Friday, December 15, 2006

N.J. outlaws gender-based discrimination

Written by National Center for Transgender Equality; Empire State Pride Agenda
Friday, 15 December 2006

New Jersey has made a historic stride forward in protecting the civil rights of transgender people. New Jersey’s Senate passed bill S362 on Monday, Dec. 11, by a vote of 31-5. The Assembly version, A930, passed New Jersey’s lower house by a vote of 69-5, now goes to Governor Jon S. Corzine, who is expected to sign the bill into law. Once signed, New Jersey will become the ninth state in the country to make discriminatory practices based on gender identity or expression illegal. New Jersey joins California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico and Rhode Island in legislating statewide transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination protections. These state-level laws in addition similar transgender-inclusive protections in the District of Columbia and in over 80 cities and counties now protect one-third of the US population based on gender identity or expression.

“The legislation in New Jersey represents a huge civil rights victory for transgender communities,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). “I applaud the amazing efforts of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ), Garden State Equality and local advocates who showed that when we stand up for what’s right, we can win. While we celebrate that one-third of the US population is now covered, NCTE is continues to fight for explicitly transgender-inclusive protections on the federal level.”

New Jersey’s new law prohibits discriminatory practices in employment, housing and public accommodations based on “gender identity or expression” — the legislative language that covers transgender people. Too often transgender people face harassment and discrimination on the job or when applying for employment; when attempting to secure housing through rental properties or real estate; and in accessing everyday public accommodations, such as hospitals, schools, shops, hotels, restaurants and theaters.

“We are tremendously pleased to see this bill go to Governor Corzine for his consideration,” said Barbra Casbar, political director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) and National Center for Transgender Equality Board of Advisors member. “GRAANJ and our allies have worked very hard to educate the public and policymakers on the critical importance of making protections for transgender New Jersians explicit in our state’s law. The vastly positive vote for the legislation proves conclusively that effective education will tear down the walls of ignorance and discrimination”

“The overwhelming support of our Legislature shows that New Jersey’s elected officials recognize the need for civil rights protections for all of their constituents,” said Donna Cartwright, a founding member of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey (GRAANJ) and member of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Prohibiting discrimination based on a person’s gender identity or expression is common-sense given the level of prejudice that transgender people face at work, in securing housing and accessing vital public accommodations such as hospitals.”

In June 2006, the National Center for Transgender Equality held its first national Target States Conference to provide legislative advocacy training to support local efforts in New Jersey and in eight other states where anti-discrimination laws included “sexual orientation” but not yet “gender identity or expression.” GRAANJ’s Barbra Casbar and Terry McCorkell were among the activists who attended NCTE’s Target States Conference. “We are ecstatic,” said GRAANJ Co-Founder Terry McCorkell. “The people of New Jersey have historically been stalwart champions of justice and equality. Today we demonstrate to the nation that New Jersey is second to none in guaranteeing fair treatment under the law for all people in the Garden State.”

Recognizing the need to curb rampant discrimination against transgender people, currently eight states, the District of Columbia and 80+ cities and counties across the country have now passed explicitly transgender-inclusive anti-discrimination laws.

Upon Governor Corzine’s signature, New Jersey will become the ninth state with inclusive anti-discrimination laws. These laws currently cover 33.5-percent, or one-third, of the US population.Earlier this week, the town of Rhinebeck in Dutchess County, New York passed a law ending discrimination based upon gender identity and expression, becoming at least the eighth locality in New York to do so. In response to both developments, Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle said, “New Jersey and Rhinebeck both understand what eight other states, seven other New York localities and scores of companies already understand: that it makes no sense to discriminate against someone because of the way they express their masculinity or femininity.”

“American Express gets it, IBM gets it, Pfizer gets it and now New Jersey and Rhinebeck get it,” said Van Capelle. “Why doesn’t the state of New York get it? While 53 percent of New Yorkers now live under a local ordinance protecting them from discrimination based on gender identity and expression, the rest of New York needs the state legislature to pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) so that no transgender person can be fired from their job or kicked out of their home simply because of who they are.

“It’s time for the New York State Legislature to act. It’s time to pass a law that says it’s wrong to discriminate against transgender people,” said Van Capelle.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Murders of Gender Non-Conforming Youth

Murders of Gender Non-Conforming Youth Documented in New Report, December 14, 2006
OIA Newswire Mike Williams WASHINGTON, D.C. -–

Over the past 10 years, more than 50 young people aged 30 and under were violently murdered by assailants who targeted them because they did not fit stereotypes for masculinity or femininity. The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) today released the groundbreaking human rights report "50 Under 30: Masculinity and the War on America's Youth" documenting this tide of murderous violence and the key demographics of its victims and their assailants.

