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Michael / Joanna / Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark; An American Hero

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Micheal Clark, US Navy / Joanna Clark, US Army

I have been reading of one of the most remarkable people transgender people ever born; Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, formerly Joanna Michelle Clark, formerly Michael Clark.

Michael Clark was born on 16 June 1938 in Pontiac, Michigan, USA. From 3-years-old he found he felt he was different from other boys, he preferred the company of girls, and even tried to emulate them. “I tried to talk and act like a girl instead of a boy,” said Michael in an interview, “I believed I was one of them – even though I knew I had a male anatomy. When I started going to elementary school, the other boys called me a sissy because I walked without ‘macho’ stride and carried my schoolbooks like a girl.”

By the time he reached junior high school, Michael tried to discuss his transgender feelings, but could not make them understand. Obviously there was a great deal of prejudice at the time, and Michael tried to be what he perceived as normal, joining the US Naval Cadets while in High School. When he left school in 1957, he went into the USN full-time as an avionics technician, eventually rising to Chief Petty Officer and an Instructor/Evaluator in anti-submarine warfare, scuba diving and sea survival in Hawaii, and serving on active duty in Vietnam.

Michael married his first wife in 1961, still trying to prove he was ‘normal’. However, although fathering a son, he could never satisfy his wife, and of course suffered the frustrations of not being sexually fulfilled himself, which led to him throwing himself further into his Naval career. The couple divorced in 1972, and he never saw his son again.

Still blinded by the prejudice of others, Michael married again, and this time found a partner who was not only sympathetic to his plight, was to be instrumental in changing his life.

“My new wife was a girl that I really intensely loved as a person. I still love her today. We liked the same things – hiking, concerts. But she needed more from me than I could give. And she started having a guilt trip over our situation, thinking she was at fault. Finally I said to myself: ‘My God, I’m reining this beautiful woman’s life by keeping my secret from her.’ So I broke down and told her I was a transsexual – a woman trapped in a man’s body. Instead of making me feel ashamed, she talked about what we had to do.”

Clark’s wife encouraged him to tell his parents, who far from rejecting him as he feared, all too fully understood (good parents know, dears). Thereafter he underwent psychological evaluation, which must have been groundbreaking for the 1970s, as it confirmed that Michael was a woman inside.

The downside is that someone blew the whistle about Mark’s evaluation to the US Navy. He was discharged upon the spot, and although it was an Honourable Discharge, it left Mark “angry and bitter”. And quite rightly so; Mark had often been commended, had excelled in everything he did, his work undoubtedly saved lives, and he can thereby be considered an American Naval hero.

Michael Clark underwent hormone therapy and in June 1975 underwent gender reassignment surgery, emerging under her new name of Joanna Michelle Clerk. She then divorced her wife, and moved in with her parents in San Juan, California, and got a job as a clerk-typist. In 1976 she enlisted in the US Army as a Staff training assistant, acting supervisor Fort MacArthur. She rose to Sargent First Class in the WACS, but after the authorities became aware of her background, Joanna was dismissed from the Army Reserve 18 months later. This time Joanna decided she was not going to take it lying down a second time and took the US Army to court. It was eventually settled out of court with a stipulation that details of the settlement not be made public. However, it is known that Joanna received an Honourable Discharge, with credit for time served in the Reserve.

This put Michael / Joanna Clark in the unique position of having served in the US Navy and the US Army, as both a man and a woman. The only person in history to have done so. But there was more to come…

Having realised all too painfully how transgender rights are trodden upon, Joanna Clark successfully lobbied in 1977 for replacement birth certificates and driving licenses to be made available for transgender people in California. She wrote Legal Aspects of Transsexualism, an important document which continues to be referenced by the law fraternity in the USA to this day. She founded the ACLU Transsexual Rights Committee, which she chaired for many years, working endlessly for the legal rights and status of TS persons. In the early 1980s she worked with transgender campaigner Jude Patton as a TS advisor.

By the late 1980s, Joanna’s life became more spiritual and in 1988 she took her vows as a Nun and founded the Order of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a non-profit Episcopalian order. She transferred to the Order of St Michael of the American Catholic Church in 1997.

In 1990 Sister Mary Elizabeth founded AEGIS; AIDS Education Global Information System, the largest HIV/AIDS online information and website and BBS, which supplies reference material, information and an online meeting place for people worldwide.  Sister Mary Elizabeth has won several awards for her work fighting for LGBT+ rights, and HIV/AIDS awareness, and in 2005 was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee.

As Michael Clark, Joanna Michelle Clark, and as Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark, this is a truly remarkable woman, who despite giving everything she has done her utmost, often pushing the limits of endurance, and often for others with little thought for herself, remains nonetheless humble. Someone I think we can all, whatever our gender, can look up to.

“Of all the things I’ve done in my life, military-wise, or working with children, I don’t think I’ve had anything in my life that I’ve had more passion for. I really can’t put it into words. When you see letters from people and you know that you’re helping them, that’s what it’s all about.”

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Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark

A Tale of Two Trans Kids

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With the kind permission of Sophie Labelle

One who isn’t, one who is.

There are two stories which have broken in the UK over the issue of gender identity in youth, and both are in their own way heartbreaking and extremely emotive.

The first case involved a 7-year-old little boy who was brought up as a girl by his mother, and whom the Family Court in England awarded custody to his father. The mother maintained that the boy identified as a girl, and to this end dressed him as a girl, was bullied at school for dressing as a girl, was registered as a girl with his GP, and on official forms.

The boy’s father, who is separated from his mother, however doubted the mother’s assertion that the boy identified as transgender. These doubts were shared by some school staff. The father filed for custody, and won his case.

Mister Justice Hayden, presiding judge, stated “This is not a case about gender dysphoria, rather it is about a mother who has developed a belief structure which she has imposed upon her child.

“I am bound to say that had the concerns [of school staff] been given the weight that they plainly should have, it is difficult to resist the conclusion the boy could have been spared a great deal of emotional harm.”

