Officials from Resource Center, Green Oaks discuss hospital’s LGBT policy

Officials from Resource Center Dallas met with Green Oaks Hospital administrators this week about an LGBT policy the hospital told a transgender woman it was implementing.

The policy change was explained in a letter to the woman after she sent a complaint about her recent experience at the hospital. The hospital responded with a letter stating they were adding a trans policy, but wouldn’t discuss it with Instant Tea.

RCD then sent Green Oaks a letter requesting a meeting about its LGBT policies. In the letter, RCD mentions the Joint Commission, which accredits Green Oaks, and how the commission “recently added LGBT benchmarks to its future accreditations as of this past July.”

Rafael McDonnell, RCD’s communications and advocacy manager, said hospital officials called them last week to schedule a meeting for this past Monday. He said the hospital is working on a transgender policy and RCD officials suggested a change in the language for intersex individuals in the draft they reviewed. He also said they encouraged the hospital to include trans protections in its employment nondiscrimination policy, which currently covers only sexual orientation.

McDonnell said the policy has to be reviewed by a few committees and would most likely be implemented in a few weeks.

“They’re carrying out in policy what they have been doing in practice,” he said.

Cox, RCD’s CEO,  said the policy and language were complete and comprehensive and she looked forward to working with the hospital in the future.

“We will play a role with connecting some of our people in the trans community with them to work on health issues,” she said.

Alexis Johnson, executive director of risk management for Green Oaks, refused to comment on any LGBT policy previously. After the meeting, she emailed a statement confirming the hospital is working on policies.

“We had a good meeting with the Resource Center and they were impressed with our policy,” she wrote. “We feel good about our policies and the patient care we provide and have no further comment.”

Read RCD’s letter below.

—  Anna Waugh

UPDATE: Dallas man arrested for murder of transgender partner

Jonathan Stuart Kenney

Dallas police arrested a man yesterday for the murder of his life partner, but Dallas Voice has learned that his partner was transgender.

Police documents listed Jonathan Stuart Kenney as the main suspect in the murder of Jesus Tovar, who was listed as male and referred to as Kenney’s life partner.

Emails to Dallas Voice this morning revealed that Tovar was transgender and had been known to family and friends as Janette for a least a decade and a half.

Detective Laura Martin, LGBT liaison for Dallas police, said police had no way to know Tovar was transgender because police issue legal documents based on the person’s legal name, such as the arrest affidavit for Kenney that listed Tovar’s legal instead of preferred name.

Martin also said the death was ruled a homicide and treated as one so mentioning Tovar was transgender was not necessarily relevant to the crime, but would have been helpful to inform people who knew her of her passing.

In an email sent to Dallas Voice, Tovar was described as “truly an amazing person, and her passing has left a giant hole in many hearts.”

Kenney posted about Janette on his Facebook page on Wednesday:

“I love you my baby Janette, your my love my everything and I will miss you so much. Your the best thing that ever happened to me girl kisses!!!!!! I hope you can see me down here even though I can’t see you I feel your spirit still living in me. Rest in peace mi amor mi vida.”

Police confirmed Kenney was in custody Thursday morning.

—  Anna Waugh

UT Southwestern to hold chest wellness day for trans community next week

A Chest & Breast Wellness Day next Saturday at UT Southwestern will provide transgender men and women and masculine women an opportunity to have a comfortable environment for breast cancer screenings.

Nell Gaither, president of Trans Pride Initiative, said she planned the event so gender non-conforming individuals could have good access to healthcare without feeling uncomfortable or facing discrimination at a doctor’s office.

The event is from 7:30 a.m. to noon Oct. 20 at UT Southwestern Medical Center, 2201 Inwood Road on the third floor.  Screenings will remain open until 5 p.m. if there are enough appointments or people waiting.

Appointments can be made by calling 214-645-2526, but walk-ins will also be accepted. Gaither said people can even call the morning of the event to schedule an appointment.

Screening costs are covered for Dallas and Tarrant County residents if someone’s insurance won’t cover the cost or if someone doesn’t have insurance. Residents of other counties should call first.

We’ll have more information about Trans Pride Initiative and upcoming healthcare plans in next week’s Dallas Voice, but we wanted to get the information about the appointments out early.

—  Anna Waugh

Fort Worth now has not one but two transgender support groups

After we featured the new group Fort Worth Transgender Support on the cover of Dallas Voice, leaders with another Cowtown trans group, Trans-cendence, informed us it has started up again.

