Monday, April 2, 2012

In The Life 's "Becoming Me" a TG Family video

I saw this press release Sunday,  I was looking for a broadcast media outlet but this seems to be an internet thing.  I've included the links to watch the preview, and full episode on You Tube and at In the Life Media's website which also has some background on the program. ~ Sasha

New York, NY (PRWEB) April 01, 2012
This month, the award-winning newsmagazine In The Life will debut “Becoming Me,” featuring eight families with transgender and gender nonconforming children ranging in ages from 5 to 25.
Is it a boy or a girl? Many parents learn the answer before their baby is born, and most expect their children to develop a gender identity that mirrors biological sex within their first few years. But for transgender and gender nonconforming children, gender identity unfolds throughout childhood, adolescence and into early adulthood.
While mainstream media coverage has portrayed transgender children as a spectacle, Becoming Me forgoes the sensationalism with this sensitive look into the real-life experience of families whose children fall across the gender spectrum. With the healthy development of their children at stake, parents must confront binary perceptions of gender, widespread transphobia and controversial parenting decisions.
Becoming Me begins airing April 1st on public television stations across the country and will be available for free video streaming from the In The Life Media website. To find out when it will air in your local area, or to stream it, go to
Watch the Preview

To receive the latest updates about In The Life Media, follow us on twitter @ITLMedia using the hashtag #ITLMedia and like us on
About In The Life Media:
For twenty years, In The Life Media has been a leading media organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement. One of the nation’s most honored and influential LGBT groups, In The Life Media creates social and political change by examining issues critical to LGBT individuals and providing audiences with powerful ways to advance equality within, and beyond, their communities. Produced by In The Life Media, the Emmy-nominated series, In The Life, was the first—and remains the only—LGBT newsmagazine on public television. In The Life is a two-time Emmy Award nominee, a Lambda Legal Liberty Award honoree, a Seigenthaler Award recipient from the National Lesbian and Gay Jounalists Association and a Ribbon of Hope Award recipient from The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
About American Public Television:
In The Life is distributed by American Public Television. APT has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. In 2009, APT distributed 56 of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles. Among its 300 new program titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. In 2006, APT launched Create® – the TV channel featuring the best of public television's lifestyle programming. APT is also a partner in the WORLD™ channel expansion project including its web presence at For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit For more information on Create, visit
Eleanor Moonier
212-255-6012 x321

Cathy Renna

Watch the Preview: Watch the full show: In The Life Media Or watch on You Tube

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Transgender Health 101" or "Shoes" goes to Chicago

"Transgender Health 101" or "Shoes" goes to Chicago

What attracted me to the article that I read in the Chicago Phoenix was the title: 

TRANSforming healthcare: UIC holds transgender healthcare event.  In the second paragraph from the article, Dr Regina Kim delivers the illustration similar to one used in Heather Rose Brown's "Shoes" and I was hooked.

What I expected was a rundown on how the Affordable Care Act may impact for the good, healthcare for transgender patients.  However the topic for the lecture that the Chicago Phoenix's TJ Chernick covered for the article was "Transgender Health 101".  I feel that this effort to get the word out on the identity of Transgender Patients is important.  It's important to be welcoming as they deliver healthcare which most likely will be the same as for 'normal' people, because we are normal people.   Getting a good welcoming primary care Doctor is as vital as having health care insurance coverage in order for transgender patients to have true access to healthcare.  Back in the job that I transitioned under (before they fired me when they had finally brought in enough people so that I was expendable), I had great healthcare coverage.  However finding a doctor willing to treat me for mundane non-transition healthcare was formidable.  It still is when I seek out a new PCP when I move.

