The Cutting Edge-Oct 23, 2012
Barbara F. Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW
“Born Free and Equal: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Booklet” has just been released by the United Nations Human Rights Office. It is a new publication listing human rights laws for LGBT people. The 60-page booklet highlights 5 main obligations requiring national attention:
Protecting people from homophobic violence
Safeguarding LGBT people’s freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly
For more details: www.ohchr.org/documents/publications
An article, Transgender Malaysians Challenge Religious Laws (New York Times Oct. 7, 2012) discusses Shariah (Islamic) law and its impact on transgenders and others who crossdress. “Muslim men are banned from dressing or posing as women … and offenders may be sentenced up to six months in prison, fined as much as $325.00, or both.” Four Malaysian transwomen challenged the law in civil court, arguing that it violates their constitution which guarantees freedom of expression and bans discrimination. Support groups say that in the 1980’s, a fatwa (a religious edict) was issued forbidding Muslims from having SRS. If the plaintiffs receive a positive ruling, they will no longer be prosecuted for dressing as women in the state in which the case was heard and will set precedence for future cases in other localities. One day later the suit was dismissed.
“Transgendered Kids can Use Whichever School Washroom they Wish” is an article appearing in the Toronto Sun (Oct. 3, 2012) the Toronto District School Board ruled that choice should be determined by the child’s “view of whether they’re a boy or a girl.” No doctor’s note or “identity documents” will be required. This decision is a result of a “human rights decision in 2011 that was based on a complaint by a transgendered student.” www.torontosun.com/2012/10/03/
“California has become the first state to ban the use for minors of disputed therapies to ‘overcome’ homosexuality….” So begins an Oct. 1, 2012 article in the New York Times. Reading further, the article expands the focus from homosexuality to “gender expression,” thus prohibiting treatments designed to discourage cross gender identification. Opponents of the law maintain this is a “violation of free choice,” implying that some children may wish to rid themselves of their transgender feelings.
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to recognize that 1 out of 4 individuals – of any gender identity or expression, of any sexual orientation – has experienced domestic violence.
There is a widespread myth that domestic violence is a crime in which men abuse women. The reality is that 25-33% of all individuals have been in abusive relationships and both abusers and victims can be of any gender. Some studies suggest that transgender and gender non-conforming individuals may
experience domestic violence at rates higher than the national average. Possible reasons transgender
people may have elevated rates of domestic violence include never having learned healthy relationship skills or believing that violent relationships are the best a transgender person can hope for. (Sounds like blaming the victim to me!!!)
Even though violence occurs across all genders, services are not always offered on a gender-inclusive basis, with male-identified victims often being refused services. Transwomen have also reported many experiences of discrimination when attempting to access domestic violence services. This disparity between who is impacted by domestic violence and who can access services makes it vital that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) include a provision prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ victims. This information was abstracted from a news item dated Oct. 9, 2012 on the FORGE website >www.forge-forward.org>. FORGE, founded in 1994 provides peer support to the TG community. It is the 1st organization to receive significant direct federal funding. Statement in parens is by the author of this column.
In Brief: “A Transgender Story: My Daughter, My Son” appeared in the LA Times Oct. 7, 2012. It is a mother’s perspective on watching her daughter’s transition. www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary
The University of Victoria houses The Transgender Archives, a tremendous resource for community members, researchers and students.