Sweden Receives Its First Gender-Neutral Changing Room

transgenderAn LGBTQ organization at a school in Stockholm made headlines as they lobbied for and received an LGBTQ changing room, or a gender-neutral changing room, at their school. Two of the spokespeople for the organization said that they wanted a changing room for individuals who identify as LGBTQ. Last week the school held a ceremony celebrating the very first gender-neutral changing room in the nation.

We believe that this is a step in the right direction since there need to be spaces for LGBTQ individuals where they can feel safe and have access to accommodations that does not force them into stereotypical gender categories, or the categories of simply female or male.

At the same time, there is a lack of understanding of the LGBTQ community, as was demonstrated in discussions surrounding the opening of the gender neutral changing room. Rather than focusing on violence against LGBTQ individuals and their need for safe spaces the person who covered the story wondered how safe it would be to have both men and women change in the same room. The interviewer seems to assume that in an LGBTQ changing room the categories of male and female still rigidly apply, without being aware of the fact that many people within the LGBTQ community do not simply identify as male or female.   [Read more...]

Trans Men and Women No Longer Considered Mentally Ill

Earlier this month, the American Psychiatric Association decided to remove Gender Identity Disorder (GID) from the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual’s (DSM) list of mental disorders. GID was defined as a condition in which the person experiences dissatisfaction with the sex they were assigned at birth and with the gender stereotypes associated with that sex, often leading to dysphoria, or intense feelings of discontent.

This is welcome news, since GID is being replaced by the term “Gender Dysphoria,” which is less pathologizing since it does not signify a mental disorder or that something is “wrong” with the person who identifies as a trans man or a trans woman. Instead, the focus is placed on the distress experienced by the person undergoing the transition.

[Read more...]

Transgender women and men gain judicial rights in Argentina

Argentina has become the first country in the world to allow transgender women and men to change their names and sex in official documents such as passports and identification cards. On Monday June 4th, lines formed as some transgender women and men became the first in the world to judicially change their sex in official documents. The change of one’s name and sex is now allowed without the need for a physical transition, the permission of judges and doctors and without different types of evaluations.

This law suggests a positive change towards the stereotypical and unfair beliefs that transgender women and men are in need of evaluation, control and counseling before being able to judicially change their sex, suggesting that they are not in control of their identity and that they are confused as to who they really are. This law means in some ways that the stereotype and the belief that transgender individuals need to prove their “sanity” is challenged and that individual choices are considered valid and no longer in need of intervention by doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists. It in some ways recognizes that transgender women and men are not suffering from an identity disorder or from body confusion. Instead, this new law is a great recognition of the issues and difficulties that transgender women and men face concerning the right to an identity that they personally recognize and feel fits them. This new law also means that transgender women and men will be officially recognized as the person that they truly consider themselves to be.

Despite the victory for transgender women and men in Argentina, we should not forget that that this law is only available in one country in the world. Also, discrimination and transphobia against transgender women and men is rampant and occurs in society at large as well as in the feminist movement. Discrimination, and accompanying violence, is common in the lives of transgender women and men, as recently demonstrated when a young transgender woman in Minneapolis was brutally attacked after being called transphobic and racist names. The resistance towards transgender women was also demonstrated by the British radical feminist conference RadFem 2012 in which only “ women born women” were allowed to attend, thereby excluding transgender women.

Even though this recent change is a step in the right direction, we need to remember the discrimination and violence that so commonly affect transgender women and men. We do hope, however, that the right for transgender women and men to have their identity recognized in official documents will spread from Argentina to the rest of the world.

Women’s History Month: Gwen Araujo

In October 2002, a teenage girl was brutally murdered in a small Northern California town. Seventeen-year-old Gwen Araujo was bound, bludgeoned, and strangled before her body was left in a shallow grave in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Araujo was biologically male; her given name was Edward. But at the age of fourteen, she came out to her family, and began dressing as a girl. “I told him, ‘Whether you’re a man or a woman I’m going to love you,’” said Araujo’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero.

The summer before her murder, Araujo became friends with four men in their late teens and early twenties: Jaron Nabors, Michael Magdison, and the brothers Paul and Jose Merel. It was at a party at the Merels’ house in early October that Jose Merel – who, like Magdison, had had sexual encounters with Araujo – began asking her if she was male or female. His brother’s girlfriend thought they should “check” – so she put her hands up Araujo’s skirt and discovered that she was biologically male.

[Read more...]

Pro-LGBTQ Demostration Planned at Mormon Temple

Last month we told you about a speech that Mormon leader Boyd K. Packer gave at the Mormon Church’s bi-annual general conference, where Packer stated that being gay is a choice, and that God wouldn’t make people gay, since homosexuality is a sin. This speech is part of the same old, same old for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But in light of the recent media attention on LGTBQ youth suicides, it’s time to say that enough is enough.

The Phoenix GLBT Coalition for Mormon Action is planning a demonstration aimed at stopping gay Mormon suicides in Arizona, set for Friday, November 26th from 6:00-10:00 PM, coinciding with the Christmas lighting ceremony at the Mormon Temple in Mesa. The purpose of the demonstration is to make gay Mormons aware of The Trevor Project Suicide Prevention National Hotline and the local Gay and Lesbian organization for gay Mormons, Phoenix Affirmation. The demonstration will also continue the national message, “It Gets Better.”

Packer has been called upon to recant his words in a talk given to the 13,000,000 members of the church via satellite from Salt Lake City. The organizers of the November 26th rally believe these words have put the estimated 40,000-60,000 gay Mormons in Arizona in grave danger and may contribute to suicides. Utah, which is the stronghold of the Mormon faith, has a suicide rate 3 times the national average. [Read more...]

