March / April 2010
A Message from Kim Pearson, TNET President:
It has been a busy few months for transgender news, education, and advocacy. The beginning of February kicked off with the annual National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Conference in Dallas, TX. This conference is a must for those who want to hone their organizational skills and shore up their knowledge of LGBT concerns, politics, and activism. This year was just as informative and exciting as past years.
Mid-February I found myself in the greater Los Angeles area for about 10 days. I had the privilege of working with Matt Wood (Transgender Law Center), Dr. Joann Olsen (LA Children's Hospital), Nick Adams (GLAAD), Andrea James (Deep Stealth Productions), Chaz Bono, and Isaac (from the Dr. Oz Show) on a workshop for parents of gender variant children and youth. It was a wonderful and educational afternoon for both participants and attendees.
As February came to a close, I was at the Colorado Gold Rush Conference in Denver where I was the Keynote Speaker and received the surprise honor of the 2010 Melissa Chapman Award recognizing individual effort for Social Change. Thank you Denver!
In the upcoming months, we will find many organizations and individuals working to respond to the proposed changes to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). Making certain that transgender individuals are not unnecessarily pathologized for simply being themselves is of utmost importance. This is a critical time for everyone in our community to get involved and make their voices heard. If you are interested in helping you should contact folks at IFGE, NCTE, and GID Reform Advocates to ask how you might contribute.
|Notes from the Editor|
This month’s news was so positive that I had difficulty deciding what to include! I hope you will enjoy reading what we offer you here.
There are brief summaries of five articles: the title to the article is a hyperlink to the original source. This month we have two important items classed as field reports – one an article quoting West Coast Sector Leader Jenn Burleton and reporting on her Portland, OR nonprofit, TransActive, and the other a report by our Virginia Transgender Coordinator Ken Decker about a new online transgender support site based in Richmond, VA.
There are a number of excellent conferences coming up through June. A highlight of the Colorado Gold Rush for PFLAG and PFLAG TNET members and their friends was the Saturday evening keynote presentation by our own TNET President and award winner Kim Pearson.
Finally, it is my sincerest wish that by the time you receive this newsletter our long, wet winter will be over! I am ready for spring!
|From the Field|
New Trans Resource for Greater Richmond, VA
Miss Ellen Pro Board, a new resource for greater Richmond, VA.
By Kenneth C. Decker
For many in the transgender community, the internet has been a life-changing and in some cases even a life-saving resource. This is especially true in areas removed from major urban centers. Online groups and forums establish bonds which ease the feelings of isolation and desperation which all too often accompany the early stages of self-discovery inherent in the search for gender identity.
In that spirit, Richmond, VA resident Ellen Shaver has created an online support site - www.missellen.proboards.com. After registering, a whole world opens up. Topics from general politics to cooking, shopping ideas, nightlife, therapy, and more are explored. Recognizing the nuances of identity within the broader transgender community, forum topics include not only FTM and MTF, but also cross-dressing, androgyny, and gender bending.
Given the lack of nondiscrimination legislation relative to gender identity and expression on the federal level, as well as in most state governments, employment is an ongoing concern for many gender nonconforming people. As such, the “Jobs” forum is a popular feature of this site.
Transgender people are, of course, a microcosm of society as a whole. As such, hobbies are covered as a topic. Gardening is popular among many members, as are collections of all sorts - model building also has a strong fan base.
Group founder Ellen Shaver also serves as moderator and is vigilant in assuring that all members are respected and that negative posts and personal attacks are not permitted. The Miss Ellen Pro Board is simply a logical extension of her work within the greater Richmond community, where Ellen holds an informal though very real role as a mentor to many, especially those new to transgender issues.
A Proactive Process
TransActive’s executive director on the “youngest members of the GLBT community”
By Amanda Schurr
Oliver’s story may seem like a rare one, but statistics on transgenderism and gender non-conforming identity in youth suggest otherwise. A 2007 University of Michigan study by Professors Femke Olyslager and Lynn Conway reports that 1 in 250 children is significantly gender non-conforming, and additional statistical analysis by Conway indicates that 1 in 500 is transgender.
>>Read the rest of the article here!
Trans Stories in the News
The Amazing Tale Of The High School Quarterback Turned Lesbian Filmmaker
What could be more Friday Night Lights than the 20th reunion of Helena, Montana's own Paul McKerrow, who was not only Helena High's starting quarterback and football co-captain but its class valedictorian and the student voted most likely to succeed? Those of us who languished on the sidelines of high-school life can only imagine such a return. But was the grand entrance we're imagining here really the stuff of local history? Or was it something else?
