Thursday, August 16, 2012

Presidential support, FAA Advancement, and yet Negative Stories Too.

The news is always chock full of transgender stories in the news.  And it seems to flow in epps and tides.  In the past two weeks we've seen several cases both positive and negative ...

There was the uplifting story about the high profile Australian criminal lawyer that transitioned on the job and made her debut post-transition courtroom appearance recently. Heather Stokes (pictured above), had made a name for herself while still living as a man and representing some high profile clients.  Anytime someone is the "first" in any field, the media picks up on the news.  We'll see how things go and if Ms. Stokes can simply continue in her career based on talent, and not affected by sensationalism.

Presidential support:  The text of two draft planks to the Democratic Party Platform were released on Thursday night, including expanded language for marriage rights to same-sex couples and workplace discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) workers.The language was reported exclusively by BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner, formerly of the Washington, D.C., Metro Weekly. Love him or hate him, this President (Obama) has advanced the equal rights of transgender people more than any before him.

Which prompts another thought:  can you be LGBT and Republican?   The answer is of course, as many are. But I wonder how you can support a party that does not condone your right to exist.  Hmm, more on that another time.

On the world stage, down here in India (where I have now been for a few weeks) the Indian state of Tamil Nadu announced a pension proposal for transgender people.  "Despite a long history, strong culture and distinct role in Indian society, transgender women (hijras) in India are often rejected by their families in a nation where the elderly are usually cared for by relatives." But it seems that over the past few years that in many places where the families shun them, the governments have had forward traction on trans issues, particularly in South America, Pacific Asia and India. 

As noted in 429 Magazine,“Gender Identity Disorder” is now a term of the past as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, will be replacing the term with “Gender Dysphoria,” according to the Associated Press. This change is a result of years of lobbying the American Psychiatric Association to change or remove the “mentally ill” characterization given to all who are transgender. Individuals may now be diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.”

I may not seem like a big deal to most of us that  are too involved with our day-to-day lives, but the change is a big deal, just as when gay was removed as an illness in the Manual -- it contributes to a slow progression in the right direction that occurs over time, and aids in obtaining equal rights. 

And after strong efforts by the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force, in concert with the White House, the FAA finally dropped their ridiculous "extraordinary battery of psychological tests including memory, personality, projective and intelligence tests among others" that other pilots were not required to undergo. 

Then there were the negative stories this week, like the Arizona judge that  questions the validity of marriage when one spouse is transgender,

And an Oregon Bar banned transgender women who had been coming there a long time. The owner stated that "“People think that (a) we're a tranny bar, or (b) that we're a gay bar. We are neither. People are not coming in because they just don't want to be here on a Friday night now," Penner adds.

But the insult is not that he asked them to stop coming. The insult is that he only did so because his regular clientele stopped coming because the transwomen were there.  it seems we have a long way to go before the mainstream can see us as people first, transgender second.

However, all we can do is keep moving forward. So here is to all the warriors out there that keep pushing the barriers an inch at a time: we've come a LOOONG way in the last ten years, even though we have miles to go.  

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