Friday, February 24, 2012 4:31 PM
This article originally appeared on Care2.
Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno has said that he plans to introduce an ordinance that will create a commission to handle and ensure the protection of transgender people while in police custody.
The proposed ordinance comes after a number of complaints from the trans community over how they have been treated.
Via Windy City Times:
According to a fact sheet put out by veteran activist Rick Garcia and Anthony Martinez, executive director of The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), the ordinance will mandate a policy for interacting with transgender detainees and set up a mayoral-appointed commission to oversee the treatment of transgender arrestees.
“It’s a human rights issue,” said Moreno, who added that the ordinance is intended to address a “hole in the policy of the police of Chicago.”
The policy comes after years of complaints from transgender people who have reported being harassed or misgendered by police officers.
Moreno said he hopes the ordinance will tackle distrust widely felt among transgender communities of police.
“We can’t expect our police department to deal with a segment of the population if they’re not trained in how that segment wants to be addressed,” he said.
Formally titled The Police Treatment of Transgender Individuals Ordinance, the measure would specifically add gender identity definitions to police policy, therein requiring police to treat trans individuals as a cognizable group, and requiring police to undergo training with regards to how to deal with trans people in their custody.
More on the oversight commission via the Chicago Phoenix:
In addition to adding protections for transgender people, the ordinance would effectively create the Police Transgender Issues Commission, a supervising body that would develop additional training for police officers and ensure the implementation of such training across the city. It would also release an annual report detailing the police’s adherence to the new guidelines.
Martinez said the commission is the most important part of the ordinance.
“It would be the first of its kind and I think it will have national implications if passed. The Transgender Police Issues Commission would be the first time, to my knowledge, such a body has been created,” he said.
The commission would be composed of six transgender Chicagoans or people who work for LGBT organizations and five Chicago Police officers, according to a fact sheet from TCRA.
The 2010 National Transgender Discrimination Survey carried out by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force found that over half of respondents said they felt uncomfortable seeking police assistance, often times meaning that they did not report instances of abuse or harassment simply because they feared how they would be treated by police. In addition, almost a fifth of respondents said they had faced harassment from police officers. This figure rose when examining transgender women of color.
This is not to misstate that Chicago has a particular problem with regards to police treatment of trans people beyond that of most other police departments. As the National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed, a lack of protections has left the community vulnerable throughout the USA.
In somewhat related news, State Rep. Kelly Cassidy recently introduced a bill that would add gender identity to Illinois’ hate crimes law. Read more on that here.
Image by Fibonacci Blue, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, November 04, 2011 11:05 AM
In the latest issue of
Utne Reader (Nov-Dec 2011) Mattilda Bernstein reviews Michael Bronski’s A Queer History of the United States. Here, Bronski offers some insights into the book and his reasons for writing it. Special to Utne Reader.
A decade ago, when I first began teaching lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies at Dartmouth College, I was invited to a fraternity house to moderate a group discussion entitled “Don’t Yell Fag from the Porch.” The frat was renown for its rowdiness and, indeed, someone had recently yelled “faggot” at a student passing by. Undoubtedly not for the first time. After being publically challenged on this behavior, they decided to host a public forum on homophobia in the Greek system. The discussion went well and became an annual event. “Faggot” was yelled with less frequency and, in a few years, the fraternity even had a few “out” gay members. But that evening, and over the years, what bothered me was that the entire discussion was predicated on the idea that Dartmouth College, and its fraternities, was essentially a straight place that had to be open to “gay people.” But that makes no sense. We all know that life – and history – is far more complex and complicated than that. Or do we?
All too often most of us think in terms of simple dichotomies – including gay and straight; but who might answer to the call of “fag” when its history has been shown to be more than a simple either/or question? Here are a few lines from a letter Daniel Webster, a Dartmouth alumnus and hero to the College wrote in 1804 at the age of 22 to the 23-year-old James Harvey Bingham, his intimate from their college days: “I don’t see how I can live any longer without having a friend near me, I mean a male friend. Yes, James, I must come; we will yoke together again; your little bed is just wide enough.” Was Daniel Webster gay? Did he love James? Did they have a sexual relationship? If so, what did this mean for his two marriages later in life? Is this queer history?
