Transgender center launches intersex group

When a baby is born the first question most people ask is “is it a girl or a boy?” The doctor takes a look at the baby’s genitals, if they see a penis the child is declared a boy, if the see a vulva the child is called a girl. But sometimes a child’s anatomy is not that clear cut, and sometimes the genetics, physiology or anatomy of person is more complex than the penis=boy, vulva=girl equation. The umbrella term “intersex” is used to describe people whose physical bodies, hormones or chromosomes lie between the male and female ends of the spectrum.

According to the Intersex Society of North America somewhere between 1 in 1,500 and 1 in 2,000 babies born in this country have genitals that fall between the strict male/female dichotomy. Additionally, several genetic conditions exist where people who may appear strictly male or strictly female have chromosomal combinations other than XX or XY, a combination of XX and XY, or the chromosomes associated with one gender and the body associated with another. With so many intersex people walking around, there is a fairly good chance that you know one.

But according to “Koomah,” the founder of the group, very few spaces exist for intersex people to talk about their lives. “Most of the social and support groups that I’ve encountered are online,” says Koomah. “I’ve encountered a handful of people both in and outside of [Houston's] Transgender Center that are intersex-bodied but didn’t know anyone else who was. When I mentioned I was and spoke with them more in depth about my experience it seemed to be a great relief that their experience isn’t the only one.”

Koomah realised that their was a need for a group that would allow the intersex community to talk about their experiences. This realization led to the founding of the Transgender Centers Intersex group, which will have its first meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 pm at the Center (604 Pacific). The group is designed as an informal get-to-gether for those with intersex bodies and their spouses.

Koomah explains that while the transgender and intersex communities share many experiences the terms are not interchangeable. “While some intersex people do identify as transgender and some may choose to transition, sometimes the experience of being intersex is different,” says Kumayama. “Being intersex in childhood is radically different than the experience of other non-intersex folks, explaining your body to doctors can be scary, and making choices on things like transition or relationships are easier when you have people whom you share similar experience to talk with.”

—  admin

Remembering John Lawrence, the man behind Lawrence v. Texas

Lawrence

John Lawrence and Tyrone Gardner

Metro Weekly reports that one-time Houstonian John Geddes Lawrence, the “Lawrence” in Lawrence v. Texas, passed away last month at the age of 68:

“In the facts underlying the Supreme Court case, Lawrence v. Texas, Lawrence and Tyron Garner were arrested under Texas’s Homosexual Conduct Law after police entered Lawrence’s home on Sept. 17, 1998, and saw them “engaging in a sexual act.” The couple challenged the law as unconstitutional”

I was 22 and living in Dallas in 2003 when the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Lawrence declaring Texas’ law against “homosexual conduct” unconstitutional. A group of over 100 people gathered in the parking lot of the Resource Center of Dallas as Dennis Coleman, then with Lambda Legal, read excerpts of the decision. I remember the exuberant electricity in the air, the crowd bubbling with joy and the relief of centuries of official oppression finally coming to an end. Similar get-togethers took place across the state, as an entire community breathing a collective sigh of relief.

That relief has turn to frustration over the years. Although the Supreme Court decision rendered Penal Code Section 21.06 unconstitutional, the law remains on the books, and efforts to remove it have met with significant resistance. During a hearing this spring on finally removing the unconstitutional law, Rep. Jose Aliseda, R – Pleasanton, lamented that repeal of the law would entail removing portions of the Health Code requiring that HIV education efforts include information that “homosexual conduct is not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.”

Before Lawrence several attempts were made to remove the law against “homosexual conduct.” The Texas legislature voted to remove it from the penal code as part of a complete rewrite of the code in 1971, but the measure was vetoed by Gov. Preston Smith. In 1973 the Legislature again undertook a rewrite of the code, keeping “homosexual conduct” a crime but making it a class C misdemeanor. In 1981 a U.S. District Court ruled in Baker v. Wade that the law was unconstitutional, but as that case was winding its way through an unusually torturous appeals process the Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that a similar law in Georgia was constitutional, making the questions in Baker moot. Similarly, in the 90′s there was hope that Texas v. Morales might finally prevail in defeating the “homosexual conduct” prohibition, but the Texas Supreme Court decided that since, in their opinion, the law was rarely enforced, there was no reason for them to rule in the matter.

Lawrence’s legacy lives on in a scholarship named after him and Garner administered by the Houston GLBT Community Center. The scholarship “recognizes outstanding leadership shown by gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Texas high school seniors and college
students by contributing to the cost of their continuing education. Selection is based upon character and need.” Tim Brookover, president of the community center, expressed sorrow at Lawrence’s passing “John was a hero, the community owes a great debt of gratitude to John and Tyrone for taking the case all the way to the Supreme Court,” said Brookover. “They could have easily allowed it to slip away, but they decided to stay and fight and that makes them heroes and role models.”

