Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Cutting Edge-Sept 14, 2015

By Barbara F. Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW


Lots of news this month so entries will by necessity be brief.  Hopefully, you can follow up on articles that whet your appetite from original sources.


In an opinion piece, Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry, examines the fascinating subject, “How Changeable is Gender?” in the NYTimes of Aug. 23, 2015.  He begins his treatise with facts illustrating that modifying one’s gender does not guarantee a lifetime of happiness as evidenced by high incidence of post-transition suicide and depression. He then moves on to discuss gender dysphoria in children and cites several studies tracking its persistence thru adolescence to adulthood.  His conclusion is that this experience in children is “highly unstable and likely to change.”  However, the longer dysphoria persists, say into adolescence, the more likely it is to signal a permanent condition.


Remember Ashley Diamond, the trans inmate who sued the State of Georgia for access to hormone replacement treatment and protection from prison rape?  In a surprise move, she was unexpectedly paroled after serving less than a third of her 12 year sentence for burglary.  The parole board issued a statement that her release was “compatible with the welfare of society and public safety….” NYTimes Sept. 1, 2015


Gay and transpeople are seeking a meeting with the Pope during his visit to the US in September.  They are asking him to take a stand on the issues of sexuality and gender that are increasingly dividing Catholics.  Lui Matsuo, 28, born female, has said he has identified as a male since a toddler, and is among a group of gay and trans Catholics looking forward to attending the 4-day upcoming World Meeting of Families in Phila. occurring just prior to the Pope’s visit. NYT July 29, 2015.


A lengthy and admiring portrait of Phyllis Frye appeared on the front page of the Sunday NYTimes, August 30, 2015.  Entitled “Once a Pariah, Now a Transgender Judge,” it describes the lifetime achievements of this pioneer.  In the summer of 1976, 28 year old Phillip Frye embarked on transition.  He had been forced to resign from the military for  ”sexual deviation,” had been disowned by his parents, divorced by his wife, and denied contact with his son.  With the encouragement of Frye’s 2nd wife, she embarked on a new life in which she could be forthright and authentic.  Today, at 67, she is this country’s 1st openly transgender judge. In the years between she earned a law degree, appeared on the Phil Donahue Show, and spoke out eloquently for gay and trans rights.


Transgress and Harbor View presses have released the 1st guidebook of gender transition written especially for youth.  Author, Seth Rainess, offers a roadmap of the many issues youngsters can expect to encounter on their journeys, including medical treatment options, dating and disclosure.  The title is “Real Talk for Teens: A Jumpstart Guide to Gender Transitioning and Beyond.


A proposal by the Obama administration bans any health program that receives federal funds from discriminating based on gender identity.  This rule is considered to be “the most significant affirmation of the rights of transgender individuals of equal treatment in health care and health insurance that has existed anywhere in the law” according to a prominent law professor.  This regulation must go through a public comment period before implemented. NYTimes Sept. 4, 2015.