, culminating in a memo issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions asserting on October 5 that transpeople are excluded from Title VII.3

But the U.S. District Court said in effect, “Not so fast.”  In the course of the proceedings of Dr. Rachel Tudor v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma, the court addressed a 2007 case: Etsitty v. UTA, a precedent involving employment termination of a transsexual upon which the Defense relied.4  Not only did Tudor’s case pass the initial hearing to establish a prima facie case, overcoming Etsitty, it went to full civil trial with a jury and the Plaintiff won.  Like so many other cases of this nature, the whole country could hear the gavel going down.

 

BACKGROUND OF THE TUDOR CASE

Rachel Tudor, PhD was employed by Southeastern Oklahoma State University when she advised the university that she was transitioning from male to female.  The decision from the initial hearing states what happened next:

“Plaintiff argues that she suffered more than a handful of sporadic insults, incidents, or comments. Rather, she argues that every day over the course of a four-year period she had restrictions on which restrooms she could use, restrictions on how she could dress, what makeup she could wear. She also was subjected to hostilities from administrators targeting her gender, such as using an improper pronoun to refer to her and other gender-based hostilities.”5

This culminated in denial of an application for tenure and subsequent dismissal from the university.6 The university did not have a policy at all addressing transgender discrimination.7 The university also claimed that the Plaintiff “is not subject to protection under Title VII because her status as a transgender person is not a protected class, relying on Etsitty v. Utah Transit Auth., 502F.3d 1215, 1215, 1220 (10 Cir. 2017).”8

 n which case, the Etsitty case offers the central argument in Tudor.  We must go back and look at the context of the argument.

 

THE ETSITTY CASE

The full name of this Utah case is Krystal S. Etsitty, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Utah Transit Authority;  Betty Shirley, in her individual and official capacities, Defendants-Appellees.  Betty Shirley was the Operations Manager at UTA.  Etsitty was hired by UTA 4 years after she had begun hormone replacement therapy but was still pre-operative at the time of her termination.  But she had presented herself as a male during her training period.9

After her hire she met with her supervisor Pat Chatterton, telling him that she was in transition, would present as a female and would be using female rest rooms.  Chatterton offered his support and expressed that there should be no issue with her transitioning at work.  But then the Operations Manager heard a rumor that a male driver was using makeup and using female rest rooms.  She and the Human Resources Generalist arranged a meeting with Etsitty and expressed concern about UTA’s liability, especially if Etsitty switched back and forth between male and female rest rooms.  UTA placed Etsitty on administrative leave, then terminated her, indicating that after gender confirmation surgery she would be eligible for rehire.  Etsitty filed suit, claiming unlawful gender discrimination, and violating Title VII and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Etsitty claimed the termination was specifically because she was transsexual and that this was about not conforming to UTA’s expectations of stereotypically male behavior.  UTA argued that transsexuals are not a protected class and not covered under Title VII.  The court agreed and this was backed up at the Appellate level.10

When it comes to anyone seeking out precedents, attorneys will be inclined to seek out the most recent examples.  The reason is logical.  Rulings get reversed and courts look at why they’re reversed.  For years, Etsitty v. UTA set the standard for Title VII appeals with respect to transsexual status.

 

AN EVOLVING PHILOSOPHY OF SEX AND GENDER

This occurred before the election of Barack Obama to the White House.  The Obama Administration didn’t even open up to the idea of trans rights in the first term, following the vernacular at the time.  The public mind linked trans rights to LGBT rights generally, most specifically with respect to same sex marriage.  In his first term, the president stated his ideas were “evolving”.11 The person who seems to have influenced the president the most with respect to transpeople was Vice President Joe Biden who never failed to exude a happy live and let live philosophy.12  Not until 2012 do we find any ruling by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) stating that Title VII does indeed apply to transpeople.13

This all reflected a widening discussion of sex and gender all over the United States.  Since the founding of the nation, sex and gender had been regarded as one and the same, immutable and obvious.  Any deviation was regarded as a monstrosity, abnormal, abominable, and deserving of the most intense punishment in the name of Almighty God.  It’s a philosophy that exacted infant surgeries upon those intersex individuals whose variations were externally obvious.  Those whose variations weren’t were summarily kept hush-hush and society pretended they didn’t happen.  In all that time nobody even began to consider that sex and gender may not be the same thing and when Christine Jorgenson hit the American press like wildfire in the 1950’s her case aroused ridicule and condemnation.14 The idea of “transgender” in any capacity was considered patently absurd.  In many religious communities it still is.

When transpeople gained recognition in the popular mind it was, unfortunately, through the sex industry.  After all, 19% of us turned to sex work to survive at some time or other and that represents a number in the hundreds of thousands.15 A lot of that sex work translated into pornography. That’s what trans visibility was to the public for a great many years, feeding stereotypes that ignored the 81% who never sold their bodies for money, food, or a place to sleep.

It would take a great many more years for a large percentage of the public to grasp the idea that the gender dichotomy is wrong and that sex and gender for some people do not align, driving dysphoric individuals to seek medical intervention.  The ones most resistant to this view are the religious who have never relinquished their claims to reserving interpretations of language as an exclusive right of the clergy, whether Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant.

