Author Archive

Paging Fred Phelps: Could Be God on the Phone

If the Westboro Baptist Church family (Phelpses) considers Katrina, 9/11 and soldiers’ deaths in Iraq as God’s expression of anger at homosexuality, I wonder if they’ll consider this God’s just punishment for spreading hate?

Nah. I doubt it.

Advertisements

Destigmatization Versus Coverage and Access: The Medical Model of Transsexuality

In recent years, the GLB community has been more receptive to (and even energized in) assisting the transgender community, but regularly asks what its needs are. One that is often touted is the “complete depathologization of Trans identities” (quoting from a press release for an October 7, 2007 demonstration in Barcelona, Spain) by removing “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) from medical classification. The reasoning generally flows in a logic chain stating that with homosexuality removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM, the “bible” of the medical community) in 1974, gay and lesbian rights were able to follow as a consequence – and with similar removal, we should be able to do the same. Living in an area where GRS (genital reassignment surgery) is covered under provincial Health Care, however, provides a unique perspective on this issue. And with Presidential candidates proposing models for national health care in the U.S., it would obviously be easier to establish GRS coverage for transsexuals at the ground floor, rather than fight for it later. So it is important to note, from this “other side of the coin,” how delisting GID could do far more harm than good.

Continue reading

Counting The Cost

(Crossposted to Transadvocate.com) 

If my previous post seemed a little scattered and emotional, there’s a reason for it.  The first trans community function I ever attended was a TDoR function, as was the first event I ever MCed outside a support group.   I’ve been sensitive to transphobic violence at every step, and my own transition began with violence.  But seeing the settings for it shift to schools was not something I was prepared for.

At or around November 20th of every year, the transgender community commemorates a day of remembrance (TDoR) for transgender folk who have died as a result of transphobic or homophobic violence.  Since that memorial, fifteen more homicides involving transgender victims have occurred:

Continue reading

“Sometimes, We Just Have to Pay Full Price.”

(Crossposted to Transadvocate.com) 

My partner is a nut about sales.  If it isn’t on sale, it doesn’t get purchased.  So sometimes, when we run out of a breakfast staple and such, I have to remind her of that basic fact of life:  “sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”

And then, the phrase comes back to haunt me.  This usually happens around the evenings, these days.  She’s been talking about returning to work in a capacity which would take her out to job sites with contractors and crew, some of whom could know from her previous 20 years of work in that trade that she is trans.  And I’ve been having troubling dreams about both that and my own job, where I’ve been back for several months with no trouble beyond the occasional rude exchange, and now all of a sudden I’m dreaming repetitively about getting shot in the head.  The latter is not something I’m actually afraid of during the light of day, so I’m wondering what is bringing this all on.  Am I sensing something nasty coming, or am I just reading the trans-related news way too much?  And that’s when that dirty little voice says to me, “sometimes, we just have to pay full price.”

And that’s when I start thinking about how far we’ve come… or haven’t as the case may be.  The first GRS surgeries were performed in the 1940s, and with the rise of Nazi Germany and its pogroms, the invention of “stealth” soon followed.  We’ve been in hiding ever since.  Don’t get me wrong — I’m on record as defending a woman’s and man’s right to go stealth if they feel it’s best for them.  We earn that.  But the wholesale movement toward stealth — the lack of barely anybody to stay behind and educate the masses — has meant that we’ve only made small strides during that time.  The first known piece of trans-inclusive legislation didn’t happen until 1993, and most of those strides have been since then.  And without adult transfolk there to lay that groundwork, a crisis has developed.  Because now it is children on the front lines.

Continue reading

Human Rights Tribunal Hears Access-to-Services Case in Ontario

I’d like to draw attention to a recent case in Canada brought to the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), which as far as I can see, has so far only made waves with right-wing folk — such as the Ezra Levant crowd and Margaret Wente’s article in the Globe and Mail.  The case involves two complaints of denial of services against a plastic surgeon, Dr. Robert Stubbs, who specializes in tidying up and shaping genitalia.  Both complainants were refused services because they are transsexual.

The first complainant, Michelle Boyce, had GRS (Genital Reassignment Surgery) in 2001, performed in Wisconsin.  The result was flawed: one labial fold was larger than the other, and another intrusive flap of skin made sex painful.  In a consultation with Dr. Stubbs, she received a good price quote and then later in the examination room — when he found out that she is a post-operative transsexual — he abruptly ended the consultation and invited her to leave.

 The other complainant, Jenn Finnan, was refused treatment to augment her breasts.

 Dr. Stubbs’ case states that structure of genitals and chests of post-operative transsexuals differ from those of natal females, and therefore being transsexual was medically relevant.  While there is some virtue to this with regard to genital surgery, it is far less relevant with regards to the difference between a natal female chest and a developing female chest.  And even so, in both cases, there was no explanation given at the time, no discussion with clients of their alternatives, there was just an abrupt end-of-meeting refusal to treat transsexuals that would probably not have happened if the refusal stemmed from some other biological or physical condition — an indication that a personal bias was very likely at work.

 There is some discussion about the right of a doctor who performs elective surgeries to refuse treatment.  It takes on far more serious overtones, however, when other options are not available.  And when my own experience has shown me that refusal to treat is far more common among cosmetic surgeons than willingness (I know of only one doctor in the entire province of Alberta, for example, who will perform breast augmentation, and two others who only on rare occasions have relented in the past), and that those willing doctors tend to charge far more for those services, this does become an access-to-care issue. 

While the lack of treatment is not life-threatening in these cases, there certainly are such precedents in North America, most notably Robert Eads in Georgia (who was profiled in the documentary Southern Comfort), and was refused treatment for ovarian and cervical cancer by over two dozen doctors before finally finding a clinic once the cancer was too far gone to save him.  So the potential implications extend far beyond these cases.

But this story isnt written yet:  I challenge those in the Canadian GLB and T communities to watch this one, and, when / if they can, get involved.

Archive: Conversion Therapy In The Womb?

The article that this references goes back in time, and this article is no longer timely to it, I suppose. But some of the thoughts and ramifications might still be valid, and a little chilling.
__________________________________

It looks particularily creepy, the AP headline subtitle:  “Seminary president Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. says gayness is probably biological and that in-utero ‘ex-gay’ treatment would be justified.”

It demonstrates how quickly genies can sometimes get out of the bottle.  Reading Mohler’s original blog ( http://www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=891 ) does in fact verify his later refutations:  he doesn’t actually state that homosexuality is genetic in origin (what he says is that he believes that science will eventually make that case, and that he pre-emptively doubts the veracity); he also doesn’t advocate tinkering with genetics, but speculates that it could happen.  He does, however, reassert the traditional Church position that sexual orientation is a choice and all that one has to do is simply not choose it.  We’ll get back to that.

But the genie is out of the bottle.  Mohler has been painted as the new granddaddy of eugenics, and the wars of words are on. 

Continue reading

Walking Through the Valley of Shadows

(As I’d mentioned, it’s time to move on from the previous discussion.  I admit, I probably wouldn’t have reacted as badly if the debate hadn’t touched on something that was freshly raw for me personally, but as it is still a raw nerve, we’ll leave the HBS thing be.  I thought I’d go with something far less controversial.  Politics is being overdone right now, what with all the stuff on the primaries, so I thought I’d take on Religion.)

Modern churches do an excellent job of creating an equation between the questioning of fallible teachers, preachers, copyists and translators, and the questioning of God Himself.  You can do one without necessarily doing another.  But “all scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16) is usually used to rebuff any inquiries about the many interpretations of those scriptures. Continue reading