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Province urged to pay for transsexuals' surgery
Last updated Aug 11 2005 08:42 AM ADT
The Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project is promising a fight to have the province cover the cost of sex reassignment surgery.
Members have started to meet with the province's health-care providers to discuss the special needs of transsexuals who have either undergone surgery or who are living as a member of the opposite sex.
Eric MacDonald was born a woman 34 years ago. After hormone therapy, he's now living as a man.
MacDonald says if the Department of Health understood what life was like for people like him, it would change its policy and begin covering the cost of sex reassignment surgery and other treatments.
"For a transsexual, just to take a shower is a traumatic experience where you have to totally disembody yourself because you are showering the body of a stranger," he said.
Unlike British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Nova Scotia does not pay for any treatments. Surgery, for example, can cost up to $120,000.
Department of Health spokesperson Michelle Lucas says given the department's current priorities, it would be difficult to offer coverage for sex reassignment surgery.
Project members say their strategy is to gradually educate the public about transsexuals, but add that they're willing to move on to legal action if necessary.
OFFICIAL SITE: Nova Scotia Rainbow Action Project
2005年 08月 11日 木曜日 20:23 JST
［東京 １１日 ロイター］ 小泉首相は、比例代表の各ブロックの上位に女性を登載する狙いについて、「（自民党は）女性議員が少ない。できるだけ、女性で能力のある方を起用したい」との考えを述べた。官邸内で記者団に語った。
衆院選：自民、比例に女性枠 (日本経済 2005/08/11夕刊)
［ロンドン １１日 ロイター］ 英リバプールのジョン・ムーア大学の研究者チームが過去の研究を調査して１１日発表した報告で、父親の２５人に１人は知らずに他人の子供を育てている可能性があることが分かった。
Could be that dad is not real father, report shows
Thu Aug 11, 2005 08:47 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Perhaps one out of every 25 dads could unknowingly be raising another man's child, a finding that has huge health and social implications, according to report released Wednesday.
Exposing so-called paternal discrepancy -- when a child is identified as being biologically fathered by someone other than the man who believes he is the father -- could lead to family violence and the breakup of many families. On the other hand, leaving paternal discrepancy hidden means having the wrong genetic information, which could have health consequences.
A UK-based research team reviewed scientific research dealing with paternity published between 1950 and 2004 and reports that rates of paternal discrepancy range from less than 1 percent to as much as 30 percent.
The investigation also showed that becoming pregnant at a younger age, low socioeconomic status, and being in a long-term relationship rather than being married seem to be linked to greater likelihood of paternal discrepancy.
It is generally believed that rates of paternal discrepancy are less than 10 percent. A paternal discrepancy rate of 4 percent means that one in 25 families could be affected.
However, soaring rates of paternity testing in North America and Europe means more cases of paternal discrepancy will be identified in the years ahead, Professor Mark A. Bellis, from the Center for Public Health at the Liverpool John Moores University, and colleagues point out in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
In the United States, for example, rates of paternity testing more than doubled between 1991 and 2001. The increasing use of genetic testing for diagnosis and treatment of disease as well as in judicial procedures will also yield more opportunities to uncover cases where a father, unbeknownst to him, is not the biological parent.
"Modern genetic techniques continue to open a Pandora's box on hitherto hidden aspects of human sexual behavior," the investigators write.
Exposing such situations will inevitably affect not only deceived dads but also their family and potentially the biological father. Leaving paternal discrepancy undiagnosed, on the other hand, leaves those affected with incorrect genetic information that could prove harmful.
What's urgently needed, the authors say, is guidance on how and when paternal discrepancy should be exposed.
At present, most cases that are inadvertently identified are ignored by whoever uncovers the situation.
"However, in a society where services and life decisions are increasingly influenced by genetics, our approach to paternal discrepancy cannot be simply to ignore this difficult issue but must be informed by what best protects the health of those affected," Bellis and colleagues argue.
SOURCE: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, August 2005.
GAY ISSUES DESTINED FOR TOP COURT
Activists agree Justice Roberts would be pivotal in same-sex marriage cases
- Carolyn Lochhead, San Francisco Chronicle Washington Bureau
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Washington -- Abortion may dominate next month's Senate hearings on whether to confirm John Roberts to the U.S. Supreme Court, but gay rights is the stealth issue.
Democrats aren't as eager to push for same-sex marriage as they are to protect abortion, but there is little question that the leading edge of civil rights law involves lesbians and gays rather than more settled questions of gender and racial equality.