The last ten years of teaching LGBT studies has been a continual process for me of trying to figure out what is LGBT history. How do we understand it? How do we use it to think about the past? How do we use it to think about the present, and the future? I certainly would have liked to quote Webster’s words while moderating “Don’t Yell Fag from the Porch.” What would the students have thought about Webster’s obsessive desire to lie in bed with his friend James once again and hold him fast to his body? Or, what if I had told them that poet Richard Hovey, who wrote the school’s Alma Mater, was also a lover of men, and although married and an ardent feminist, socialized in gay male circles in America and Europe. (Oscar Wilde once famously hit on him at a party.) Would it have been another reason for their not shouting “faggot” as frequently? Would this have “queered” Dartmouth for them? One of the reasons my book is titled A Queer History of the United States is that it is attempting to “queer” how we think about American history.
The questions of the book are much larger. Over the past forty years there has been a great deal of incredible scholarship on LGBT history and I have drawn extensively upon, rethought, and synthesized it in the book. What follows is a long meditation not only on LGBT history but, because it is inseparable, on all of American history. After two years of thinking and writing, I want to start by suggesting that there are two crucial concepts to consider when thinking about LGBT history in the United States.
The first is that the contributions of people who we may now identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender are integral and central to how we conceptualize our national history. Without the work of social activists, thinkers, writers, and artists such as We’Wha, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Martha “Calamity” Jane Cannary, Edith Gurrier, Countee Cullen, Ethel Waters, Bayard Rustin, Roy Cohn, Robert Mapplethorp, Cherrie Moraga, and Lily Tomlin, we would not have the country that we have today. Women and men who experienced and expressed sexual desires for their own sex and those who did not conform to conventional gender expectations have always been present, both in the everyday and the imaginative life of our country. They have profoundly helped shape it, and it is inconceivable, and ahistorical, to conceptualize our traditions and history without them.
The second key, and slightly counterintuitive, concept is that LGBT history does not exist. By singling out LGBT people and their lives – what some people now call LGBT history – we are depriving them of their centrality in the broader sweep and breadth of American history. The impulse to focus on lives that have been shunned, marginalized, censored, ignored, and hidden in the past, and in previous histories of the United States, has been revolutionary in the growth of a vibrant LGBT community. It is part of a larger social and political movement of Native American, African American, Latino/a, and other marginalized identities and cultures to reclaim and celebrate our “lost” histories. But it is equally important to understand that this is a transitional moment in history that has only emerged in the past forty years precisely because they were so deeply dismissed.
If LGBT history resides in the queer space of being both enormously vital while simultaneously not even existing, can we even write and speak about it? How do we explicate and uncover the past so that it brings new understandings to both popular culture and scholarly pursuits alike? How will it resonate with our understanding of our own contemporary and historic lives?
We have been taught, in our nation’s fairly unimaginative educational system, that history is a stable linear narrative with a fixed set of facts—names, dates, political actions, political ideas, laws passed and repealed. In The Dialectic of Sex, a groundbreaking book of radical feminist theory, Shulamith Firestone writes that this conventional way of understanding the historical process as a series of snapshots—here is the American Revolution, here is the Declaration of Independence, here is the Emancipation Proclamation—is both limiting and ultimately unhelpful. History, she states (drawing loosely on Marxist theory) is “the world as process, a natural flux of action and reaction, of opposites yet inseparable and interpenetrating.... history is a movie rather then a snapshot.” (Firestone, p2-3)
Much of the popular LGBT history that has been published in our newspapers and magazines and blogs falls into the category that Firestone criticizes. It is essentially a list of famous lesbian or gay people and events used to justify contemporary understandings—here is Oscar Wilde, here are the Stonewall Riots, here are queer couples being married in Boston. This family album approach is appealing as it provides a sense of identity and history, but it is ultimately misleading. In past decades women’s and gender studies scholars called this method of analysis “add one woman and stir.” The “important” women were added to the mix to create a gender balance, but there were no new layers of complexity, or nuance, as to what these women’s lives, thoughts, desires, and actions might actually mean for a shared historical past.