 The first thing that I learned in my healthcare professional training is that a healthcare professional must treat all who come for healthcare with respect.  It is classes such as the "Transgender Health 101" which give healthcare professionals the background so that they can treat transgender patients with respect.  In the textbooks transgender patients may only be the t in passng mention of LGBT.  In learning that we are just normal people with a challenge and what the lingo of transgender means, they can be more comfortable with us.  That's why I feel that it was important that the class opened with the illustration from "Shoes" by Heather Rose Brown written in 2007 . Heather Rose Brown has the new sister in  her story teach her brother about the 'wrongness' of a gender expression opposite their true one by having him walk in shoes on the wrong feet.  While the writer of the article did not credit Heather Rose Brown, we can credit her and the good that her story has done over the years.

What follows is the text of the article from the Chicago Phoenix with a note from me :

TRANSforming healthcare: UIC holds transgender healthcare event

Posted by TJ Chernick on March 31, 2012 in News 

In honor of LGBTQ Health Awareness Week, the University of Illinois at Chicago group UIC Pride hosted Transgender Health 101 March 28, a lecture and discussion on the role healthcare providers play when treating transgender patients.
“Take off your shoes and switch them around, now put them on … walk around a bit … how does that feel?” asked former Howard Brown Health Center physician and UIC faculty member Dr. Regina Kim. ”It’s not right, this is how a lot of people describe how it feels when they’re transgender.”[Sasha ~ This is the illustration from Heather Rose Brown's Shoes ]
The lecture, held in conjunction with the UIC Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC), was led by Kim, GSC Assistant Director Liz Thomson and Mary Bowman, co-president of UIC Nurses for Reproductive Health & Justice.
“Just because a person is trans does not mean they will have far-and-away health issues that you’re going to have to address,” said Bowman. “Gender identity is an aspect of a persons identity, it is not their whole identity, and it could have varying effects on their health.”
Well attended by medical and nursing students, the event also brought in a few non-medical students and focused on the disparity transgender people face in healthcare, and how to better equip healthcare providers with the knowledge and understanding to develop inclusive care.
“All of us, no matter the geography, field or specialty in health care, will at some point care for a transgender individual or their loved ones,” said Kim. “In fact, one may not even realize they have known or currently know someone who is transgender.”
Thompson, who has over 13 years of experience in higher education and is an LGBTQ advocate and ally, led a portion of the lecture about demystifying the intricacies of the transgender experience, breaking down and explaining often misunderstood terms like genderqueer (someone outside of the male/female binary) and bigendered (one who identifies alternately as male/female).
Thompson also asked the attendees to reflect on their own experience. In a demonstration, participants were asked to grade their biological sex (based on the sex you were born with), gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation on a scale ranging from normatively male/masculine to female/feminine.
“It made me realize that it’s much easier to grade myself on a line than in a box,” said one attendee, referring to the boxes often found on medical charts.
Thomson explained the state of transgender protections in the U.S. and on the UIC campus. While 21 states have non-discrimination laws, including Illinois, only 16 of those state laws include gender identity/expression protections, according to the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
“Things happening around transphobia are a lot more public and you can always do more,” said Thompson. “Ultimately we would like everyone to be initiating and preventing [understanding] so we don’t always have to live in a reactive culture.”

Dr. Regina Kim. Photo courtesy L. Thomson/GSC.
The portion of the lecture led by Kim focused on developing gender affirmative healthcare, sharing stories of many transgender individuals’ experiences that led them to avoid seeking healthcare due to the anxiety it induced. Many of these individuals are forced to “come out” every time they meet a new physician, so often avoid annual — and critical — screenings. Kim provided advice to those individuals.
“Be an active and proactive participant in your health care for it is as unique as you are,” Kim told Chicago Phoenix. “Doing a bit of homework about the provider and your health needs in advance will increase the likelihood that you will have a good experience.”
She also recommends that transgender individuals find a a primary healthcare provider who is empathetic and holistic rather than waiting for a health crisis to arise. Kim, who has many years specializing in LGBTQ healthcare also provided advice to the future healthcare providers themselves.
GSC has made many efforts on the UIC campus to make transgender individuals feel safe by reforming university policy, having gender identity respecting housing, and celebrating national Transgender Awareness Week in November.
Work is still being done to develop more gender neutral bathrooms throughout the Chicago campus.