Chris Christian, the group’s co-leader, said the group was inactive for some time due to busy schedules and leadership changes. Christian first heard about the group last year after it was started by two members in June. He started becoming more involved in March and recently created a new website.

Christian said he didn’t know about Fort Worth Transgender Support, but he wants to collaborate with them on events and socials.

“The bigger the trans community is, the more support you have,” Christian said.

Christian said he found the group helpful because some groups reacted negatively to him not starting his transition yet. And while GEAR at Resource Center Dallas welcomed him with open arms, he wanted a group closer to home. He said Trans-cendence accepts everyone under the gender umbrella from cross-dressers to trans and gender-queer people.

“We welcome everyone, even people who are questioning and don’t know,” he said.

—  Anna Waugh

Trans singer Laura Jane Grace will front Against Me! Wednesday night at HOB

Last month, Rolling Stone Magazine broke the news of Against Me!’s lead singer Tom “Tommy” Gabel as beginning his transition from male to female. As described in the article, the punk rock singer had been privately dealing with gender dysphoria since childhood. Eventually becoming Laura Jane Grace, pictured, she describes her decision as necessary and a relief to the unhappiness she has felt for a long time.

The news was a bit of a shock coming from a rough and tumble punk rock world where aggressive banter and overbearing masculinity is celebrated. However, there have been many subtle, and some obvious, hints throughout Against Me!’s music. In the band’s 2007 album New Wave, the track “The Ocean” reads: If I could have chosen I would have been born a woman / My mother once told me she would have named me Laura / I would grow up to be strong and beautiful like her / One day I’d find an honest man to make my husband.

—  admin

Well that takes the cake: “Drag Race’s” Carmen Carrera receives apology from TLC’s “Cake Boss”

Carmen Carrera, the self-identified trans woman who appeared on Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, got a bit of a shock on Monday night. She made a guest appearance on the TLC show Cake Boss, where she apparently thought she would be portrayed as a role model for trans youth. Instead, it turned out to be a prank between the eponymous cake boss, Buddy Valastro, and his cousin Anthony. Anthony hit on Carmen in a bar, only to be told later — incorrectly, of course — that “that was a man!”

Carrera was outraged and complained — not the least of her complaints was that Anthony referred to her as “it.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Transgender woman ticketed for using women’s restroom at Parkland hospital has criminal record

Paula Witherspoon

A transgender woman who was ticketed for using a women’s restroom at Parkland hospital last week has a criminal background and is a registered sex offender, Instant Tea has learned.

On Tuesday, we reported that 56-year-old Paula Witherspoon, of Dallas, was cited for disorderly conduct on April 25 after using a women’s restroom at Parkland, Dallas County’s public hospital.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Witherspoon was convicted of sexual assault of a child involving a 14-year-old girl in 1990 and sentenced to 16 years in prison. That same year, Witherspoon was also convicted of indecency with a child by sexual contact, involving a 15-year-old girl, and sentenced to six years in prison. According to DPS, Witherspoon remains on parole for the indecency conviction.

“Yes, I have a criminal record,” Witherspoon said Wednesday. “I can’t hide that. It’s public record. I made a mistake 22 years ago that has nothing to do with this.”

Ken Upton, supervising senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Dallas office, agreed.

“That may be relevant in other settings,” Upton said, “and it paints a bad picture.”

But he said there’s no evidence that in this instance, Witherspoon did anything other than use a bathroom.

“Transgender people have a right to use a bathroom,” he said.

—  David Taffet

EXCLUSIVE: Transgender woman ticketed for using women’s restroom at Parkland hospital

Paula Witherspoon

Police cited a transgender woman for disorderly conduct on April 25 for using a women’s restroom at Parkland hospital.

An officer with the hospital’s police force wrote the citation for a class-C misdemeanor after a complaint was lodged by someone who saw the transgender woman, Paula Witherspoon, leaving the bathroom.

Witherspoon said she was at the hospital with her husband, who had a follow-up appointment after suffering a heart attack.

“I live full time as a woman,” Witherspoon said.

She said hospital police told her they weren’t there to decide whether she was guilty.

“Then they wrote me a ticket,” she said.

The ticket lists Witherspoon as a man and her name as Paul. But Witherspoon provided a copy of a letter from her clinical psychologist at the Dallas VA Medical Center, Gloria J. Emmert.

“As a frequent visitor to the Dallas VA Hospital, she is expected to use facilities consistent with her external presentation, which is female,” Emmert wrote. “Please assist this Veteran by supporting the application of this ethical approach in all Dallas settings.”