Since the rise of Jerry Fallwell’s Moral Majority in the 1980 election we have seen a gradual Dominionist hijack of the GOP.  Today’s Republicans aren’t typically Reagan style Republicans let alone Lincoln style Republicans.  After all, civil rights was a Republican issue in the form of Abolitionism when that party first gained power in 1860. But in the 2016 election, the GOP listed its endorsement of anti-transgender legislation in its platform pursuant to the demands of Evangelical Dominionist organizations.16

But the Oklahoma jury in Tudor demonstrated that civil rights need not and should not be a partisan issue, even though the GOP sought to make it so.  It remained in the spirit of the original Civil Rights Act which, though pushed through by President Lyndon Johnson, was supported on both sides of the aisle.17

 

A JUDICIAL REBUKE

It’s easy to see how the change in the national discussion concerning sex and gender makes a difference in terms of civil rights.  If sex and gender are immutable, exacted by a gender dichotomy, then there should be no need for the civil rights of a people deemed not to exist.  If, however, variations happen, then it behooves people to find a way to live with people who embody those variations.  This was the message of the Oklahoma jury with its decision on Dr. Tudor’s award and what Judge Robin J. Cauthron admitted in that trial concerning Title VII.

Though caution is still warranted given the actions of the Justice Department earlier this year, Etsitty v. Utah Transit Authority can no longer be regarded as a precedent offering definite protection from Title VII litigation.  The reason for caution is obvious.  This case will very likely be re-addressed at the Appellate level.  It may even reach the U.S. Supreme Court.  We may see reversal before a ruling at the highest court.

The Supreme Court is by no means a lock in favor of trans rights, especially while the GOP remains so determined to replace retiring justices throughout the federal judiciary with Gorsuch-style Conservatives who assert Justice Anthony Scalia’s assertions that interpretation must be made upon originally conceived definitions, not definitions that evolve as society evolves.18

It means stacking the court system with people committed to the Dominionist agenda, leaving us with a only prayer of hope that facts will rule minds instead of whether they get to participate in communion services at church.  After all, the Supreme Court didn’t rule in Obergefell v. Hodges with a wide margin at all.  The vote was 5-4.19

Obergefell was the 2015 decision that rendered same-sex marriage legal nationwide.  That happened with a moderately Conservative court, and with the retirement of an aging Justice Ruth Ginsburg, the court could become decisively Conservative with a possible future reversal of Obergefell, and consequent hostility toward trans rights generally.20

But in the meantime we can be thankful that the Oklahoma jury in Tudor v. UTA understood the issues of sex and gender, rendering the verdict that they did.  It’s a decision that could go a long way in a nation whose leaders have been whittling away at the rights of transpeople almost every month.  We can only hope that the spirit of this jury will also be represented in the decisions to come, judges and juries examining facts despite Conservatives pointing to the judges as “activists”.  Of course, if broad and equal examination of fact is the music of activism, play on.  Play on.

_____________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image:  a black and white detail of a widely circulated portrait of Dr. Rachel Tudor (source unknown) superimposed upon an image from Southeastern Oklahoma State University (Wikimedia).

  1. “Jury Awards Transgender Professor 1.1 Million Discrimination Case” NBC News (November 21, 2017, accessed November 22, 2017) https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/jury-awards-transgender-professor-1-1-million-discrimination-case-n822646
  2. Sandra Pullman. “EEOC Holds That Title VII Prohibits Discrimination on the Basis of Transgender Status”American Bar (May 2012, accessed November 23, 2017) https://www.americanbar.org/content/newsletter/groups/labor_law/ll_hottopics/2012_aball_hottopics/5-2012hot_eeoc.html
  3. Charlie Savage. “In Shift, Justice Dept. Says Law Doesn’t Bar Transgender Discrimination” New York Times (October 5, 2017, accessed November 22, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/us/politics/transgender-civil-rights-act-justice-department-sessions.html
  4. Cauthron, Robin J., U.S. District Judge “Memorandum Opinion and Order” Rachel Tudor v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma (October 26, 2017, accessed November 22, 2017) Case No. CIV-15-324-C, p. 4. https://www.laborandemploymentlawcounsel.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/224/2017/11/Tudor-v-SE-Oklahoma-State-U-No-15-324-C-WD-OK-10-26-2017.pdf
  5. Ibid, p. 3.
  6. Ibid, p. 1.
  7. Ibid, p. 4.
  8. Ibid.
  9. S. Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit. “Etsitty v. UTA” FindLaw (September 20, 2007, accessed November 22, 2017) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-10th-circuit/1468866.html
  10. Ibid.
  11. Zeke J. Miller. “Obama Says He Didn’t Mislead on Gay Marriage” Time (February 11, 2015, accessed November 23, 2017) http://time.com/3704760/barack-obama-gay-marriage-david-axelrod/.
  12. Glenn Thrush and Jennifer Epstein. “W.H.” Biden forced Obama’s hand” Politico (May 10, 2012, accessed November 23, 2017) https://www.politico.com/story/2012/05/obama-expected-to-speak-on-gay-marriage-076103.
  13. Pullman
  14. Chris Wild “Ex-GI Becomes Blonde Beauty” Mashable (1951, Accessed November 23, 2017) http://mashable.com/2015/04/27/christine-jorgensen/#wuwvvtl8lGq2.
  15. James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. “The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey” (2016) Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality, p. 158.
  16. Republican National Platform Committee. “Republican Platform, 2016” (presented to the delegates of the GOP National Convention August 2016)
  17. (n.a.) “Delivering on a Dream: The House and the Civil Rights Act of 1964” Oral History (n.d., accessed November 23, 2017) http://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/Civil-Rights/1964-Essay/.
  18. Jonathan HJ. Adler “Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is like Scalia’s – with one big difference” Washington Post (February 1, 2017, accessed November 23, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/gorsuchs-judicial-philosophy-is-like-scalias–with-one-big-difference/2017/02/01/44370cf8-e881-11e6-bf6f-301b6b443624_story.html?utm_term=.9ab3ee39d615.
  19. (n.a.) “James Obergefell, et al, Petitioner” Oyez, Docket 14-556, Supreme Court (June 26, 2015, accessed November 23, 2017) https://www.oyez.org/cases/2014/14-556.
  20. Jonathan Turley. “Opinion: Ginsburg gambled to stay and now she may lose her legacy” The Hill (April 10, 2017, accessed November 23, 2017) http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/the-judiciary/328151-ginsburg-gambled-to-stay-on-the-supreme-court-now-she-may.
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What’s Next? Looking Ahead for 7 New Trans Officials

By Lynnea Urania Stuart

 

Elation peeled in shouts, high fives, embraces, and jubilation throughout the trans community.  Historic wins in California, Georgia, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia aroused great celebration and deep pride.  We would have been elated if only 1 happened to win office.  But 7 won instead.  Has the trans community truly found its place in society?  Not yet, but we may be on our way.  Questions remain.  Now that the 7 won, what’s next for these people and for the trans community?