Over the next decade or more -- and if confirmed, the 50-year-old Roberts could be on the court for 30 years -- activists on both sides expect the Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act denying homosexuals federal benefits conferred by marriage and the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays and lesbians in the military.
Several such cases already are moving through lower courts, though they may be several years away from the Supreme Court.
"I don't think there's any question" such cases ultimately will come before the Supreme Court, said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a leading social conservative group, who supports President Bush's nomination of Roberts to the court.
Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, a gay advocacy group, agreed. "Whoever gets appointed is going to be on the court for a long time, and eventually, these issues are going to reach the Supreme Court," Davidson said.
Although the stakes are high, both sides are downplaying the issue for strategic reasons.
Some gay leaders warn against making gay issues a focus of the confirmation hearings, fearing such a move could backfire.
Very few Democratic senators support same-sex marriage, and the public remains largely opposed to the idea. Activists are advising the Senate Democrats to address the issue indirectly under the rubric of a constitutional right to privacy.
Privacy rights underpin not only the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision permitting abortion but also the landmark 2003 Lawrence vs. Texas decision that stuck down state sodomy laws.
Religious conservatives want to avoid imposing a litmus test on gay rights so that liberals cannot demand one on abortion. Bush himself has carefully avoided doing so.
"We're not setting litmus tests; it's the other side doing that," said Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council.
Still, he added, "I would say that we would not want a candidate to say they considered Lawrence vs. Texas to be settled law or beyond the scope of review on constitutional grounds."
The sensitivity of the gay rights issue became clear last week with the revelation that Roberts provided free legal advice for gay plaintiffs on a groundbreaking 1996 Supreme Court case, Romer vs. Evans, which struck down a Colorado ballot initiative banning antidiscrimination laws for gays.
The work sparked momentary alarm among religious conservatives that Roberts could harbor secret sympathies.
Most religious conservatives said they had been assured that Roberts would be reluctant as a judge to overturn the will of voters or legislators despite his work on Romer, although a Virginia group, Public Advocate of the United States, said Tuesday it would oppose his nomination. Gay rights groups say his work on the case does nothing to reassure them.
Same-sex marriage was a central cultural issue in the 2004 presidential campaign after the Massachusetts high court made that state the first ever to allow such unions. For religious conservatives, the ruling epitomized activist judges imposing their own moral code and overriding legislatures and voters.
"You had four members of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court who suddenly found a right to same-sex marriage in the oldest written constitution still enforced in the world," said Jan LaRue, chief counsel of Concerned Women for America. "That is a prime example of what we mean by judicial activism."
The decision became a rallying cry for voter mobilization drives that helped win re-election for Bush -- who denounced the ruling and promised to nominate conservative judges. It also fueled a raft of state constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage as well as an effort in Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution.
Bush's promise to name conservatives justices, "more than perhaps any other, charged me and millions of other values voters across the land to vote for Mr. Bush," Perkins said after Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement. He said the new court vacancy "presents the most important opportunity we may have for decades to stop the nation's courts from stripping away our Judeo- Christian heritage."
The Massachusetts ruling relied heavily on the Lawrence decision that decriminalized homosexuality. That 6-3 ruling was penned by Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Republican appointee of President Ronald Reagan, denounced afterward as "the most dangerous man in America" by Focus on the Family founder James Dobson.
The stakes are every bit as high for lesbians and gays.
A Supreme Court ruling against same-sex marriage would be disastrous for the gay rights movement, which views marriage as a core right that could in one stroke eliminate nearly all other forms of discrimination.
Fearing such a setback, gay legal advocacy groups are deliberately holding back on challenges to the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, even though the Massachusetts marriages present the first opportunity to challenge that law.
Instead, they are concentrating on getting more state courts or legislatures to permit same-sex marriage or civil unions while waiting for cultural norms to shift in their favor.
Gay advocacy groups are "trying to make it possible for more same-sex couples to marry in more parts of the country before this matter gets taken to the Supreme Court," Davidson said. "That's not at all unusual in various human rights struggles. You don't ask the highest court to decide questions until they've been vetted by other courts and more discussed by the general public."
The only gay rights-related case on next term's Supreme Court docket addresses whether colleges can keep military recruiters off their campuses because the military discriminates against gays.
Bigger issues may still be several years off.
