Robyn's blog

Biden: Anti-transgender discrimination "the civil rights issue of our time"

So Joe Biden was leaving an Obama-Biden campaign office in Sarasota, Florida after making a surprise visit yesterday, when a woman "who he thought had beautiful eyes" caught his attention.

She said something ...at first inaudible to pool, to which VP responded was the "civil rights issue of our time"


Pool later asked the woman, Linda Carragher Bourne of Sarasota about the exchange. She said her daughter was Miss Trans New England and asked if he would help them.


"A lot of my friends are being killed, and they don't have the civil rights yet. These guys are gonna make it happen," she told the pool.


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Two more murdered transwomen: by multiple stabbings in Puerto Rico and by stoning in Brazil

Puerto Rico experienced its 30th anti-LGBTQ homicide in the past ten years when the body of transwoman Malena Suarez was found dead in her home in Carolina with multiple stab wounds in her back. Ten of those murders have been in the last two years, according to a report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Puerto Rico officials have not yet classified any of the homicides as hate crimes under either local law or the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. And before anyone asks, "Yes. Puerto Rico is part of the United States."

Suarez was a volunteer with the transgender advocacy organization Transexuales y Transgeneros en Marcha (TTM). It is reportedly unclear how long she had been dead when the body was found.

TTM members believe that Suarez was killed because she was transgender. Local media reports have not acknowledged Suarez's transgender identity, continuing a trend of inaccurate media reports of transgender victims of violence in Puerto Rico.

Not only Puerto Rico has this problem of disrespecting transgender victims of homicide. Authorities everywhere seem to believe they are required to identify us by our birth sex.

Hate violence is not only deadly, but it affects the entire community. The transgender community in Puerto Rico is extremely terrorized by this violence, we fear for our lives, and our government is not taking action to protect us.Sophia Isabel Marrero Cruz, TTM spokesperson

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Targeting transpeople with Stop-and-Frisk

New York City's Stop and Frisk policy is being applied unevenly once again, this time to target transpeople. A new study has revealed that transgender people in Jackson Heights, a heavily immigrant area, are being targeted by police at more than twice the rate of the general population.

Transgender and gender nonconforming people of color are particularly vulnerable due to their visibility. In order to combat police misconduct, there must be legislation and policies that minimize the risk of these kinds of abuse occurring in our communities.

The study was conducted by Make the Road, New York, which contacted 305 residents, 167 of whom identified as being LGBTQ. Of that group, 51% of LGB respondents said they had been stopped by police. A third of those stopped say they had also been physically harassed. Of the 69 transgender respondents 59% had ben stopped by police and nearly half reported being physically harassed. 28% of respondents who were not LGBTQ were stopped by police.

Transgender respondents reported that they were accused of being sex workers.

Color me not surprised at that.

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Transman petitions World Health Organization to delist transsexualism as a mental illness

Maxwell Zachs is 25-years old and was born female. He is a citizen of London, England, has degrees in English literature, indigenous studies and constitutional law, and is a rabbinical student at a yeshiva in Sweden. Three years ago he began his transitioned to male. He began testosterone treatments in 2009 and had a double mastectomy and chest contouring in Thailand in 2010. He recently was one of the cast of England's My Transsexual Summer

Maxwell recently filed a petition at Change.org calling for the World Health Organization to eliminate transsexualism from its list of mental disorders in the International Classification of Diseases. He says that the designation only contributes to discrimination.

I know there is concern about Change.org. I'm not the person who set up the petition, which last I checked had 46,814 supporters.

If you would like to get to know Max Zachs better, he has a blog.

There is nothing wrong with me. I am perfectly healthy, I just happen to be transgender.


--Maxwell Zachs

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HRC honors Lana Wachowski

Lana Wachowski and her brother Andy are of course the directors of The Matrix, V for Vendetta and the forthcoming Cloud Atlas.

She was awarded the Visibility Award by the Human Rights Campaign on October 20. Video of her acceptance speech became available yesterday. I'd like to say "must see acceptance speech" but I now a lot of you don't have 31:09 to spend watching a video. I know that for me, personally, it was heart-wrenching...and very, very funny.