Mr Hayden added, “Transgender equality has received a great deal of attention in recent times. I believe that in this case the profile and sensitivity of the matters raised by the mother blinded a number of professionals from applying their training, skill, and, it has to be said, common sense.

“They failed properly to investigate the mother’s assertions, in part I suspect, because they did not wish to appear to be challenging an emerging orthodoxy in such a high-profile issue.”

This ruling has thrown further division between cisgender and transgender people, with the some transphobes seeing it as a victory, whilst I have seen some trans people lambasting Justice Hayden as a transphobe himself. In fact, Mr Justice Hayden is no stranger to transgender issues, having ruled in many such cases, and in most he has come down on the side of the transgender person. Before this case he actually wrote “My experience in the Family Division leaves me with little doubt that some children, as young as 4, 5, 6 years of age may identify strongly with their opposite gender. Such children can experience rejection and abuse arising from ignorance both on a personal and institutional level.” These are hardly the words of a transphobe. Far from it, I would consider those to be the words of a strong and powerful ally of transgender children.

It seems therefore that in this case we have a mother who, for reasons best known to herself, decided her son was transgender and imposed a female gender upon him. That has potentially done untold damage to the child. We in the LGBT+ camp must never condemn Mr Justice Hayden for his ruling. He has all the facts of the case; we do not.  Indeed, I think he should be applauded for his thoughtful handling of a highly emotional case.

Needless to say however, the gutter press was quick to link the above case to that of a 14-year-old trans boy – and whose devoutly Christian parents are now taking their local authority to court.

In this case a 14-year-old assigned female at birth has identified as male, and has laid out his plans to transition as soon as he is old enough, and has expressed his wish to be known by a male forename in school. He has received the support of his local authority’s Social Work department, after he underwent psychiatric evaluation. The parents have been warned that if their child’s wishes are not implemented, then he may present a high suicide risk, and if guidance of social workers is not acted upon, then their child may be taken into care.

The parents have responded by taking their local authority to court. They are being defended by The Christian Legal Centre, who are also funding the case. Andrea Williams of the Christian Legal Centre stated “The transgender cultural movement is creating a new ‘conflict of rights’ within the family. This is the emperor’s new clothes. Authorities are forcing an agenda that is not true, and harmful to children. This case demonstrates shocking disregard for parental authority: no one is listening to what the parents want or have to say. They know the child the best, and have the child’s interests at heart.”

So, there you have it readers; according to the Christian Legal Centre, this trans boy and all we who are transgender / genderfluid are not behaving the way we simply are, but are following a ‘culture’ which is “not true”. I wonder if it would be possible to have Andrea Williams arrested for hate speech? No – we don’t want the Christian Taliban screaming persecution, or making a martyr of her.

The mother of the trans boy has stated “The rights of parents in the UK are being eroded, especially those who have traditional Christian values. It is leaving parents to feel fearful, vulnerable and intimidated.”

I would first of all like to know what ‘traditional Christian values’ preclude being transgender? I don’t know if the parents, Andrea Williams, or anyone else in the Christian Legal Centre have noticed, but nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus, at any point, make any mention of any sort of gender – not once. I can only assume therefore that the parents and their representatives are relying upon the Old Testament; “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5, KJV). Well, that’s equally all right, because a trans boy is just that – a boy. So if God actually existed, then he must have made the boy in question transgender, and intended him to dress and behave as male. Although an atheist myself, I know some lovely transgender and genderfluid people who fully believe that their God made them as intended.

I would also point out that women were wearing ‘harem’ trousers, and both male and female Greek horse riders were wearing trousers, while Moses was writing Deuteronomy – dressed in his robes. Oh, and high heels were originally invented for men to hold stirrups while horse riding (Oh, go on boys, you know you want some).

Then there is the hypocrisy of parents of this ilk, who want their children to grow up with ‘Christian values’ on one hand, yet claim they are too young to know their own gender on the other. Ermm, I would venture that anyone who is old enough to start to fully grasp Christian theology – as a 14-year-old would be – is more than old enough to understand their own body and mind.

Social workers have also stated the boy is in a “heterosexual” relationship with a 13-year-old girl, according to the newspapers. Well, of course he bloody well is, because if their editors and their readership were to actually study the issue, they would know that gender and sexuality are not one and the same thing. Anyone can be straight, gay, bi, pan (like me), or even asexual, completely regardless of being cis, trans, or like me, genderfluid / whateva (I’m not choosy, dears).

Perhaps the saddest fact of this case is that there are no winners either way.

I have no doubt that the Christian Legal Centre and the boy’s parents will be made fully aware of matters surrounding gender dysphoria in court, and they are on a hiding to lose this case.  In which case a teenage boy will be removed from his parents, who are so bloody indoctrinated by Bronze Age goatherders mythology about an invisible sky pixie, that they are willing to put their beliefs before the welfare of their child.

But in the unlikely event that the parents should win their case, and keep custody of their child, what then? Will he thank them for it? When he is forced against his will to dress and act like a girl, excluding the very real danger of suicide, what happens once he turns 16? He’ll be off like a shot, and may well cut off all contact with his parents, that’s what.

Either way, I see nothing but heartache coming from this case, all for the short-sightedness of parents, and the transphobic hatred of a bunch of religious zealots who are backing them.

Transphobic red top rags and their equally transphobic readership, using incorrect pronouns – as to be expected, have been all over both stories, with many trying to claim that the case of the 7-year-old is a victory. In fact it is nothing of the sort, and if anything, both stories actually back up gender diversity. Not only are the parents of the 14-year-old giving their faith priority over their child, but the case of the 7-year-old actually highlights how some parents, far, far from what Andrea Williams and the Christian Legal Centre claim, do not always know their children best and do not always put their best interests at heart.

What both cases does highlight is just who is the real expert on anyone’s gender; none other than the individual concerned. Each and every one of us is first and foremost a unique individual, with our own gender, sexuality, peccadilloes, likes and dislikes. Therefore to try and use one case to back up another is not just a false dichotomy, it is downright dangerous.  We are none of us clones, and each and every person’s gender (and sexuality) being unique to them, can never be used as an example for any other human being.