These include a challenge to Nebraska's constitutional amendment banning not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions, domestic partnerships or any similar contract between lesbian and gay couples.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon struck down the amendment as violating the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection, citing Romer vs. Evans. Both sides vow to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Gay rights groups are highly skeptical of Roberts on the basis of his decisions in the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and his work for the Reagan and first Bush administrations that imply a narrow view of the judiciary's role in overseeing executive and legislative action.
They will be concentrating on whether Roberts believes the Constitution contains a right to privacy, and whether he believes the Romer case he helped win was correctly decided.
"Judicial restraint is a buzzword just like activist judge," said Evan Wolfson, head of Freedom to Marry. "Everybody's in favor of judicial restraint, but what does it mean? If it means not acting as a check against majoritarian excesses or upholding constitutional rights against improper government action, then restraint is not something admirable."
Most of Roberts' work -- such as a decision he joined in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld allowing military tribunals -- shows "a very cramped view of constitutional protection for personal liberty," Wolfson said.
Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California, finds no reassurance in Roberts' work on Romer.
"(It) tells us absolutely nothing about his views on whether lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are protected by the Constitution or whether our relationships are entitled to equal protection," Kors said.
E-mail Carolyn Lochhead at email@example.com.
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ピンバッジが２０００個超、羽田雄一郎氏――人づきあいの手軽な道具（記者手帳） (日本経済 2005/08/11夕刊)
自民、比例に女性枠、幹事長「欠席・棄権者は公認」 (日本経済 2005/08/11夕刊)
Thai military lifts transgender restriction
Christopher Curtis, PlanetOut Network
Wednesday, August 10, 2005 / 04:05 PM
SUMMARY: Transgender recruits can now serve in Thailand's military after a law that declared transgender citizens suffer from a mental disorder was amended.
Transgender recruits can now serve in Thailand's military after the military amended a law that declared transgender citizens suffer from a mental disorder.
"The existing conscription law has been promulgated since 1954, when there were few homosexuals and transvestites, but society is changing very fast, so the army is in the process of amending the law and omitting those words from the certificate," said Lt. Gen. Arthorn Lohitkul, director general of the Army Reserve Command in a quote published by the Associated Press (AP).
All men in Thailand are required by law to register to serve in the military as conscript soldiers when they turn 20. Recruits are randomly selected, but several transgender recruits are turned away, with certificates that claim they were turned away "due to mental disorder."
Parinya Charoenphol, a celebrity Thai-style kickboxer who underwent surgery to become a woman, told a local television station, "The words 'mental disorder' marked on the certificate seriously affects our lives."
Gay rights activist Natee Theerarojnaphongm, who launched the campaign to omit the words from the conscript exemption, added, "No employer wants to hire anyone with a record of mental disorder to work in his company." Theerarojnaphongm added people saddled with the "mental disorder" description had difficulties making certain legal arrangements.
Steve Ralls, spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network in Washington, D.C., praised the move. "The Thai military is only among the latest who are far ahead of the United States in recognizing that sexuality and gender identity have zero impact in having someone doing their job. The United States should follow Thailand's example. It's a matter of national security."
Ralls pointed out that the military in both Canada and Sweden did not ban transgender personnel. "All of the original NATO countries and all member nations of the European Union and Japan don't ban gay and lesbian soldiers," Ralls said.
"Russia has no exclusive ban, one way or the other," Ralls added.
SLDN has pointed out that allowing LGBT soldiers to serve openly could help solve America's military recruiting crisis.
In July Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, the Army's top personnel officer, predicted in testimony before Congress that the Army would miss its recruiting goal for the year, something that has not happened since 1999.
SLDN believes the U.S. military could attract as many as 41,000 new recruits by lifting its "don't ask, don't tell" ban on LGBT personnel.
Thailand OKs Gay, Transsexual Soldiers
The accidental mother
Being born a man didn't stop Jirawat Puboonam from being a loving maternal presence in the lives of her adopted children, or stretching the boundaries of what it means to be a family in today's world
Story by KRITTIYA WONGTAVAVIMARN, Photos by SOMKID CHAIJITVANIT (Bangkok Post 2005/08/11)
"I have never seen being a 'katoey' as an obstacle that makes me incapable of being a mother. " — Jirawat Puboonam
Jirawat Puboonam was not born a woman but when the 64-year-old talks about her children, it's clear that being a "mother" has given her life many meaningful moments.
Jirawat is a male-to-female transsexual, or katoey in Thailand. Living full-time as a woman, she's also the faithful wife to a 44-year-old husband and a devoted mother of three adopted children who were placed with her soon after they were born.
