Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013 International Trans Year In Review

Just like 2012, the year 2013 on the international front was a good news, bad news one for the international trans community. 

Let's start with the fact that we continue to see unacceptable levels of anti-trans violence, discrimination and murder being leveled at our people, with the most egregious levels of it happening in various Latin American nations, Brazil, the United States and Turkey.

There was also the horrific case in Jamaica of 16 year old transteen D. Jones being set upon by a mob during a street party and beaten, shot, stabbed and run over by a car for the crime of being her true self. 

We witnessed the disappointing defeat of PLC 122 last week, a bill that would have prohibited gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination in Brazil.  We also saw the Gulf States led by Kuwait consider a ban on transpeople entering the area for employment purposes in October, and expressed concern about transpeople in Russia, Nigeria and Uganda being caught in the backlash spawned by the various draconian anti-gay laws in those nations.

Despite that negative news, the international trans human rights picture overall is an increasingly bright one.

In addition to the United Nations holding on September 26 a first ever ministerial level meeting to discuss TBLG human rights issues, several nations have made moves either with favorable court rulings, administrative rule changes, ended forced sterilizations or SRS in order to do name changes, or are considering or passed legislation to streamline their name change process for transgender people like the Netherlands.

The Philippines held congressional hearings December 5 to discuss an inclusive anti-discrimination bill, and a trans inclusive ENDA passed in the United States Senate on a 64-32 vote. 

While the US state of New York's senate frustratingly refused to allow GENDA to come to a vote on the floor after its passage for the sixth consecutive session by the New York state assembly, the state of Delaware showed them how it was done by becoming the 17th US state to pass a trans inclusive human rights law.

In Canada, progress on the passage of C-279, the Trans Rights Bill was stalled by the Conservatives in the Canadian Senate on the verge of its Third Reading vote in June.  After summer recess, it was dealt another blow by the prorogation of Parliament, which forced it to start the Senate legislative process from the beginning stages after it was reinstated.  C-279 is currently at Second Reading stage in its repeat Senate legislative journey.

C-279 passed the Canadian House on a final 149-137 vote back on March 20 with Prime Minister Stephen Harper being one of the NO votes and current Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau being MIA for it. 

The Canadian and the international trans community will be watching to see if the Canadian Senate values its trans citizens and passes this much needed law.

Canadian trans kids are also front and center in current north of the 49th parallel trans rights battles.  Mat Asano in QuebecHarriette Cunningham and Tracey Wilson  in British Columbia are fighting for recognition of their identity in addition to battling documentation issues in those two provinces.     

My Canadian trans cousins did have something else to cheer in 2013 as the province of Newfoundland and Labrador became the latest Canadian legal jurisdiction to protect trans human rights and Quebec has introduced legislation that addresses the trans documentation issue. 

On the political front, while Polish MP Anna Grodzka continues to blaze trails as only the third elected trans MP in world history, we are still waiting for the first ever elected trans national legislator in the Western Hemisphere to happen.  Attempts by Diane Rodriguez in Ecuador in February and Valentina Verbal in Chile to get elected to their respective national legislatures unfortunately fell short.  

Verbal's was for an all too frustratingly familiar reason to transpeople around the world,  She pulled out because of documentation issues.

Speaking of history making trans politicians, was nice to hear about the combination fundraiser and tribute for Georgina Beyer, the world's first ever elected trans MP who is battling chronic kidney failure and is awaiting a transplant.  The well attended tribute event was held in Wellington, NZ on Beyer's 56th birthday on November 14.   

As a child of the African Diaspora, one of this blog's missions is to highlight the issues facing my continental trans brothers and sisters on the African continent and across the Diaspora so they get the attention they deserve.

Despite the recent depressing news from our planet's second largest continent emanating from Uganda and Nigeria, there is positive movement trans human rights wise to report on the African continent. 

There's increased regional cooperation and coordination with various indigenous organizations on the African continent concerning trans rights issues. 

Kenyan trans activist Audrey Mbugua's lawsuit requesting KNEC change her documentation on her school records to reflect who she is now fostered a wider conversation in her nation about trans people and our human rights issues and concerns.