In the final instance, whatever anyone proclaims their gender to be, we need to take them fully at face value. And that pertains to cisgender people every bit as much as it does to the transgender and genderfluid. And, as Mr Justice Hayden asserts, that can indeed apply to children, even those as young as 4-years-old.



Readers please note that certain references to Christianity in this article are not intended as an attack upon the Christian faith in general, but are merely to highlight what I perceive in this particular case of the degree of religious fundmentalism of those involved. When anyone displays a strong degree of religious fundamentalism, whatever their faith, they need to be shown up for the danger they represent.

Want Your Pension? Annul Your Marriage.

And renounce your faith.

MB is 68 years old, married, and a Christian. Under the law, as a woman she should have received her state pension at the pensionable age for women, 60 years old. It was refused to her by the UK’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and this has been upheld by the UK Court of Appeal. Why? Because MB was born with the biological sex of a man, married and fathered a family, and has not had her marriage annulled by a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

MB married in 1975, but did not start living as a woman until 1991, and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1995. As a Christian, she prefers to remain married to her wife, with whom she has a family, “under the eyes of God”. Under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act, transgender people in the UK gained the right to have their gender legally recognised by a GRC. However, a GRC may not be issued to any transgender person who has not had their marriage annulled on the basis of gender change.

When MB applied for a state pension upon reaching the age of 60 in 2008, the DWP refused her application on the grounds that she is still legally a man, as defined by biological sex on her birth certificate. She took her case to the Court of Appeal, who in 2014 upheld the DWP decision. Undeterred, she has taken the case to the Supreme Court, the highest civil court in the UK. The Supreme Court has found itself “divided” on the issue, and has now decided to consult the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), to advise their decision. Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, stated “Since there is no CJEU authority directly in point, it refers the question for their guidance”.

The entire case highlights problems with two things in the UK; the controversial Gender Recognition Certificate, and pensionable age.

GRC’s have long been a point of contention in the UK. When a GRC is issued, it is a form of legal recognition of gender. However, they are only issued under certain criteria. The “Standard Route” for this is;

you’re 18 or over

you’ve been diagnosed with gender dysphoria (discomfort with your birth gender) – this is also called gender identity disorder or transsexualism

you’ve lived in your acquired gender in the UK for at least 2 years

you intend to live in your acquired gender for the rest of your life

But it does not end there. Every single application for a GRC goes before a panel, usually made up of cisgender heterosexual men, who can indeed refuse to issue a GRC if they see fit.

The GRC puts young transgender people at a distinct disadvantage; old enough to have sex or even marry at 16 or over, they cannot in fact be legally recognised as the gender they identify with until 18 or older. This disparity has also led to transgender young offenders being placed in prisons according to gender identified by biological sex as given on their birth certificate, purely because they cannot get a GRC until over 18 and have lived under their acquired gender for 2 years.

Many transgender people are also opposed to GRCs on the grounds that they are unwelcome governmental intrusion into private lives. It should also be noted that birth certificates have no legal basis as means of identification, and placing transgender offenders is thereby technically illegal. In their campaign for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary Election, the Scottish National Party promised to change the entire process in Scotland and make it much easier for transgender and genderfluid people to officially change their gender status. I have yet to see them make any movement upon this, and it may be time to drop my local Member of the Scottish Parliament an email.

Now the case of MB has proven another flaw with the GRC; that one shall not even be issued unless the transgender person has a marriage under their birth-assigned gender annulled. MB has no wish to annul her family. I have no doubt she loves her wife and family, and as a devout Christian, she sees her marriage as sanctified by God. Now, as an atheist, I obviously say phooey to that. I am not MB however, and as much as I may disagree with her, I have to be the first to stand up to her human right to freedom of religion.

The former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, continually maintained that we lived in a “Christian country” (not Scotland, dear ~ 39% “No Religion” at the last census, and rising). His successor, Theresa May, is equally a devout Christian. Whilst there is no written constitution in the UK, the entire Westminster government is linked to the Church of England, which is the established church of England, Wales and Cornwall (not Scotland or Northern Ireland), with the monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, as head of that church, and 26 Church of England clerics, the “Lords Spiritual”, sitting in the House of Lords. The English judiciary is likewise closely tied to the established church.

Therefore, England is officially a Christian country, and MB, who is an English citizen and subject of her monarch, is having her rights infringed. She is being denied her rights as a woman, she is being denied her rights as transgender person, and she is being denied her rights as a Christian.

I am therefore very pleased that the Supreme Court is to ask advice on this case from the CJEU. The judges there will have to look at the matter in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This is a legally-binding declaration of human rights, which is itself based heavily upon the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 9 of the ECHR states:

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

MB’s identity as a Christian and her marriage do not in any way infringe public safety, public order, health or morals, and do not present any threat to the rights and freedoms of others. However. insisting that MB annuls her marriage and applies for a GRC is an obvious infringement upon her freedom for thought, conscience and religion.

Article 8 states:

Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 12 states:

Men and women of marriageable age have the right to marry and to found a family, according to the national laws governing the exercise of this right”

Articles 8 and 12 are contentious, but are closely tied. It seems to me, however, that in insisting that MB annul her marriage and obtain a GRC, the DWP and the courts are a, infringing her private life, and b, infringing her right to marry.  Moreover, an officially Christian state is effectively telling a transgender woman to renounce her deeply-held religious faith.

The ECHR is of course not attached to the EU, and there is nothing in law to say that EU member states must abide by it’s articles (likewise, many states contravene the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a daily basis). The CJEU does however carry the weight to enforce judgements based upon the ECHR, and if they decide that MB has indeed had her rights infringed, then as the UK is an EU member (we’ve not left yet dears) the DWP and the Supreme Court shall have no choice but to adhere to their ruling, and give MB her pension, backdated to her 60th birthday.

