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Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Sunday, December 18, 2005

UK 'in breach' over transgender's pension
Ben Townley

The UK is in breach of discrimination laws by not allowing a post operative transsexual woman to claim her pension and retire at 60, an EU court advisor has ruled.

Sarah Richards, who was born a man in 1942, wants to retire at the same age as other women but has so far been refused because her birth certificate lists her as a man.

She had been told by the government that she will have to wait until she is 65 before she can access the money she saved throughout her career and retire from work.

However, the advocate general, who proposes rulings to be considered by the European Court of Justice, says that decision is wrong.

"In this instance, Ms Richards is denied her pension in circumstances where, had she been registered as female at birth, she would have been entitled to it," the European Court said in a statement, based on the advocate's findings.

"Such a refusal constitutes discrimination," it added.

Under British law, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will only accept the original birth certificate as proof of identity, even if the person is transgendered and post-operative.

However, new laws introduced this year allow transgendered people to apply for a gender recognition certificate and have their true identity partially recognised by the state.

The Court will now consider the proposals before making a decision, although it has already said that the relative rarity of the problem means the British government was unlikely to be made bankrupt by the flow of people looking to retire early.

"Given the relatively few people who would be affected by the judgment, the financial implications would not create a risk of serious economic repercussions in the UK," the advocate's statement said.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Transsexual agrees to pay fine for breaching the peace

Belfast Telegraph

I've made my point, says Denise.
A transexual who failed to appear at an Appeals Court hearing in Ballymena today revealed she will be paying a £30 fine imposed earlier this year for breaching the peace.

Denise Martin (44), who started life as Douglas but who has lived as a woman for the last 27 years, initially refused to pay the fine as she felt she has been mistreated by the judicial system.

But speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Denise, from Latharna House in Larne, said: "I think I've done what I set out to achieve. I've let people know how I felt about the way the courts and the police treated me.

"I'll pay the fine. I'll go up to Larne courthouse and pay the £30."

Following an altercation between herself and a transvestite in the Dunluce Street area of Larne in April, she was summonsed to appear in the Co Antrim town's magistrate's court in September.

The transvestite, who has since moved from the Larne area, claimed that during a verbal spat, Denise lifted his skirt and felt his genitals - an allegation branded as "rubbish" by Denise.

She was summonsed as Douglas Martin and failed to appear at the hearing, where she was fined £30 in her absence for breaching the peace.

She said: "When my name was read out in court, they referred to me as Douglas but I've been living as Denise for 27 years."

She also failed to appear at two appeals hearings in Ballymena - one listed last month and one which took place on Monday. During the second hearing, Judge Desmond Marrinan warned that if she failed to pay the fine, she faced seven days in jail.

Since the hearing in Larne, Denise has spoken out about the way she feels she has been treated by the judicial system.

She said: "I'm a woman and the courts need to recognise me as a woman.

"I've been threatened with jail but if this was the case, would they send me to a men's jail or a women's jail?"

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Transvestite bathrooms may become law in Brazilian city

Chicago Sun-Times

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- For most, it's a choice of the men's room or the women's. A Brazilian city is trying to give an option to those who don't fit easily into either category.

A bill passed by the Nova Iguacu city council this week would require nightclubs, shopping malls, movie theaters and large restaurants to provide a third type of bathroom for transvestites.

Mayor Lindberg Farias will decide whether to make it a law.

"A lot of lawmakers didn't want to deal with this issue, but it's a serious problem in society," said Councilman Carlos Eduardo Moreira.

Unwanted in either washroom

Moreira, a 32-year-old policeman on leave from the force, said he got the idea when dozens of transvestites showed up for a samba show.

"It was a real problem. The women didn't feel comfortable having them in the ladies' room, and the men didn't want them in their bathroom either," said Moreira, the father of two children. "I'm not doing this for my own benefit."

He said the "alternative bathrooms" could also be used by men or women who didn't mind sharing space with transvestites.

Moreira said there are nearly 28,000 transvestites in Nova Iguacu, a poor city of about 800,000 on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

Gays split on issue

Moreira denied that the cost of building a third bathroom would be a big problem for restaurant or club owners. "It requires an initial investment, but after that, the establishment will end up making more money because it will have a larger public. And transvestites like to spend," he said.