Titica's continued growing musical popularity in Angola and the southern African region led to her being named as a UNAIDS goodwill ambassador.

In Asia, the Vietnamese trans community is coming out of the shadows and increasingly demanding their human rights be respected and codified into law so they no longer face anti-trans discrimination. 

The trans marriage cases the international trans community were nervously watching in Hong Kong with Ms W and in Malta with Joanne Cassar came to successful conclusions in different ways.  

Ms. W finally won at the highest level of the Hong Kong judiciary, the Court of Final Appeal, after losing two previous times.  Cassar won and lost cases at various levels in the Maltese court system, and eventually had to take her marriage case to the European Court of Human Rights before the Maltese elections and a governmental change led to her finally emerging victorious.   The new Maltese government settled the pending ECHR marriage case with Cassar out of court and passed new laws recognizing the rights of transpeople to marry.   They recently honored Cassar with the Gieh ir Repubblika on December 13.  

Here in Texas we are anxiously awaiting the results of the September appeal of Nikki Araguz Loyd in her ongoing court battle to affirm her (and ours in Texas) marriage rights.  No matter which way it goes, it will probably be appealed to the Republican dominated Texas Supreme Court.

The issue of trans people in sports blew up this year in the cases of women's MMA fighter Fallon Fox here in the United States and Aeris Houlihan in the UK.  Both cases have created debate and sometimes contentious discussion in terms of transfeminine athletes, their ability to compete in and participate in their favorite sports against cis women and what is the real science pro and con.

It has also sparked interest in just what are the rules and how can we craft them so they are consistent and fair to both cis and trans athletes.

While the Miss Universe pageant system, with the exception of a few transphobic holdouts was open to trans contestants starting this year, the only person that attempted to do so was 27 year old Kylan Wenzel, who entered the Miss California USA pageant.   Unfortunately she didn't win, but it will be interesting to see if more trans women, now that they have had time to contemplate it and get prepped to enter if they so choose to do so, enter their various national pageants in the 2014 cycle.

Trans models continue to rock the runways with Brazilians Lea T., Carol Marra and Felipa Tavares leading the way.   They are being joined by a rising modeling star in France's Ines-Loan Rau.   The 24 year old from Paris was featured in a steamy photo shoot with Tyson Beckford that went viral. 

In the US trans model Arisce Wanzer is also beginning to get attention and Carmen Carrera is vying to become the first trans Victoria's Secret model   While that didn't happen in 2013, it's just a matter of time before one of the Victoria's Secret Angels strutting that catwalk is a trans woman. 

Jenna Talackova, whose fight to enter the Miss Canada Universe Pageant last year opened it and the Miss Universe system to future transfeminine contestants, is being featured in a January Canadian Elle magazine photo shoot.

Across the Pond, our British trans cousins were handling their business as well. 

They started the year calling out the British TERF duo of Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill, whose transphobic scribblings in published newspaper columns in January set off a tsunami of local and international condemnation. 

What is believed to be the world's first purpose built memorial dedicated to the victims of anti-trans violence was dedicated in Manchester in July.   But since transphobic idiots don't want us to have nice things or human rights, the memorial was promptly vandalized.  The damage to it was repaired in time for TDOR memorial events in November.

A museum exhibit celebrating the life of trans pioneer and icon April Ashley opened in her hometown of Liverpool back in September.   Entitled April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady, the exhibit will run at the Museum of Liverpool until September 14, 2014.

2013 was award winning British trans activist Paris Lees' breakout year on her side of The Pond.

The 25 year old journalist not only received the top spot on this year's Pink List, Lees just recently made history as the first out trans panelist  to appear on the BBC's long running Question Time program. 

Lees also received rave reviews from the British public for her historic appearance.  So what will Paris and our British trans cousins do next?  Will be interesting to see as the New Year dawns.

There were a lot of things good, bad and groundbreaking that happened internationally for the trans community in 2013.   Looking forward to discussing and chronicling more of the positive trends in the international trans community in 2014

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