Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Chile: Karina's Story

Buidling a life as a transgender woman

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Length: 15:04

Joui Turandot

Julie Willmarth, a California native, has a B.A. in media studies from Mills College. Yo Soy Asi (I Am Who I Am) was her senior thesis film and was subsequently featured in the New Fest Film Festival in New York City in the summer of 2004. Willmarth currently works under the name Joui Turandot, inspired by the French word jouer, meaning "to play," and the Puccini opera Turandot, which features a powerful female protagonist. She lives in San Francisco.

If you didn't know what you were watching, the opening scenes of this week's Rough Cut might look like the rushes from a film by Pedro Almodovar. Our stories come in a variety of styles; this time around, we present a cinema verite piece, a "day in the life," narrated by its main character, a transgender hairdresser living in Santiago, Chile.

All Karina Parra wants is to lead the life of an ordinary 27-year-old woman. But, as filmmaker Joui Turandot explains, a normal life for a transgender person in Chile is no easy task. "Transgendered people are almost always rejected by their families and end up on the streets. Basic human rights and opportunities do not apply." Many of them, says Turandot, become child prostitutes, and many who have mainstream jobs often lose their jobs as soon as they assume a female identity and are then forced into prostitution to survive.

Turandot spent a year studying in Santiago, where she was surprised to find a visible community of transvestite prostitutes in a society characterized by overt homophobia. With her film, she wanted to explore what it was like to be transgender in a fiercely Catholic and conservative country such as Chile.

"It's difficult for transgenders to make it as professionals. They are often condemned to dwell at the margins of society," says Turandot. "With few exceptions, Chilean universities will not accept openly transgendered students, and the best schools often expel male pupils who come to school dressed as a woman." . . .

Wrong bathroom!

Portugal: Gender Diversity and Transgender Issues

A. Sociolegal Status, Behaviors, and Treatment

There are no specific laws in the country regarding transgenderism or transsexualism, only a few court decisions that serve as references about the latter, and these are sometimes contradictory (ILGA–Portugal 1999). According to one of these court decisions, someone that goes through the process of sex change cannot truly become someone of the other gender. The explanations are, in the case of a male-to-female transformation, that the individual cannot get pregnant or maintain sexual intercourse in the same conditions as a woman. Sex change is seen as an error and transsexuals are considered mentally unhealthy people. These ideas are a step back regarding a previous sentence (in 1984), according to which the moral personality of the individual should be respected, the sex change recognized, and the name change accepted by the civil registration.

In fact, name change is possible for any citizen who wishes it and is a relatively accessible procedure, but only when the new name belongs to the same gender category as the previous one or to a gender-neutral name. This last alternative is the one chosen by some transsexuals in order to avoid the complicated procedure to have gender identity recognized. For this, the person has to go through a complicated legal process, and it can only occur with the decision of a court of law.

It is only since 1996 that sex-change operations are possible and occur in Portugal, because the Portuguese Medical Order allowed it to happen. However, no information is available regarding the real number of operations performed in the national territory. The Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon is the institution that has the major experience with these kinds of operations. Nevertheless, the process to have a sex-change operation is long and implies a severe psychological and psychiatric evaluation to verify whether the candidate is eligible for the process. This difficult process usually takes about two years. Before 1996 and still today, many Portuguese transsexuals went to other countries, like Morocco, or more recently to England, to have their operations done, sometimes under unsafe conditions.

In a study conducted with a sample of approximately 50 transsexual individuals, some of whom were sex workers and others working in various professional areas, the great majority came from rural parts of the country (72%), and many had changed from their birthplace because of their sexual orientation (28%) (Bernardo et al. 1998). This gives us important information regarding the problems that these individuals have to face related to their social adjustment. Besides, most of them do not benefit from social security. . . .

Talk about Not Being Sure

An articulate FTM spectrum 21 year old talks about being in between, exploration, working at finding out who you are, and the importance of being comfortable with yourself.

Pro and Con: June is Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month

La Voz Weekly writer Jay Donde tackles the celebration from both sides

By: Jay Donde

Posted: 6/11/07

Gay Pride Month: Pro

For nearly 4 decades, June has been recognized around the world - and especially in the US - as Gay Pride Month. In fact, on June 2, 2000, President Clinton even made it semi-official, by proclaiming Gay Pride Month to be one of the US's handful of National Heritage Months, along with Black History Month and Irish American Heritage Month.

When the former of these was first instituted in 1976, many critics questioned it's value, and some wondered, "Why, then, shouldn't we have a White History Month?" The answer to that question was, and still remains, a lucid insight on American cultural politics: we already have a White History Month - it's every month other than February.

Without the special emphasis and recognition they receive on their respective holidays, weeks, and months, the marginalized groups in American society would likely get no emphasis or recognition at all.

Understandably, some would then be prompted to ask why a lack of recognition for these groups is a problem in the first place. But such a question displays an ignorance of history. It is not happenstance that Gay Pride Month falls in June. June was the month, in 1969, of the Stonewall riots in New York City, when gay and lesbian patrons of Greenwich village bars finally fought back against NYPD harassment that included warrantless raids, police brutality, and unlawful arrests. The police even recorded the names of those present during the raids, but not arrested, specifically in order to send them to newspapers for publication.

Despite a great deal of progress, the prejudices and homophobic sentiments that gave rise to such behaviors on the part of the New York City police are still very much present in our country today. In fact, nearly 16 percent of hate crimes in the US are based on sexual orientation, well beyond the demographic proportion of gays and lesbians in America. Gay Pride Month, and other Heritage Months like it, are not only important to the communities they celebrate, but to American society as a whole. This must have been on President Clinton's mind when he stated, in his 2000 proclamation, that "America's greatest strength is it's diversity." . . .

Bob, bathrooms and bogus anger

By: Kate Bigam

Posted: 6/13/07

Kent State practices tolerance and advocates privacy.

What terrible things, I know.

Just how terrible? Ask Akron Beacon Journal columnist Bob Dyer, and he'll tell you how disgusted he is by the school's decision to convert faculty restrooms into gender-neutral facilities.

The restrooms, available in the Student Center, may soon be located in other buildings on campus, too. Although they came into play as part of a request from the Queer Liberation Front as a means to make transgender students more comfortable, university architect Tom Euclide said in an April Stater article that the facilities are also open to the rest of the public, anatomy and gender preference aside. They can even be used as family facilities for parents whose young children need assistance in taking care of their bladder woes.

But on the online version of Dyer's May 17 column about gender-neutral bathrooms, more than 600 reader comments provide an array of opinions on the issue. Although Dyer admits the majority of students he polled weren't offended by the new restrooms, plenty of his readers, most of whom are unaffiliated with the university, were outraged. . . .