More serious writing on LGBT history has avoided this approach. Historians such as Jonathan Ned Katz, Lillian Faderman, Allan Berube, George Chauncey, and Esther Newton among so many others have written how LGBT history complicates and enriches the American imagination and the national story we already know. I have drawn extensively upon these writers, and many other sources, to present a daringly complex vision of the past, one that forces a fundamental rethinking of what we thought we knew, but one that also makes us rethink the present, and even the future. Its broad use of facts, historic personalities, and events is an invitation to join in a larger intellectual project of reinterpretation. As Firestone argues, history is a movie – not a Hollywood film with a traditional narrative, but rather an experimental film that presents a reality that only makes sense when we appreciate its intrinsic narrative complexity. History is an ongoing process through which we understand and define ourselves and our lives.
Image by Shockingly Tasty, licensed under Creative Commons.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011 4:21 PM
So you want to be a writer. Well, start reading.
God may or may not be dead, but churches have become collectible.
Farewell, free will?
Wow. Some gorgeous photos from Iceland.
Sebastian Junger tells The Guardian why he’s getting out of war reporting.
This year’s literary genius grant winners have been announced.
A Muslim woman describes wearing a hijab—and how she felt going bareheaded in public for the first time at age 28.
September 22 is the Day of the Girl. Some things you can do: Tell Facebook to take down “rape joke” pages, change the channel on sexist entertainment, and write a letter to the editor when you see negative portrayals of girls in magazines.
A new take on the drinking fountain combines beauty and interaction. “As you approach it, it gently bows down to pour water into your glass.” Cool video…
The Table Project (kind of like Facebook for Christians) draws more than 1,600 churches from around the country and of every denomination.
Civilization is beautiful. Watch this time-lapse video taken by the International Space Station one night as it orbited around the earth.
What does India’s lush Kaziranga National Park have that the rest of the country’s decimated reserves do not? Plenty of tigers, for starters. (The world’s highest density.) Fleets of endangered one-horned rhinos. (More than two-thirds of the remaining population.) And, since last year, a take-no-prisoners antipoaching policy that allows rangers to shoot on sight. Welcome to the future of conservation.
Germany takes the hands-off approach: Driverless cars hit the streets of Berlin . . . and were completely functional.
If President Obama had an LGBT Advisor, what would their job be like?
Image by xlibber, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, September 18, 2009 1:15 PM
The latest word on the sexual cleansing of Iraq is that militias have been scanning internet chatrooms used by lesbian, gay, and transgendered Iraqis as part of a grotesque and tragic campaign of kidnapping, torture, and murder.
There was an endless parade of celebrities speaking out on behalf of Iraqis in the months leading up to the bombardment and invasion of Iraq in 2003. Nearly seven years later few raise their voices for the welfare of people in Iraq (not to mention the estimated two million who have fled the violence there).
Enter Antony Hegarty, the achingly beautiful voice of Antony and the Johnsons who posted an article about the killings, followed by a desperate declaration, written in all-caps:
ALLAH TREASURES HIS GAY AND TRANSGENDERED CHILDREN, HIS PRECIOUS HOMOSEXUAL CHILDREN.
JESUS ADORES HIS GAY CHILDREN AND RESERVES A SACRED PLACE FOR THEM IN THE FOLDS OF HIS CLOTHES.
IT IS A SIN TO HURT A GAY OR TRANSGENDERED PERSON. YOU HURT ALLAH WHEN YOU HURT ONE OF THESE MEN OR WOMEN, BOYS OR GIRLS.
Make a tshirt. Tell your friends.
love from Antony, crying
If you want to learn more about the situation for gay and transgendered Iraqis, here are a few resources:
Sexual Cleansing in Iraq (Utne Reader, May-June 2009)
The Sexual Cleansing of Iraq Intensifies (Utne.com, May 5, 2009)
Exterminating Lesbian, Gay, and Transgendered Iraqis (Utne.com, August 17, 2009)
Iraqi LGBT, an organization that publicizes hate crimes in Iraq
They Want Us Exterminated: Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq, a report published by Human Rights Watch
Source: Antony and the Johnsons
Monday, August 17, 2009 12:51 PM
The detention, torture, and murder of lesbian, gay, and transgendered people in Iraq is the subject of a Human Rights Watch report released this week. We've reported on the slow response of the human rights community to sexual cleansing in Iraq, and we've reported on the brutal torture techniques captured on video and distributed via cell phone as a warning to members of what some iraqis call the "third sex." The Human Rights Watch Report, They Want Us Exterminated: Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq, contains several terrible survivor stories and implicates the militias, political, cultural, and religious leaders, and the Iraqi government in no uncertain terms.