For more news from the Chicago Phoenix regarding LGBT issues including one for national LGBT Health week:

Weekend Palm Card: March 24 – March 31

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Transgender Families In Depth On The Dr. Oz Show Today 3/29/2012

Posted by  on Thursday, March 29, 2012 ·on

The Doctor Oz Show today is about men, who have made the decision to become women, and the effects it has on their whole family. Oz will show us the inside scoop on the process of making a man into a woman when he takes us into the operating room to see a sex change surgery. This show is all about Health, Family Wellness and Anatomy and will feature Michelle Angello, PhD and Dr. Christine McGinn as special guests.
Being born the wrong sex is a problem many people live with on a daily basis. Some just go through life with what God gave them and learn to live with what they have been given. 

Others make the decision to change. It starts by living as the opposite sex.  This has severe consequences in some societies  and Transgenders are the subject of bullying and other forms of discrimination. A few people make the decision to have an operation that will turn them into the person they think they were born to be. This operation is painful and takes years of preparation. Oz will look at another aspect of this life changing decision and focus on what happens to the sons, daughters, and spouses when a father or mother decides to change sexes.
The Doctor Oz show airs at different times in different areas. Check your local TV Guide for the time in your area. If you miss the show, check back here on CMR for our full recap of all the latest news Dr. Oz is talking about.
Photo courtesy of: Dr.Oz

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dean Spade Addresses the Problem in Normal Life

What's Wrong with Gay Rights? Dean Spade Addresses the Problem in Normal Life By Emerson Whitney

When Jim, a 25-year-old transgender man, was refused hormones in a men's prison, and when Bianca, a 19-year-old transgender woman, was kicked out of her public high school because of her gender identity, each called Dean Spade. It was in the early days of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) -- a nonprofit providing free legal services to transgender, intersex, and gender nonconforming people, founded by Spade in 2002 -- and SRLP's headquarters comprised just one desk and a phone housed within a larger poverty law organization. At the time, Spade had no idea how many people who would call SRLP for help, or the gravity and complexity of the problems at hand.
From the stories of those seeking legal aid through SRLP, Spade, a transgender attorney, educator, and activist, began to understand racism, xenophobia, ableism, sexism, transphobia, and homophobia as systemically structured into the systems we rely on.
"My clients did not fit into gendered administrative systems, and they paid the price in exclusion, violence, and death," he writes in his new book, Normal Life. "Most had no hope of finding legal employment because of the bias and violence they faced, and therefore turned to a combination of public benefits and criminalized work -- often in the sex trade -- in order to survive. This meant constant exposure to the criminal punishment system, where they were inevitably locked into gender segregated facilities that placed them according to birth gender and exposed them to further violence."
Normal Life, published in late 2011 by South End Press, is Spade's call for a reconsideration of our demands as gender nonconforming people, a rethinking of desires for inclusion in marriage, the military, the Census, and the police force. Spade argues that by fighting for acceptance in these institutions, the power of those systems is enhanced -- the very systems designed to marginalize the most vulnerable members of the transgender community, low-income people, and people of color.
"Trans politics should not follow the gay and lesbian rights path," said Spade in an interview with me. "We should absolutely not follow their model; they've fallen into all the traps. They bought into pro-military, pro-criminalization, and pro 'family' values, which inherently alienates the most vulnerable people in the gay and lesbian community."
As an alternative, Spade's book suggests other outlets for our activism, including supporting transgender people incarcerated right now, engaging in activism to get those people out, dismantling systems that don't work, decriminalizing sex work, and stopping local law enforcement from working as immigration officers.
"How can we get people the things that they need? That's really the question here," he said. "How can we build real safety in communities and achieve universal access to material well being?"
Spade advocates for the mobilization of large groups, rather than elite, professionalized, nonprofitized social change.
"When two white, corporate gay people want to get married, that story is lifted up by the gay and lesbian rights organizations and the media as a quest for justice and liberation," he said. "As trans people, we have the opportunity to frame our social justice movements as trickle-up justice rather than trickle-down. Truly, giving a white, privileged transgender person the right to use the university bathroom of their choice will not solve the problems for the transgender person in prison who's under much worse distress. We need to make sure that our work continues to focus on those who are most vulnerable to the worst manifestations of transphobia."
His hope is that the book will serve as a readable tool for trans activists involved in any social movement who might be asking the question, "We got that law passed, so why didn't we see the changes we were hoping to see?"
"The book asks: how can we create systemic, transformative change?" said Spade. "Are we just trying to get the law to say good things about us? If we want to really relieve the conditions that are killing trans people, we have to work towards mass mobilization and deeply rooted change, not just a changing of the window dressing."
Throughout Normal Life, Spade successfully uses examples of the concepts he introduces rather than academic analysis. The book is an engaging, smart, and convincing call to justice. His suggestion to cast off the desire to conform in exchange for real, rooted change is radical and refreshing.
"I hope it's readable for a broad audience," said Spade, who got his start writing 'zines in the '90s. "It was incredibly cathartic for me to write things in 'zines without adjusting them to fit into professional or commercial publications -- it still is."
Normal Life is an essential, comprehensive work for trans activists. And for those outside the gender nonconforming community, Spade's work can be viewed as trans-law case study of a burgeoning social justice movement that has yet to take on the compromising hues of assimilation.
"Somebody I know gave it to their mom to read," said Spade. "That made me excited about the book's possibilities."
This piece was originally published on Wild Gender.
Follow Emerson Whitney on Twitter:

