Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Cutting Edge- January 2014


Barbara F. Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW


Transgress Press has put out a call for letters from “Our Partners,” partners and spouses of transpeople.  They are seeking personal stories from individuals who are/have been in relationship with people who identify as transgender.  In 2011 they published “Letters for My Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect,” an anthology of letters to trans partners.  Now they seek reflections on these relationships.  They are interested in stories about personal identity that address questions such as:

 1) How has your identity been challenged or supported by your partner’s identity?  Has your self-perception of your own gender evolved?

 2) How has disclosure impacted personal, community, family, or work relationships?  Affected your role as a partner or your identity?

 3) How has medical transition affected your relationship?  Has your partner’s desire or lack of such affected your role or identity?

 4) How has your relationship changed?  Has monogamy or polyamory become a lifestyle choice?  What has been the effect on children?

 f you’d like to know more about the project or are interested in submitting a letter of 2500 words or less, contact jess@iamsocialjustice.com

Are you aware of the controversy re: the term “trans*” vs. transgender among gender variant individuals, professionals who work with them and activists for the cause?  Some feel “trans*” has supplanted transgender and is more inclusive of all who identify as CD, TG, TS and gender diverse.

 Apparently, the “*” as an abbreviation comes from computer science.  It was prominent as a wildcard character in early operating systems in the 1970’s and remains so in Mac and Windows today.  Many global advocacy organizations have adopted “Trans*” such as GATE—Global Action for Trans* Equality.  A growing number of members of WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) have adopted the term as well, although the “*” has not modified the title of the organization.

 Another point of view comes from a physician/Executive Director of an advocacy organization who says “I am not an asterisk.  Roger Maris may be an asterisk.  Barry Bonds may be an asterisk.  I am not an asterisk.”  These comments have been excerpted from online correspondence between members of WPATH.


“Massachusetts: Court Upholds Sex Change for Inmate”  is the headline of a NYTimes article.  The State Department of Corrections is required to provide SRS for an inmate serving a life sentence for murdering  his/her wife.  Michelle Kosilek, 64, was born male but receives female hormones and lives as a woman in a men’s prison.  A federal judge ruled in 2012 that surgery was necessary for her gender identity disorder.  Prison officials have concerns about protecting her post surgically.



Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Cutting Edge Dec. 24, 2013

Barbara F. Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW


In addition to my psychotherapy practice I have embarked on another venture—I have been deputized as a Marriage Commissioner by the State of California.  Once a week I report to San Francisco City Hall and perform marriages for couples who choose to take their vows at this most impressive site.  A large proportion of the individuals that wed are same-sex couples who became “legal” on Dec. 2, 2013.  After a bit of paperwork, I sign in a couple’s witnesses and we proceed to either a private room or up the grand staircase to stand under the cupola of this gorgeous building.  There, surrounded by family and friends, photographers and children, the spouses-to-be take their vows, exchange rings and kiss.  It is the high point of my day each week.


“Victory! Transgender Man Wins right to Work as Authentic Self” is the headline of an article on the Transgender Law Center’s site.  The organization responded to K.S.’s request for help when his employer refused to allow him to serve clients who had requested a male massage therapist.  K.S. had begun transitioning the prior year and had also been denied usage of his chosen name without a court ordered name change or a gender change on his driver’s license.   A TLC lawyer discussed the matter with K.S., explained his rights to him, and helped him identify the specific areas at work where he was treated differently from other men.  As a result, K.S. felt confident to meet with his employer and advocate for more equitable treatment.  He is now “booked” as a male massage therapist, wears a male uniform and uses his chosen name.


“Taiwan to allow legal gender changes without transitioning” appeared Dec. 11, 2013 on the site, GayStarNews.  After hours of debate, the Ministry of Health voted to drop previous requirements –“removal of all relevant sexual organs” and psychiatric evaluation—and now allows TG individuals to change their legal gender at will.  Taiwan has become only the second nation, after Argentina, to liberalize their laws to such an extent.  To the objections of a psychiatrist who cited 2 cases of individuals who committed suicide post-transition, a supporter of the ruling suggests that “adaptation difficulty is indeed more of a social problem….  It is the double requirement of evaluation and sex reassignment surgery, which together with monetary and physical constraints, prevents trans people from obtaining their desired legal gender and brings problems.” 


In July, California passed AB 1266, introduced by Tom Ammiano of San Francisco. It required public schools to allow TG students to use bathrooms and participate on sports teams consistent with their gender identity as of Jan. 1, 2014.  A conservative coalition has formed to repeal the measure in the 2014 election.  It needs to collect 305,000 signatures by Nov. 8 to get on the ballot.  A statement from political consultant, Frank Schubert, who masterminded the passage of Proposition 8, maintains that 500,000 have been collected so far.  If the referendum qualifies, the law will be suspended until voters decide.  (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 20, 2013)


In brief:  Lambda Legal has a great website which deals with such subjects as: identity documents; TG youth; restroom access rights; TG workplace rights; health care; TG seniors;  TGs and marriage laws; TG parents; and fighting anti-trans violence. It is www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/transgender