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The gift of "Trans..."

The societal normative image of the gender binary does not apply to everyone. 

Intersex. Transgender. Transsexual. Transvestite. Transhuman. Gender Queer. Gender Fluid. 

These are some of the terms that may be chosen by someone to identify one's self.  The all too standard response is to view people as they relate to the gender binary, as a reaction or an alternative. 

(You are either male or female.  If you are not male/female, then you must be...?) 

However, this tendency overlooks the most basic frame of reference - that of a person's choice of one's own definition. 

(I am .... because that is who I am.)

The first definition is a labeling process by the group, in which the individual is told the terms of one's existence.  The second definition is who we hold ourselves to be. 

The first definition is the most common framework.  Call it the "you are who we say you are" definition.  It is also called mob action, bullying, intimidation to name only a few.  For people that make choices that the mob approves of, this bullying is invisible and not worth consideration.  Why?  Because 'most people' won't complain.  Meaning, nobody wants to argue with the mob.  The mob threatens people into compliance, using ridicule, shame, violence, hatred, moral persecution, vilification, ostracism and death.

Looking at this in terms of the 'gender binary', some people line up in a hetero male/female slot effortlessly.  They may go their entire lives without venturing out.  Others will find it difficult to fit in exactly, but will not buck the social structure for fear of negative consequences.  They will find a way to cope with any anxiety from this. 

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CPS Acts on LGBT Concerns

A grassroots organizing campaign led by LGBT youth has won agreement on a new advisory council and an expanded anti-discrimination policy from CPS chief Ron Huberman.

Meeting with members of the citywide coalition Gender Just and other groups on August 18, Huberman offered to fund an "intervention team" or advisory council of students and community members that would develop a student justice handbook and guide development of a training curriculum for CPS staff.

The team will also be tasked with developing a grievance process for students with discrimination and harassment issues that their own schools aren't addressing adequately, said Sam Finkelstein of Genter Just.

Huberman also agreed to a request (first put forward by the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance) to add gender identity and expression to the list of protected categories in CPS's anti-discriminiation policy.

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2009 Stonewall Awards

The fourth annual Stonewall Awards, sponsored by Barclays, will take place on Thursday 5th November 2009 at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

We are delighted to announce that the fourth Stonewall Awards will take place on Thursday 5 November at the V&A in London. The ceremony, which has become an essential fixture in the lesbian and gay calendar, will be hosted by TV presenter Gok Wan. Once again supported by Barclays, the ceremony celebrates those who have made a positive impact on the lives of lesbian and gay people in Britain. Last year’s winners included Sue Perkins, Waheed Alli and Sandi Toksvig.

Three of the Awards will be voted for by thousands of Stonewall supporters from across Britain: ‘Hero of the Year’, ‘Bigot of the Year’ and the ‘Stonewall & Barclays Community Group.’ The chosen Community Group of the Year – won last year by the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group - will receive a cheque for £5,000 to support its work.

The other seven awards – including Writer and Entertainer of the Year - will be chosen by a panel of judges including TV personality Sue Perkins, presenter Evan Davis, former basketball player John Amaechi, Angela Eagle MP and Assistant Editor of the Daily Telegraph Andrew Pierce

Tickets are now on sale for £150 plus VAT. To book your ticket complete the online booking form or contact or call 020 7593 1875.

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Prisoner Safety Act Passes California Senate

September 3, 2009
1:51 PM

CONTACT: Equality California (EQCA)
Vaishalee Raja, Equality California

Bill expands protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prisoners

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - September 3 - The state Senate today passed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Prisoner Safety Act, AB 382, with bipartisan support in a 23 to 14 vote. Sponsored by Equality California (EQCA) and introduced by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), the bill is designed to prevent violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the state prison system.

"The Senate has sent a strong message today that all Californians deserve protections from abuse and violence," said Geoff Kors, Equality California's executive director. "This essential bill will help end the horrific assaults against LGBT prisoners, ensuring they receive equal and fair protection under the law."

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Publicly funded, feminist porn!

Documentary filmmaker Mia Engberg has made a feminist porn film, titled Dirty Diaries: Twelve Shorts of Feminist Porn.  All of the filmmakers are either female or identify as female (one of the filmmakers was born male).  Each film was shot on a mobile phone.  The project received 350,000 kronor in production support from the Swedish Film Institute

The collection of independent stories coalesce around a central manifesto:

Christina Engela's picture

Identity Crisis

I read in the papers last Friday that an advocate - Zahir Omar - had publicly criticized a Judge solely on the basis of her sexuality. The title of the article was particularly amusing - "Lesbian judge lashed". This sounds very kinky. Can I join in?

Less amusing however, was the evident antagonism displayed by Omar, who seems to think a Judge unworthy of holding the position in the Constitutional Court simply because of who she loves. Omar is reported to have told the JSC: "Learned Judge Satchwell's unconventional lifestyle is not something that the majority of South Africans can relate to. The majority of South Africans are God-fearing and follow some or other religion. There is no religion that condones homosexuality. Therefore the major portion of the South African people will not be able to identify with the learned judge."