Transgender Day of Remembrance 11/20/2013

[Photo from San Francisco DOR 2000]The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.
Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.
[Photo from San Francisco DOR 2001]We live in times more sensitive than ever to hatred based violence, especially since the events of September 11th. Yet even now, the deaths of those based on anti-transgender hatred or prejudice are largely ignored. Over the last decade, more than one person per month has died due to transgender-based hate or prejudice, regardless of any other factors in their lives. This trend shows no sign of abating.
The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.
Note: This page was taken from

TG Day Of Silence 4/19/2013

Transgender Day of Silence 4/19/2013

This day originated in educational settings, both secondary and post secondary schools. Students vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools. This actually is an LGBT day promoted by GLSEN by their site:

About the Day of Silence
The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.
Founded in 1996, the Day of Silence has become the largest single student-led action towards creating safer schools for all, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. From the first-ever Day of Silence at the University of Virginia in 1996, to the organizing efforts in over 8,000 middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities across the country in 2008, its textured history reflects its diversity in both numbers and reach.
Organizing for Day of Silence
Organizing a Day of Silence (DOS) activity or event can be a positive tool for change-both personally and community-wide. By taking a vow of silence, you're making a powerful statement about the important issue of anti-LGBT bullying,and when you organize others to join you that message becomes stronger. Discover ways of organizing your event here.
Your Rights
While you DO have a right to participate in the Day of Silence between classes and before and after school, you may NOT have the right to stay silent during instructional time if a teacher requests for you to speak. According to Lambda Legal, "Under the Constitution, public schools must respect students' right to free speech. The right to speak includes the right not to speak, as well as the right to wear buttons or T-shirts expressing support for a cause." However, this right to free speech doesn't extend to classroom time. "If a teacher tells a student to answer a question during class, the student generally doesn't have a constitutional right to refuse to answer." We remind participants that students who talk with their teachers ahead of time are more likely to be able to remain silent during class. Find more Lamda Legal advice here.
Legal Help: Report It!
If you think your rights are not being respected, or want to report your experience of resistant administration, click here to report it. GLSEN and Lambda Legal will review your situation.
The Truth about the Day of Silence
As the Day of Silence continues to grow, some people have confused the mission and goals of the Action. Clear up any misinformation by reading The Truth about the Day of Silence.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Southern Comfort Conference 9/4-8/2013