 

VICTORIES MORE THAN NAME DEEP

In case you might not have been following this story, here’s a list of the winners:

  • Doraville GA City Council: Stephe Koontz, a businesswoman and church administrator, also serving on the Board of Directors at the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.1
  • Erie PA School Board: Tyler Titus, winning as a write-in candidate. He’s a licensed professional counselor, working in public and private schools. He’s a known youth advocate, and public speaker.2
  • Minneapolis MN City Council, Ward 8: Andrea Jenkins, winning with a whopping 73% of the vote against 3 other candidates in her district. She had been a campaign aide to other city council members for 12 years.  Her objective as councilmember is to make Minneapolis a better place for marginalized minorities, especially African-Americans.  She wants to create more affordable housing, promote police accountability, promoting economic development3
  • Minneapolis MN City Council, Ward 4: Philippe Cunningham, winning by a closer margin than Andrea Jenkins so his election wasn’t called till the following day. He ran on a platform that stressed housing as a basic human right and expansion of business in the 4th4
  • Palm Springs CA City Council: Lisa Middleton who won one of 2 seats, both winning 30% of the vote. Middleton previously served as a Planning Commissioner and other groups for the City of Palm Springs and worked for California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund (Worker’s Compensation).  Her win makes her the first elected non-judicial trans official in California.5
  • Somersworth NH School Board: Gerri Cannon, retired carpenter on call and public speaker at Freedom New Hampshire.6
  • Virginia House of Delegates, 13th District: Danica Roem, a journalist against whom the Republican opponent produced ads attacking her trans status. She defeated her opponent by 9% of the vote.7

None of these candidates claim to be the first elected trans candidate anywhere in the world.  We’ve known people like Stu Rasmussen, who was not only elected Mayor of Silverton OR but kept getting re-elected to municipal positions.Looking across the Pacific, Christchurch, New Zealand elected Georgina Beyer as Mayor in 1999.9  Victoria Kolakowski was elected in 2010 as a Judge of the Superior Court in Oakland CA.10 But all of them rightfully claim firsts for their own localities as those openly transgender. Others claim first in other ways.  Andrea Jenkins was the first elected transwoman “of color” in the United States,11 followed by the first elected transman “of color,” both of whom will serve together on the Minneapolis City Council.12  Danica Roem of Virginia took the highest prize of all as the first trans candidate elected to a state legislative position.

Delegate Elect Roem’s win is especially significant in another way.  Her opponent was Robert G. Marshall who had written and sponsored anti-transgender legislation in Virginia.13  Virginia still reels from the attack of Alt-Right organizations in Charlottesville last summer in a wave of racism and sexism emboldened by Donald Trump’s election the previous year and his anti-immigrant and anti-LGBT divisiveness.14  Delegate Elect Roem’s victory has been noted by a number of news organizations to be a rebuke against the agenda of Donald Trump.15

It’s not just Trump’s agenda they rebuked either.  The rebuke has hit the prevailing agenda of the Evangelical AllianceTime this week noted this comment on Twitter by Andrew T. Walker, the Southern Baptist Convention Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Director:

“Christian parents, the nations [sic] first transgender elected official enters into American history tonight.  What are you doing to prepare your children for this new world?”16

His tweet demonstrated ignorance of the history of trans officials currently in office, and now, winning elections across the United States.  But his comments also struck a chord with many religionists, with rebukes tweeted from everywhere.  They included pointed references to his bigotry from parents, individuals, rabbis and other ministers, even a Jesuit.  They didn’t mince words either, possibly a harbinger of things to come after Twitter doubled its allowable characters from 140 to 280.17

Rebukes from those not transgender made the wins that much sweeter, for it shows that many to whom trans-activists have appealed over the years really do get it.  While much much more needs to be done, activists to date can point to such responses as the fruit of labors where they have sought for people to understand.

 

THE TERMS TO COME

So what lies ahead for these elected officials now?  Not one of them can harbor any illusion of a political cakewalk to come.  The hard work of running for office is meant to prepare for the even harder task of making good, for these officials must be able to make deals with other officials, many of whom staunchly hold views opposed to their own.

Consider the case of an existing trans official.  Jess Herbst is Mayor of New Hope, Texas.  Mayor Herbst had already been elected when she announced her transition.18 Did New Hope convulse with a major backlash?

To set the context of Mayor Herbst’s constituency, we must understand that Texas has been a battleground state on trans issues for many years.  The Texas judicial decision in Littleton v. Prange in 1999 invalidated the heterosexual marriages of transpeople, declaring them to be same-sex unions on the basis of the presumption that the chromosomes of a transwoman must be 46 Karotype XY and those of a transman must be 46 Karotype XX.19  This precedent was later successfully challenged by Nikki Arguz in 2007.20  But these court battles underscore what has been a running philosophical conflict among Texans and legal experts on both sides.