The issue has divided gay groups; some feared it could segregate gays, while others said it recognized a problem.

"At first we were against the law, but after some discussion we decided we had to support it," said Eugenio Ibiapino dos Santos, a founder of the Pink Triangle Association.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

It's a tough life

Malay Mail
Jeswan Kaur

The fear of being caught by the police, unemployment and harassment are just some of the problems faced by transsexuals, writes JESWAN KAUR.

Sulastree Ariffin wants to get married one day and have a family. Suraya Shakila yearns to buy a house and save some money.

These are seemingly normal dreams but for these two friends, they are unattainable. Yet, they never stop praying for these to happen and for society to show a little compassion and acceptance.

Like their other transsexual peers, Sulastree and Suraya face endless problems from a very judgmental society. In every aspect of their daily lives, from banking transactions to job applications, there would be the inevitable run-ins with authorities.

Although Sulastree and Suraya have not undergone sex reassignment surgery (SRS), both have been cross-dressing for many years now. They realise the life-long crisis that stares at them but then there is little they can do to improve matters.

Prior to the 1983 fatwa, the SRS was conducted at Universiti Hospital (now called Universiti Malaya Medical Centre) and transsexuals who underwent the surgery succeeded in having their gender status officially stated in their identity cards.

The dilemma faced by transsexuals recently took centrestage after newspapers reported the humiliation faced by Mumtaz, a transsexual, at the hands of the police. Mumtaz had undergone the SRS in Bangkok, Thailand, and was alleged by the police here to be involved in the sex trade. She was asked to strip naked at a police station to prove that she was really a woman. Mumtaz’s request for a policewoman to be present was also rejected and she was taunted by the policemen asking her questions about her sexual preferences.

Then there was a report of transsexual Jessie Chung who married Joshua Beh in Sarawak recently. Her marriage raised many eyebrows and whilst blessed by the couple’s churches, the marriage is not legally acknowledged.

These two developments have once again brought into focus the controversy surrounding transsexuals but more importantly, it has highlighted the myriad of problems faced by this community and the lack of support from the authorities.

Says Sulastree, a project coordinator for transsexuals at PT Foundation: “Many of us are happy with our appearances and do not want to undergo a sex change. But we want our appearances and gender status to be stated as ‘woman’ in our identity cards. Because the law does not allow this we end up facing so many hassles, be it at the hospital, Immigration Department, while travelling abroad or when we have to deal with the police.

“I remember how uneasy we felt when visiting a fellow transsexual warded in a Government hospital. It saddened us to see her placed in a male ward and the awkwardness we felt because people around were staring at us.”

Because of the persistent discomfort that surrounds them, many transsexuals have become immune to society’s perception.

“It can be very hurtful how society reacts to us, causing many of us to become depressed. The failed relationships, broken hearts and not having anyone to talk to have led to some transsexuals committing suicide. Many of us live life suppressing our feelings because of the prevailing social stigma we face.

“I used to be depressed before. When I sit at a stall to eat, other customers don’t want to share the table with me because of who I am. It is painful when people shun us but after a while, I decided not to get upset by such attitudes. Even when I use the female toilet, I act ‘normal’. I touch-up my make-up and walk out feeling good despite being stared at,” says Sulastree.

Getting a job was equally difficult.

“People don’t think we need a job to survive. It is this judgmental attitude that forces us into the sex trade. I did odd jobs before PT Foundation gave me a chance. What I earn now is enough to pay for my food and rent. I also manage to save a little,” Sulastree adds.

This former sex worker, however, has given up her dreams of getting married and raising a family.

“You can love someone so dearly but then reality sinks in and their family will not accept us. But we too have feelings and would like to love and be loved.”

For Suraya Shakila, 40, securing a job was her biggest difficulty and she had no choice but to turn to the sex industry.

“No doubt I earned more at the time but sex work was a job forced upon me by circumstances. When I was job-hunting, employers wanted me to dress like a man but I could not. I am a woman in a man’s body and I feel like a woman. I cannot imagine wearing men’s clothes. But then the employers will never want to understand this. To them, the image of their company is more important.”

She recalls the days when police raids used to terrify her.

“I would hang around a particular spot waiting to solicit customers and then all of a sudden we would hear shouts and commotion. My friends and I would run for our lives, with some of us falling into the drain. It was such a humiliating experience.”