September 4-8, 2013
About Southern Comfort
This year is the 24th annual Southern Comfort Conference and the theme will be “Blazing New Trails”.
Vendors, authors, entertainers and leaders from the entire spectrum of the transgender community will be in Atlanta to create a 4-day symposium full of learning, networking and fun just for you! From Tuesday through Saturday night, this year's conference is packed with seminars, on-site activities as well as several planned trips away from the hotel that you are sure to enjoy. There is something for everyone on the SCC. Whatever your connection to the transgender community - whether you are transsexual, a cross dresser or in between; a spouse, a partner or a family member; straight, gay, bi or omni-sexual; post-op, pre-op or non-op; young or old; married or single; FtM or MtF - if transgender is an issue in your life, you are welcome!

As always, the seminar schedule reflects Southern Comfort's commitment to serve the diverse needs of our community. The topics include basic information for the newbie, the newly-out, as well as the transitioned. They include detailed legal, medical and political presentations; and informative sessions on family relationships, sexuality and spirituality, and tips on makeup, presenting, and many more topics.out Us
Entertainment? Provocative speakers? Of course! This is a top-shelf event! Lunches, dinners and evenings will be highlighted with incredible music and engaging speakers from the transgender community. Be sure to check out the list of shopping, fine dining, theatre, night-clubbing and dancing both in the hotel as well as at outside locations. You are in for a treat!
Conference Registration is separate from your hotel registration and charges. SCC packs in lots of seminars, lunches and dinners for a modest price. Beyond basic convention packages, you also have the opportunity to participate in optional activities (these sell out fast!). Conference Registration begins April 1. Once you have registered for the conference, be sure to make your hotel reservations. The hotel sold out last year and we expect to sell out even earlier this year, so make your reservations online now.
Good weather and fun times are predicted. We hope to see you at the SCC! Register Today!


Atlanta Pride Festival


The Atlanta Pride Festival will be returning to Piedmont Park in 2013. The Southeast’s largest Pride Festival will be hosted October 12-13, which coincides with National Coming Out Day. This year's events are in early planning stages and more info will be available as October approaches. Here are some notes from 2012:

The Atlanta Pride Festival, in 2012 was the largest event in the United State to coincide with >National Coming Out Day, which is observed on October 11>. Other established community events that take place around the same timeframe include The Health Initiative’s Garden Party, Out on Film and the Atlanta AIDS Walk.

Leading up to The Atlanta Pride Festival 2012, APC organized events and activities throughout 2012 to build enthusiasm for the festival, including special events during the month of June to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Additionally, the partnership with the Georgia Aquarium, for the Kickoff Party, continued as a part of the 2012 Pride celebrations.

A full schedule of programming and parties is still being developed for Atlanta Pride Week. For updates and information about events
throughout the year, please visit

Applications are now open for parade participants as well as market vendors. For the past several years, both of these sold out – so interested parties are strongly encouraged to submit their application and payments early to ensure their inclusion! Further information is available at

Transgender Day of Visibility March 31, 2012

This "Day of Visability" on March 31, 2012 from their headquarters in Michigan was reported to be a success. The Transgender Education Collaboration which sponcered the day reported that their efforts were well recieved. Instead of making this initial day an annual event, they will focus their efforts with other established events like LGBT Pride. We'll watch their website for future offerings and plans wheather this might become scheduled again. ~Sasha

Transgender Visibility Campaign

The ‘Transgender Visibility Campaign’ begans on March 1, 2012 and ran through the first week of April 2012. The campaign was centered on bringing awareness and education about Transgender issues that affect not only their local Michigan Trans community, but those around the globe. For a complete list of future events taking place, please visit the Transgender Education Collaboration website at

As the Transgender Education Collaboration works to establish itself in the community, there is an ongoing movement to bring about awareness and education for a segment of the population that, for too long has been ignored, abused and/or forgotten. M Kelley, Co-Chair, Transgender Education Collaboration, said: “The fight for transgender rights is too often easily dismissed because Transgender people lack visibility and our [TEC] main goal is to bring much needed education to our community that allows us to make room for all Transgendered people, no matter where they are on their journey. For too long, we have accepted poor treatment of the trans community because of misinformation and a lack of understanding.” “Visibility is so important for the Transgender community, because the rest of society needs to realize that we are here and we are people who have value.