If I had remained invisible, the truth would stay hidden...and I couldn't allow that.

The transcript is on the other side.

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Will IL school board kowtow to hate group? Well, of course they will.

The East Aurora, IL school board unanimously adopted a policy recently affecting transgender students.

The new policy specifically states that transgendered and gender nonconforming students have the right use the restroom that corresponds to their gender-related identity that is consistently asserted at school. The student has the right to be addressed by the name they want to be called, too.

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Catholic High School refuses to recognize transgender student

Administrators at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis have decided that Catholic beliefs require them to refuse to recognize the fact that one of their students is transgender.

Last spring a female student arrived at school with parental units to meet with administrators because the student had come to realize that he was a boy and wanted to be referred to as male.

They asked the school where we stood on it. We explained we were there to care for her, love her, and we still wanted her to be a student in full standing.

--Principal Dave Worland

The fact that they couldn't use the pronoun "him" should have been an indication that things weren't going to go so well. Principal Worland contacted the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. There was a decision made at that level that teachers and staff would not address the student using his male name or use male pronouns.

Apparently compassion and respect for transgender people is against Catholic catechism.

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Transgender(?) Bird Observed in New Zealand

What is being described as the first known transgender korimako (New Zealand bellbird) has been observed at the eco-sanctuary Zealandia (and perhaps the first ever known transgender bird). Zealandia is also known as the Karori Sanctuary (in Maori, Te Māra a Tāne, The Garden of Tane, who is the Maori creator of trees and plants.

The photo above is of a male korimako.

Staff have taken to referring to the bird as the "butch bellbird."

The bird has had its DNA tested when it was a chick and has been classified as female, but the bird acts like a male bellbird and has a mix of plumage usually attributed to each sex. Males are olive green with a dark purplish sheen on their head and black outer wing and tail. While females are a duller olive brown with a blue sheen on the head and yellowish-white stripe curving from the base of the bill to below the eye.

Now 18 months old, the bird has the typical white cheek stripe on one side, but the dark body plumage of a male.

It could be due to a hormonal imbalance or it could be a reaction to shock or an incomplete moult - given the appearance and behaviour, any of those would be unusual though.

--Ben Bell, Victoria University moult expert

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Rare event: Transwoman wins battle with insurance on carrier

Ida Hammer, 34, is originally from Utah and now lives in the borough of Queens, New York City. Raised a Mormon, Ida is a writer and an activist. She moved to NYC four years ago and immediately began hormone treatment and living as a woman.

Among the places she publishes her writing is The Vegan Ideal. She also has published in On the Issues magazine. Trans Violence Is Violence against Women is from last December. She organizes Trans Women's Anti-Violence Project.

Ida has won an enormously important battle with her insurance carrier.

Ida approached her insurance company, MVP Health Care, in July, 2011 about having her genital realignment surgery covered. Of course, MVP declined...twice.

My insurance company denied my claim on the grounds that it was ‘cosmetic’ surgery. (But) my doctors determined that the surgery was necessary, and the insurance company was second-guessing my doctors.

--Ida Hammer

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Props for Nashua, NH

An elementary school in Nashua, NH, has agreed with the parents to allow an unidentified transgender third grader to dress appropriately for her gender at school, be addressed as a girl, be treated like a girl, and use the female restroom.

The child and her parents were represented in the proceeding by Janson Wu of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD).

I think that as the environments become more and more welcoming to transgender and gender variant youth, we’re going to see a lot more students coming out. And that’s something that schools and parents will need to be prepared to deal with. Children often have difficulty having schools respect them for who they believe they are. If a transgender girl wants to be able to wear feminine clothes to school and be addressed as a girl, often times we see schools feeling a fair amount of discomfort around that. What we’re hopeful is that when the schools work with the student and the parents is they learn to understand that this is a sincere belief on the student’s part and they learn to support that.


As parents and educators and community members, you want to do what’s right for the children. When you speak to the youth themselves, you really do get the sense that these are children who have sincere belief about who they are.


--Janson Wu

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