Suraya, who now works as a sales person, says: “I am glad I got this sales job. Although I barely make enough, about RM800 or so, it is better than selling myself. I make enough to eat and pay the rent. However, like everyone else, I too dream of owning a house and have some savings. Most importantly, I want the prejudice against transsexuals to end.”

In the case of Dankerina, or whose birth name is Badrul Hisham Abdul Wahab, 42, living as a transsexual comes with a price.

“There is much to pay. I cannot cross-dress when I’m attending work-related functions because I have to keep my company’s image in mind. I opt for clothes that are gender neutral. When I’m on my own, I cross-dress, complete with make-up because that is the real me. But when I need to get official matters done, I dress like a man. It can be tough sometimes but that is how things are.

“I have to always remind myself to be strong, mentally, when I leave the house because I know my appearance will attract attention. It is a constant battle not to let the public’s opinion bother me.”

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ann Coulter and I

The Bay Area Reporter
by Gwendolyn Ann Smith

There is something that Ann Coulter and I have in common.

No, I am not outing Coulter as transgender. I do not know if she is, and, frankly – given some of the things I've heard come out of her mouth and by her hand – I rather would hope that she is not a transwoman.

That said, there are plenty of people who relish the thought of Coulter being transgender. If one spends any amount of time looking over what passes for political discourse on the Internet – as just one example – one will find that any debate as to the merits of Coulter's often wildly right-wing stance quickly dissolves into innuendoes about her birth gender. There are even a couple of sites populating the byways of the Web that focus exclusively on Coulter's gender.

This isn't just found on the Internet: Stephanie Miller, the host of radio's The Stephanie Miller show, has on numerous occasions labeled Coulter as a transsexual. Indeed, many of the more progressive liberal outlets seem to be more than willing to perpetuate that Ann Coulter is, well, more like "Man Coulter."

Of course, Coulter is but one example. For roughly the last five years, I've seen photos of George W. Bush floating about. That is, images of his face, digitally grafted onto various female bodies. When I think back to the late 1980s, I also recall President Bush's mother, Barbara Bush, lampooned in a similar fashion as Coulter.

Similar representations have ended up in state politics: this was most notable in California during the recent special election, where a line of anti-Schwarzenegger memorabilia included a bobblehead of the California governor as a "sissy" in a pink dress cradling an M-16, as well as Governor Girlie Man branded lipstick and nail polish.

Such exchanges fall on both sides of the political spectrum, too, with the attorney general under President Clinton, Janet Reno, regularly portrayed as some form of transgender person.

The thing is, I expect that sort of stuff from the right wing. I've seen more than a few attacks on transgender people from conservatives over the years, and even debated transgender issues with Bill O'Reilly in his so-called no spin zone. Attacks on transgender people – as well as gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and others – from the right are as plentiful as salt water in the ocean.

When I see it comes out of the left I find myself far more bothered.

It is not the right that tells me it is supportive on my rights: it is the left. These are the people who have been entrusted to fight for our employment rights and protections, among other needs. Yet it is members of the left who are engaging in this sort of childish behavior, and are indirectly harming transgender people in the process.

Maybe I'm the one who is being oversensitive here. Perhaps this is nothing more than a little "harmless fun." Certainly, few are setting out to directly insult transgender people when they make jokes about Coulter. Nevertheless, that remains the end result.

Over the last few years, a lot of noise has been made about the use of the word "gay" as a schoolyard slur, and how it sets a belief that being gay equates with being inferior or bad. I would contend that using transgender identity as a slur in the same fashion as illustrated with Coulter serves transgender people at least as bad as "That's so gay!" serves homosexuals.

I'm sure if you asked most who have used "gay" as such a pejorative, you would find few who attributed much thought to it. Yet it remains a pejorative in spite of intent.

If one takes a look at all of this, one will note two things: when Coulter, Barbara Bush, or Reno's gender is called into question, it usually has to do with their appearance, their assertiveness, or a combination of both. When George W. Bush or Schwarzenegger face the same, it is usually being aimed directly at their masculinity.

To put it bluntly, people are saying that the former are ugly and unladylike, and that the latter are not "man enough." This is exactly what any number of transgender people face in the world today, largely from those who choose to deny our identities.