The horrors detailed in the report are numbing. Here is an excerpt from the testimony of a man we only know as "Nuri":
I was in a taxi in the middle of Karada when special police stopped the car, asked me for my ID, and searched me. They took my phone and my wallet, and handcuffed me. They put a bag over my head, hit me and put me in a car. They took me to the Ministry of Interior.
They put me in a room, a regular room, took the bag off my head, and there I was with five other gay men.
…They separated us and put each in a room … a police officer came and said. "Do you know where you are? You are in the interrogation wing of the Ministry of Interior." He told me, "If you have ten thousand US dollars, we will let you go."
I said I didn't have that kind of money.
The next day at 10 a.m., they cuffed my hands behind my back. Then they tied a rope around my legs, and they hung me upside down from a hook in the ceiling, from morning till sunset. I passed out. I was stripped down to my underwear while I hung upside down. They cut me down that night, but they gave me no water or food.
Next day, they told me to put my clothes back on and they took me to the investigating officer. He said, "You like that? We're going to do that to you more and more, until you confess." Confess to what? I asked. "To the work you do, to the organization you belong to, and that you are a tanta" [queen].
"They knew the name 'Iraqi LGBT'-and they knew it helped mithliyeen [homosexuals] financially. They knew about the safe houses. All they wanted to know was, 'Who's paying? And why are they helping you?'"
When I was questioned, they said, "You have to confess." And I said, I have nothing to confess. Then they showed me a police report. I read it and it showed everything about me from 2005 until the day I was arrested. ... They knew personal details, through gay informants. And then they took me into another room, and began torturing me again.
One day, they took me up to the top floor, where there was a little window, straight onto the courtyard. They gave me binoculars to look. I could see: there were the five men from the cell when I was first arrested. They were lying dead. They'd been executed.
Source: Human Rights Watch
Image by Stephanie Glaros.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009 4:04 PM
When we last reported on the sexual cleansing of Iraq, the human rights organization Iraqi LGBT had counted more than 475 murders since 2003. Now the count is more than 600. Now, according to a report from the Al Arabiya television network, gay men are being subjected to a gruesome new form of torture: their anuses are sealed with a powerful glue and diarrhea is induced, leading to death. An Al Arabiya reporter who visited a morgue in Baghdad. Two Human Rights Watch researchers have also confirmed these terrible deaths.Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq, tells Gay City that videos of the torture are being distributed on mobile phones.
Mohammed, who co-founded Iraq's first feminist newspaper, has taken the issue as her own. "Many older women in my organization were quite opposed to taking up the question of the persecution of homosexuals and didn't understand why it was important," she says. "But I firmly believe that misogyny and homophobia are two sides of the same coin, and that we had a duty to speak out against the persecution of gays in Iraq, which is so little known that I was surprised by the extent of it when I began to look into it."
A Human Rights Watch report on the persecution of gays, lesbians, and transgendered people in Iraq is forthcoming.
Source: Gay City
Monday, April 06, 2009 2:34 PM
The vast, fleshy diversity of human gender identity and sexual expression is certainly amazing, and so is the human ability to create ever-longer acronyms. Thus have we arrived at the construction LGBTSTGNC, the most extended variant yet on the already sprawling sexual identity descriptor LGBT.
Some of us were just getting used to the interchangeability of LGBT and GLBT, depending on whether you were talking to gays or lesbians, and to the occasional tacked-on Q to reclaim the beloved “queer.” But this LGBTSTGNC thing has us confronting a whole new level of acronym intimidation.
LGBTSTGNC refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, two spirit, transgender, and gender-nonconforming people, according to an article in Left Turn magazine’s April-May issue (original article available here). The odd thing is, the piece refers to “LGBTSTGNC people of color” without taking the whole enterprise to its logical conclusion:
Don’t they mean LGBTSTGNCPOCs?
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