When asked why this campaign is so important, Jena Lewis, Co-Chair, Transgender Education Collaboration, had this to say: "For so long the only visible faces of Transgender people are those as victims of crime on the news, or the false representation of drug using prostitutes. The International Transgender Visibility holiday is time where we all can combat these memes these false beliefs that society pushes upon those that do not follow the gender binary.” “Also, it is time we celebrate people that matter in history and the present that did not follow expected gender roles. It is time we see amazing artists like Rex Cameron and Andrea James. It is time we remember the incredible scientist and computer inventors, people who have really shaped our daily lives for the better, but also amazingly is the fact that they did and do not fit the expected gender perspectives society has put on us for too long.”

To learn more about the Transgender Education Collaboration, become a supporting partner, provide a resource, or to get involved, please visit them online at:

International Day Against Transphobia 5/17/2013

The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

17 May 2013

For IDAHO 2013, we invite all concerned organisations and citizens to participate in the "GLOBAL RAINBOW FLASHMOB".

Anyone can join and become part of the global movement fighting for justice and diversity !

Check out more at


From IDAHO 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013 It is now just over a month to go to the 9th annual International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. This week has seen an incredible amount of information come in about new from all four corners of the world. And, as of today, we can announce that that actions which connect with one another into the form of an IDAHO Global Rainbow Flashmob will take place in at least 25 countries.

The IDAHO committee team has also heard about various events in different countries which we cannot announce for security reasons. Those silent organisers, perhaps most of all, deserve our recognition and thoughts as we approach what promises to be a creative and truly International, Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, 2013.

To report your event, or for any ideas for action or requests for information, partnership ideas etc. email the IDAHO committee team via

You can also join the "IDAHO flashmob working group" on facebook where around 140 event organisers, from around the world, are exchanging ideas for action for May 17th.

U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-moon: The Time Has Come For LGBT People

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Geneva (Switzerland)

07 March 2012

Message to Human Rights Council meeting on

Violence and Discrimination based on

Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

Madam Lasserre, President of the Human Rights Council,Distinguished members of the Council,
Ms. Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Excellencies,Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to address this historic Human Rights Council session.

Some say sexual orientation and gender identity is a sensitive subject.

I understand. Like many of my generation, I did not grow up talking about these issues.

But I learned to speak out because lives are at stake -- and because it is our duty, under the United Nations Charter … and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … to protect the rights of everyone, everywhere.

The High Commissioner’s report documents disturbing abuses in all regions.

We see a pattern of violence and discrimination directed at people just because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

There is widespread bias at jobs, schools and hospitals.

And appalling violent attacks, including sexual assault.

People have been imprisoned, tortured, even killed.

This is a monumental tragedy for those affected -- and a stain on our collective conscience.

It is also a violation of international law.

You, as members of the Human Rights Council, must respond.

To those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, let me say:

You are not alone. Your struggle for an end to violence and discrimination is a shared struggle.

Any attack on you is an attack on the universal values the United Nations and I have sworn to defend and uphold.

Today, I stand with you … and I call upon all countries and people to stand with you, too.

A historic shift is under way. More States see the gravity of the problem.

I firmly oppose conditionality on aid. We need constructive actions

The High Commissioner’s report points the way. We must:

Tackle the violence… decriminalize consensual same-sex relationships… ban discrimination… and educate the public.

We also need regular reporting to verify that violations are genuinely being addressed.

I count on this Council and all people of conscience to make this happen.

The time has come.

Supreme Court lets stand ruling that sides with transgender inmates

The Christian Science Monitor

Supreme Court lets stand ruling that sides with transgender inmates

A Wisconsin law barring state funding for hormone treatments or sex-change operations for transgender prisoners was struck down, a ruling upheld on appeal. The Supreme Court declined the case.