Back in the days before I transitioned, particularly back in middle and high school, there were many times when I was accused of not being man enough. While they clearly had a point or two, their intent – usually demonstrated in schoolyard pummeling – was clearly an attempt to put me down for my assumed shortcomings.

While that doesn't happen very often, I have had to face those who have chosen to make light of my appearance or a lack of so-called stereotypical femininity since the beginning of my transition. In some of those instances – while I did not face the direct violence of my school days – there was clearly an air of anger directed at me due to my own variance from "gender norms."

None of this had to do with my political affiliation (or lack thereof), unlike the others listed above. This doesn't change the fact that I faced much the same derision – and the same attacks against their gender – as they have.

This is, of course, how Ann Coulter and I are alike: we both receive the same slurs.

Gwen Smith is no fan of Ann Coulter or any of her ilk. You can find her online at

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Second 'wedding' after sex change


A husband and wife have "remarried" under new civil partnership laws - 14 years after the groom stopped living as a man to become a woman.

Bernard and Joyce Rogers married 38 years ago but have lived "like sisters" since 1991, when Bernadette - as she is now known - underwent gender surgery.

Bernadette, who was born and brought up in south London, said she had always known she was really a woman.

The couple live Woodford Halse, near Daventry, Northamptonshire.

Now retired, Bernadette was once the director of research for the Rank Organisation and helped develop colour television and teletext services.

Officially recognised

She also acted as chief scientific adviser to Margaret Thatcher's government on broadcast technology.

She married Joyce, the widow of her best friend, almost 38 years ago and became a stepfather to her two children.

The 76-year-old finally got her two wishes on Monday this week; to be officially recognised as a woman and to be legally married to Joyce.

The couple were granted an early release from divorce proceedings by a judge at Northampton County Court on Monday - allowing Bernadette a new birth certificate showing her as a woman - and then took part in the civil union ceremony.

On Wednesday she said: "I have been waiting 71 years for this.

Gender status

"I stood in front of the mirror in my bedroom this morning and thought 'Yes, you have done it now'."

The Gender Recognition Bill, which became law last year, brought formal rights to a person with a diagnosed gender identity condition once they had been medically treated.

The Bill gave legal acknowledgement of the change in their gender status.

But it refused such acknowledgements if the transsexual remained married, meaning that Bernadette and Joyce had to divorce in order for the law to recognise Bernadette's status as a woman.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

USA - Transgender Naturalization Applicant Mistreated by Immigration

Immigration Equality
Contact: Victoria Neilson
350 West 31st Street, Ste. 505
New York, NY 10001
(212) 714-2904 For Immediate Release
Gloria (not her real name) has been living in the United States since she was a teenager. Born in Ecuador, her family brought her to the United States as a legal permanent resident so that she could have the opportunity to lead a better life. Recently she applied to become a citizen so that she could be a full participant in American society. When she went to her naturalization interview, however, rather than being welcomed to the U.S. as a citizen, she was abused and mistreated by a transphobic naturalization officer.

“He asked me why I am the way I am,” Gloria recalls. “When I told him that I was born this way, he told me that he didn’t believe me. Then he asked me if I had a boyfriend. When I told him that I do, he asked me why I have a boyfriend since I’m a man.”

After hearing about Gloria’s experience, Immigration Equality has taken on Gloria’s case for representation. “Neither transgender identity nor sexual orientation have any relevance to a legal permanent resident’s application to naturalize,” explains Victoria Neilson, Immigration Equality’s Legal Director. “It’s shameful that a government officer would treat an applicant so disrespectfully.”

Making matters worse, the officer determined that Gloria needed to submit a letter from her mother, and ordered Gloria to have her mother use the male pronoun for Gloria in the letter. “My mother knows me as her daughter,” Gloria explains, still visibly shaken. “How can he ask me to make my mother go back to calling me her son?”

According to Immigration Equality he can’t. “A naturalization officer has no business telling a mother how to refer to her child. It’s not relevant to her case, and it’s offensive for him to make such a demand,” says Ms. Neilson.

Although Gloria asked to speak to the officer’s supervisor, he refused, telling her that his supervisor was too busy. Again, Ms. Neilson says this was improper. “If a problem arises with an officer during an interview, the applicant should be able to speak with his or her supervisor.” Immigration Equality is bringing the officer’s behavior to the attention of the site supervisor in the hope that the officer will be reprimanded.

