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News of interest to the transgender/transsexual community

From 2013-JUL until now

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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  • 2013-JUL-29: North America: Televangelist Pat Robertson support 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:


  • 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 advance 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 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 district court before it, the First 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

  • 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 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."

    Webmaster's comments: We expected that Facebook would receive many negative comments, particularly from religious and social conservatives who believe that there are only two genders: male and female. We were not dissapointed. Most of the coments were positive, but some were very neagive and even vicious.

    • Krystal Śmierć wrote: ""Interested in" now needs to be fix, it's still only Female/Male."

    • Derek Stephens wrote: "It's too bad that bigot isn't one of the new option for those so adamantly against this change. This change is huge in my book, a step in the right direction. With any change its not perfect and takes time to adjust."

    • Katarina Dutton wrote: "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have made me feel like a real person and I cannot tell you how much that matters."

    • Lex Blue wrote: "So many tiny minds imploding because people aren't forced to select M or F on an online profile anymore."

    • Angie Kiel Hendrix wrote: "Xochitl...I encourage you open your mind & heart to educating yourself on this topic. Your comments are simply incorrect. For thousands of years we thought the earth was flat. We know clearly know it's not. The topic of gender identity is very similar. Plus, until you've walked in someone else's shoes, who are you to judge? The idea that the LGBTQ population is that way due to sexual abuse is SO completely untrue. Again, please seek out information before you spew what you think are facts. And remember, we learn the most from those who are different from us."

    • Sebastian Tulejarz wrote: "That's ridiculous and stupid. By checking any option other than male/female you show the whole world that you are in need of therapy."

    • Kelly Kearns wrote: "Seriously, this is what Facebook is doing? Really? No one makes a big deal that I am a heterosexual female and I don't have to announce it to the world, have a special title or anything. Honestly, I'm so sick of everything being turned into something racial, sexual preference and now gender. The more people do this, the more disconnected people become. My word, we are human beings, male or female and we love and marry whomever we love and marry, simple. I can't stand the fact that in America, we have American and African Americans and now people are starting to add other groups becoming "whatever" American. People don't want division and don't want to be seen as different, yet they INSIST on being LABELED as different and creating divisions. My family heritage on one side is Indian, American Indian, the other side French. We don't use the term Native American and I only say "American Indian" to differentiate between American Indian and India Indian. My family from France does not call themselves French American. We are all human beings, Americans and we don't carry on and on about each person's sexual preference. If someone doesn't want to be made to feel different, then do not DEMAND to be set aside as "different". This is getting beyond stupid and way out of control."

    • Ann Post wrote: "Awesome! Finally breaking out of the gender binary straight jacket!"

    • John Snover wrote: "Wow. This fills me with so much diversity I just want to puke. Get over yourselves."

    • XCarlos PazRamazzini wrote: "Male or female. There are no more genders. You are normal or you need therapy. Simple."

    • Mackenzie Renee DuQuesne wrote: "This is absolutely horrible! Shame on you Facebook."

    • Joseph Remus wrote: There's only 2 genders, male and female, if you think otherwise you know nothing of biology."

    • Kathy Henderson wrote: "God made us male and female...plain and simple. Look it up in the Bible."

    • Saul Gutierrez wrote: "Whats the world coming too. I have lost faith in America for allowing this garbage to happen."

    • Jake Reid wrote: "I'm sorry there's only two genders last time I checked. Wtf is this? Stop supporting delusional behavior."

    • Dave Novak wrote: "Thanks for contributing to the destruction of civilization. Feeling shame for what you have done, or what you have become is inherent in all of us. If you have make things up to describe what you are, you are quite a bit too full of yourselves."

