Robyn's blog

A Kerfluffle in Londinium

Last weekend the Guardian published a huge pile of the most vile shit transfolk could imagine. Not that we haven't read it before, but it was shocking that we have its return in 2013. From Mary Daly's Gyn/Ecology, wherein she desribed transpeople as "Frankensteinian" and living in a "contrived and artifactual condition" to Daly's phD student Janice Raymond's The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male from 1979, to Julie Bindel's exorbitant transphobia, we've seen a steady march of transphobic self-proclaimed feminists.

Purported feminist Julie Burchill wrote an editorial about transwomen so vile that the Guardian's Observer withdrew the article from the Internet and editor John Mulholland published an apology:

We have decided to withdraw from publication the Julie Burchill comment piece 'Transsexuals should cut it out'. The piece was an attempt to explore contentious issues within what had become a highly-charged debate. The Observer is a paper which prides itself on ventilating difficult debates and airing challenging views. On this occasion we got it wrong and in light of the hurt and offence caused I apologise and have made the decision to withdraw the piece. The Observer Readers' Editor will report on these issues at greater length.

--John Mulholland

The article generated a lot of reaction.



Defending our existence

Andrea Ayres at policym1c has an essay up entitled Transgender Rights: Why they matter to everyone.

In the wake of Sweden declaring a 1972 that forced transgender people to be sterilized prior to legal gender change, there apparently is renewed interest in the unequal treatment of transgender people.

While the U.S. does not require sterilization prior to a gender reassignment surgery, some states do require that the individual be labeled as having Gender Identity Disorder (GID). At least until July of 2012. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V (DSM-V) replaced the term Gender Identity Disorder with Gender Dysphoria.

Gender dysphoria refers to emotional distress that may occur from "a marked incongruence between one's experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender." Now the change does not eliminate all gender disorders. An individual may still be identified as suffering from Transvestic Fetishism or Transvestic Autogynephilia. The first refers to someone who becomes more sexually active when wearing the clothing incongruent with the sex they were assigned at birth. The second, championed by an evil man (Ray Blanchard), refers to a person (usually a man, in Blanchard's opinion) whose sexual impulse is connected with the thought of themselves as a member of "the opposite sex" (i.e. as a woman). That is, roughly speaking, Blanchard believes transwomen who masturbate are autogynephiles.

The reason why this highlights continuing discrimination against trans individuals is because cisgendered individuals are allowed to behave in these matters without having their intentions questions. A cisgendered person is someone who self-identifies with the gender they were both with. We would not think to question a cisgendered women's desire to wear clothes, make-up etc, because she is acting in congruency with her societal role.



Investigating medical malfeascance

The General Medical Council is investigating London-based gender-change specialist Dr. Richard Curtis after three complaints have surfaced.

One patient complained about regretting undergoing treatment after taking hormones and having a double mastectomy. A second accusation is that Dr. Curtis prescribed drugs to patients under the age of 18 without the requisite specialist knowledge.

Dr Curtis is also accused of failing to follow acceptable levels of care and breached conditions placed on his practice by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS), the GMC’s arm’s-length disciplinary body.



North American Old Catholic Church to ordain transman as priest

I tend not to cover too much on the religion front. There are no doubt deep psychological issues involved with that.

I have written about my own spiritual journey at my pretty much forgotten blogspot site.

One of the reasons I don't cover religion much, although I do acknowledge that many transpeople find it to be an integral part of their lives, is because writing about religion on the internet tends to be a magnet for disagreement, name-calling, and disrespect. It is my sincere hope that will not be the case with this article. Adults can disagree without being disagreeable.

And people who can't participate in an amiable discussion are free to find something else to discuss.







Today I have assembled a compendium of three stories drawn from religious sources for your perusal. It should never be forgotten that every theme of life is tinged with difference by the transgender perspective.



Worse than gay

Note: All references to this situation have used male pronouns, including statements by the lawyer, so I shall continue the practice.

Mark Krolikowski, 59, has been known by his students as Mr. K. From all indications Krolikowski was a beloved teacher at ST. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens. He had taught there for 32 years. He even co-directed the school's chamber orchestra for a 2008 performance for Pope Benedict XVI.