But the entire case throws into sharp relief the entire question over pensionable age in the UK. Currently the official ages for qualifying for the state pension are 60 for women, and 65 for men. These ages date back to when men traditionally performed heavy labour, whereas women did “less taxing” jobs in offices. Please dears, as one with 20 years of admin jobs behind her, I can attest to the emotional stress of office work. It leaves you completely drained and can lead to nervous breakdowns and early deaths. The entire concept is flawed and deeply sexist. My former female partner has worked in environments, including physically ejecting violent bar customers, and in situations where I would have gone to pieces, or just screamed and simply fainted. I’m much more of a fragile girlie than she is.

The UK pension age also fails to recognise the hard jobs which some women did ~ and do ~ which are traditionally considered women’s work. How many men ruined their eyesight, gave themselves back problems and drove needles through their fingers, as my dear mother did through countless hours of leaning over a sewing machine? How many managed the heavy lifting and sweaty conditions of a laundry? How many have been on their hands and knees as cleaners? And just how many added all the tasks of being a homemaker and bringing up children into that? Yes, heavy labour is exhausting, hazardous to health, dangerous, and life shortening ~ every bit as much as the roles which a great many women have traditionally done, and some still do to this day, and at the end of their working day run a home and bring up a family, purely as a labour of love with no financial reward.

So, what happens if someone is genderfluid? An asshat caller to a radio show firstly stated that men might get gender reassignment surgery purely to get their pension early. Sure, pal, cisgender men are really going to have their meat and two veg cut off, purely to get the paltry state pension. Like that’s ever going to happen. He then did throw in the question that what if a genderfluid person tries to claim their pension as a woman at age 60? That’s actually a very good point, as much as the asshat way he put it; “What if someone says I’ve just turned 60 and I feel like a woman. I want my pension?”

In our more enlightened age, where gender identity is finally becoming much more widely recognised, there is an all-too-obvious answer to this, and that is to have a uniform pensionable age across the board, for all genders. That is indeed coming. From 2020 the pension age for both men and women shall be 66, which is to rise to 67 from 2026 to 2028. That is much fairer, as it shall truly recognise gender equality, for women, for men, for transgender people, and for the genderfluid (but sadly not this genderfluid person ~ I’m a pauper and will have to keep working until I drop).

But from the moment women gained equality in the workplace, it should ever have been so. And had it been thus, then MB would not be fighting for her pension, 8 years after she should have received it.

There is NO Age Limit on Gender Identity

12672184_508974239284845_8720222510427940436_oIf it’s “just a phase”, it’s one helluva long one.

A story broke in the UK press recently about a 5-year-old who returned to school as a girl, having been assigned male at birth. The school and the child’s name are being kept anonymous, to protect her anonymity but the story runs that parents and fellow pupils at the school in Nottinghamshire, England, were given letters explaining that the child identifies as a girl, and asking to respect her in her gender.

The child apparently has been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria, and the local authority are being said to be seeing an increasing number of such cases in children, but one which they are willing to support. Colin Pettigrew, from Nottingham County Council stated “Transgender is a new area for many school and is a characteristic protected by law. Therefore headteachers across England continue to and are required to agree a clear plan to support the needs of transgender children and young people.”

Needless to say, when reported in the printed press and on a national radio station, the backlash from cisgender ignoramuses was immediate, and vicious. It appears to take a special kind of stupid for cis people with no knowledge of transgender issues to lash out at others they have no understanding of.

Amongst the most ignorant comments were the inevitable “It’s a phase he’s going through.”, “he’s playing make-believe”, and of course, “children like to play dress up”. Probably the most depressing and insulting comment of all came from one troglodyte who stated “My child likes to pretend she’s a dog. Should I let her go to school as one?”

Let’s get this straight. This is not pretend; it is not a phase any this or any other transgender child goes through – and if it is, then it lasts until they are put in a wooden box. That’s some ‘phase’. They are not playing make-believe, and they are not playing at all – they could not be more serious.

Think about it. Yes, young children like to play make-believe and to dress up in clothes of the ‘opposite gender’. I have a little one in my own family who in a certain museum makes a beeline for the children’s dress-up area, and makes himself look absolutely FABULOUS! And then at other times, he will have me tell and retell him gory tales from Scots history, which he laps up with relish. When I first saw him dress up, his mother said that she “wouldn’t be surprised if he turned out to be gay or trans.” I doubt it; he’s every inch the rough and tumble little boy. But even if he is gay or transgender, I am only thankful he has educated and switched-on parents who will take it in their stride and support him every inch of the way.

And this is where the important distinction lies. When a child plays make-believe, or when they dress up, they are playing, they are pretending, they are making believe. Yet they soon tire of that pretence, and move on to the next thing to play at. The mother whose little girl pretends to be a dog would do well to observe and remember that. No child keeps make-believe roles up for years. Not even months, not even weeks, not even a whole day.  Not even an hour. Show me the child who does, and I would suggest that the parents get that child to a therapist, toot sweet. There is no way that children playing would ever even think of attending school in their acted-out roles, and if anyone tried to force them, then they would soon rebel against it.

And even if it were a ‘phase’, again, the child would not be able to keep that pretence for any length of time, and would soon revert to the gender they are most comfortable with. Therefore in the case of the child at the Nottinghamshire school, if it were a phase, then the child would soon revert to being a boy, so what the hell are those protesting worrying about. Seems to me that while hiding behind a mask of caring about the child, they merely want any target to aim their transphobia at.

Nor is it a case as one Neanderthal, fittingly going under the pseudonym of BillyNoMates, suggested “So yummie mummy really wanted a girl all along but didn’t have one, so she made one out of a little boy.” Firstly, he has not a shred of evidence to base that upon, secondly I doubt there is a parent worth their salt would ever do that to their child, and thirdly, the child in question has been diagnosed as having gender dysphoria by medical health professionals. I don’t know what qualifications BillyNoMates has, but I will guess that such highly trained individuals, who have actually encountered the child, are far more qualified to comment upon her condition than some loudmouth keyboard warrior hiding behind an assumed name who has never met her.

