Monday, February 23, 2009
Arizona Daily Star
"You people don't exist."
Air Force veteran Diane Steen, who was born male and had surgery to become a woman, still gets steamed when she recalls the comment from a staffer at Tucson's veterans hospital, where Steen is a patient and a longtime volunteer.
The remark came, she said, when she asked the staffer, who had a military background, how much training he had received about people like her.
Officially, transgender patients barely do exist in the Veterans Affairs health care system. They often are denied treatments that experts say could help them most.
National Department of Veterans Affairs policy — now under review — specifically forbids veterans hospitals to perform or pay for "transsexual surgery." It also does not provide for the related health care that experts recommend, such as psychotherapy, hormone treatment and other measures.
Officials at VA headquarters, given 10 business days to answer, said they couldn't determine how many transgender patients are in the VA system nationwide.
Officials at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System — Tucson's veterans hospital — said 48 VA patients in Southern Arizona are transsexual or have been diagnosed at some point with "gender-identity disorder," the medical term that covers such cases.
A national advocacy group estimates that about 300,000 active or retired military personnel are transgender, though experts say an accurate count is impossible because many live under the radar to escape social stigma.
In June, the American Medical Association approved a new policy on the care of transgender patients, effectively putting VA policy at odds with the recommendations of the nation's largest doctors group.
The association said gender-identity disorder is a "serious medical condition . . . which causes intense emotional pain and suffering" and can lead to stress-related illness, chronic depression and suicide if not properly treated.
The group urged all public and private medical insurers to cover the cost of mental health care, hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery whenever doctors deem them medically necessary.
Experts worldwide "have rejected the myth that such treatments are 'cosmetic' or 'experimental,' " the AMA said. . . .Read More
Athens Boys Choir draws attention to transgender issues
The morning is still in Warrington, Mo. The inside of Harvey Katz's Super 8 Hotel room looks like every other Super 8 Hotel room in the country. Only his belongings and toiletries mark some sort of individuality.
Harvey wakes up at 5 a.m., slightly groggy from a Nyquil hangover and possibly coming down with the flu. His fever was 102 degrees for most of the day before. He feels sick for the next few hours, but manages to pack up and leave the hotel to grab a bite to eat before hitting the road for Columbia, Mo. for his next show.
He sits down at Denny's after picking up a St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Harvey orders the Grand Slam Breakfast - a Denny's classic.
The restaurant's patrons are much like the rooms at the Super 8 Hotel. You see them at every Denny's around the country. There are people of all sorts, and, much like other Denny's, none of them know one another. They are strangers in a place they identify with, hungry for familiarity.
Yet the veil of anonymity draped over the occupants provides more than just erratic ends of conversations and idle glances. For Harvey it is a safety net. It allows him to be himself.
Harvey's legal name is Elizabeth. Anatomically a transsexual, Harvey identifies himself as a transgender who is pansexual. The factors of anatomy, self-awareness and association are integral to the transsexual population and culture. . . .Read More
20 February 2009
Outlining the essential differences between sex and gender, Audrey Mbugua discusses the damaging general incomprehension of transsexualism within Kenyan society. Drawing upon personal experience of prejudice in the field of work and life at large, Mbugua states that transsexual people deserve the same respect and treatment as any other member of society, and urges those uneducated about transsexuals to think before opening their mouths.
A transsexual person is someone who experiences deep and long-lasting discomfort with his or her anatomical (genital) sex and wishes to change their physical characteristics, including genitals (through hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery), to the opposite of those usually associated with their anatomical sex in order to live in the gender role opposite to that normally associated with their anatomical sex. It is not a form of sexual orientation but a clinical condition whose basis is the existence of sex and gender conflicts. It is best managed by a psychiatrist, a urologist and a gynaecologist. Contrary to public misconception, sex and gender are two entirely different entities. Sex refers to the type of genitals one has. Gender refers to one's internal perception as male, female or something else (like androgynous). . . .Read More