Sometimes the news articles just start piling up and the best way to dismantle the pile is to do a diary which shares multiple stories. Tonight I have a trio of stories to share, featuring human rights progress Canada, the election of a transgender politician in Cuba, and a transgender summit (of sorts) at the White House here in the US.
But I'll start off with a separate item, namely first time that the transgender flag has been flown over the Castro. After several months of contention, the Board of Merchants of Upper Market and the Castro consented to the raising of the transgender flag (the one designed by Monica Helms) for Transgender Day of Remembrance on Tuesday.
On with our stories:
Nova Scotia has proposed amendments to its Human Rights Act which would clarify the right to fairness and equality for transpeople. The amendments presented November 20 by Justice Minister Ross Landry will add gender identity and gender expression as protected grounds in the Human Rights Act.
Transpeople who are denied a job or an apartment because they are transgender will now be able to file a human rights complaint because of that motive. Previously transgender people had sought protections based on sex or disability.
For too long, transgender Nova Scotians have faced discrimination, threats, insults and physical violence. This is not acceptable, and we will not tolerate it. Making this change is the right thing to do. Transgender Nova Scotians deserve the same legal protection that the rest of us take for granted.
Nova Scotia joins Ontario, Manitoba and the Northwest Territories as provinces which reference gender identity in the Human Rights Acts.
We know that trans people face harassment and discrimination, and also that fear of such discrimination holds people back from leading full and healthy lives. Affirming that trans discrimination is illegal will go a long way to alleviating that fear.
--Kevin Kindred, chair of the Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project
The amendments are in Bill 140 which was introduced by the New Democratic Party. Since the NDP controls 31 of 52 seats in the House of Assembly, passage is considered likely.
Transgender people are often worried that a gender transition could lead to rejection by friends or family, or the loss of their job. My hope is that this will lead to changes in public attitudes and greater acceptance in society.
--Kate Shewan, transgender woman
As usual the "pro-family" element have warned that there will be possible disastrous results, including an increase in attacks against women and children in restrooms.
They have also expressed concern that the bill normalizes gender confusion, which many experts recognize as a mental illness, and would make it harder for both children and adults who struggle with gender identity disorder to obtain treatment.
Blah, blah, blah…
Hernandez, 48, a biological male who has lived as a girl and woman since childhood and was incarcerated for two years during the 1980s for "dangerousness" based on her sexuality, became the first known transgender person to be elected to public office in Cuba earlier this month. Her election as a delegate to the municipal government of Caibarien in the province of Villa Clara makes her eligible to be selected as a representative to Parliament in 2013.
Because she has not yet had surgery, the Cuban government still considers her to be a man. She switches pronouns when referring to herself.
As time evolves, homophobic people — although they will always exist — are the minority.
Since 2007 the island has been covering sex-change surgery under its free health care system. Last year a gay man and a transsexual woman whose operation was paid for by the state garnered headlines for their first-of-its kind wedding.
Mariela Castro, daughter of President Raul Castro and niece of Fidel, is Cuba's foremost gay rights activist and is director of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education.
I represent a community but I will always keep in mind the defense of gays.
My neighbors know me as Adela, the nurse. Sexual preference does not determine whether you are a revolutionary or not. That comes from within.
White House marked the 14th annual observance of Transgender Day of Remembrance by inviting 27 trans advocates to meet with John Berry, Director of the White House office of Personnel Management (left). Among those present were Mara Keisling, executive director of NCTE, NCTE director of policy Harper Jean Tobin, transgender Barney Frank aide Diego Sanchez, Babs Siperstein of the DNC executive committee, Kylar Broadus, first transperson to speak before the Senate.
The attendees discussed "policies to make transgender lives safer. Then Berry led the attendees outdoors to observe a moment of silent in honor of TDOR.
To have a senior administration official like John leading us in commemorating transgender victims of violence is a really good thing. But to have President Barack Obama’s commitment to solving anti-transgender violence affirmed in today’s meeting is a great thing.
At the meeting, community leaders highlighted a range of issues and concerns of importance to transgender people. In the months and years ahead, we look forward to working to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all transgender people.
--White House statement
Throughout America and around the world, many transgender people face bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence. Far too often, we hear shocking and tragic stories about transgender people who have been assaulted and even killed because of their gender identity or expression. The Obama Administration is committed to preventing violence against all people, including all members of the LGBT community, and this meeting was an important opportunity to explore ways to make our communities and neighborhoods safer.
As we mark Transgender Day of Remembrance and reflect upon the lives that have been lost to violence and injustice, let us all recommit ourselves to ensuring dignity, equality, and justice for all people.
--Gautam Raghavan, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and LGBT liaison
Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis issued a separate statement commemorating TDoR and reinforcing her commitment to supporting us:
I stand proudly today – and every day – as an ally to the transgender community and to every person and family impacted by anti-transgender bullying and violence. Transgender people are part of the diversity that America celebrates today and they, like every American, deserve to live without fear of prejudice or violence.