Could it ever even happen that any child could ever be coerced or bullied by a parent into assuming an opposite gender? Certainly there have been historical cases where boys have been continually ‘petticoated’, but that was more as a punishment, and there is not one documented case of any such boy coming to identify as a girl – unless they were already transgender.

Back in the late 1980s, a seeming child prodigy sprang up who was allegedly a preteen art and antiques expert. James Harries was constantly on television sporting his curly blonde hair, dressed often in formal wear and a bow tie, and speaking in received pronunciation English about some antique or work of art. Frankly, I found him to be an irritating, arrogant, snot-nosed brat who needed a good slap, and 30 years have not changed my opinion on that. In his teens James started seeing therapists, it is claimed on the insistence of his mother, who thought he may be transgender due to his effeminate nature and mannerisms. When I first heard about this, like BillyNoMates, I thought that HAD to be his mother forcing gender reassignment upon her son. I was especially cynical when it was media tycoon Max Clifford who funded the gender reassignment surgery.

Turns out I could not have been more wrong. The former James Harries has very happily been Lauren Harries coming up for 15 years now. Whilst Lauren Harries still irritates the hell out of me (her 2015 attempt at pop, “I Am A Woman” is bloody awful), if she were at all unhappy with her female identity, she would undoubtedly suffered mental health problems. In fact, Lauren’s psychiatric problems of depression, agoraphobia, a mental breakdown and a suicide attempt, all happened before she transitioned.

There is an important lesson to be learned here; where gender identity is concerned, the only pretence involved is among those transgender and genderqueer individuals who have to live a lie daily as apparent cisgender people. And that can only ever manifest itself in severe mental health problems.

So while the transphobic critics of a 5-year-old transgender girl may make a pretence of only caring about the well-being of children, it is they who would force children into roles they are uncomfortable with, do not identify with, and which can only make those children unhappy. Ultimately they, and I include most of society here, are mounting up psychiatric problems for those children, which sadly all too often has fatal consequences.

Which is where critic seems to fail to grasp the facts when he states “You do know people who under go gender reassignment surgery have a high rate of suicide. Right?”  Yes, suicide rates among transgender people are depressingly high. But they are highest among young transgender people, most of who have not undergone gender reassignment surgery. And while generally transgender suicides are high, one of the greatest reasons for this is not because the person is unhappy with their gender, but rather because of the prejudice, ignorance, intolerance and violence transgender people are subjected to on a daily basis. I suggest therefore that the commentator checks his figures, and his transphobic attitude while he’s about it, because it is precisely ignorance such as that as he displays which leads to transgender suicides.

I have stated in a previous article that due to the difference between the body and brain forming in the womb that gender, just like sexuality, is much more of a psychiatric construct than it is ever a physical one. It therefore comes as no surprise to me that the youngest transgender child in the UK was fellow Scot, little Danni Macfadyen, who born Daniel, identified as a girl and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria at the age of three. This is backed up by Maria Kontogianni, senior lecturer in psychology with sociology at Nottingham Trent University;

“Children could start feeling gender dysphoria from the age of three-years-old. They will say that they don’t feel like a boy or a girl or they may decide they are not. If the school or parents do not respond correctly it can become a real problem for the child. If a child does start saying these things it is completely fine as long as they get the help they need as soon as possible.”

Such professionals do not take these matters lightly, and can soon identify whether a child has gender dysphoria or not. Certainly, they would even entertain any child who was obviously playing at make-believe, and would soon identify any child who was possibly being coerced by others into identifying with an opposite side of the gender binary. That there are no such cases recorded tells it’s own story.

There is only one expert upon the gender of any individual, and that happens to be the person themselves. Nobody but I can diagnose me as genderqueer, nobody but a transgender person knows their gender, and strangely enough, none but a cisgender person knows their gender identity. And as such, we start to recognise our gender identity as soon as we become aware of ourselves as individuals, which is at a very early age indeed. The sooner society comes to comprehend that, the sooner we will have more happy transgender children like little Danni Macfadyen, and the unnamed little girl in Nottinghamshire.

One can therefore only salute the bravery of this little girl, of that bravery and understanding of her parents, and kudos to Nottingham County Council and the school concerned.

Kisses to all, from Xandra. xxxx


 

Article illustration curteousy of Sophie Labelle, artist of the Assigned Male cartoon strip.

http://www.assignedmale.com/

Trans Woman Found Dead in Male Prison

$$-Vicky-Thompson

Vicky Thompson

Prisoner had threatened suicide.

On Friday, 13 November 2015, trans woman Vicky Thompson was found dead in her cell at the all-male Armley Prison in Leeds, England, having apparently committed suicide. Her Majesty’s Prison Service (which runs prisons in England and Wales) announced her death six days later, on the evening of Thursday, 19 November, only hours before the start of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

“HMP Leeds prisoner Vicky Thompson was found unresponsive on the evening of Friday, 13 November,” said a Prison Service spokesman, “Staff and paramedics attempted resuscitation but she was pronounced dead at 21:10 GMT. As with all deaths in custody there will be an investigation by the independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman”.

Vicky, who had identified as female since her early teens but had not undergone gender reassignment surgery, had previously been incarcerated in Her Majesty’s Prison Leeds on a 12 month sentence, which had been reduced to a suspended sentence.  But when she broke the conditions of that, imprisonment was invoked. According to her boyfriend, Robert Steele, she had received harassment and bullying from the other prisoners, because she dressed as a female. Vicky had said that if she were returned to HMP Leeds, she would commit suicide. Her solicitor, Mohammed Hussain, had told the trial judge that Vicky Thompson was “essentially a woman”, that she was a vulnerable person, and pleaded for her to be placed in a women’s prison. Those pleas fell on deaf ears, and she was returned to HMP Leeds.

Vicky Thompson was only 21 when she took her own life.

I am not just angry today, I am FUCKING LIVID with rage. This girl’s death comes only weeks after the case of trans woman Tara Hudson, whom it took a public campaign to be moved from all-male HMP Bristol to a women’s prison. It is all too obvious that the Prison Service and the British government learned NOTHING from that case, and with tragic consequences.