Conflict reached a fever pitch this year in the Texas capitol of Austin in which the governor, known to be hostile to the rights of transpeople and especially trans kids, called the legislature to special session in an attempt to push through anti-transgender legislation.21 The action sparked waves of protests, not only by transpeople, but by allies in faith communities of various sorts.  Mayor Herbst joined these protests.22

Texas’ “bathroom bills” and other pieces of anti-transgender legislation failed in the current legislative session.  These measures are dead, at least till the next legislature.  But after all that political turmoil, what repercussions existed for Mayor Herbst that might apply to the newly elected officials?

Mayor Herbst has found it to be “business as usual,” at least for now.  The New Hope City Council has continued its work, seemingly indifferent to whether the mayor is trans or not.23

 Trans Muse Planet asked Mayor Herbst concerning what the 7 new officials are likely to face in their terms of office.  She responded:

 

“I think Danica will face the biggest issues. Being a delegate, she faces the largest number of peers and thus possibly animosity. She will be the only transgender woman her legislative colleagues have dealt with. I think the first few months will go smoothly as they study her for strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, Danica will have to deal with a possible 50/50 split in the house, a difficult situation in any case.

“For the city council members it should really be business as usual. Trans people are not unknown in local government, so as long as [they] stick to city business they will do great.”24

 

It’s a view echoed in her own philosophy as a public servant.  Mayor Herbst advises:

 

“Public office is not about you.  It’s about the people you represent.  It is your job to lead, but also make sure no one is left behind.25

 

Leaving certain people behind has become a mark of Dominionist officials who aggressively wear their religiosity on their sleeve.  Attempts to undermine the rights of transpeople at the state and federal levels in the past 2 years have also become a theme for the current U.S. administration.26

The fact that transpeople understand minority struggles better than rabid Dominionists who reek of White supremacy, religious bigotry, and sexism marks them as better potential leaders precisely because they don’t want to leave others behind.  Dominionists, on the other hand, crave political power to compel people to either accept some “acceptable” form of Christianity or face ostracism from work, home, and potentially every other part of society.

Dominionists have long urged its members to run for school boards and municipal offices in an attempt to control the educational process and facilitate proselytizing while shielding schoolchildren from understanding minority communities.  Schools like that often present LGBT peoples as inherently “wicked”.  Intersex people are ignored, instructors pretending they don’t exist and would also re-define transpeople out of existence in an agenda of erasure if they could.  They trivialize science while the Bible as interpreted by local clergy becomes the full and final authority for everyone.

How much this Dominionist fervor plays out should make a difference in the level of difficulty these officials will face.  It could be “business as usual,” to use Mayor Herbst’s terms.  Council chambers can also become hotbeds of contention.  Municipal offices aren’t usually partisan offices, even though officials typically do belong to political parties.  They also typically consist of odd numbers of only a few seats, preventing stalemates in voting.  They’re configurations conducive to getting things done.

Delegate Elect Roem’s challenges in that 50/50 partisan split that Mayor Herbst described should be examined further because the Dominionism that has fueled the GOP in recent years may also infect some Democrats.  On the other hand, not all Republicans are Dominionists.  Not all would share the snarkiness or arrogance we might expect from someone representing a district in Lynchburg with connections to Liberty University.

Those differences will matter for the Delegate Elect.  After all, legislation incorporates the art of deal-making.  As a journalist, she understands issues and argument.  Her skills as a negotiator will be tested.  Not only will others “study her strengths and weaknesses” as Mayor Herbst described, the Delegate Elect will also study those of other delegates.

But the likelihood of anti-transgender legislation in Richmond has diminished for a key reason other than the election of Danica Roem.  Virginia also elected a Democrat, Ralph Northam, as Governor.  He denounced the message of hate and disunity that has typified the Trump era.  Anti-transgender legislation will be doomed to veto and proponents can’t expect sufficient votes to override it.27

Delegate Elect Roem’s term may also be compared to the terms of early Black Congress members during the period of Reconstruction.  There was an influx of Black politicians serving at the federal level.  Then Jim Crow laws put a damper upon them through suppression of Black voters.  That kind of suppression has also raised its ugly head in the 2016 election and every voter must give attention to newly imposed requirements and overcome them lest our voices be shut out again as were Blacks before the Civil Rights Era.  A closely split state like Virginia can easily see-saw from Left to Right.  Southern GOP bosses will be inclined to perceive a minority candidate as vulnerable.  No doubt, they will invest in a war chest for a challenger in the next electoral cycle.  The Delegate Elect must understand this very well and likewise make preparations while performing well for her constituents.

 

LOOKING TOWARD 2018

This midterm victory for the trans community has emboldened not a few.  We may expect to see many more transpeople seeking public office in the 2018 midterm election.  Many with political aspirations have felt held back, not taken seriously in the mounting milieu of anti-transgender fervor from many sides.

But we can think again.  Many of us are very astute at debate and should perhaps think about running for public office who might not have considered doing so in the past.  We’ve been like gropers in the dark.  But might we have been looking for the wrong thing, a light at the end of a tunnel of struggle or should we seek the light of a hallway we inhabit leading from disorder to an order of cooperation?  It may be that all of us are far closer to that reality than we think and that we have more available at hand to make change happen than we had imagined.  These 7, shining like the 7 ancient planets, have already taught us the latter case through their successes.

It’s good to start with local offices too.  In doing so our future candidates learn the procedures that make greater things happen, unfolding from the obscure to the more influential.  For the challenges increase with those higher levels, and electorates love those with greater experience and accomplishment.  Local offices include school boards.  After all, scientific and religious literacy need to maintain a balance, for both contribute to make humans human and to make inquirers more cunning.

For transpeople not so inclined to enter the political arena, it makes sense that we should support those who have those inclinations and who have a history of instruction, law, and bringing people together.  A mere 7 can become 14, then more.  Eventually Americans should understand that gender identity is no more a criterion for rejection than race, sex, or ethnicity.