The first adopted child, Pornprapa Puboonam or Oui, now 21, arrived in 1984. Her biological mother was a teenage next-door neighbour who begged Jirawat to be a foster parent for the infant.
Thirteen-year-old Bunchoo Kerd-date, or Benz, followed the older sister eight years later. He was also the product of an unwanted pregnancy from another next-door neighbour.
The youngest, a two-and-a-half-year-old boy, Nattapong Promdang, or Bank, joined the family two years ago. He was abandoned by an imprisoned father and a careless mother and grandmother who lived nearby.
Because of the circumstances, Jirawat and her husband, Son Kerd-date, have taken in the three children as if they were their own and in the process have forged a new notion of "family". Coming from different "blood and guts", the five people are held altogether by bonds of love and affection under the same roof in a place called the Rong Poon community in Huay Kwang district.
Jirawat and her children (from left) Nattapong Promdang, Pornprapa Puboonam and Bunchoo Kerd-date.
After she adopted the first child, Jirawat realised that her original gender had not suppressed her maternal instincts, she said.
For her, being a mother has nothing to do with biology, but with the sobering responsibility of nurturing little souls. It's less about giving them toys and more about preparing them for a strong, secure life, she said.
"I have never seen being a katoey as an obstacle that makes me incapable of being a mother. That has always been who I am and what I'm proud of," said Jirawat, dressed in a smart suit, her features highlighted by make-up.
"They are my children and they have truly brought boundless joy to my life. I like to have children around and love to hear them call me 'mum', to give me hugs and kisses _ something that was missing in my own childhood," said Jirawat, generally known in the community as "Phi Koon".
Jirawat is the product of a broken home. She was alienated from her family _ the result of her showing a tendency towards a "ladyboy" nature. At 11, she was kicked out of the family after both her parents passed away. At that time, Jirawat was all by herself with the stigma of having a woman's soul trapped in a man's body.
Unlike many who slid down dark, dangerous paths because of a "bad childhood", the memory of her own traumatic past made Jirawat want to build a warm, loving home.
"My parents were farmers with eight children, so I rarely got the attention I needed from them. Neither did I receive warmth from my brothers and sisters," she recalled. "Some even said that I shouldn't have been born as a human being. They called me a queer, a freak, beat me up and pushed me around so much that I had to run away from home.
"I found it unbearable to be hungry for love and acceptance I had never received. So now that I have my own children, even if they don't carry my blood, I try to raise them with warmth and tenderness, protecting them as much as I can," she said.
Parenthood, however, wasn't part of her plans. In 1983, Jirawat and her husband decided to build their lives together with love, commitment and awareness of their shared responsibilities. Then a teenage girl showed up at their door asking for help with a baby she could not keep. Knowing she would face disagreement and criticism, Jirawat took the baby girl in.
"My husband and I have always loved children and we knew that the happiest moments would be when we were surrounded by people we loved and who loved us in return _ meaning a family," she said. "Still, there were doubts as to whether it was appropriate for us to bring up children."
Some neighbours said her daughter might have difficulties with her personal and psychological development not to mention problems with her social and peer relationships.
"I was often asked, 'Aren't you afraid that your child will grow up and become queer?' and 'Won't your child be teased by school friends?"' she said. "But I have always believed that I have the full parental abilities to raise emotionally- and mentally-healthy children, just like ordinary parents."
Despite the mistrust and scepticism of people around her, the accidental mother said she experienced much joy and happiness after taking on the responsibility of caring for a new life.
In the beginning, she spent hours with the new love of her life, learning what it took to be a mother, just as her baby was learning to crawl, she said.
"It was like moving into a new landscape. I had no idea when the maternal instinct developed in my soul. But all I knew was that I felt uplifted every time I held the little baby tight in my arms, rocking her with her breath falling gently against my chest," said Jirawat, flashing a big smile as she talked about her eldest daughter.
"When she slept, I slept, and I had to be careful not to lay on top of her and to always protect her from falling off the bed. When she woke up sobbing during the night, I got up too. When she was hungry, I fed her. When she emptied her bowels, I cleaned up after her."
After gaining experience raising her first child, Jirawat opened her arms to other children in need. To reaffirm her identity as a female, as well as a mother, she underwent gender reassignment surgery so that she could belong to the sex she thought she should have in the first place.
