Friday, January 18, 2008

On appearance, presentation and voice. . .

Turn the volume up and listen carefully. . .

Transgender play's strictly personal


Trans1Performance artist Scott Turner Schofield came out twice, first at 16 as a lesbian when he was named Katie.

''I thought I was a girl and I liked girls, so I must be a lesbian,'' Schofield recalled.

Three years later, Schofield came across a man whooping it up in a lesbian bar.

'He was dancing with the women. Dancing and kissing. I thought, `what is going on?' ''

Then came the ''huge light-bulb moment'' when Schofield realized the man was transgender -- and that so is he.

''His history was my history,'' said Schofield, 27, of Atlanta, who this week performs and speaks to Miami-Dade County teens. ``Suddenly, I had this whole new community to be part of. It was very powerful.''

Until then, Schofield said he ``didn't understand that gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things.''

Schofield, originally Katie Lauren Kilborn of San Antonio, says he wasn't ``born in the wrong body.''

''I don't disrespect people who feel that way about themselves,'' he said, 'but I am one of those people who says, `God doesn't make mistakes.' '' . . .

Are We Ready For Prime Time?

Marti Abernathey | January 18, 2008 |

With the announcement from the Democratic National Committee of the appointment of a record number of LGBT members to the 2008 Democratic National Convention Standing Committees, an obvious question for transgender activists and supporters is are we ready for prime time?

The 2004 Democratic National Convention included seven transgender delegates. While this was historic, many people felt let down when the DNC left transgender people out of the party platform.

At the time, Steel City Stonewall Democrats Founder, Scott Safier said:

Needless to say, this is a great disappointment. This DNC convention will have more out and proud transgender delegates than ever before. Sadly, the trans community and their allies, may be the one group in attendance whose needs are left out of the platform entirely.It is not enough for the Democratic Party to oppose employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and ignore employment discrimination based on gender identity and expression.It is not enough for the Democratic Party to say ‘Lesbian and Gay’, and not ‘Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender’.

We must stand with our transgender brothers and sisters and assure they are included in the Democratic Party’s vision for a Country where everyone is valued and respected, and nobody is left behind.

Since there wasn’t transgender representation on the platform committee, Safier stood in. He put forth amendment to the platform but at the request of the transgender delegates he withdrew it. Saying:

Mr. Chairman, I am instructed by the transgender delegates to tell this committee that the trans-community stands united behind the Kerry/Edwards ticket and will work for a Democratic victory in November. At the request of the trans-delegation, and in recognition of this solidarity, I have been asked to withdraw this amendment, and do so now. . . .

LGBT mental health forum 'Lights the Way'

by Shaun Hittle


There was no shortage of inspirational and heartbreaking anecdotes at a recent LGBT mental health panel at the Wesley Foundation in Kalamazoo - but one story stood out.

Vincent Rager, a Western Michigan University student and LGBT suicide prevention advocate, recounted his painful experience of having an exorcism performed on him by members of his church. The exorcism was an attempt to "cure" Rager from his homosexuality after he first came out as gay in high school. Rager went on to discuss his suicide attempts, depression and frequent inability to deal with life's problems, all due in large part to the lack of available support for LGBT youth.

Rager's story was one of several told at the event, titled Project Light, that was organized by LGBT advocate Adam Taylor in response to the October suicide of Holland transgendered youth Ian Benson. Taylor said he organized the event with the theme of "lighting the way" for LGBT youth who "don't know where to go" for help dealing with mental health issues. "Where are kids supposed to go when they don't have support?" Taylor asked.

The panel of speakers that Taylor and others organized shined some light on the positive benefits of a supporting environment for LGBT youth. . . .

Transgender woman seeks name fee waiver

A transgender woman who wants to change her legal name from "Donald" to "Daunn" asked the state Supreme Court Thursday to order Will County's chief judge to waive about $450 in court fees because of her low income.

The legal filing by Daunn Turner, 52, of Lockport contended Will County Chief Judge Stephen White rejected the request by declaring, "I am not spending the county's money on something like this."

White told her the name change was "something that she wanted, not something that she needed," the court filing said. . . .


Ladies of the hour

Dame Edna takes to her bed, Björk reaches out and Amanda Lepore on screen

Friday, January 18, 2008

Dish has always had a thing for the ladies, which is not so bizarre considering she’s as much female as she is male, but this week women especially are illuminated by the beams of gossip’s sweet light.

DAME EDNA, gracious lady entertainer to the discerning masses, has caught the LIZA MINNELLI disease and can’t perform. They’re dropping like poorly adhered false eyelashes!

Unlike Minnelli, who has — in the fine tradition of a celebrity era gone by — refused to share her malady, Dame Edna’s infirmity has been confirmed. . . .

2nd trans religious conference planned

Speakers to address inclusion, ordination


A group of activists have put together a conference set for next week to address the discrimation that transgender people face in faith communities.

"Transgender Religious Summit II: Freeing Faith Communities from Gender Conformity," will take place Jan. 20-21, in Berkeley, Calif.

Organizers held a news conference Jan. 16 to announce details of the event. Speakers included Bernard Schlager, director of national outreach for the Center for Lesbian & Gay Studies in Religion & Ministry; Justin Tanis, graduate of Harvard Divinity School and San Francisco Theological Seminary and program director for the National Center for Transgender Equality; and Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

The weekend summit will focus specifically on changing the policies of Christian and Jewish denominations to support transgender members and employees.

According to Tanis, religious communities have only recently begun to address the issues of transgender people. Issues related to policy in various churches affect whether transgender people can be ordained.

"What could denominations put into place to ensure the inclusion of trans people who are candidates for ordination?" Tanis asked.

Conferences like the one next week, Tanis said, will give religious organizations and churches an opportunity to network about the practices that are working in different communities of faith.

Transgender people are often lumped into the larger LGBT questions, Tanis explained, but there are specific differences with regard to gender identity and expression that need to be addressed separately. . . .

New Zealanders may be able to change their sex on passports

January 18, 2008
By Simon Collins

New Zealanders may soon be able to change their sex on their passports and birth certificates without having to have costly sex change surgery.

A two-year inquiry by the Human Rights Commission has found that transgender people, who identify as having a different gender than their physical bodies, are discriminated against at school, at work, in accessing health services and in the community.

"Forms of discrimination and harassment ranged from low-level (avoidance and insults) to very severe (violent physical and sexual assaults)," the commission says.

It recommends amending the Human Rights Act to make gender identity a specific ground of illegal discrimination, alongside sex, race and others.

It also recommends changing the criteria for altering a person's sex on birth certificates and other official documents from physical body structure to taking "decisive steps to live fully and permanently in the gender identity of the nominated sex".

This proposal would be even more liberal than in Britain, where the law was changed in 2004 to allow sex changes on birth certificates if people have lived in their new gender identity for at least two years. . . .