What’s next for the 7 echoes what’s next for the rest of us:  the prospect of a bright future, but a fight to maintain it.  We have one distinct advantage in terms of voter anger.  Donald Trump won partly because of anger on the Right.  Now we’re witnessing a corresponding anger on the Left for oppression of minorities and anger .  We even see anger in the Center for the impending restriction of civil rights of the sort that resembles the Jim Crow South more than the America in which we grew up.  As divides within the GOP deepen on the fissures we’ve noticed in that party since Tea Party Republicans felt their oats after 2008, we can discover a new optimism through a newfound unity.  The most oppressed of minorities, transpeople, may become symbolic of that unity too.  We can only hope as we get busy.

_____________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image: A cluttered hallway leads to a bright light, fragmented into the colors of the transgender flag.  From the author’s archives.

  1. Stephe Koontz. (Website, accessed November 8, 2017) https://www.stephekoontz.com/about .
  2. Candy Woodall. “Tyler Titus wins seat to become first transgender person elected in Pennsylvania” PennLive (November 7, 2017, accessed November 8, 2017) http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/11/tyler_titus_wins_seat_to_becom.html
  3. Ashley May. “Danica Roem, Andrea Jenkins, more: Is this election a moment for the transgender community?” USAToday (November 8, 2017, accessed November 8, 2017) https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/11/08/election-moment-transgender-community/843385001/ .
  4. Philippe Cunningham. (Website accessed November 8, 2017) https://www.cunninghammpls.org/ .
  5. Dan Avery. “Palm Springs Elects Trans Candidate Lisa Middleton To City Council” NewNowNext (November 8, 2017, accessed November 8, 2017) http://www.newnownext.com/palm-springs-transgender-lisa-middleton/11/2017/?fb_ref=fbshare_web.
  6. Gerri Cannon. (Facebook page, accessed November 8, 2017) https://www.facebook.com/gerri.cannon .
  7. Antonio Olivo. “Danica Roem of Virginia to be first openly transgender person elected, seated in a U.S. statehouse” Washington Post (November 8, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/danica-roem-will-be-vas-first-openly-transgender-elected-official-after-unseating-conservative-robert-g-marshall-in-house-race/2017/11/07/d534bdde-c0af-11e7-959c-fe2b598d8c00_story.html?utm_term=.426f80edc35e .
  8. Stu Rasmussen. (Website accessed November 8, 2017) http://www.sturasmussen.com/realityCheck.htmreference .
  9. Kathy Marks “Georgina Beyer: The double life of Georgie” The Independent, UK (July 18, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/georgina-beyer-the-double-life-of-georgie-184803.html .
  10. Malaika Fraley. “Meet Judge Victoria Kolakowski, nation’s first transgender judge” East Bay Times (March 14, 2007, accessed November 9, 2017) http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/03/14/meet-judge-victoria-kolakowski-nations-first-transgender-judge/ .
  11. Marwa Eltagouri. “Meet Andrea Jenkins, the first openly transgender black woman elected to public office in the U.S.” Washington Post (November 8, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/11/08/meet-andrea-jenkins-the-openly-transgender-black-woman-elected-to-public-office-in-the-u-s/?utm_term=.8ade533ecd66 .
  12. Chris Johnson. “Phillipe Cunnignham first trans man elected to U.S. public office” Washington Blade (November 8, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/11/08/phillipe-cunningham-first-trans-man-elected-u-s-public-office/ .
  13. Mark Joseph Stern. “Transgender Democrat Danica Roem Makes History, Defeats Notorious Anti-LGBTQ Incumbent” Slate (November 7, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2017/11/07/transgender_democrat_danica_roem_defeats_bob_marshall.html .
  14. Maggie Astor, Christina Caron, and Daniel Victor. “A Guide to the Charlottesville Aftermath” New York Times (August 13, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/13/us/charlottesville-virginia-overview.html .

  1. David Smith. “Democrats mark anniversary of Trump’s election with night of sweeping victories” The Guardian (November 8, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/nov/08/democrats-election-victories-anniversary-trump-virginia-new-jersey .
  2. Andrew T. Hoffman, Tweet November 7, 2017 6:00 pm, quoted by Ashley Hoffman. “Christians Took to Twitter to Rebuke This Man’s Tweet About a Transgender Politician” Time (November 8, 2017, accessed November 8, 2017) http://time.com/5015153/danica-roem-reaction/?utm_campaign=time&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&xid=time_socialflow_twitter
  3. Brett Molina. “So long, 140, Hello, 280: Twitter doubles its character count on tweets” USA Today (November 7, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/11/07/so-long-140-hello-280-twitter-doubles-character-count-tweets/839604001/ .
  4. Christine Houser. “Texas Mayor Announces That She Is Transgender” New York Times (February 1, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/us/texas-transgender-mayor.html .
  5. “Littleton v. Prange” FindLaw (October 27, 1999, report accessed October 5, 2017) http://caselaw.findlaw.com/tx-court-of-appeals/1079164.html.
  6. Francesca Acocella.“An Affirmative Decision for Transgender Marriage in Texas” Jurist (September 16, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) http://www.jurist.org/dateline/2014/09/francesca-acocella-transgender-marriage.php .
  7. Madison Park. “’Bathroom bill’ fails to make it out of special session” CNN (August 16, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/16/politics/texas-bathroom-bill-dead/index.html .
  8. A. Crunden “Activists rally for transgender and immigrant rights in Texas” Think Progress (August 4, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) https://thinkprogress.org/texas-trans-immigrant-rights-rally-6e0a472d2813/ .
  9. David Taffett. The completely nonexistent story of a transgender mayor’s transition” The Dallas Voice (October 27, 2017, accessed November 9, 2017) https://www.dallasvoice.com/the-completely-nonexistent-story-of-a-transgender-mayors-transition-10244717.html .
  10. Response by Mayor Jess Herbst to the author on November 9, 2017.
  11. Lynnea Urania Stuart. “Dominionist Collapse” Trans Muse Planet (July 22, 2017 , accessed November 10, 2017) https://thetmplanet.com/the-dominionist-collapse-when-transpeople-face-theocracy/
  12. Eric Bradner. “5 takeaways from the Democrats’ big night” CNN (November 8, 2017, accessed November 10, 2017) http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/07/politics/5-takeaways-election-virginia-governor-trump/index.html.
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It Cannot Pass Without Notice: Intersex Awareness Takes New Significance

