Friday, January 23, 2015
Duke University recently became the first Common Application school to explicitly ask about students’ sexual orientation and gender identity.
The optional LGBTQ-inclusive essay question, which has a 250-word maximum, is intended to promote diversity and show Class of 2019 applicants that Duke is a welcoming community for all students, Christoph Guttentag, the university’s dean of undergraduate admissions, wrote in an e-mail.
Monday, January 19, 2015
A recent student Note in the Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly examines the status of intersex prisoners. It's available here and the abstract reads:
Miki Ann DiMarco spent 438 days in the most restrictive and isolated housing pod at Wyoming Department of Corrections due to the fact that she was “classified as an individual of ambiguous
Even though DiMarco identified herself as female since puberty, she was segregated from the general prison population because of her gender ambiguity. Biologically speaking, she “has a
nearly complete set of male reproductive organs however [sic] does not have testicles . . . [or] female reproductive organs.”
People who are intersex, such as DiMarco, “fail to fit neatly into the traditional male/female binary construct.” DiMarco’s case demonstrates the difficulty in determining appropriate housing arrangements in the prison system for people whose bodies do not conform to the
traditional male/female dichotomy.
This Note seeks to examine the problems that arise due to the insistence upon a binary society with regards to sex. First, this Note sheds light on sex as a spectrum, rather than the classic male/female dichotomy—particularly focusing on the different conditions of intersex people. Next, this Note discusses the ways in which prison authorities house and treat intersex prisoners. The potential constitutional violations of these housing classifications is analyzed with special emphasis on the DiMarco case.
Friday, January 9, 2015
According to the BBC:
Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences.
Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as "mental disorders" now barring people from driving.
The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.
"Pathological" gambling and compulsive stealing are also on the list. Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move.
The announcement follows international complaints about Russian harassment of gay-rights activists.
In 2013 Russia made "promoting non-traditional lifestyles" illegal.
Valery Evtushenko at the Russian Psychiatric Association voiced concern about the driving restrictions, speaking to the BBC Russian Service. He said some people would avoid seeking psychiatric help, fearing a driving ban.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
From my neck of the woods in Broward County, Florida:
“Do you take each other to be your spouse for life?” asked Howard C. Forman, the Broward County clerk of courts, slightly stressing the word spouse. Together, the couples uttered their individual vows to one another. “I pronounce you legally married,” Mr. Forman said.
With that, the couples, their families and friends roared, cheered and clapped, and Frank Sinatra’s “Love” blasted into the room. For Anthony Butera, 44, and Abdel Magid, 45, there was no doubt that marrying as soon as possible in their home state was a must-do. A couple for 12 years, the two donned wedding finery — Mr. Butera wore a cream tuxedo jacket with a black handkerchief and Mr. Magid a black tuxedo jacket with a white boutonniere — and infectious smiles.
And the legal background:
With arms interlocked, about 20 gay and lesbian couples, too eager to wait any longer, were married in a five-minute ceremony at 3 a.m. on Tuesday at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale as Florida marked a long, arduous journey to become the 36th state to legalize same sex marriage.
Now the nation’s third-largest state, Florida joined the list allowing same-sex unions just six years ago after the state, led by Republican lawmakers, voted to approve a constitutional ban on gay marriage, which garnered 62 percent of the vote.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Two interesting recent articles from the NYT. One is about the status of LGBT folk in Cuba. An excerpt:
Mariela Castro, the daughter of the current president, Raúl Castro, has led the charge on legislative and societal changes [for LGBT rights] that have given rise to an increasingly visible and empowered community. In the process, she has carved out a rare space for civil society in an authoritarian country where grass-roots movements rarely succeed. Some Western diplomats in Havana have seen the progress on gay rights as a potential blueprint for expansion of other personal freedoms in one of the most oppressed societies on earth.
“It’s fine to criticize, but you also have to acknowledge that they’ve done good,” said John Petter Opdahl, Norway’s ambassador to Cuba, in a recent interview. Mr. Opdahl, who is gay, said his government gave Ms. Castro’s organization $230,000 over the last two years. “She has taken off a lot of the stigma for most people in the country, and she has made life so much better for so many gay people, not only in Havana but in the provinces.”
Another article revisits the Stanford undergraudates from the class of 1994.
Friday, December 26, 2014
Ireland recently published a draft of a legislative bill that would protect transgender folk from discrimination. Here's a quick summary of it:
The Irish government has finally published a long-awaited bill which will recognise the gender of trans people.
At present, Irish law has no process for recognising that transgender people do not identify as their birth gender.