I do not hold out many hopes for the investigation into Vicky’s death either. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman service will look into it from the perspective of cisgender privilege and no doubt shall decide that it was ‘tragic’ but ‘unavoidable’. When the English judiciary were petitioned to move Tara Hudson to a female prison, they immediately washed their hands of the matter and claimed that it was the responsibility of the Prison Service which prisons offenders should be allocated to. I have no doubt the so-called ‘independent’ ombudsman will reach the same conclusion. This is so much shifting the blame BULLSHIT.

Yes, Her Majesty’s Prison Service, just like the Scottish Prison Service, decide which correctional establishments to place convicted offenders in. However, it is part of the responsibilities of the judiciary to consider particular circumstances of each offender, and where it is deemed necessary to make recommendations to the Prison Service based upon those circumstances. That is precisely why Vicky Thompson’s solicitor underlined her vulnerability and asked for her to be placed in a female prison. The judge, whose name has not been disclosed, cannot claim that they were not made aware of the special circumstances surrounding Vicky, which he completely failed to act upon.

But the judge was not the only person to fail Vicky. Questions also need to be asked as to why the Prison Service managed to fail a vulnerable prisoner, under their very own guidelines, under not one but two circumstances. In the Tara Hudson case, a BBC spokesman told the BBC “It is longstanding policy to place offenders according to their legally recognised gender. There are strict rules in place to ensure transsexual prisoners are managed safely and in accordance with the law.” Vicky Thompson had previously complained of harassment and bullying from other prisoners, which proves that HMP Leeds failed upon that commitment. Secondly, Vicky was a known suicide risk, and yet somehow managed to take her own life. How was this able to happen? Why was a vulnerable prison apparently not on suicide watch? HMP Leeds therefore failed in their duties on that count as well.

As to the first criteria, that of recognised gender, the Prison Service cannot claim to know that Vicky identified as a woman, and if they even attempt that, then they will immediately make liars of themselves, for their statement announcing her death gave her name as “Vicky Thompson” – her chosen female name – and referred to her as “she”. We likewise know that she wore ‘female’ clothing in the prison. So, they have already identified Vicky as female. But then, one only need look at photographs of Vicky to tell she was a woman. Watch out for denials based on all the above in the forthcoming whitewash, sorry, I mean investigation.

It has been announced that the government is to review the criteria under which transgender offenders are jailed. It is not before time, but unless the current Conservative government, which does not have one transgender Member of Parliament, takes strong advice from the transgender community, then I do not hold out much hope for that either.

Certainly, the current criteria surrounding the imprisonment of transgender offenders is an absurdity and a bureaucratic trap, which far too many fall into. The current rules only recognise gender by biological basis and whether or not a prisoner has undergone gender reassignment surgery, and if so, they can prove that.

The rules state that if a transgender prisoner carries a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) or an altered birth certificate, then they shall be placed in a prison according to their recognised gender. Where no GRC is available, gender is determined by birth certificate.

Herein lie the problems. For a start a birth certificate can only be changed if the person has a GRC. Tara Hudson had undergone reassignment but did not carry a GRC. Therefore, as her birth certificate stated she was born male, despite having fully-formed breasts and female genitalia, she was placed in male prison.

GRCs are available, for a fee, only to transgender people who have undergone gender reassignment and lived under their chosen gender for two years or more. This of course requires the release of certain medical records to prove they have undergone reassignment and when. Many transgender people are against GRCs as they see them as governmental intrusion into their private lives and a “trans tax”. If you are cisgender and do not see a problem with GRCs, consider how you would feel if you had to release your medical records and pay to prove your gender. Then (hopefully) you will see how these rules single out one of the most maligned, misunderstood, and vulnerable sections of society, effectively coercing them – and only them – to carry “identity papers”, and pay for that to boot. The GRC is an insult to the transgender community.

Now, let’s look at Vicky Thompson in relation to those rules. She was 21 when she took her life, so given the slow bureaucracy of the English judicial system, we can safely assume she was at least 20 years old when first convicted. Gender reassignment surgery in England is only available for adults over 18 years of age. Before surgery is decided and carried out, there are several steps a transgender person has to go through, including years of psychotherapy, counselling, reviews, then hormonal treatment. In short, Vicky at 20 years old simply would not have had the time to have had the above steps, then undergo gender reassignment surgery and then wait the two years to obtain a GRC. We see here how the GRC rule puts transgender young offenders and older teenagers / early 20s at a distinct disadvantage.

Not that the present government would ever take advice from a slightly-to-the-left-of-Leon-Trotsky genderqueer pansexual like myself, but the recommendations on transgender offenders seems simple enough to me. Gender is not about what may or may not be dangling between your legs. If someone identifies as a woman, dresses like a woman, looks like a woman, and has done for years, they are a woman, and the opposite of all the above for transgender men. If something looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, and quacks like a duck, you can be fairly sure it’s not a fucking ostrich. That is the only criteria any prisoner, transgender or cisgender, needs to be categorised by.

Until the government wakes up to that, there are going to be more cases of trangender prisoners placed in the wrong environment, and thereby put in a place of danger both from other prisoners and themselves.

As it is, suicide is a terrible thing for anyone to do. I don’t think it’s the “coward’s way out”. Far from it, I think anyone who takes their own life has to be very brave indeed to take that step. I therefore do not nor cannot condemn a 21 year old girl, driven to despair after everybody in authority ignored her, to end it all.

No, I don’t blame Vicky Thompson for her own death.

I BLAME the staff of HMP Leeds.
I BLAME Her Majesty’s Prison Service.
I BLAME the judge who ignored all advice.
I BLAME the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP.
I BLAME the British Prime Minister, David Cameron MP.

YOU ALL FAILED VICKY THOMPSON. YOU ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR HER DEATH.

GO DOWN YOU MURDERERS. GO DOWN!

Transgender Woman Jailed in All-Male Prison

Tara Hudson - the UK state says this is a man

Tara Hudson – the UK state says this is a man

For not having her “papers”.