But about five years ago Mr. K. began feminizing his appearance and recently he came out as transgender. In May of 2011 the parent of a freshman complained about Krolikowski's appearance to the principal at the time, Leonard Conway. Krolikowsky had grown his hair out and began painting his nails and wearing earrings along with his usual suits and ties. Conway notified Mr. K. that he would "no longer be welcome at public events if he arrived in women's garb."

Brother Conway also told Krolikowski he was worse than gay.

So Krolikowski toned down his appearance. He received excellent evaluations for the 2011-12 school year. But in June he was told that he was being insubordinate and he was terminated in August.



San Diego County to review protocols for transgender detainees

Five years ago the San Diego County Sheriff, Bill Kolender at that time, issued a two-page "training bulletin" as guidelines for handling transgender inmates at local jails. The document provided Webster's dictionary definition of transgender before adding the following:

It is believed that transgender individuals have always existed in our societies.  These individuals are often viewed by their friends and families as the sex they are representing and their expectation is that society views them in the same manner.

The document was issued because of the death of a 35 year-old transwoman, Vanessa Facen. She died in custody four days after a fight with deputies in the San Diego Central jail. Even though she lived as a woman and had breasts, she had been housed with men because she still had male genitalia. When the document was issued, the Sheriff's Department also agreed to institute sensitivity training…but no formal policy was developed.



On Being an Ally

Allies are a necessary ingredient in our gaining full inclusion in the world's societies. One can be one by simply being a friend, of arm of support or a shoulder to lean against when times are hard are surely vital. But one can also be an ally by what one does or says publicly on our behalf.

I've got a couple of stories of the latter nature to share with you this evening.

The first one concerns an essay written by a science fiction writer and the second concerns a mini-documentary prepared by a Maryland college student.



Local skirmishes for equality

Nomi Michaels Devereaux had walked from the Jewel Osco grocery store in Lakeview, IL with her boyfriend. They stopped and she waited while he went into a friend's home to pick up a game system. While she was waiting, and holding six bags of groceries, she was approached by police who removed the groceries and handcuffed her. Then they took her to a police station, where she was forced to remove her bra in front of men…who then mocked her.

Later she learned she had been arrested for solicitation.

She responded in a way that few transwomen do. She reported the incident. That report eventually resulted in a new general order for Chicago police. The order, among other things, says that transpeople should not be subjected to searches any more frequently…or more invasively…than nontransgender people. It also insists that transgender identity is not by itself evidence that a crime is occurring.

The phenomenon of police wrongly assuming that transwomen are engaged in sex work is known as walking while trans.



For he has met the enemy…and it is us

Subtitle:  Be afraid!  Be very afraid!

On the one hand, I'd like to be somewhat respectful of the man, even though he never has displayed any respect towards us. But it's hard to win a war of words and concepts while being disrespectful.

On the other hand, this guy just really ticks me off.

Pope Benny is at it again. Having in the past identified transpeople as a larger danger than deforestation of the planet, he apparently decided he should be more specific. So this year's Christmas address was dedicated to transphobia and homophobia. Catholic online interpreted the speech as transphobically as they could manage. It reminded us of the Christmas speech of 2008.

The Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, has shown in a very detailed and profoundly moving study that the attack we are currently experiencing on the true structure of the family, made up of father, mother, and child, goes much deeper. While up to now we regarded a false understanding of the nature of human freedom as one cause of the crisis of the family, it is now becoming clear that the very notion of being - of what being human really means - is being called into question.

And guess who is at the center of calling "what it means to be human" into question? If you picked transpeople, you win a cookie. By the way, it is also the case that simultaneously, we are no longer individual people, but rather a movement (see the icon that Catholic Online has been so kind to create for us.

Bernheim, by the way, was only speaking out against same-sex marriage, which is currently being addressed in France. But the Pope found hidden messages in his words apparently. There must be a secret decoder ring that comes with the smock and the funny hat.



No heroes among them: the saga of the East Aurora School Board

I've covered the ongoing drama in suburban East Aurora, IL several times previously: see

Updated: Will IL school board kowtow to hate group? You bet!

School Daze

Not so much equality.

We can now bring that drama to a conclusion.

And surprise!

We didn't win.

The East Aurora School Board voted on Monday to dissolve the 22-person committee that was formed in October to advise the district on transgender issues.




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