poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Monday, January 03, 2005

From:The National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC)

2004: A Retrospective

Borrowing from the famous Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities opening, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." It was the year two thousand and four.

We might not be living the Tale of Two Cities history of the French Revolution and its excesses of righteous iniquity. Madame LeFarge may not be knitting while Madame La Guillotine beheads those whose politics are suspect, but we may not be far from it.

Not all was bad in 2004:
The number of jurisdictions with transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination laws grew from 68 to 74. Lexington, KY renewed its inclusive ordinance at years end despite vigorous opposition based on the concerns of some citizens that the seven-year old ordinance would lead to moral decay. Transgender-inclusive legislation now protects 25% of the nation’s residents.

The Human Rights Campaign decided to support only a transgender-inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA) in the next session of Congress.

Britain enacted a gender recognition law that recognizes transsexuals in their new genders, including the right to marry. This effectively put an end to the infamous Corbett vs. Corbett case law used in the USA to deny recognition of transsexual marriage.

Seven transgendered delegates were elected to the Democratic National Convention. Through meetings with Democratic National Committee staff, participation within the GLBT Caucus, Convention events, and visibility within their state delegations, these seven placed a human face on the transgender community.

A major US insurance company, Aetna, announced that companies could include sex reassignment surgery as a covered benefit in the health insurance policies offered their workers. No reports yet of which companies may have signed up for this coverage.

An IRS Appeals Officer ruled that gender reassignment surgery is medically necessary and an integral part of a professionally prescribed course of treatment for a diagnosed condition, thereby allowing tax deduction for GRS. Predictably, the Traditional Values Coalition has urged IRS Commissioner Mark Everson to reverse the ruling stating that, "The IRS should not allow itself to become a pawn in the hands of the homosexual/transgender movement."

The Sixth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled that Title VII of the 1964 Civil rights Act covers transgender people, lesbians and gays. On the other hand, not all was good in 2004: ENDA went nowhere in Congress with or without transgender inclusion.

Despite Senate passage and favorable House Motion to Instruct, a Congressional Conference Committee killed the Hate Crimes amendment.

A Florida Appeals Court ruled that transsexuals cannot marry in their new gender. The ruling reversed the well supported lower court ruling that Michael Kantaris is male and that his marriage had been legal.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) issued immigration law policy stating that CIS shall not recognize the marriage, or intended marriage, between two individuals where one or both of the parties claim to have changed their sex. Jiffy Javellana, Philippine husband of Donita Ganzon, has filed suit in Federal Court to overturn the CIS decision to refuse his application for permanent residency and to revoke his work permit. The CIS considers that Donita, a postop transsexual of 24 years, is still a man and that the marriage is, therefore, invalid. CIS officials invoked the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman but without a scientific definition of man and woman.

The Religious Right has been emboldened by George Bush’s slim margin of victory and claims a mandate to reshape the morals of America to reflect Old Testament views. The bad news is that intolerance and bigotry have found their way into a number of state constitutions and new efforts are promised to deny rights to GLBT families. The good news is that grassroots efforts on behalf of the GLBT community by fair-minded people have already increased at state and local levels.

A school district in Texas canceled its decades-old tradition of a day in which boys could dress like girls and vice versa. A few parents protested on the basis that that one day a year could cause boys to become cross-dressers and then gay. Hysteria reigns.

The pace of transgender murders continued unabated with 21 reported murders in 2004, the latest a transgender prostitute murdered in Hollywood by an off-duty Marine MP on December 27th. Following a high speed chase, the Marine was killed by police officers when he pointed a pistol at them.

The trial of the admitted killers off Gwen Araujo, 17 year old transsexual who was brutally murdered in 2003, ended in a mistrial when the jury couldn’t reach agreement between murder and manslaughter. The prosecution will retry the men next spring. What was made eminently clear in 2004 is that much remains to be done to reach the NTAC goal of establishing and maintaining the right of all
transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to live and work without fear of violence or discrimination. This need must translate to increased cooperation among all civil right organizations, cooperation that NTAC pledges to support.

Also made clear is the need for work by transgender people at the grassroots in offices, churches, stores, restaurants, state legislatures, local government as well as at the national level to attain the moral result of equality for all.

What will you do to help reach our goal of transgender equality? Whether through Lobby Days in May, through contributions, through local ordinance development, letters to the editor, water cooler talk, or coming out to family and friends, NTAC needs you to help win the challenges of 2005.

What will we write in December 2005? Your efforts can help make it a
better retrospective.

Founded in 1999, NTAC - the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition - is
a 501(c)(4) civil rights organization working to establish and maintain
the right of all transgendered, intersexed, and gender-variant people to
live and work without fear of violence or discrimination.


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