Immigration Equality (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force) was founded in 1994 and advocates for equality under U.S. immigration law for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and HIV-positive immigrants, their families, friends and loved ones. For more information on Immigration Equality, please visit .

Red Hart - One of my Pic's

Copyright D-notice Designs 2005

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Heir's How The Gender Bends

Out look India
Anuradha Raman

Transgender surgeries rise across social strata and in states culturally preferring sons.

Once sex change was something you'd heard of in the epics. Or happening to some faceless rich who could afford the expensive surgery.

Not any more. The number of transgendered—across the social spectrum—is growing, with sex change operations prevalent widely in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Tamil Nadu.

And with government-run hospitals and reputed private ones refusing to entertain such requests, quacks and quickfixers are wielding the scalpel with impunity.

Growing numbers apart, what's sinister about this gender twist is that it is no longer individuals trapped in their bodies making these decisions. Parents in their perennial quest for a male heir are forcing such operations on their daughters. They are making a complete mockery of the Pre-natal Diagnostic Technologies Act which prohibits sex determination to prevent female foeticide. Many families admitted to Outlook that they have rung up doctors to simply transform their daughters into sons.

Confirmation comes from Delhi-based plastic surgeon Sukhdayal Singh Sethi, who stopped performing transsexual surgeries a few years ago.

He talks about how he had to turn down pleas for sex change from Haryana and Rajasthan families because he was unable to check the authenticity of their claims. "I've had parents requesting their daughters to be changed into sons. As they were not accompanied by their daughters, I had no way of checking the genuineness of their claims," says Sethi.

However, that wouldn't have prevented them from going to some other doctor. "I have performed seven surgeries so far, all of them from female to male, only after ascertaining that the cases were genuine. The surgeries have been performed after getting all the legal documents attested by a magistrate. And all this was done only after a team of psychiatrists was convinced about the individual's desire to change. I have kept all the affidavits as backup," says Sethi. Mumbai-based Dr Kalpesh Gajiwala too has had to turn down requests from families who wanted to change their daughters' sex. It was Gajiwala who handled the case of Aparna Mafatlal, who became Ajay Mafatlal, ostensibly to stake a claim in the family fortune.

It doesn't help matters that the cultural preference for sons has actually led to a skewed population ratio in favour of boys in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana. It is also not surprising that these states boast of neonatal sex determination clinics in some form or the other.

Sethi once handled a case where a grocer with six daughters requested him to consider his 22-year-old daughter who wanted to be a man. "The girl managed the store and I found her literally wearing the pants in the family and behaving like a boy. So, despite the fact that he had six daughters, I was convinced about the genuineness of the claim as was the team of psychiatrists I consulted before operating upon her," says Sethi.

Taking recourse to loans and borrowing money from relatives, these ordinary folks cannot afford the luxury of the rich to fly abroad for a sex change. It's the other way round, in fact. With such operations being cheaper here than in the West, doctors say the number of foreigners coming to India for correctional surgeries has been on the rise in the last couple of years. "While a surgery in India could cost Rs 2 to 3 lakh, it could be three times higher in the West," says Calcutta-based plastic surgeon Sheila Rohatgi.

She talks of an unfortunate case she had to handle when a girl brought up as a boy by her parents wanted a sex change. "After putting her through an intense psychological test, I had to make a choice. But it was indeed sad that the child did not know what it meant to be a woman," says the doctor who was not happy with the decision made.

While Sethi argues that in most cases his patients were actually lesbians, where one of the partners wanted to be male, Teesta Mitra, 30, a transsexual from Calcutta, finds the whole argument ridiculous. "I choose not to respond to questions about homosexuality," she says.

"It was toxic poison when I grew a beard at the age of 17 and was determined to change all that," she says. So, Teesta underwent a sex change operation to become a woman and is currently undergoing laser surgery sittings to get rid of unwanted hair. Her father, a worker at a biscuit factory, stood by her while her mother strongly opposed the change. Her father had to take a loan to fund the surgery and today Teesta, who always considered herself a woman trapped in a male body, says her ambition is to become a good actress.