The options are:

  • Agender A person without a gender identity.
  • Androgyne and Androgynous: A person who may possess traits that are simultaneously feminine and masculine, or neither.
  • Bigender A person who feels that their gender is both fully male and fully female, or any pair of genders. They often switch between the two.
  • Cis, Cisgender, Cissexual. Cis Female, Cis Male. Cis Man, Cis Woman, Cisgender Female, Cisgender Male, Cisgender Man, Cisgender Woman: A person whose gender identity matches the gender they were assigned at birth.
  • Female to Male, FTM: A person who has transitioned or is transitioning from male to female.
  • Gender Fluid: A person whose gender identity freely moves between/among genders.
  • Gender Nonconforming, Gender Variant: A person whose behaviour or gender expression does not conform to traditional male/female gender norms.
  • Gender Questioning: A person who has not settled on a gender identity.
  • Genderqueer: A person whose gender identity is other than man and woman.
  • Intersex: A person born with sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of male or female
  • Male to Female: MTF: A person who has transitioned or is transitioning from female to male
  • MTF ('male-to-female')
  • Neither: A person who identifies themselves as neither male nor female.
  • Neutrois, Null-gendered: A person who does not identify themself as having a gender.
  • Non-binary: A person who identifies their gender identity as different from male and female. They may feel that they are both, neither, or a mixture of male and female.
  • Other: A catch-all term
  • Pangender: See Androgyne.
  • Transgender, Trans, Trans Female, Trans Woman, Transgender Female, Trans Male, Transgender Male, Trans Man, Trans Person, Transgender Person: A person who identifies their gender as different from that of their body or who were assigned a gender that does not match their gender identity.
  • Transexual, Transsexual Female, Trams Woman. Transsexual Male, Transsexual Man, Transsexual Woman, Transsexual Person : Often used as a synonym for Transgender. Sometimes refers only to transgendered persons who live daily according to their gender identity.
  • Transmasculine: A person who was assigned a female identity at birth but who now identifies more male than female.
  • Two-spirit: A term used by Indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of many mixed gender roles found traditionally among many Native Americans and Canadian First Nations indigenous groups) 6

The option to not declare a gender is still available. They will also be able to ask to be referred to as he, she, or they. Facebook expects to expand the options to the rest of the world later.

    • Brielle Harrison, a Facebook software engineer who worked on the transition, is herself a transgender person undergoing a transition from male to female. She said:

      "There's going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world. ... All too often transgender people like myself and other gender nonconforming people are given this binary option: do you want to be male or female? What is your gender? And it's kind of disheartening because none of those let us tell others who we really are. This really changes that, and for the first time I get to go to the site and specify to all the people I know what my gender is." 7

      She now defines herself on her Facebook page as TransWoman.

    • Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said:

      "Over the past few years, a person's Facebook profile truly has become their online identity, and now Facebook has taken a milestone step to allow countless people to more honestly and accurately represent themselves. Facebook's action is one that I hope others heed in supporting individuals' multifaceted identities" 7

    • Jon Le Breton of Illawarra in Australia said that the Facebook change will [eventually] be seen by its 1.15 billion active users, and that this is a positive step for recognition of the LGBTIQ community. He commented:
    • "It’s about the world being more inclusive. We were only given two options to choose, but some people don’t fit into those labels any more. [The new options] ... acknowledges what people feel about themselves. It creates awareness for the LGBTIQ community, and lets them represent themselves online the way they want to, not just the way they are told to." 8

    • Nori Herras-Castaneda, a transgender activist and spokeswoman for the Billy DeFrank LGBT Community Center in San Jose, said:

      "We always talk about how gender is a spectrum,' she said. 'I can see a lot of people being extremely happy about this." 6








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Additional information can be found from the following sources of transgender/transsexual news:

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More developments are inevitable

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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: http://thinkprogress.org/
  2. "Bring it On-Line: Am I stealing from God?" You Tube, at: http://youtu.be
  3. "A transgender teen love story," Huffington Post, 2013-AUG-03, at: http://videos.huffingtonpost.com/
  4. "Federal Appeals Court rules for GID," The Rainbow Times, 2014-JAN-19, at: http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/
  5. "Ruling in Favor of Treatment for Transgender Inmate Upholds Important Constitutional Principle," The Rainbow Times, 2014-JAN-18, at: http://www.therainbowtimesmass.com/
  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: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
  7. Kashmira Gander, "Facebook's new gender options: 50 new categories include trans and intersex," The Independent, 2014-FEB-13, at: http://www.independent.co.uk/
  8. Joshua Butler, "Facebook's new gender settings earn praise," Illawarra mercury, 2014-FEB-14, at: http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/
  9. Diversity Page, Facebook, at: https://www.facebook.com/

Copyright © 2013 & 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2014-FEB-14 - Valentine's Day
Author: B.A. Robinson

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