The application deadline for the John Lawrence/Tyrone Gardner Scholarship is March 2, 2012.

—  admin

LCR responds to DOJ: ‘Full relief here requires nothing less than a worldwide injunction’

Yesterday, the Log Cabin Republicans legal team filed its response to the Obama administration objections to LCR’s proposed injunction. I posted DOJ’s objections here. The first line of the response sums it up:

The government’s objections fail to recognize the implication of its loss at trial.

LCR wants a worldwide injunction on the enforcement of DADT because that law has been found unconstitutional after a facial challenge. Nothing less.

Karen Ocamb has an interview with LCR’s lead attorney, Dan Woods, which includes this exchange:

KO: I just posted a piece on how upset folks are about the DADT Senate vote – and how now folks are turning to you guys. Do you have ANY idea of what a timeline for this case might look like?

DW: In terms of a timeline, I can only guess but I estimate that Judge Phillips will issue a permanent injunction, in one form or another, by the end of the next week. After that, the government has 60 days to appeal. In the meantime, they are likely to ask her to stay enforcement of the judgment, she is likely to refuse, and the government would then have to seek a stay from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sorry it is so complicated.

So, the judge will soon issue her final order. At that time, DOJ will probably ask for a stay pending an appeal — and may even have to appeal to get the stay.

The Obama administration is aggressively defending DADT when the Obama administration doesn’t have to defend DADT. We’ve been saying making this point for over a year, since the DOMA brief debacle. See here, here and here. It’s not just us. Senators and House members are asking Obama not to appeal. But, every indication we’re getting is that DOJ will appeal.

LCR response to DOJ in DADT case




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

In case you want some comic relief: Dan Choi to debate ‘Bishop’ Harry Jackson on live TV

Let’s see…we have in one corner a patriot fighting for equality, and in the other corner, a carpetbagging tool of color for Family Research Council head Tony Perkins.

Tonight at 10PM ET, you can surf over to the WTTG Fox 5 (DC) web site for the evening broadcast to see the face off.

Charletan Jackson will hit the mat hard.

Related:

* AC 360: Dan Choi takes on anti-gay automaton Elaine Donnelly
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Haitian AIDS organization loses 14 people in earthquake

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reports getting word from Steve La Guerre, the director of SEROvie, the AIDS organization in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Of those at SEROvie at the time of the quake, 14 people were killed, two survived.

La Guerre wrote:

We were having our usual support group meeting on a quiet Tuesday afternoon when the worst happened. The sound is unforgettable. I can’t even describe the horror as the ceiling and the wall of the conference room started to fall and the chaos started. Fourteen young men were lost forever in the earthquake. Paul Emile, the leader of the group, and Stacy were the only survivors.

It is now more than ever that SEROvie and ACCV (Civic Action Against HIV) are needed to provide the quality services we have been providing to our beneficiaries: food, clothes, and any type of help is needed for our members. Any help will do.

Light a candle for these souls and for Haiti. Lord help us.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is directing 100% of donations made on their site to help SEROvie and other groups helping the LGBT community. Donations can be made here.

—  David Taffet

LGBT organization sets up Haiti relief fund

Rainbow

When making donations for the Haiti relief effort, make sure you are donating to an organization that is established and has the ability to get the money where it is needed. The $10 text message donations are going to the Red Cross. In the past much of the Red Cross money was actually banked and used for the next relief effort, not the one you are donating toward. After outrage about that practice after Katrina, the claim to have fixed that problem.

Here’s an alternative. The Rainbow World Fund was established in 2000 and contributes to the general relief effort, but makes sure your money does not go to groups that exclude the LGBT community or discriminate in providing help.

From their Web site:

  • Rainbow World Fund (RWF) is an international relief agency based in the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and friends community. RWF’s mission is to promote LGBT philanthropy in the area of world humanitarian relief. RWF works to help people who suffer from hunger, poverty, disease, oppression and war by raising awareness and funds to support relief efforts around the world. RWF provides a united voice, a large visible presence, and a structure to deliver LGBT charitable assistance to the larger world community.

One of their current worldwide relief partners is CARE, which operates in Haiti and has been providing food since the disaster struck the country.

Donations to Rainbow World Fund can be made here. More information about the organization is available on their Web site. Donating through Rainbow World Fund is a way to pool money to make a measurable impact while assuring that during a disaster, sexual orientation and gender identity are not obstacles to receiving help. Yes, some groups even use catastrophes to discriminate. Of note, the Red Cross is NOT listed on their Web site as a relief partner.

—  David Taffet