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Last Update: Friday, August 19, 2005. 1:26pm (AEST)
Court rules in favour of transsexual's legal action
An appeal to try to stop a case involving a Melbourne man who underwent sex change surgery has been denied.
Alan Finch is suing the medical clinic that performed an operation in 1988 to turn him into a woman, alleging he was misdiagnosed.
He now lives as a man.
Mr Finch says he discovered eight years after his sex change that an assessment had found him unsuitable for the procedure.
The Southern Health Clinic and three doctors were appealing against a decision that Mr Finch could take civil action 16 years after the operation.
The Full Bench of Victoria's Court of Appeal has found the legal action can proceed.
Solicitor Anne Shortall says her client is determined to pursue his claim.
"He feels that he's been very poorly treated and that he feels the doctors were negligent in this case," she said.
Ms Shortall says the matter is now listed in the Supreme Court, but is likely to take some time to resolve.
Sex-change patient can sue: court
August 19, 2005
A MAN who claims he was misdiagnosed as a transsexual can sue the medical team that advised him to have a sex change, the Victorian Court of Appeal has ruled.
The three-judge bench unanimously ruled against an appeal today by the medical team to have an earlier court decision reversed that allowed Alan Michael Finch to sue.
The doctors had appealed against the decision by a County Court judge to grant an extension to the six-year time limit in which Mr Finch, 37, could sue them and the Monash Medical Centre's gender dysphoria clinic for what he claims was negligent treatment.
Mr Finch was 21 in 1988 when he had his male genitals removed and replaced with a vagina.
At last year's County Court hearing, Mr Finch said that by 1996, he was "a mess" and struggling to live as a woman named Helen.
The following year he started revision surgery on his breasts and reverted to life as a man.
Mr Finch wants to proceed with an action against Dr William Walters, a gynaecologist and obstetrician; Mr Graham Wallace Isaacs, a surgeon; Dr Trudy Kennedy, a psychiatrist; and the health authority, Southern Health.
Mr Finch claims the medical team knew he was not a suitable candidate when he was castrated.
In his decision last November, County Court Judge Michael McInerney said he accepted Mr Finch had not considered legal action until 1996 when he read a neuropsychological report that described his masculinity as above average.
The report, which also said he did not display any female gender identity, was prepared the year before his sex-change operation.
One of the three appeal court judges, Justice David Ashley, said today he was not persuaded that the decision by Judge McInerney could be described (as submitted) as plainly unjust or unreasonable.
Japon : la Tokyo Pride théâtre du premier coming out nippon - e-llico.com
La récente Tokyo Pride a obtenu un grand succès selon ses organisateurs. Mais, elle a surtout été le théâtre du premier coming out politique japonais.
Une femme, conseillère régionale indépendante d’Osaka qui est la deuxième grande préfecture au Japon a fait publiquement état de son homosexualité. Elle s’appelle Otuji Kanako, est âgée de 30 ans et est écologiste.
La nouvelle a été perçue comme choquante au Japon où, jusqu’ici, aucun homme politique n’a jamais déclaré son homosexualité.
Mis en ligne le 18/08/05
私の視点 同性愛 偏見と不平等解消に力を 大阪府議 尾辻かな子 (朝日 2005/08/18朝刊オピニオン面)
'I don't think about gender. I think about winning'
Parinya Charoenphol fought his way to the top in the macho world of Thai kickboxing. Then he became a woman. Does she like the movie about her life? By Will Hodgkinson
Friday August 19, 2005
In terms of plot twists, it's undeniably brilliant. A poor boy from a village in Thailand overcomes his natural timidity and gentleness to become a champion kickboxer - but only so he can afford a sex change. It would also be preposterous were it not true. The new Thai film, Beautiful Boxer, is the story of Parinya "Nong Toom" Charoenphol, an authentic star in Thailand and one of the most controversial figures to emerge in international sport.
Charoenphol was born into a family of nomads that eventually settled down in Chiang Mai province, and - taking the traditional route for children of poor parents - became a novice monk. He played truant to make money for the family and was expelled from his monastery. At the age of 12, he visited a temple fair at where a kickboxing match offered 500 baht to the winner; goaded by insults about being a sissy, Charoenphol entered and won. Intense training at a muay thai (traditional kickboxing) camp followed, then wins in 20 out of 22 regional matches, and finally nationwide fame. All the while Charoenphol was making visits to the village transvestite, experimenting with makeup, and saving up the money for the sex change he had been planning since childhood.
For a transvestite to invade the sacred and deeply masculine world of kickboxing - women are not allowed to enter a kickboxing ring, let alone fight in one - is a contentious issue. "When Nong Toom first broke into the scene, people thought that she gave muay thai a bad name," explains Ekachai Uekrongtham, the director of Beautiful Boxer. "Then when she revealed herself as a very good kickboxer, she earned respect, but still a lot of people believe that she is tarnishing the image of something sacred. Kickboxing evolved as our ancestors invented ways of turning our bodies into weapons to fight the Burmese, and it is more than just a sport. It's a sacred tradition that is at the heart of our national identity."
One cannot help but feel that Charoenphol might indeed have been tarnishing this sacred tradition when, in one of the more bizarre moments in the history of kickboxing, she was invited to Tokyo to fight Kyoko Inoue, Japan's top leading female wrestler, in 1998. Charoenphol high-kicked and leapt; Inoue did piledrivers and headlocks, and Charoenphol won. After the match, a young Thai woman went up to Charoenphol and slapped her for the insult she was bringing to muay thai . "I felt very bad that I had to hit another woman," is all Charoenphol will say about the experience.