Apart from having a loving family _ proof that not all transsexuals are promiscuous and won't settle down to long-term relationships _ Jirawat intends to shake up some long-standing discriminations: The taboo against men having a feminine side, or the myth that cross-dressers must remain closeted or be driven out of the family in order for that family to continue functioning as "normal", things that led to the trauma Jirawat experienced as a child.
Jirawat doesn't hide her gender status from her children. She does not have a problem dealing with her neighbours in the community either, she said.
When Oui and Benz reached their teen years, Jirawat decided to tell them the truth about her identity. To her surprise, her children saw nothing wrong with their mother's gender, she said.
"Both of them think that transsexualism is natural and have never asked me why they couldn't stay with their 'real' mothers," Jirawat said proudly. "I think it's better for all of us to live an open life and not hide the uniqueness of our family."
Her children agree. They said their self-esteem does not differ from that of children who have heterosexual parents.
"I find nothing strange about my family. And I've never wanted to know the woman who gave birth to me because I've got the 'real' one already," said Oui, a junior student at Ramkhamhaeng University.
"I don't care whether I'm a child of a same-sex couple or a child of a single parent. I only know that my best friend, who is so loving and caring, is my mother and I'm proud to be her child."
"Mum always gives me lots of love, care and attention, too much sometimes," added the second child, Benz, laughing, "But I know that she loves me. I've never thought mum was actually born male because she has always been soft and gentle. She always tells us _ brothers and sisters _ to love and take care of one another because we are family."
Being a parent is no easy task, especially to children from different backgrounds, Jirawat admitted. She maintains, however, that as long as the essential ingredients are there _ affection, tenderness and devotion _ the family will remain warm.
"To me, a family is not defined only by bloodlines," she said. "My family might be unconventional, but it does function and conform to what I believe are traditional values."
All parents have hopes and dreams for their children and so does she.
"My greatest hope for my children is to see them grow up into beautiful people, to see them becoming diligent and nice to other people," she said. "Most importantly and perhaps simply as well, I want my kids to be happy. I think that would be more than enough."
Gender confused get ticket to ride in women's only carriages - Mainichi
Lesbians have been ticked pink that since earlier this month nearly all Tokyo commuter trains have women's only carriages during the packed morning rush hour, according to Weekly Playboy (5/31). Straight women have welcomed the move to ban guys from one carriage on most commuter trains, saying it has made for more spacious, less smelly commutes without the likelihood of being molested, an occupational hazard for nearly every woman passenger in the capital at one time or another.
While most railway companies have dismissed questions about policies regarding lesbians, transsexuals or homosexual men riding in women's only carriages, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Transport Authority, which runs three subway lines, willingly obliged with a reply.
"Of course lesbians are welcome to ride (in women's only carriages)," an authority spokesman tells Weekly Playboy. "In cases where men try to ride in the carriages, we are getting station attendants to convince them to cooperate with the policy. However, if a man insists that he is a woman, a transsexual or suffering from a gender disorder, we will allow them to ride in the restricted entry carriages."
Lesbians, meanwhile, have generally welcomed the women's only carriages as much as the vast majority of women who have elected to use them, if not always for the same reasons.
"A packed carriage with only women inside is like a dream come true," Ken, a butch lesbian, tells the men's weekly. "I thought that with every rock of the carriage, it would allow me and my partner to kiss and mash our boobs. But actually, the carriages are so damned quiet, it's like a morgue inside them."
Kan, a femme lesbian, has no such gripe.
"Many women become lesbians because they've been through some past terrible experience at the hands of a man. That's what makes (women's only carriages) so relieving," Kan tells Weekly Playboy. "(Women's only carriages) are sort of like a train version of lesbian bars for entertainment. We feel more at ease in a lesbian bar than we would at a normal drinking place and it's the same on the trains."
Some warn that other members of Japan's homosexual community views the women's only carriages in a slightly different light.
"If women's only carriages don't have the same packed conditions as other carriages, it can only mean that those other cars are more crowded than ever before. That makes it even more likely women traveling in those carriages are going to be felt up," Mikaeru, the (male) mama-san of gay bar Beard Girl, tells Weekly Playboy. "And don't forget, train gropers don't only target women. If regular carriages are even more crowded and men are more densely packed inside them, I wouldn't be surprised to see a rapid increase in the number of gay molesters and straight men who have been groped by them."
May 20, 2005
［人生案内］森英恵（デザイナー） 女に生まれて損ばかり（寄稿） (読売 2005/08/10朝刊)