I wonder, who exactly is left in the world today that these "God-fearing South Africans" Mr Omar talks about can identify with?
arvan's picture

Film review: Equality U (2008)

Recently, I attended a screening of Equality U (2008) at The Jane Addams Hull-House Museum as part of the Sex+++ Documentary Film Series.  This presentation's guest moderator was David Milhalfy.  He is a Ph.D. student at Univ. of Chicago Divnity School.  Assisting as always, was Lisa Junkin, Education Coordinator for the Hull House Museum itself.

Equality U documents a group of 33 young activists traveling to Christian Universities that have a policy of denying access to gay students.  Most if not all these activists are themselves Christian in some fashion. 

I care very much for the ability for anyone and everyone to be able to choose their own sex, gender and body definitions and identity.  I think it is awful that students find themselves in these universities hiding, lying and living in fear.  One statistic mentioned that BYU has the highest gay student suicide rate.  I think that treating people like that - the gang intimidation and bullying that comes from the student body and faculty being directed at these isolated and vulnerable students (who happen to be paying their tuition) - is an awful, awful thing.

And, so is this movie...but for different reasons. 

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DCI To Unravel Transgender And Intersex Issues In New Media

By Nthateng Mhlambiso (Managing Editor – Behind the Mask)

As one of the biggest journalism events, the Highway Africa Conference (Digital citizen Indaba) takes off at Rhodes University in Grahamstown on 6-8 September, it is not only gratifying but also empowering to see that this event has opened a platform for dialogue around marginalised groups in relation to the media, particularly digital media.

I will be a speaker in a panel about Gender, Civil Society and Digital Media and am delighted to share experiences of Behind the Mask on how the media reports on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex issues (LGBTI), whether digital media is opening up space for marginalised groups such as transgender and intersex people’s voices to be heard and whether the right to sexual orientation is recognised in new media.

Some of the issues that I will touch on, in my presentation, are the misrepresentation of LGBTI people in the media, through Behind the Mask’s experiences, also substantiated by a research called OUT in the media conducted by Community Media for Development (CMFD) for Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action (GALA) as well as the gender and Media Diversity Journal and many other researches.

Although the findings are partly displeasing, and as it is our mission at Behind the Mask to create dialogue around LGBTI people’s issues, this opportunity is vital to raise awareness, particularly to journalists, who hold the power to set the agenda and shape society’s way of thinking.

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Call for Nominations for the 2010 Felipa de Souza Award

The 2010 Felipa Award

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) calls on the international LGBTI, human rights, and sexual rights communities to submit nominations for the 2010 Felipa de Souza Award.

Purpose of the Award and General Guidelines

The Felipa Award honors an organization or an individual whose work has made a significant contribution toward securing the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status, anywhere in the world. The award commemorates Felipa de Souza, a woman who was convicted and tortured in Brazil by the Portuguese Inquisition in 1591 for having sexual relationships with other women.

With the Felipa Award, IGLHRC seeks to publicly recognize the courage and activism of grassroots groups and individuals working under the most challenging conditions in pursuit of human rights for all people irrespective of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status. We seek nominations for organizations and individuals from all regions of the world and from as wide a range of communities as possible, particularly from communities with limited access to movement-building resources and support. We welcome nominations for younger as well as more established organizations and individuals; however we consider organizational stability and a proven track record to be essential to the evaluation process.

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SOUTH AFRICA: Law Failing Lesbians on "Corrective Rape"

By Nathalie Rosa Bucher

CAPE TOWN, Aug 31 (IPS) - "Women are getting killed in the Western Cape," says Ndumie Funda, who runs LulekiSizwe in her "cabin" in the township of Gugulethu near Cape Town.

The project is named after her late fiancée, Nosizwe Nomsa Bizana, who was gang-raped by five men and subsequently succumbed to crypto meningitis, and Bizana's friend Luleka Makiwane, who contracted HIV when she was raped and later died of AIDS.

The initiative provides support for lesbian women in the township, most of them teenagers and young adults, many in their final years of high school. According to Funda, young lesbian women aged between 16 and 25 are most vulnerable and often get evicted by their families.

"Police are often remiss in their investigation and victims are often subjected to secondary victimisation from homophobic police officials, the justice system is slow, struggles to cope with cases of gang attacks and it is hard to convince prosecutors of the importance of hate as a motivation for crimes," Emily Craven, Joint Working Group co-ordinator explains.

There are no authoritative figures on exactly how many incidents of hate crime are committed in South Africa.

The horrific levels of sexual violence in South Africa have been well documented and publicised. According to police statistics, 36,190 rapes and attempted rapes were reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) between April and December 2007.

The number of unreported cases, however, is estimated to be ten times that. A study released by the Medical Research Council (MRC) in June this year found that of the 1,738 men interviewed 27.6 percent had perpetrated the rape of a woman or girl.

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