Painfully, too few took notice of an important event that took place on October 26.  Intersex Awareness Day was observed across the globe but with much less of the fanfare offered to LGBT people during Pride season.  While November may be Transgender Awareness Month, only a single day has been set aside to remember the issues of intersex people.

This year Australia led in recognition of intersex issues with the First Federal Parliamentary Forum hearing from intersex activists in Canberra.1 This hearing might be compared to the first Congressional hearing on transgender rights in Washington D.C. which took place in 2008.But this isn’t enough for intersex people.  It’s shouldn’t be enough for the rest of us either, transgender or not, who have not been diagnosed with an intersex variation.

Intersex experience, despite differences from transgender issues per sé, overlap transgender issues and we must not ignore them in recognition of that overlap if for no other.  But even apart from this, intersex experience deserves the attention and respect from all people, and the international, multi-generational cruelty inflicted upon intersex individuals should be regarded as inflicted upon all humanity.

 

HISTORY OF INTERSEX AWARENESS DAY

Intersex Awareness Day became an annual event sparked by a protest against the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on that day in 1996.  Tony Briffa calls it the “Intersex Stonewall.”3 Tony Briffa was the first openly intersex elected official, becoming Deputy Mayor of Hobson Bay, Melbourne, in 2011.4

The American Academy of Pediatrics was conducting its session in Boston in 1996.5  Boston also gave us Rita Hester and Chanelle Pickett, whose deaths  in the years following sparked the annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance to be held later this month.6  Two intersex activists tried to address the conference.  They challenged the persistent treatment of intersex children, which still feature infant surgeries and other permanent interventions to ‘normalize’ genitalia.  The AAP responded with pure intolerance, removing the activists from the conference.7

Why would the American Academy of Pediatrics so readily reject this message?  Was it just because the academy only offered speaking positions to academy members?  If that was the case, then members of the AAP should have acted as spokespeople, with the activists as visible examples, because the message is a valid and long suppressed issue.  But that didn’t happen.  The conference officials literally quashed their message, opting instead to favor enforcement of a binary of sex and gender that runs roughshod over self-determination, advancing a cause favorable to the propagation of patriarchal dominance.

But the actions of the AAP in 1996 unwittingly laid a political foundation for a human rights observance that deserves to rise above obscurity.  It gave impetus to the movement for intersex rights, and transpeople as allies need to pay attention.  Movements for transgender rights and intersex rights have long paralleled one another and at times intertwined.  Intersex people have supported transgender rights and we would be amiss not to recognize their contributions over the years and to embrace their cause as they have supported ours.

 

SOME INTERSEX STATISTICS

We can’t realize any true discussion of intersex rights without understanding the physical phenomena intersex people face.  Intersex variations happen far more often than people admit according to the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA) whose website still exists for educational purposes after Accord Alliance replaced it in 2007.  Chances are, you’ve met an intersex individual.  You might unwittingly be intersex yourself.  Some intersex variations may be that subtle.8

Intersex variations present as anatomical and chromosomal anomalies pertaining to physical sex and may require specific attention in medical treatment.  Some of statistics include:

 

  • Total number of people whose bodies differ from standard male or female: 1 in 100 births

  • Not XX and not XY: 1 in 1,666 births

  • Klinefelter (47 Karotype XXY in males and females): 1 in 1,000 births

  • Vaginal Agenesis: 1 in 6,000 births

  • Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome: 1 in 13,000 births

  • Classical Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia: 1 in 13,000 births

  • Ovotestes: 1in 83,000 births

  • Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome: 1 in 130,000 births

  • Total number of people receiving surgery to “normalize” genital appearance: 1 or 2 in 1,000 births9

 

We might note some others not mentioned in the ISNA list: Swyer Syndrome (46 Karotype XY), noted in “females”, De La Chapelle Syndrome (46 Karotype XX), noted in “males”, 5-Alpha Reductase Deficiency (46 Karotype XY), noted in “females” external phenotypes but with internal male gonads, Chimerism, and Turner Syndrome (46 Karotype XO).  Other variations occur besides these and can be found at http://oii-usa.org/1124/intersex-variations-list/.

But ambiguities in external genitalia have garnered the most attention for Pediatrics.  A clitoris might resemble a penis or vice versa.  For that matter, one might not be able to determine the sex of an infant at all because the ambiguity may leave a medical practitioner guessing.  Determination of sex has overwhelming legal implications and few jurisdictions allow recognition of anything outside the gender binary.  It follows the classic belief that anything other than male or female cannot exist apart from “birth defects,” maliciously branding intersex people “abominations” or “monsters” and many pretend they don’t happen even so.

What has been the overwhelming treatment of choice among pediatric surgeons?  They’ve typically chosen surgery to assign a sex out of their own medical and legal convenience.  In most cases these surgeries have rendered infants as “female” because it’s easier for a surgeon to surgically fashion female genitalia than male genitalia and upon this convenience perpetrating doctors have declared the legal sex of 1 or 2 in 1,000 births without any consideration for the patient’s actual gender identity.