A Response to Last Week’s Protests Against the Mormon Church

Last week LBGTQ activists staged a die-in at the headquarters of the Mormon Church to protest LDS leader Boyd K. Packer’s comments at the biannual General Conference regarding LGBTQ individuals. Packer stated that being gay is a choice, and that God wouldn’t make people gay, since homosexuality is a sin. This statement is nothing new, of course. But in light of all of the media attention surrounding LGBTQ youth suicide, queer activists were understandably fed up with the Mormon Church’s stance, especially since the state of Utah has one of the highest suicide rates in the country.

Since today is National Coming Out Day, I’d like to issue my own response to Elder Boyd K. Packer.

Dear Elder Packer,

You don’t know me, but I’ve got news for you – the Mormon Church is missing out on a good thing by alienating queer folks from its congregations. I used to be your typical Molly Mormon. I went to church every week, I baked bread, did my genealogy, and participated in every little service project I could find. I even attended BYU for a semester . . . all in an effort to prove that I could be the perfect Mormon girl that God wanted me to be.

But then, something happened. Matthew Sheppard was brutally murdered in October of 1998 – by two Mormons, I might add – and I realized that I had to get out of the state of Utah in order to be who I truly was.

I am a lesbian, Elder Packer. You say that it is a choice, but it’s no more a choice than you having gray hair or a big nose. Being a lesbian is a part of who I am, but it’s not all that I am. I still bake bread. I still love doing my genealogy. And I still give service to others whenever I can. I am a daughter, a granddaughter, a pet-mother, and a wife. My partner and I live in our little house together, and we’re quite happy, thank you very much. In fact, Shannon is the best thing that ever happened to me. And yes, I prayed for Shannon, and God answered that prayer. [Read more...]

What Would a Feminist Gym Look Like?

I recently had a minor altercation with a meat-head at the gym. You know the type . . . uber-muscly dude with an attitude problem, likes to look at himself in the mirror while he lifts weights. You know the guy I’m talking about.

I was lifting weights last week with my work out buddies, and we were all rotating on 3 different machines. This guy totally cut in on us without asking and proceeded to talk smack when we asked him to wait his turn. Things got heated, a manager was brought over (who sided with the meat-head), and words were exchanged that can’t be repeated in mixed company. I walked away from the situation while my friend went toe-to-toe with this dude because I needed to cool off. I have a tendency to throw punches. In the end, the guy told my friend that we didn’t know what we were doing and shouldn’t be at the gym anyway, and that’s when the wheels fell off the car.

Let me tell you about my friend. She is a marathon runner and long-distance cyclist. This woman has ridden the DALMAC multiple times. For those who don’t know, the DALMAC is a 400 mile bike race. Home girl is at the gym every day after running several miles in the Arizona heat. If anyone knows what she’s doing, it would be her.

The problem with this scenario is that meat-head’s hyper masculinity came up against our perceived femininity. My partner is transgender, so meat-head read him as a girl. He let us know that we’re chicks, so we shouldn’t be lifting weights. That’s boys’ territory. It’s not hard to understand why all-woman gyms like Curves have been so successful. But Curves supports anti-choice organizations, and they’re not transgender-friendly. Which leaves me to wonder . . . where can I find a feminist gym, and what would a feminist work out space look like? [Read more...]

Gender Bending Chickens?

Just when you thought science couldn’t get any better, a new article in Nature is about to shake up our ideas of sex and biology.

Contrary to an old view of sexual development, Michael Clinton and his colleagues at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh say in the March 11 Nature, individual chicken cells can maintain their own strong male or female identities during development instead of being directed by hormones.

Clinton says his research group ended up considering hormones and sexual identity in the course of studying three peculiar chickens donated to the Roslin Institute. Each bird looked like a rooster on one side, with a long wattle jiggling under its chin, robust legs and bulging muscles. The other half of the same bird — the right side on two birds and the left on the third — had the darker plumage, reduced wattle and dainty ankles of a hen.

Such male-female mashups, called gynandromorphs, have turned up spontaneously in zebra finches, pigeons and parrots as well as in other kinds of animals, Clinton says. These cases challenge the traditional view that genetics takes a back seat to hormonal signals in guiding vertebrate sexual differentiation.

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An accused “cis sexist” seeks to educate herself and others, gives big thanks to Twitter

The butterfly is an international symbol for the transgender community.

The butterfly is an international symbol for the transgender community.

I have to thank Twitter for educating me about an issue that continues to have an increasing importance in all societies. Although I was hesitant to start a Twitter account in the first place I now admit it has really broadened my horizons!

One area that I have had my awareness raised by Twitter is in the area of language. One term that I have learned is “cis sexist” or “cis gay.” I fully admit I was not familiar with this term  before seeing it on Twitter, but after seeing in in several Tweets I did a few Google searches on the term.

Although there is actually very little on the web about cis sexism, my understanding is that “cis” refers to a person who is comfortable identifying with the gender they were born with. “Cis sexist” or “cis gay” is being used, most commonly on Twitter, to describe cis individuals who do not respect or acknowledge the struggle of transgender individuals, or those who muddle gay rights issues and transgender issues together inappropriately.

Last week I was “drop kicked” by one of my followers on Twitter and publicly accused of being “cis sexist.” Ouch! [Read more...]

Friday News Roundup

rainbowmouseConfused About Which Condom is the Best? – RH Reality Check
Out Candidate Wins Salt Lake City Council Seat! – Gaypolitics.com
What if Jesus Was a Transwoman? – Womanist Musings
Raping Me Softly – The Abortioneers
Dear Justice Sotomayor: What I Want to Know – Words of Choice