Ken Upton, a supervising attorney in the Dallas office of Lambda Legal, said lewd conduct is the closest thing he could find in Section 4201 of the Texas Penal Code, the statute listed on the ticket.

For that portion of the code to apply, Upton said, Witherspoon would have had to have acted “intentionally or knowingly for a lewd purpose.” But since she went into a private stall, that’s unlikely, he said.

Witherspoon said she didn’t even know whether there was anyone else in the restroom.

“I went in, did my business, washed my hands and left,” she said.

And the letter from the psychologist indicates she was following doctor’s orders rather than acting out of lewd intent. Upton said Parkland will have trouble defending the case.

“The officer doesn’t know if anyone else was in there,” Upton said, so his testimony would be hearsay. And if the complainant wasn’t in the restroom, that person was not a witness to any lewd behavior.

Upton said the officer probably figures Witherspoon will either pay the fine or it’ll be dismissed.

“And he doesn’t care,” Upton said, adding that the officer couldn’t have written a ticket for simply using the wrong bathroom.

“That’s not a crime in Dallas,” he said.

Officials at Parkland, Dallas County’s public hospital, are looking into the incident.

“We have verified that on April, 25, 2012, Parkland Police responded to a complaint from a concerned female patient regarding her allegation that there was a male in the female restroom,” Parkland spokeswoman Charise Thomason wrote. “Because of the complexity of the issue, the incident is currently under review. Parkland strives to treat patients, visitors and staff with dignity and respect, as well as provide a safe environment at all times.”

Roberto de la Cruz, an openly gay member of Parkland’s Board of Managers, said he plans to meet with Witherspoon on Wednesday at her home. He said his concern is that transgender people are welcome at Parkland and will be treated with dignity.

After the jump is a copy of the letter from Dr. Emmert, as well as Witherspoon’s ticket.

—  David Taffet

UT-Austin to allow transgender students to use preferred name on all university documents

UT student Joey Ovalle (Shannon Kintner/Daily Texan)

Transgender students at the University of Texas at Austin will be able to use a preferred name on university and medical records under a new policy this summer.

Students were able to request to use a preferred name on university documents beginning last fall, but the new policy includes medical records in addition to class rosters and ID cards,  The Daily Texan reports.

The policy was the result of the LGBT presidential task force that uses the input of faculty and students to advance LGBT rights on campus.

UT administrators had to address the concern of identifying students off campus in the event that a student became involved with the police and the university was asked to verify a student’s name. In order to verify the name on record, the student’s legal name is on the back of the student ID, and the preferred name is on the front.

However, a legal name change is required for a different name on diplomas or transcripts.

From The Daily Texan:

Music studies sophomore Joey Ovalle identifies as a trans man and was approved for a preferred name last fall. Ovalle said when he first came out as transgender he asked all his friends to call him “Joey.” Ovalle said while he had never had a professor call him by the wrong first name because of the change, he did have a professor mention his middle name, which was a feminine name, because the preferred name policy did not apply to middle names at the time. Ovalle said he also faced problems buying football tickets because his preferred name did not match the one on his credit card.

Ovalle said he felt outed when people would call him by his birth name instead of his preferred name.

“It’s not necessarily being outed by it that bothered me,” Ovalle said. “It’s the questions and the explanations that people feel entitled to after that which can be difficult to deal with.”

—  Anna Waugh

Miss Universe to allow transgender contestants

Jenna Talackova

GLAAD issued a joint announcement today with the Miss Universe Organization saying transgender women will be allowed to compete in the pageant beginning next year.

The change in policy happened weeks after Jenna Talackova, a contestant for the Miss Canada title, was disqualified because she’s transgender.

“For more than two weeks, the Miss Universe Organization and Mr. Trump made it clear to GLAAD that they were open to making a policy change to include women who are transgender,” GLAAD spokesperson Herndon Graddick wrote in a press release. “We appreciate that he and his team responded swiftly and appropriately.”

GLAAD points out that the Olympics, NCAA, the Girl Scouts of America and America’s Next Top Model have all opened to transgender participants.

National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling issued a statement.

“No one likes it when they’re left out of something because of who they are,” Keisling said. “But it’s a noteworthy thing for a group like the Miss Universe Organization and Donald Trump to switch positions allowing Jenna to participate, and to commit to developing transgender inclusive rules.”

Trump co-owns the Miss Universe pageant with NBC. The NBC reality show star and former Republican presidential candidate made another surprising announcement recently when he said that he expected Hillary Clinton to be the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 and that he supported her.

—  David Taffet