Monday, October 22, 2007

In Memory of Rita

Ireland violated transsexual's right to new birth certificate under EU law, judge rules

Friday, October 19, 2007

DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland violated European human rights law by refusing to give a transsexual a new birth certificate recording her new gender and name, a Dublin judge ruled Friday in a landmark judgment.

The ruling by High Court Justice Liam McKechnie was the first time that an Irish judge has found Ireland in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. It means the government of Prime Minister Bertie Ahern must pass legislation amending the law or risk a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

"This is such a wonderful breakthrough after such a long, long time," said Dr. Lydia Foy, a 60-year-old dentist who began her case in 1997, five years after undergoing a sex-change operation to become a woman.

She said existing Irish law, which does not permit transsexuals to be issued new birth-certificate records, means "you can be outed and embarrassed" in any applications that require birth certificate details. "You might be tempted to lie to save yourself embarrassment," she said.

Foy said she also feared suffering loss of insurance benefits or other rights if officials accused her of misrepresenting her identity.

The Justice Department said it was studying the 70-page judgment and declined immediate comment.

McKechnie said Foy suffered "stress, humiliation, embarrassment and loss of dignity" because of the state's refusal to give her sex change legal standing. He said her right to privacy would be jeopardized if she was arrested or faced insurance claims, which would require reference to her birth records and expose her sex-change status.

Foy's wife Anne and two daughters opposed her lawsuit, fearing that any change in her birth record would invalidate the marriage and their inheritance rights.

Foy was married in 1977 and is the biological father of both girls, and was judicially separated after undergoing a sex-change operation in 1992. Foy filed for divorce in 2006 but that process was put on hold pending her lawsuit against the state.

In his judgment, McKechnie said Ireland should consider adopting Britain's Gender Recognition Act, which was passed in 2003 in response to a Strasbourg ruling that British law violated the rights of transsexuals. He noted that the British law permitted both original and amended birth-certificate records to enjoy legal standing in the case of transsexuals.

"I didn't want to interfere with their rights," Foy said of her wife and daughters.

"But we don't want to be embarrassed any further," Foy said of Ireland's transsexuals, whom she described as "a very small and rather battered minority." . . .

POV, Critique, Opinion: Ban on 'Mom' and 'Dad' sparks call for exodus

'Public districts no longer are safe environment for children'

October 16, 2007

By Bob Unruh

A call is being issued to Christians who have been engaged in the culture wars in California's schools to abandon the system, after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a ban on "discriminatory bias" against homosexuals and others with alternative sexual lifestyles.

"We're calling upon every California parent to pull their child out of California's public school system," Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families, told WND.

"The so-called 'public schools' are no longer a safe emotional environment for children. Under the new law, schoolchildren as young as kindergarten will be sexually indoctrinated and introduced to homosexuality, bisexuality, and transsexuality, over the protests of parents, teachers and even school districts," he said.

The law at issue went through the California legislature as SB 777, and now bans in school texts and activities any discriminatory bias against those who have chosen alternative sexual lifestyles, Meredith Turney, legislative liaison for Capitol Resource Institute, said.

There are no similar protections for students with traditional or conservative lifestyles and beliefs, however. Offenders will face the wrath of the state Department of Education, up to and including lawsuits.

"SB 777 will result in reverse discrimination against students with religious and traditional family values. These students have lost their voice as the direct result of Gov. Schwarzenegger's unbelievable decision. The terms 'mom and dad' or 'husband and wife' could promote discrimination against homosexuals if a same-sex couple is not also featured. . . .

Conference looks to build bridges

USC/UCLA Minority Health Conference aims to highlight health issues in minority communities.

Janna Brancolini


. . . "Lack of health insurance is the single most important disparity," Reece said.

Champagne said that Richard Brown's session, "Making Health Policy Work for Communities of Color," about access was his favorite part of the conference.

"I really appreciate someone who is willing to talk about health insurance and the uninsured," he said. "A lot of disparity stems from lack of coverage. It stems from the infrastructure, but also from not being able to pay."

First-year Keck medical student Jim Walls said he most enjoyed male-to-female transgender doctor Maddie Deutsch's session, "Trans 101: How to Provide Responsible Care for the Transgendered Community."

"I thought it was very interesting because it was a transgender person talking about transgender health care. I've seen transgender people talk about transgender issues, but not health issues," he said.

Deutsch, whose private practice in Downtown Los Angeles specializes in transgender health, offered various solutions to uniquely transgender health questions.

Although the conference focused on the institutional problems associated with medical care for minorities, Reece ended her presentation by offering the idea that groups need to take responsibility for their own behavior at some level by encouraging members to limit alcohol and drugs, eat low fat and high fiber diets, exercise and wear a seat belt.

"We have to be advocates for our own families in our communities," she said. . . .

Philippines: SC junks transsexual’s plea for gender, name change

By Tetch Torres

MANILA, Philippines -- To prevent complications with existing laws, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition of a transsexual for his name and gender to be changed in his birth certificate, to allow him to marry his American fiancé.

In a 22-page decision, the high court's First Division, through Associate Justice Renato Corona, said while they understand that "the unfortunates are also entitled to a life of happiness, contentment and the realization of their dreams," public policy must also be considered before the courts can allow these individuals to realize their dreams.

The petitioner, Rommel, asked the Supreme Court to reverse the Court of Appeals ruling that dismissed his petition to have his name changed to Mely, and his gender from male to female, after undergoing sexual reassignment surgery.

Rommel had earlier secured the Manila Regional Trial Court’s (RTC) approval for a change of name and gender but the Office of the Solicitor General, which automatically participates in cases involving public policy, successfully appealed the lower court’s decision.

The Court of Appeals, on February 23 last year, pointed out that the lower court's ruling lacked legal basis because no law allows the change of either name or sex on the grounds of sex reassignment.

Agreeing with the Court of Appeals, the high court pointed out that under Republic Act 9048 or the Clerical Error Law, the grounds for a change of first name include (1) that the first name or nickname be ridiculous, tainted with dishonor or extremely difficult to write or pronounce; (2) the new first name or nickname has been habitually and continuously used by the petitioner and he has been publicly known by that first name or nickname in the community; and (3) the change will avoid confusion.

Rommel underwent hormone treatment and breast augmentation in the United States and on January 27, 2001, had sex reassignment surgery in Bangkok, Thailand.

Following this, he petitioned for the change of name and gender in his birth certificate to allow him to wed his American fiancé.

RTC Judge Felixberto Olalia, ruling in Rommel’s favor, cited the principles of justice and equity, and said no harm could be done by granting the petition.

But the high court said allowing Rommel’s appeal would affect the country’s marriage and family laws and part of the labor law. . . .