The report reveals a unique vulnerability at the intersection of age, race, and gender non- conformity that makes a fatal assault exponentially more likely. "While many youth who don't fit gender stereotypes for masculinity or femininity face harassment or bullying, when it comes to gender-based murder the victims are specific and consistent," said Riki Wilchins, GenderPAC Executive Director. "These victims tended to share the same characteristics: they were mostly Black or Latina, were biologically male and presenting with some degree of femininity, and were killed by other young males in attacks of extraordinary and often multiple acts of violence," added Wilchins.

The report has spurred a new coalition of civil and human rights organizations including Amnesty International (USA), Global Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, National Organization for Women, International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, Safe Schools Coalition, National Education Association's Health Information Network and the US Human Rights Network. These organizations are joining together in educating the public and calling upon policy-makers and law enforcement officials to address the underlying cause of gender-based violence."

Aggression and violence have become acceptable ways of policing gender performance and punishing the transgression of gender boundaries in American culture. These deaths were often the result of young men using lethal violence to enforce standards of masculinity on other young males who didn't meet cultural expectations of masculinity - especially when they were transgender or gay," said Dr. Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology at Stony Brook University and author who has received international recognition for his work on men and masculinity.

In recognition of December 10 International Human Rights Day, the report will be distributed to more than 100 governmental and non-governmental agencies focused on human and civil rights, and a copy is being formally presented to the Organization for American State's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of which the United States is a member. The IACHR investigates human rights abuses in the North and South America.

Murders that were classified as hate crimes were solved nearly one-and-a-half times more often than those that were not; yet 72% of the cases in the report were not so classified, although most suffered extremely violent deaths combining stabbing, beating, strangling and shooting. 54% of the deaths remain unsolved, as compared with 31% for all homicides nationally.

The annual FBI's Hate Crimes Statistics report documents assaults motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or disability. While it does not track murders based on victim's gender identity or expression, if it did, the murders in this report would outweigh every other category except race.

"We must stand together and do whatever it takes to stop this kind of hate on our children. There is no word for the grief a mother has to endure. As Solomon said, 'Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are,'" shared Queen Washington, mother of Stephanie Thomas (19), of Washington D.C. who was murdered in 2002.

The report is available online at www.gpac.org to assist reporters and policy-makers in identifying victims from their regions. A press conference will be held at 10am today at the National Press Club and will feature, Riki Wilchins; Queen Washington; Brett A. Parson, Sergeant, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU); and Mark K. Bromley, Director of External Relations and Policy for Global Rights.

About GenderPAC:The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition (GenderPAC) works to ensure that classrooms, communities, and workplaces are safe places for every person regardless of whether they fit stereotypes for masculinity and femininity. For more information visit
www.gpac.org. [12/13/06]© 1997-2005 Ethan Interactive, Inc.
URL: http://www.outinamerica.com/home/news.asp?articleid=30788

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Vive la Deviance!

Recently I read of an incident that is tragic, but in many way, in my opinion at least, is very illustrative of what is wrong with the contemporary American male gender role, particularly in its southern variant. The episode occurred in Lexington, SC following the University of South Carolina's recent defeat of archrival Clemson University in their annual gridiron showdown.

Two friends--let's call them Junior and Bud--got together for an all-American day of red blooded guy fun. The morning involved deer hunting and the afternoon was spent in pre-game preparations, mainly drinking beer. At gametime, Junior--a die hard USC fan who never attended the school--and his buddy Bud--an equally fanatic Clemson backer, made a $20 wager on the outcome. And they settled in to view the gridiron classic in the comfort of Bud's abode.

The hard fought game resulted in USC's 31-28 victory which prompted Junior to request Bud to pay his debt. Bud refused craftily arguing that since his beloved Clemson Tigers shouldn't have lost, that he was not obligated to pay. Enraged at the slight to his honor and Bud's blatant violation of the sacred beer sotten ballgame betting ethos, Junior stormed out to his Chevy Corsica (one of the finer off road big game hunting sedans) to bring some firepower (his deer hunting rifle) to bear on the situation. At this juncture, Bud made a critical miscalculation with an ultimately fatal attempt at humor when he replied "you can't shoot me, I'm invisible" (no word on whether or not he said this with his eyes closed). Thus further humiliated, Junior cleverly retorted "No you're not!" punctuated by the blast of the deer rifle at close range.

Result: one husband, father and friend dead; another facing murder charges over a $20 football bet and sullied honor.

I didn't make this up; it happened. So why bother repeating this sad tale? It has all the elements of the stereotypical American (or at least southern) male gender role--honor, toughness, pride, camaraderie, individuality, pride, competitiveness and violence, drunkenness, guns, greed and an emphasis on action rather than reason. And crossdressing is considered a deviant behavior that threatens the foundations of our way of life? If the behavior of Bud and Junior is the logical result of "normal" behavior, I'm proud to be a deviant by those standards.