Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Transgender Stories in the Media: Take Action & Educate

I have been so overwhelmed at work these last few weeks that I haven't had time to properly respond to all of these articles. However, transfolks are in the news a LOT these past few days, and I'm going to do a run-down here:

First, the reporter in Indianapolis who mis-identified Taysia Elzy's pronouns is refusing to change them. Monica Roberts has a great post with contact information: Please please please write to him and let him know that the "agenda" of changing pronouns is the "agenda" of showing respect. He doesn't need to be defensive that he messed up, he needs to make changes.

In Jakarta, Indonesia a legislator is calling for 14% of all jobs to go to transgender people. His incredibly logical reasoning is that since transgender people make up 14% of the population, they should occupy an equal amount of the workforce. Since they don't, he concludes that transphobia keeps transpeople from occupying legal jobs so they turn to illegal occupations such as sex work and drug dealing. Wow. That seems so sensible...

The ACLU has taken up the case of two transwomen who are suing to change their birth certificates to reflect their post-operative identity. Apparently Illinois has changed birth certificates for over 40 years but recently decided to stop the practice. I'm glad the ACLU has taken her case as they have a history of winning such cases, but I wonder if any progressive changes, such as not needing to undergo surgery, will result.

A Sacramento transwoman was attacked two weeks ago, and this story from the Sacramento Bee does an excellent non-sensational job of covering it. My only concern is that the perpetrators are described as African American, which is they are is accurate and fair. However, since racial identity can only be known if someone tells you their racial identity it seems unfair to decide for them. I know my college tried to do consciousness-raising on this issue by asking college security to avoid asking for race and simply asking about skin tone or clothing descriptors so that the term African American or Latino wasn't equated with criminal. I'm still tossing this around in my head, so i welcome comments!

New America Media reported on new changes in Cuba which includes the growing acceptance of transgender people. The author uses "transvestite" and doesn't seem to see a problem with transpeople being relegated to sex work, yet I found the article interesting all the same as I know surprisingly little about Cuba. From the article "A toleration and discussion of sexuality diversity became more wide spread in 2006 when Raul’s daughter, Mariela Castro Espin, published a special issue of the magazine she edits, “Sexology and Society.” On the inside of the cover page the very first words are: “To be homosexual, bisexual, transsexual or transvestite is not an illness nor a perversity, nor does it constitute any type of offense.”"

Finally, as most people have heard, a biracial transwoman in Appleton WI is suing a bar for discrimination. Articles from the Chicago Tribune, and NBC26 have done a fairly good job of reporting the facts, although they haven't gotten into the real grit of why this might happen. Sierra Broussard was told that she might want to go to a club that caters to "her kind" according to the lawsuit. Being a transgender woman of color in Wisconsin one can only guess where "her kind" are supposed to go. I really applaud her courage to fight this out in courts, as more and more lawsuits about gender identity discrimination are filed we are beginning to see why it is vital for gender expression and identity to be included in ENDA and similar bills.

So after reading these stories write to the reporter and say "hey, awesome! Thanks for remembering we're part of your community." then tell them how to improve, what local resources they could use next time, and other things to remind them that transgender people are deserving of accurate and inclusive coverage!


Brook Buesking said...

Writing a lot about consciousness raising efforts for transgender community and the fluidity/fixity of gender. Thanks for the insight!

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