That’s a problem for those intersex individuals who realize they aren’t who they had been assigned by the surgeon to be.  It compels such patients to seek corrective surgery, called Genital Reconstruction Surgery (GRS) as opposed to Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) or Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) offered to transsexuals.  For intersex individuals this isn’t so much about gender dysphoria driving one to cross over from one sex to another as an issue of the quality of life and righting a crime perpetrated by societies and their institutions.

  

A COMMUNITY SEPARATE AND DISTINCT

In the past, intersex people have worked with transgender organizations to advance the cause of human rights.  But our part as transpeople has been insufficient for intersex needs.  Intersex people are now determining their own path independent from ours.  Tony Briffa told Gay Star News that events like Intersex Awareness Day give intersex people the opportunity to speak with legislators about changes they seek to protect intersex children and support the work of “intersex organizations run by and for intersex people.”10

This level of activism kicked into gear in Darlington, Australia in March 2017 when members of Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand intersex community organizations issued a joint statement directed primarily toward those nations, but also to allies worldwide.  The Darlington Statement consists of 59 points in 9 pages, addressing issues of human rights and legal reform, health and well being, peer support, allies, education, awareness, employment.11

The Darlington Statement acknowledges the historical ties of intersex people with LGBT and other peoples:

 

“We also acknowledge intersectionalities with other populations, including same-sex attracted people, trans and gender diverse people, people with disabilities, women, men, and Indigenous – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Tangata Whenua – and racialised [sic], migrant and refugee populations.”12

 

However, the statement makes this assertion of distinction from LGBT communities:

 

“That the word ‘intersex’, and the intersex human rights movement, belong equally to all people born with variations of sex characteristics, irrespective of our gender identities, genders, legal sex  classifications and sexual orientations.”13

 

The Darlington Statement made this declaration as an independent community and calls upon us all to recognize it as such:

 

Allies

“47. Intersex is distinct from other issues. We call on allies to actively acknowledge our distinctiveness and the diversity within our community, to support our human rights claims and respect the intersex human rights movement, without tokenism, or instrumentalising [sic], or co-opting intersex issues as a means for other ends. “Nothing about us without us.”

“48. We encourage all organizations [sic] and bodies that support the intersex movement to recognize [sic] this Darlington statement.

“49. We call for intersex people, and the intersex human rights movement, to be allies to the LGBTQ, disability, Indigenous, anti-racist, and women’s movements.

“50. We call on intersex people to recognize [sic] our own diversity, and call for intra-community dialogue and mutual support.”14

 

Click here for the full text of The Darlington Statement.

 It’s clear that the intersex community has made itself a distinct community and the rest of us must recognize the fact.  We must now support them as allies, and no longer as a branch of our own community.  To recognize the latter would be a form of “instrumentalizing.”

 

IMPLICATIONS OF THE DARLINGTON STATEMENT

This development also raises a historical specter of difficulty transpeople have had with the mainstream gay and lesbian community.  On the bases of our own intersection of issues with the issues of gays and lesbians we have typically asserted that we as transpeople must remain linked as LGBT people.  The Darlington Statement has now weakened that argument.  Trans and intersex people no longer stand as a united community.  We only stand together as allies.  Consequently, we will most likely find ourselves standing with mainstream gays and lesbians as allies as well, no longer as a united community.

It’s sad that the unity many of us have sought has become unattainable, though the position taken in The Darlington Statement is understandable.  With this, other forms of fragmentation of the trans community may become inevitable.

The trans community has long been noted as a schismatic community.  Transsexual and transvestite have long been at odds.  In the 1990’s, “transgender” has been an umbrella term to include both as well as intersex individuals as in this statement from San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission:

 

“‘Transgender’ is used as an umbrella term that includes female and male cross dressers, transvestites, drag queens or kings, female and male impersonators, intersexed [sic] individuals, pro-operative, post-operative, and non-operative transsexuals, masculine females, feminine males, all persons whose perceived gender or anatomic sex may be incongruent with their gender expression and all persons exhibiting gender characteristics and identities which are perceived to be androgynous.”15

 

This definition of “transgender” set a legal standard throughout California.  It got civil rights efforts done.  But since that time, the definition of “transgender” has shifted to apply to transsexuals exclusively with the word “transsexual” being regarded as a pejorative.  Not a few cross dressers have decried this redefinition, excluded as a people not being “trans enough.”  Has this shift likewise alienated intersex people to the point where they have now decided to go their own way?  Possibly.

The “nothing about us without us” argument has implications for arguments attacking the trans community as well.  Trans activists have long challenged religionist claims that transwomen are not women and transmen are not men with genetic facts including the understanding that the Y Chromosome does not alone determine maleness and that intersex variations abound among transpeople and others.  We can no longer offer this argument without “co-opting intersex issues as a means for other ends,” specifically our own.

The Darlington Statement demands something else, lest civil rights interests fall like dominoes.  Transpeople now need to renegotiate with its own factions, recognizing each as a separate ally community as we now must with the intersex community, each ally community deserving the same level of respect.  It means recognizing a separate and distinct cross dressing community, a separate and distinct drag community, and so forth.  Only by doing so can we now continue to make civil rights assertions to the world.

We would be amiss if we didn’t offer that level of respect to others.  After all, with massive imposition of divisiveness and rhetoric from the far Right designed to set emotion over fact in order to further divide humanity, unity is key.  Separate communities cannot overcome without that level of respect.  We must take more than a day to give intersex people the attention they deserve.  Survival really does depend upon it.

_________________________________

REFERENCES:

Featured Image: the Intersex Pride flag, its circle rising like the sun above the words declaring its desire as a community of its own.