The bill, which was first announced in June, will bring Irish law in line with that of other countries, by legally recognising the gender of trans people in all dealings with the State, public bodies, and civil and commercial society.
And here's a critique of the bill from Amnesty International:
“This is a missed opportunity to enshrine the rights of all transgender people in Irish law. This bill will require substantial changes if it is to tackle the serious issue of discrimination against transgender people,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Acting Europe and Central Asia Director.
“Rather than making it as easy as possible for all transgender people to obtain legal recognition of their identity, there are several groups that will be short-changed by the bill – in particular those who are married or in civil partnerships, minors, and those who do not wish to undergo medical treatment.”
Sunday, December 21, 2014
From my neck of the woods here, the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel has an article on the state's present ban against gay marriage--and what the U.S. Supreme Court has done about it:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday night refused to step into Florida's fight over same-sex marriage. Gay and lesbian couples in Florida will be able to marry starting Jan. 6, and the state no longer has any way to prevent it.
A federal judge overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban Aug. 21, but the ruling does not go into effect until the end of the day Jan. 5. "It's a huge relief. We're ecstatic. This is an amazing day for Florida families," said Daniel Tilley, the American Civil Liberties Union lawyer who is representing gay couples in the federal case
Monday, December 8, 2014
In one short paragraph of a 34-page memo released on Dec. 1, the Department of Education articulated a clear stance on gender identity, saying transgender students in public schools should be enrolled in single-sex classes that align with how they live their lives day-to-day.
“We’re thrilled,” says Shannon Minter, the legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “It’s so critical to the health and well-being of those students, and it’s going to be so helpful to have that guidance in writing so that schools understand what their obligations are.”
The memo is explicit that federal law protects students’ decisions made in accordance with their gender identity. “Under Title IX,” it reads, a school “must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes
Saturday, December 6, 2014
The Minnesota State High School League approved a new transgender-friendly policy for high school athletes on Thursday. The new rules will allow transgender students to play on sports teams consistent with the gender they identify with. In layman’s terms, this means those born genetically female, but who identify with the male gender can try out for male teams and vice versa. The policy will go into effect at the start of the 2015-16 athletic year
Friday, November 21, 2014
Leaders of a nonprofit homeless shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, have decided not to allow legally married gay couples to stay overnight as they say it violates the group’s Christian principles.
City Union Mission debated the decision for several years but ultimately decided it must adhere to the Bible, Executive Director Dan Doty told The Kansas City Star.
“We are a Christian, faith-based organization that really does adhere to biblical standards. Our view is that it (same-sex marriage) is inappropriate,” he said.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Medicine has not traditionally been very kind to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. While homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973, and was no longer considered a disorder, attempts by doctors to “treat” it persist even today. Though research and understanding of LGBT healthcare has improved in recent years, the social stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT people leads to health disparities that put them at higher risk for certain conditions. This is also the case with those who are gender non-conforming, or who are born with atypical sex anatomy (sometimes called “intersex,” though the medical term for the condition is “disorders of sex development,” or DSD).
With all that in mind, the American Association of Medical Colleges released new guidelines earlier this week on how to improve med school curricula to better prepare young doctors to treat their LGBT, gender non-conforming, and DSD patients. Authors of the publication spanned all aspects of the medical profession, from psychiatry to genetics to clinical practice. I spoke with Kristen Eckstrand, a fourth-year medical student at Vanderbilt University, chair of the AAMC Advisory Committee on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Sex Development, and editor of the guidelines about what doctors need to know to treat their patients effectively and respectfully.
Friday, November 7, 2014
Today, families are no longer quite so cookie cutter similar. Some families are comprised of a mother and her children and a father who is no longer an active member of the family or never has been. Other families consist of two absent parents, leaving the parental role to be fulfilled by grandparents or foster families. And there are, for the first time in history, a fair amount of same sex parents who are raising children. These types of family are a few million strong.
Despite studies proving otherwise, some people still insist that children are being ruined by this type of family dynamic. They deem homosexual couples as "unfit"parents, but don't seem to have concrete or legitimate evidence to substantiate their claims. They fight against same-sex adoption with the fervor of a quarterback at the Super Bowl.
So, what do opponents argue?
Check out the rest here.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Or so argues one commentator. From the Jurist:
The Constitution provides no citizen of any gender or orientation a Constitutional right to marriage. The Constitution is silent on the issue of marriage. It is not mentioned, and therefore it is not a power delegated to the federal government to regulate. For lawyers, judges and in particular, Supreme Court justices, the inquiry on this issue should end there—right where silence demands judicial inaction.