On Friday, 23 October 2015, transgender woman Tara Hudson admitted a charge of assault at Bath Magistrate’s Court, England.  Handing down sentence, the magistrate ordered that Tara, 26, be imprisoned for 12 weeks in Her Majesty’s Prison, Bristol – an all-male prison.

Why has someone who is to all intents and purposes a woman been placed in an all-male prison?  Because it is claimed that she is ‘legally’ a man, and does not hold a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).

Tara Hudson has identified as female since she was a child of 5 years old.  She has lived all her life as a woman.  She has undergone psychological help, she has received hormone treatment and she has undergone gender reassignment surgery.

The English Ministry of Justice however have ruled that Tara has “not engaged with the authorities” by not purchasing a GRC; a certificate issued to a transgender person by a panel (usually all cisgender), for the sum of £30 (US $45), after they have lived post-op for over two years.

Let’s look at it this way; Tara Hudson has lived all her life as a woman.  She underwent her treatment under the state-owned National Health Service – but she hasn’t engaged with the state?  She apparently has a passport in her name with her photograph – but she hasn’t engaged with the state?  She works as a woman and duly pays Income Tax and National Insurance in the name of Tara Hudson – but she hasn’t engaged with the state.

£30 of course is not a lot of money, but it is the principle behind it which is wrong.  Many transgender people are against GRCs on the grounds that they are a “transition tax” and more importantly, they are an infringement on civil liberties.  Being forced to carry a GRC is effectively being forced to carry identity papers, and of course, the details of everyone with a GRC is held on a government database.  If this does not apply to cisgender people, then it is outrageous that it should be expected of trans people.  The peoples of the UK have made it clear before they do not want ID introduced, so to enforce it upon one section of society – one of the most maligned and vulnerable sections of society – is not merely insidious, it is downright disturbing.  And of course there have been more than a few incidences of civil servants losing portable media containing sensitive information, and of government computer systems being hacked.

There are some who feel that the bloody-minded British civil service are making an example of Tara Hudson.  If that is indeed the case, which I fully suspect it to be so, then they are putting a woman in an obvious place of danger of assault, up to and including rape.

Moreover the Ministry of Justice, by placing Tara in an all-male prison, is ignoring their own 2011 guidelines.  These rule that where there is no GRC, there are many factors to take into account. Identity. Steps taken. Risk to the prisoner. To other prisoners. All of which are meant to be addressed before the guilty party arrives at prison.

Tara Hudson satisfies all the above criteria.  Indeed, one only take a look at her to tell she is a woman.  Yet the Ministry of Justice, in the typically arrogant, bureaucratic style of the British civil service, is ignoring it all, and have put a woman in an all too obvious place of extreme danger.

But it gets worse.  A HM Prisons spokesperson told the BBC  “It is longstanding policy to place offenders according to their legally recognised gender.  There are strict rules in place to ensure transsexual prisoners are managed safely and in accordance with the law.”  However, I was listening to a radio show about the story, and a prison officer phoned in, under an assumed name, and explained what that meant.  He stated that all too often transgender and gay inmates are placed in the secure units – along with all the child sex offenders.  So not only has Tara Hudson been sent to an all-male prison, but there is every chance she has been locked up with all the kiddy-fiddling nonces in the place.  The inference of this is not lost on me; that trans and gay prisoners are seen by the authorities as no different from paedophiles.  It is nothing short of state-sponsored transphobia and homophobia.

If that is the case, then not only is that an insult upon Tara’s character as a trans woman – as a woman really – but the mental torture of that fact alone could cause extreme trauma, possibly ending in long-term or even permanent psychological damage.  As it is, Tara’s mother has stated the does not think her daughter will cope well at all with being placed in an all-male prison.

And if Tara is not in the secure unit, then anyone with a shred of decency should be rightly concerned about her safety.  Not least because HMP Bristol was the subject of a damning report in February, which recorded a high incidence of violence higher than in other similar prisons, and most worrying of all for Tara Hudson, an admission that there was not “enough being done to protect some vulnerable prisoners”.

What will the Ministry of Justice say when Tara Hudson suffers continual verbal abuse?  What will they say when Tara suffers considerable psychological trauma?  What will they say when she is raped?

A petition has been raised on Change (link below), asking Bristol Magistrates, the Ministry of Justice and the British Judicial system, to reverse their decision on sending Tara Hudson to an all-male prison.  Nobody is asking for Tara to be set free.  She admitted her crime and is willing to do the time.  All we who back her ask is that the law acts appropriately and accordingly, by placing a woman in an all-female prison.

Should Tara Hudson have to serve out her sentence in HMP Bristol, however, I only hope that upon her release she refuses to pay another penny in Income Tax, and when Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs sends her a demand, she replies that they must have the wrong person – as the UK state does not recognise that she exists.


The Change petition can be found below.  I urge all my followers, particularly those in the UK, to please sign and share this:

https://www.change.org/p/bath-magistrates-prison-govenor-of-hm-prison-bristol-british-judicial-system-stop-transgender-woman-tara-hudson-from-being-sent-to-an-all-male-prison-in-bristol?recruiter=29161782&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink

Germaine Greer is not a Woman

Claims to know how women should look, sound and behave

Claims to know how women should look, sound and behave

And that’s by her own definition

There is a controversy going on in the UK over whether feminist author and celebrity Germaine Greer should have been allowed to speak at Cardiff University, Wales, on 18 November.

Greer, now 73, was once the doyen of the feminist movement, whose 1970 book The Female Eunuch, became an instant bestseller and led many women to realise their full potential as individuals.  A liberation feminist rather than an equality feminist, in which she believes women’s liberation means embracing sex differences in a positive fashion – a struggle for the freedom of women to “define their own values, order their own priorities and decide their own fate.” (Germaine Greer, “The Whole Woman”, 1999)

So far, so hoopy.  That is a very positive goal, which I personally admire and can fully agree with.