It has taken Teesta a long time to become a woman and she's determined to stay that way. "If I had my way, I'd clone somebody like me," she says. She is now reunited with her mother who has become her strongest supporter. They will, in fact, be starting a helpline for the transgendered community. Teesta has already taken a bow in cinema and waits for more offers to come by. She says she does not feel discriminated now. "It was painful earlier when I had to lodge an fir against boys in my colony. Now, I am at peace."

Closely following the Mafatlal case is Richa (name changed) who has just embarked on her personal journey to become a man. "I always thought myself to be a boy and nothing else. I also have a girlfriend who understands me and I have explained my decision to her," says Richa. For the moment, she has convinced her psychiatrists of her need to become a man but not her parents who are still in a shock over her decision. "Though my brother has offered me money, I will be taking a loan as the surgery is expensive," she says. Her doctor has explained the pitfalls in the transition from female to male. Possessing a wisdom beyond her 25 years, Richa says sex is not really on her mind. "There is more to life than sex," she says.

But what if you're denied passports, ration cards, or discriminated against in your professional career if you've had a sex change? Even the law doesn't seem to be on the side of the transgendered. The only rights they enjoy appear in Articles 14 (Equality before law) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty except according to procedure established by law) applicable to all citizens of India.

Teesta will be applying for a passport and accepts the task is both daunting and a challenge. For Richa, who'll be seeking a change of gender in the passport, there are ways to bend the rules. "I have fought too hard for my identity and cannot let a small matter like a passport affect me," she says. Ankur, who works in a software firm in Delhi, is not sure how his office will react to his decision to change from a man to woman. "I am on hormones right now and I am really unsure about how my employers will react," he says. One metro away, Professor Manabi Bannerjee, earlier Somnath Bannerjee, is battling it out at West Bengal's Department of Education. It is yet to recognise her change to a woman though she intimated her changed status to the authorities than a year ago. Clearly, the courts will have to step in to help out the transgendered till society accepts their choices for what they are.

USA - Neutral zone

The eye opener
By: Josh Swan

Members of the Ryerson community are rallying for gender neutral washrooms on campus.

On Nov. 24 RyePRIDE and the Women's Centre held an event to raise awareness about the need for transgender washrooms with a movie screening and panel discussion.

RyePRIDE campaigned for gender-neutral washrooms last year and its education co-ordinator, Jessica Miller, a third-year arts and contemporary studies student, said it's time to raise the issue again.

"We just want to see (gender neutral washrooms) around campus. We want more than one so people won't be a target for violence," Miller said.

Gender-neutral washrooms would allow members of the Ryerson community who are transsexual to have the option of using washroom facilities that aren't designated for only one gender.

Nora Loreto, RSU vice-president education, said having gender neutral washrooms on campus is a good idea.

"It's important that people feel safe in the most private area of the school," she said.

But David Rayside, a University of Toronto professor with the institution's Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies said many people who identify as transsexual may not want to use these washrooms.

Rayside said transsexuals who have undergone sex reassignment surgery so their biological sex matches their gender identity may just want to use the mens' or the ladies' room. But he added that having the facilities would help.

Women's Centre events co-ordinator and third-year arts and contemporary studies student Sarah Landau said she hopes to raise awareness about the issue on campus. She said some students still think having gender neutral washrooms on campus is a "bit of a radical ideal."

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bralalalala tracks on-line

The ever infamous Bralalalala has put a selection of her tracks on line. The CD metal queen has been compaired to Anthrax in style and qualitity, and has won several awards much to the annoyance of the main stream music industry.

Check them out here:

Won't to know more about her then start here:

USA - Pee in Peace!
by Bryan Burgess

The Transgender Law Center (TLC) makes history today by releasing Peeing In Peace: A Resource Guide For Transgender Activists and Allies. The guide will help transgender community members and allies confront gender-based discrimination and harassment in public bathrooms. Transgender people, including people whose gender expression isn’t stereotypical, are regularly alienated from employment, education, social services, and consumer environments simply because they are prevented from using the correct bathroom or because they are harassed while doing so.

Peeing In Peace (PiP) provides information about legal rights and advocacy tools for anyone who faces this kind of discrimination. PiP also offers community activists and allies basic tools that they can use when advocating with employers, school administrators, government officials, and business owners to create safe bathroom access policies. PiP provides the common sense solutions that many decision makers have told us they need in order to create non-discriminatory environments. Grassroots activists will also be able to use PiP to help create a bathroom safety campaign

Electronic copies of PiP can be downloaded free at or printed copies can be ordered for $9.99 at

here's the pdf of the document

Friday, December 02, 2005

Anti-bias bill would protect sex changers

New Jersey's anti-discrimination law, already one of the toughest in the nation, would protect cross-dressers and people who change their sex if a bill that appears headed for victory in the Assembly becomes law.