Monday, October 27, 2014
The story, and the excerpt:
RALEIGH, N.C. — An exclusive WRAL News poll shows North Carolinians are evenly divided about whether legislative leaders should fight to keep the state’s same-sex marriage ban in place, despite court rulings that have found it unconstitutional.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
There are sundry differences between the two. One stands out: Sheldon supports the right of gay couples to marry; Bondi opposes their right--vigorously. Here is an excerpt from her defense:
Arguing against a lawsuit that says Florida discriminates by not recognizing gay marriages from other states, Attorney General Pam Bondi's office wrote: … disrupting Florida's existing marriage laws would impose significant public harm.
Which sure sounds like: Changing the law to allow gay marriage would hurt Florida.
And this eyebrow-raising passage: Florida's marriage laws … have a close, direct and rational relationship to society's legitimate interest in increasing the likelihood that children will be born to and raised by the mothers and fathers who produced them in stable and enduring family units.
The essay is dated by cyberspace standards but it contained a story that was news to me. In the New Yorker magazine was an arresting essay about the conflict that exists between two seeming bed fellows: Radical Feminism and Transgenderism.
In a piece in this week’s magazine entitled “What Is a Woman?,” Michelle Goldberg writes about an ideological dispute between two groups that might seem like natural allies: radical feminists and transgender people. It’s a conflict that dates back to the height of radical feminism, in the nineteen-seventies, and it hinges upon the two groups’ differing beliefs about who has the right to identify as a woman. On Out Loud, Goldberg joins Sasha Weiss, the literary editor of newyorker.com, and the New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot, to discuss the history of transgender-feminist tensions, how the language surrounding transgender issues is evolving, and the difficulty many people still have in accepting the idea of gender fluidity. Goldberg says that reconceptualizing how we think about who is a man and who is a woman is, “in some ways, a deeper challenge to people’s sense of the way the world works than, say, gay rights or gay marriage.”
Friday, October 17, 2014
Like every other matriculating student at Wellesley, which is just west of Boston, Timothy Boatwright was raised a girl and checked “female” when he applied. Though he had told his high-school friends that he was transgender, he did not reveal that on his application, in part because his mother helped him with it, and he didn’t want her to know. Besides, he told me, “it seemed awkward to write an application essay for a women’s college on why you were not a woman.” Like many trans students, he chose a women’s college because it seemed safer physically and psychologically.
Last spring, as a sophomore, Timothy decided to run for a seat on the student-government cabinet, the highest position that an openly trans student had ever sought at Wellesley. The post he sought was multicultural affairs coordinator, or “MAC,” responsible for promoting “a culture of diversity” among students and staff and faculty members. Along with Timothy, three women of color indicated their intent to run for the seat. But when they dropped out for various unrelated reasons before the race really began, he was alone on the ballot. An anonymous lobbying effort began on Facebook, pushing students to vote “abstain.” Enough “abstains” would deny Timothy the minimum number of votes Wellesley required, forcing a new election for the seat and providing an opportunity for other candidates to come forward. The “Campaign to Abstain” argument was simple: Of all the people at a multiethnic women’s college who could hold the school’s “diversity” seat, the least fitting one was a white man.
Friday, October 10, 2014
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Several miles north of where I live, there is Sarasota, Florida. The city council there has taken steps recently to protect transgender folk from discrimination:
SARASOTA - City commissioners voted unanimously Monday to pursue including transgender people in a list of protected classes in the city's anti-discrimination code.
A final vote will be pushed to a later date, when city staff will present an updated ordinance that makes it clear that discrimination on the basis of gender also includes gender identity and expression, said city attorney Bob Fournier.
“It's wonderful that we are at this point right now,” Commissioner Susan Atwell said before the 5-0 vote. “This inclusion for gender identity and expression gives full value and true representation to all citizens in our community.”
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
In one leap, Denmark has changed its law on trans rights, taking it from a country where transgender people were forced to undergo sterilisation in order to be legally recognised as a different gender, to one of the most progressive countries on the issue in the world.
Unlike in most of the countries that allow new gender recognition, trans people in Denmark now do not even need a medical expert statement, but can simply self-determine. There are still restrictions – the minimum age is 18, and there is a six-month waiting period before the person has to reconfirm their wish to have their gender legally changed – but the law seems to be moving in the right direction.
But Denmark's new law – which came into force on Monday – raises questions for the other European countries where forced sterilisation – either as a result of hormone treatment or surgery – is still the only route for someone transitioning to gain legal status. This requirement ignores the fact that many trans people don't want to undergo a major operation, or to irretrievably lose their fertility as a result of it, as part of their transition.