Unfortunately, Greer’s attitude to male to female transgender people is far from laudable.  Indeed, she goes as far as to deny the very existence of trans people, which has caused the controversy over her intended speech at Cardiff.  A petition was started asking her to be banned.  In the event, Greer cancelled the talk herself.

The entire debacle started back in 2009, when Greer wrote an article for the UK newspaper, The Guardian, in which she stated that trans women “seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody, though it isn’t polite to say so.  We pretend that all the people passing for female really are. Other delusions may be challenged, but not a man’s delusion that he is female.”

There it is, girls; every one of you trans women are suffering delusions.  One can only wonder what Germaine Greer makes of crossdressing genderfluid pansexuals like myself.  But then, I don’t even need to ask.  For in a speech at Cambridge University in January, she stated that trans women know what it is like “to have a big, hairy, smelly vagina”.

Can we take it from that statement that Germaine Greer defines her womanhood (and every other woman’s) by her genitalia?  Excuse me, but isn’t a huge part of liberation feminism fighting the sexualisation of women?

Not for Greer, it appears, for she goes further.  She stated both in 1999 and 2009,  “No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight.”

This is the oft-repeated transphobic assertion that trans women are not real women, because they can neither ovulate or give birth. The fact that Germaine Greer is unrepentant over these ill-chosen words concern me greatly, and I wonder if she actually realises the full crassness of her statement.  For by saying such, she not only deeply insults trans women, but also infertile women.  Even if not doing it directly, she is defining what a woman is by her ability to ovulate and give birth.

And given that, I am more than willing to turn that right around on Germaine Greer.  For if she wants to define women thus, then given her age I would imagine that she no longer able to menstruate and I would be very surprised if she ever gave birth to a child now.  Therefore, by her very own narrow definition, Germaine Greer is no longer a woman.

That is of course, a nonsense.  But it is playing Greer at her own game, just like all the other TERFs (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists).

And it is an important nonsense.  What qualifies this Australian former convent school girl (oh, there’s a fucking surprise), with qualifications in English and French and an honourary doctorate alone, to speak on anyone’s gender except her own?  Absolutely nothing.  Indeed, even if she had qualifications in medicine or psychology, she still would not be qualified to say who is and who is not a woman.  For the only person who is an individual on their gender is that person themselves, whether they have a penis, a vagina (big, hairy and smelly or not), or both.

Now there’s a thing; what does Germaine Greer say about intersex individuals?  What does she say pseudohermaphroditism, where the testes do not drop but grow inside the (female) body?  Do we even want to know?  Probably not.  Like trans women, she probably claims they don’t exist.

Amidst all this, Germaine Greer denies being transphobic.  Says the woman who made all the above statements, and has also recently accused Caitlyn Jenner of “stealing the limelight” from Kim Kardashian, and that get this, “misogyny played a big part” in the decision of Glamour magazine to name Caitlyn Jenner their Woman of the Year.  Of course, Greer’s denial of being transphobic is not akin to the person who says “I’m not a racist, but…”.  No, it’s much more insidious, because it is again based upon her complete denial of the existence of trans women.  When asked about transphobia, she told The Cambridge Student magazine “I didn’t know there was such a thing. Arachnaphobia, yes. Transphobia, no.”

Really Germaine?  Tell that to the trans women who have been shunned by their loved ones, the ones who have been driven out of their neighbourhoods, the ones who daily live with abuse, the ones who have been threatened, the ones who have been beaten, and to the loved ones of the trans women who have been killed.  That is the reality millions of trans women (and men) face every day, and to make flippant remarks about arachnophobia are not only not funny, they are disgusting.

Meanwhile, the middle class dahlings of The Guardian are trying to claim that Silencing Germaine Greer will let prejudice against trans people flourish (Guardian, 25 October).  In a disingenuous article under the above heading, Zoe Williams of The Guardian tried to claim that “it is precisely because there is still so much prejudice against trans people that nobody should be silenced.”  What?  In the same way that allowing white supremacists a platform will put a stop to racism?  That allowing jihadists to speak will end Islamic extremism?  That allowing a fundamentalist Christian to speak on God’s ‘role’ for women will eradicate misogyny.  Not a bit of it.  Hate speech is hate speech, however it is dressed up, and deserves to be shut down wherever possible.  This is precisely why Cardiff University has rules against certain speakers who spread hate, which should have made the petition completely unnecessary in the first place.

Some have claimed that Greer’s talk was to be on Women in Power and nothing to do with trans issues.  Given this entire recent debacle – and Greer’s own words against Caitlyn Jenner – it is unintelligent to even imagine she would not have touched on the subject.

Germaine Greer of course is having a grand old time playing the martyr now.  “I was going to talk about women and power, because I think there is a lot of triumphalist [sic] talk that masks the real historic situation,” she told BBC News, “And apparently people have decided that because I don’t think that post-operative transgender men are women I’m not to be allowed to talk.”  Aww, poor Germaine – not allowed to spread her hate speech, which every TERF on the face of the planet would lap up, and which could end in more attacks upon trans women.

But as we can see, she remains unrepentant, which she made clear to the BBC by stating, “a great many women” who are cisgender think that trans women do not “look like, sound like or behave like women”.

Well firstly, I’m sure most if not all of my readers are only too painfully aware of the ignorance and prejudice which cis privilege affords.  That no sooner backs up Greer’s argument.  There are many straight people who deny that some people are born homosexual, but that does not mean that lesbians and gays do not exist.  Germaine Greer is far from either ignorant nor stupid, therefore when she makes such a crass statement, one can only surmise that she is speaking from pure blind transphobic bigotry.

Secondly, and possibly more importantly, I was unaware that there was / is any particular way for women to look, sound, or behave.  Far from it, I say that women come in all shapes and sizes, with many different looks, many different voices, and who follow many different behaviours.  That’s what makes them individuals, and one can only wonder what qualifies Germaine Greer – or any these other cis women she claims to speak for – to dictate and define how a woman should look, sound or behave?

But then, I ask that because I am a liberation feminist.  Germaine Greer, once one of the most important voices of feminism, is nothing today but yet one more cis bigot, and a sad parody of her former self.