The proposal, which has bipartisan support, would add "gender identity or expression" to the classes safeguarded from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.

If the bill passes, New Jersey would become the seventh state to protect transgender people, joining Maine, Rhode Island, California, New Mexico, Illinois and Minnesota.

"A couple years ago, I would have thought, 'Oh, my God, what legislator is going to touch this with a 10-foot pole?'Ÿ" said Steven Goldstein, a leading lobbyist for gay and transgender rights in New Jersey. "But this has been a total cakewalk. It's the easiest thing we ever worked on - a basic anti-discrimination bill. Legislators from both parties have been extremely open to it."

The bill, which could go before the Assembly Judiciary Committee as early as next Thursday, already has a long line of Democratic co-sponsors and one from the other side of the aisle, too: Joe Azzolina, an old-line Monmouth County Republican who previously sponsored a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and opposed domestic-partnership rights for gays. Azzolina said this effort is different.

"I'm in the supermarket business, and I don't believe in discrimination based on gender, religion, race, creed or sexual orientation," said Azzolina. "We have gays and lesbians working for us and all we ask is that they don't flaunt it. A doctor once told me they can't help what they are - they're born that way - so you can't hurt them or blame them for that."

Goldstein said he counts 50 supporters out of the 80 Assembly members. A date has not been set for the bill to go before the Senate, but its sponsors are optimistic, too.

"A vote in favor of this bill isn't condoning anyone's choice to switch from male to female," said the Senate's deputy majority leader, Joseph Vitale, D-Woodbridge, a primary sponsor. "It's just recognizing that everyone should be treated equally under the law."

Not everybody agrees.

"Why do we need this?" said Len Deo, head of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, a conservative lobbying group. "I don't think a person with a mental disorder should be protected against discrimination. It puts a real burden on the public welfare."

The bill would codify a four-year-old ruling by the state Appellate Division. The court found that an employer violated state law by firing its medical director when she became a male. State law, the court said, bans discrimination against people who don't fit stereotypical notions of gender and, by extension, covers those who switch from one gender to the other.

Garden State Equality, the state's most prominent gay rights group, unveiled plans Thursday to run a television commercial in support of the bill - the first TV ad in the United States for transgender rights. The 30-second spot will air 21 times on News 12 New Jersey between Monday and Dec. 9 and 16 times on the station's "Power and Politics" show over the next two weekends.

New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination, enacted in 1945, originally banned discrimination based on race, creed, color, national origin and ancestry. One of the first anti-discrimination laws in the nation, it said, "Such discrimination threatens not only the rights and proper privileges of the inhabitants of the State but menaces the institutions and foundation of a free democratic state."

Ten times since then, state lawmakers have amended the landmark decree, expanding its protections to cover other vulnerable classes, including, in 1991, sexual orientation.

State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Teaneck, proposed the newest amendment this year when she was still in the Assembly.

She said, "I hope someday in our country people will be seen for who they are, for their personalities rather than the categories they fit or don't fit."

Federal civil-rights law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin and gender. It does not explicitly cover sexual orientation or gender identity. Gay and transsexual litigants have argued in federal courts that the gender clause, by implication, covers them, but few judges have agreed.

Babs Casbar, a grandfather in Edison, has spent the last 15 years slowly turning into a woman. As political leader of Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, Casbar has lobbied for the change to the state law.

"We wear a scarlet letter," Casbar said. "Society sees us as freaks. Employers say you can come to work as Bruce but not as Carol. People are afraid of being hassled by security guards, by landlords, everywhere they go. We're a class that has been subject to discrimination and we deserve protection."

Fast facts

The 1945 N.J. Law Against Discrimination protected race, creed, color, national origin and ancestry. It evolved to cover additional categories.

1951: military service

1962: age

1970: marital status, sex

1977: nationality

1981: atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait

1991: sexual orientation

1992: familial status

1996: genetic information

2002: public housing aid

2003: disability, domestic partnership status