Because Paul McKerrow, it must be said, is no longer Paul McKerrow.
For Transgender People, Name Is a Message
Katherine used to be Miguel. Olin had a girl’s name. And in October, Robert Ira Schnur, 70, became Roberta Iris Schnur, a Manhattan retiree with magenta lipstick and, she noted the other day, chipped silver nail polish.
“I wasn’t like other men,” she said.
Theirs are among hundreds of names a Manhattan court has changed over the last few years for transgender New Yorkers. That tally, specialists in the relatively new field of transgender law say, may make the borough’s workaday Civil Court one of the country’s biggest official name swappers — male names for female, vice versa and ambiguous.
At first glance, Oliver is a healthy, jovial seven-year-old boy. In the schoolyard he’s known for his gelled faux-hawk, and his favorite color is blue. His favorite book is The Dangerous Book for Boys. He loves to sprint the 200-meter in track and watch Sponge Bob on the weekends with his best friend. His rambunctious attitude and boyish tendencies belie a core reality: Oliver was born a girl.
Tax Court Allows Medical Deduction for Sex Change Operation
In a case of first impression, the Tax Court has held that a taxpayer can take a medical expense deduction for the costs of a sex change operation (O’Donnabhain, 134 TC no. 4). However, the taxpayer’s expenses for breast augmentation surgery were disallowed by the court as cosmetic surgery.
See also: http://www.transequality.org
Dept. of Justice Takes Stand
Gender Non-Conforming Student Faced Abuse, Violence in School
The National Center for Transgender Equality praises the U.S. Department of Justice for joining a landmark federal lawsuit on behalf of a gender non-conforming middle school student who faced a two-year ordeal of harassment and abuse because of his gender expression. The Department's action last week marks the first time in a decade the US government has gone to court to combat discrimination based on gender expression.
Shortly after I started working at PFLAG National in 2005, one of the many calls from people looking for support made it to my phone. When I started talking, I found myself having a conversation with a teenage boy in distress, not knowing what to do or say because – as he said – “I know that I’m not a boy. I’m a girl.”
I tried to follow my best PFLAG training, making all of the general suggestions that we use when working with people in the coming out process, but the teen remained in a panic, so much so that he wouldn’t give me his name or phone number, but agreed to call me back the next day…and the day after that, and the one after that…for several days.
While I knew that some of what I was saying was helping, the bottom line was that I knew that the teenager needed someone nearby to prove that there are people out there who will love and support him, no matter who he is. At the suggestion of another PFLAG National staffer, I called Dave and Joan Parker for help.
Not only did they offer me some much-needed guidance for the conversations that I continued to have with the teen, but they also offered – since I’d managed to find out that my new friend was in North Carolina – to personally speak with him and possibly even connect in-person.
And that is just what happened. Because of that experience and the lifeline that the Parkers offered to me in what was one of the most intimidating calls I’d taken up to that time, I got to know their story and more about the work that they were doing with TNET and in the larger trans community.
A few months ago, I was excited to find out that Dave and Joan had been named the 2010 Legacy Award winners by HRC Carolinas. The award recognizes individuals who have contributed efforts to improve the lives and visibility of LGBT people over a period of time. The recipients have consistent and significant lists of contributions to the LGBT community and are seen as role models to others.
I’d say that sure does describe the Parkers.
From the time that their daughter, Rachel, came out to them in 2001, Dave and Joan have been relentlessly active in ensuring that the inclusion of our trans family and friends always remains an integral part of PFLAG’s work. And they’ve taken this message outside of PFLAG to the many trans-supportive grassroots organizations that they’ve worked with.
I’ll never forget the support that they gave to me in finding out how to provide support – and especially to the teen in North Carolina looking for someone to say that everything was going to be ok. Their leadership certainly has been instrumental in shaping the work that PFLAG does with our trans loved ones, and their legacy continues through the direction of people like TNET’s current president, Kim Pearson, who won the 2010 Melissa Chapman Award at the Gold Rush Conference, where she was honored as an individual who has affected social change through her work with trans children and their families.
Please join me in congratulating all of TNET’s outstanding leaders who are creating change every day!
Director of Equality Partnerships and Communications
15th Annual Rainbow Families Conference
Saturday April 10, 2010
IFGE 2010 Capital Conference
April 22-25, 2010
May 16 – 23, 2010
Port Angeles, WA
Philadelphia Trans Health Conference
June 3 – 5, 2010
Philadelphia Convention Center
Phone: (202) 467-8180