  1. Tony Briffa. “Intersex Awareness Day: Commemorating the intersex version of Stonewall” Gay Star News (October 26, 2017, accessed October 26, 2017) https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/intersex-awareness-day-commemorating-the-intersex-version-of-stonewall/#gs.WOqpLcQ.
  2. House Hearing, 110 Congress. An Examination of Discrimination Against Transgender Americans in the Workplace:Hearing before the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions, Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred Tenth Congress, Second Session (U.S. Government Printing Office, June 26, 2008, accessed online December 31, 2013) http://www.gpoaccess.gov/congress/house/education/index.html. A video series of these proceedings available through NCTEquality. “Congressional Hearing on Transgender Discrimination” YouTube (June 28, 2008, accessed October 23, 2017) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYglCClCsYM.
  3. Op. cit.
  4. Daniel Villarreal. “The Amazing, Heartbreaking Story of Tony Briffa, The World’s First Openly Intersex Mayor” Queerty (December 12, 2011, accessed November 1, 2017) https://www.queerty.com/the-amazing-heartbreaking-story-of-tony-briffa-the-worlds-first-openly-intersex-mayor-20111210 .
  5. Op. cit.
  6. Leveque, Sophia Cecelia. TRANS/ACTIVE: A Biography of Gwendolyn Ann Smith (Winston-Salem NC, Library Partners Press, ZSR Library, Wake Forest University August 1, 2017) ISBN-13: 978-1618460448 , p. 42.
  7. Op. cit.
  8. (n.a.) “Frequency” Intersex Society of North America (accessed November 1, 2017) http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency
  9. Ibid.
  10. https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/intersex-awareness-day-commemorating-the-intersex-version-of-stonewall/#gs.WOqpLcQ.
  11. Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand intersex community organizations and independent advocates, including the Androgen Insensitivity Support Syndrome Support Group Australia (AISSGA),1 Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ),2 Organisation Intersex International Australia (OIIAU),3 Eve Black, Kylie Bond (AISSGA), Tony Briffa (OIIAU/AISSGA), Morgan Carpenter (OIIAU/Intersex Day Project4), Candice Cody (OIIAU), Alex David (OIIAU), Betsy Driver (Bodies Like Ours), Carolyn Hannaford (AISSGA), Eileen Harlow, Bonnie Hart (AISSGA), Phoebe Hart (AISSGA), Delia Leckey (ITANZ), Steph Lum (OIIAU), Mani Bruce Mitchell (ITANZ), Elise Nyhuis (AISSGA), Bronwyn O’Callaghan, Sandra Perrin (AISSGA), Cody Smith (Tranz Australia), Trace Williams (AISSGA), Imogen Yang (Bladder Exstrophy Epispadias Cloacal Exstrophy Hypospadias Australian Community – BEECHAC5), Georgie Yovanovic. “The Darlington Statement” (issued March 2017, accessed November 2, 2017) https://oii.org.au/darlington-statement/
  12. Ibid, p. 3, point 3, bold per the document.
  13. Ibid, point 4, bold per the document.
  14. Ibid, p. 8, points 47-50, bold per the document.
  15. Human Rights Commission. “Guidelines to Prohibit Gender Identity Discrimination; respecting San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 12A, 12B, 12C; and San Francisco Municipal Police Code Article 33” City and County of San Francisco, 1998, p. 2.
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One School Kicks Him Out The Other Crowns Him Homecoming King

By Sabrina Samone

I’m sure the readers of TMP are ready by now for some good news, after what has been one sad blow after the next for our community. Recently, The Family Research Center, has launched a petition and campaign titled, ‘Free to Believe’, inserting their belief in a Freedom of Religious right to discriminant. TMPlanet’s senior writer Lynnea  Stuart, recently wrote about the consequences of such actions, and the UN vote titled.  The UN Vote: Is the United States Headed Toward an LGBT Holocaust?  Haven’t we as a human race witnessed this type of state sanctioned hate, and the consequences of legislated hate, against another group of people? Are we doomed to repeat the horrors of World War 2?

Recently a school that dares calls itself a Christian School, expelled a 17 year old Transgender teen. Stiles Zuschlag, was on track to be valedictorian at Tri-City Christian Academy in Somersworth, New Hampshire.

When the 17-year-old met with a school administrator in August about being identified as male, he was shocked when he was asked to “confess his sins, stop taking testosterone treatments, and receive Christian counseling.” If he refused, he’d be forced to leave the school.

Stiles, chose to leave the school, and start over at nearby Noble High School in North Berwick, Maine, just seven miles away.

As he began to make friends at his new school, he joked about being nominated for homecoming king. “I asked on Snapchat as a joke to put me in,” he told HuffPost. His peers took his request a bit more seriously than he did. “People actually did it. I didn’t really expect them to. I still can’t believe they did that for me.”

He’d be even more shocked when he showed up to the game and won the homecoming king crown. “After I won at the homecoming game, I almost started crying. My friends all put me in, people I didn’t even know put me in, everyone voted for me on the final ballot,” he said. “This experience feels like a dream. It’s something I never thought could have happened to me.”

The outpouring of love and acceptance astonished Zuschlag.

“I’ve been degraded so much in the past, I’ve conformed to other people’s beliefs and standards just to make them happy and comfortable. I’ve put myself in situations really hurtful to my mental health just to keep peace,” he explained. “God forced me out of that situation, that school, knowing that my mental health was far more important than my education. The only reason I stayed at the school for so long was for my education, for my GPA, and to just learn about God. But I was also dying there mentally and I suffered a lot.”

“God took me away from that to help me be a better person, to breathe again, to be happy again. I’m so grateful He did that for me.”

Despite hate, blindly and blasphemously disguised as Christianity, love does win and it’s true nature of brotherly love, compassion, acceptance and love for thy neighbor does prevail in the end.


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