Saturday, June 16, 2007

deaf FTM. . .Austin Unbound

Mothers (and transsexuals) now allowed to compete for beauty queen title in Spain

Canadian Press

MADRID, Spain (AP) - The Miss Spain beauty contest has changed its rules to allow mothers to compete for the title after its decision to dethrone a 22-year-old beauty queen because she had a child.

Angela Bustillo, 22 and mother of a three-year-old boy, had won the title of Miss Cantabria - a region of northern Spain - in January, making her eligible to go on for Miss Spain. But on Feb. 13 organizers took the crown away, citing a clause in the regional contest that says contestants cannot have children or be pregnant.

The decision sparked criticism in the Spanish media and Bustillo filed a lawsuit against Miss Spain organizers citing discrimination as male contestants in beauty pageants are not excluded because of paternity.

Even the Spanish government rallied to her side demanding that organizers give her back her crown, saying that motherhood could not be used as grounds for discrimination.

On Thursday, Miss Espana organizers said they were changing the rules for mothers and transsexuals with the aim of avoiding any discrimination among candidates.

New Fix To The Pronoun Problem

`Hu' Latest Substitute For `He,' And `She'

Courant Staff Writer

June 15 2007

For at least 150 years, people have been trying to solve the pronoun dilemma.

That would be the dilemma that causes ungainly formations out of fairness to both sexes: "he or she," "him or her," or "s/he." Some avoid the gender question altogether by speaking in the plural, as in "If anyone asks, tell them what they need to know."

Some have taken the more extreme approach of devising entirely new pronouns that specify no gender. "Ne," "hizer," "thon" "shem" and "herm" are just a few that have come along, and faded almost as quickly. They're known as gender-neutral, or epicene, pronouns.

The latest such pronoun comes from DeAnn DeLuna, who teaches literature at Johns Hopkins University. Her creation, "hu," would replace he, she, him, her and his. Because it's just one word, unlike an entire set of pronouns, DeLuna says its easier to use than other gender-neutral pronouns. And the word (pronounced "huh"), trips off the tongue easily.

Gender and pronouns have vexed language watchers for some time. At one point, the English language had no clear female pronoun, so it was a monumental shift when "she" emerged in the 12th century. In 2000, the American Dialect Society chose "she" as its Word of the Millennium.

The matter doesn't prey too heavily on most people's minds, but it sticks in enough people's craws that the debate hasn't gone away.

The most common solution, using "they" or "them," irks grammarians when the subject is singular. "One" is another pronoun substitute, and one that falls short. "When one opens one's book, one will read from it." That's kind of awkward.

Beyond grammatic and aesthetic concerns are the sociopolitical. Folks in the transgender community have long charged that "he" or "she" force them into categories they don't necessarily identify with.

DeLuna says "hu" has been well-received within the transgender community. And she has given her creation a jump-start of sorts: She recently edited a book of essays about the historian J.G.A. Pocock and insisted that the book's writers use the pronoun. "I had to be very tactful," she says, but added that all the contributors went along with it.

It's an uphill battle, DeLuna knows, but she holds out hopes that "hu" will enter everyday speech.

Good luck with that, says Dennis Baron, author of "Grammar and Gender."

"It's hard to say `I gotta a great idea' and get other people to say `let's do it,'" he says. "There's the `you're not the boss of me' response. People want to be correct, but they don't want to be corrected."

Baron says more than 100 different alternative pronouns have been suggested since the mid-19th century. Some are combinations of male and female pronouns, like "heesh." Others borrow from other languages, such as "ta" from the Mandarin. None have taken hold. . . .

New Jersey becomes 9th US state to protect against transgender discrimination

Saturday, June 16, 2007

MOUNT LAUREL, New Jersey: Starting Sunday, New Jersey joins eight other U.S. states in making it illegal for employers and landlords to discriminate against transgendered people.

The law, which sailed through the Legislature in December, has received little attention in a state that is gaining a reputation for being welcoming to lesbian, gay and transgendered people. Earlier this year, New Jersey began allowing same-sex couples to unite in civil unions.

Advocates hope the new law will lead to more acceptance and awareness of people who are born one gender but live as the opposite gender. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center of Transgender Equality in Washington, said she expects more states to follow, including a handful in 2007 and 2008.

"It's really simply a reaction to there being more (transgender) people who are out," Keisling said. "As more people transition, it becomes safer to transition."

The law makes it illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant because of his or her gender status, and companies cannot refuse to hire people because they are transsexual, cross-dressers, asexual, of ambiguous gender or simply not traditionally feminine or masculine. The law also bans discrimination in credit, business contracts and public accommodations such as stores or restaurants. . . .

Identical twins walked divergent paths

Pair's tough teen years, one brother's sex change chronicled in documentary at gay film fest

Saturday, June 16, 2007

When Alex and Mark Farley were growing up in Missoula, Mont., in the 1980s and '90s, they were inseparable. The crew-cut identical twins played together, attended school in the same classrooms, swam in Flathead Lake together at the family's vacation home.

"They had always been perfect children," their mother said. Then things started to happen -- lots of things, most of which are revealed in a documentary to be screened Sunday at the Frameline gay film festival.

The boys were 11 years old when their parents, Scott and Jenny, divorced. That followed a six-month period when Scott had lost his real estate job but continued dressing for work, driving off somewhere in the car every day and pretending that nothing had changed. Within a year of the divorce, Jenny was living with another woman. Their mother's relationship, which continues to the present day, is "a life partnership" but not a sexual one, according to the Farley twins, who now live in San Francisco.

Alex came out as gay in seventh grade. His brother acknowledged his own homosexuality later on. By then, the boys often fought with each other and their father, sometimes violently. Alex and Mark fell under the sway of a 17-year-old gay disc jockey, who once raped a 10-year-old boy in their presence. The twins used drugs, all kinds of drugs. One night they drove up to a bluff above Missoula, fitted a rubber hose over the car's exhaust pipe, and tried to breathe in enough carbon monoxide to die together.

"I thought no one loved us," Mark says in the half-dreamy, half-disarmingly blunt documentary "Red Without Blue." The title refers to the color-coding the twins' parents imposed on the boys' clothes when they were young.

After the suicide attempt, the boys were sent first to drug rehab and then to separate boarding schools and had virtually no contact with each other for two years. When they graduated, Mark returned to Missoula to start school at the University of Montana. His brother moved to Colorado to attend Naropa University. That's when Alex began morphing into Clair, dressing and self-identifying as female. The sex-change surgery took place five years later, in October 2006.

"During those two years I was away from him," Clair said of her twin brother in a recent interview, "I started to create an identity that wasn't connected to Mark. It was a fight to do it, but once I'd set my mind on it, I knew it was something I had to do, something very positive."

Clair, sporting a long, slender necklace and electric-blue tights under a pale blue dress, sat in the living room of her brother's San Francisco apartment, an airy space on a quiet street near Duboce Park. Mark, whose artwork adorns the apartment's white walls, sat nearby on an adjacent couch, dressed in a maroon velour top. Red and blue.

The twins get on well these days. They see each other several times a week -- "more than that," insisted Mark -- and speak by phone almost every day. Both are soft-spoken and reserved, almost demure in their becalmed physical presence and concise gestures. The family resemblance is strong. So is the sense of their having survived a stormy passage in their lives and made it safely to the far shore. . . .