By Warren Richey, Staff writer / March 26, 2012


The US Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a case examining whether transgender prison inmates enjoy a constitutional right to government-funded sex change operations and hormone therapy.

The action leaves undisturbed a federal appeals court decision siding with transgender inmates in Wisconsin.

Concerned about the use of state funding for ongoing hormone treatments that help certain male inmates look more female, lawmakers in Wisconsin passed the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act. The law barred the use of any state funds for hormone treatments and/or sexual reassignment surgery.

Three Wisconsin inmates filed a class-action lawsuit. After a trial a federal judge struck down the 2006 law as a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. A panel of theChicago-based Seventh US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

The appeals court noted that the Eighth Amendment requires state governments to provide medically-necessary treatment to inmates in their prison populations.

Prior to passage of the Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act, medical personnel in the Wisconsin prison system had determined that hormone therapy was medically necessary for the three inmates. As a consequence of the new law, this treatment was discontinued.

The appeals court did not rule that prison officials are required to provide hormone therapy or sex change operations, only that such treatments must be available to inmates if the prison’s own medical personnel determine they are medically necessary.

“Surely, had the Wisconsin legislature passed a law that [Department of Corrections] inmates with cancer must be treated only with therapy and pain killers, this court would have no trouble concluding that the law was unconstitutional,” the Seventh Circuit said. “Refusing to provide effective treatment for a serious medical condition serves no valid penological purpose and amounts to torture,” the appeals court said.

Prison officials had expressed concern that providing hormone treatments that would help certain inmates in an all-male prison appear physically more like a woman might make that inmate a more likely target for sexual assault in prison. Men who receive female hormone treatments develop breasts and experience a redistribution of body fat.

The appeals court dismissed that concern, noting that transgender inmates already face a substantial risk of such assaults.

In her brief to the court, Assistant Wisconsin Attorney General Jody Schmelzer had asked the high court to determine whether the Eighth Amendment requires state prisons to treat “gender identity disorder” (GID) with hormone therapy.

Ms. Schmelzer also asked the court to examine whether the Seventh Circuit overstepped its authority in affirming an injunction invalidating the state’s ban on sex-change surgery for prison inmates

“The court of appeals upheld the injunction as to a procedure that no one had requested, let alone shown was medically necessary to prevent a significant risk of serious harm,” Schmelzer wrote. “It is undisputed that none of the plaintiffs were deemed in need of surgery or even requested it.”

The Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office said the appeals court erred by analyzing the case as if gender identity disorder was a potentially fatal physical medical condition, like cancer, rather than a psychological condition.

“Inmates with GID do not have any physical ailment – their bodies are healthy,” Schmelzer wrote. “The condition is a psychological condition and psychological treatments such as psychotherapy, antipsychotics and antidepressants are appropriate and work to reduce the risk of self-harm.”

The Eighth Amendment does not entitle inmates to specific treatments or the best care possible, Wisconsin officials argue, and courts should defer to the judgment of prison officials.

“A state law should be upheld under the Eighth Amendment as long as it allows for the availability of alternate treatments that, although not curative, work to manage the symptoms of a condition and diminish the risk of harm to a reasonable level,” Schmelzer said.

John Knight of the American Civil Liberties Union in Chicago said the Eighth Amendment prohibits deliberate indifference to a serious medical need.

Denial of treatment for severe GID “causes or creates a serious risk of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and self-mutilation or autocastration for transsexual people,” he wrote in his brief.

“Psychotherapy or psychotropic medication alone, without hormone therapy treatment (and in some cases, sex reassignment surgery), is simply not effective,” Mr. Knight said.

“For those who need it, sex reassignment surgery can be life-saving,” he wrote.

“The Seventh Circuit properly ruled that a state statute that prohibits prison doctors from providing what they deem to be medically necessary treatment for a serious medical condition violates the Eighth Amendment,” Knight said.

“Decisions about the proper course of medical treatment should be made by prison medical staff on an individualized basis” rather than with blanket bans on certain procedures and treatments, he said.

The case is Smith v. Fields (11-561).