Charoenphol admits that she only started kickboxing to make money, but that she fell in love with it, becoming determined to honour its craft despite her gender inclination. She was attracted to the side of muay thai that is rarely seen in martial arts films: the ancient movements that are as much a ritualistic dance as an act of violence. She kept a scrapbook of illustrations of these movements collected from kickboxing magazines throughout her adolescence, and then asked her trainer to teach them to her. This is how she learned her trademark move Crushing Medicine, which involves jumping in the air and bringing her elbow down onto the head of her unfortunate opponent.
Charoenphol, now such a big star in Thailand that walking down the street constitutes a potential safety issue, speaks in a considered, rather nasal falsetto and looks so poised and ladylike that it is hard to imagine her dishing out punishment in the form of the deadly Crushing Medicine. "I don't equate femininity with weakness," she replies on being asked why she would choose to make money from something so aggressively masculine if she always knew that she was a woman. "I also knew that I had to be strong, and to protect myself and the people I loved. I was born into poverty and there weren't many ways I could earn a lot of money." Does she feel like a man or a woman when she's fighting? "I don't think about gender. I think about winning."
She is also very sweet. Asked how closely the film reflects her life, she replies, "You want the percentage?" Was it difficult to watch someone else playing her on screen? "It's like looking at a mirror that shows images of you in flashback. But I could never imagine someone making a movie about my life as I always think that films are about heroes and I'm not a hero. The film is life's greatest gift to me so far because it makes it easier for people to understand transsexuals, and on a personal level it has helped me to be accepted as a person."
"She's such a person of contradictions," says Uekrongtham, who started work on the film, his feature debut, after directing a hit theatre production about the conjoined twins Chang and Eng Bunker. "She set out to master the most masculine activity in order to achieve total femininity. I thought it was fertile ground for exploration, so I went to meet Nong Toom in person and had a very unpleasant experience. She forgot about our little date entirely."
Charoenphol, by then a retired kickboxer, a woman and a national celebrity, left Uekrongtham in no doubt about her femininity. He arranged two more dates with her that she also missed. "It was so much like a woman - forgetting appointments and making people wait," Uekrongtham says. Eventually Uekrongtham called Charoenphol and said that he was coming to see her immediately. She was at a massage parlour and told him that if he wanted to talk, he would have to take a massage next to her. "So I did, and through a long chat I realised how prejudiced I had been about her. The person that I met that night was very different from who I expected. In Thailand you see transsexuals portrayed as camp people whose aim in life is to go after men and do silly things. But the person in front of me was someone who cared for her family, and was very genteel and thoughtful. That was when I realised that there might be something deeper to this extra-ordinary story."
Beautiful Boxer is more serious than its premise might suggest. The real paradox at the heart of Charoenphol's story is that she is so good at such a violent sport, her skill only improving after she discovers a sweat-resistant brand of make-up. Using ancient and obscure moves rarely used by contemporary fighters, she approaches kickboxing as an art form to be mastered with balletic grace, channelling the necessary aggression into elegant moves that flatten her opponents mercilessly.
There is a scene in the film in which the young Charoenphol sagely reflects on her gender situation with the village transvestite, stating that under the karmic laws understood by all Buddhists the bad deeds she committed in a former life have resulted in an imbalance for this one. It is part of a portrayal that stands in contrast to the cliche of bitchy Bangkok ladyboys seducing gormless western tourists. Charoenphol herself has had to deal with this stereotype and fight against being written off as a gimmick, and Beautiful Boxer faced the same problem with Thai audiences. A camp comedy like The Iron Ladies, which tells the story of a cross-dressing volleyball team, is acceptable mainstream entertainment in Thailand, but it came as a shock to see a transsexual presented as a more serious character. "The gay community embraced the film," says Uekrongtham. "Mainstream audiences weren't so sure. But slowly they came round to the idea that transsexuals are not necessarily comic characters."
Asanee Suwan, the young actor in the lead role, has had a life that mirrors that of Charoenphol, with the key difference that he isn't intending to turn into a woman any time soon. A professional kickboxer since he was 12, Suwan is also from a poor rural family, and escaped his situation by climbing to the top of his sport. "The big difference between us is that Nong Toom knew all kinds of moves that I had never seen before," says Suwan. "Before I met her, I thought that Nong Toom was putting on makeup as a gimmick to make her famous. Now I can understand what she had to go through and how brave she has had to be."
Since becoming a woman in 1999 at the age of 18, Charoenphol has worked as an actress and a model, most recently touring her one-woman show Boxing Cabaret. She has not been allowed to take part in a kickboxing fight because of her gender. "I do miss it, but I'm not that far away from it," she says. "I go and see my friends in matches, and I do some training. And I still can't walk past a punch bag without kicking it."
· Beautiful Boxer is released on September 2.
Commission to hear from prison rape survivors in SF
August 18, 2005, 6:16 PM
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- As a young, bisexual inmate weighing just 123 pounds, Kendell Spruce made a perfect target for sexual predators.
Nine months after landing in an Arkansas prison for violating parole for check forgery, he said he had been raped by 27 fellow prisoners, including a cellmate who infected him with HIV.
Spruce, now 42 and living in Flint, Mich., planned to tell his story Friday to a congressional commission studying prison rape and sexual abuse. Other witnesses will include juveniles attacked in adult prisons and transgender men and women.
The National Prison Rape Elimination Commission was created by Congress and was given about a year to prepare a report on the problem and propose national standards governing the prevention, investigation and punishment of abuse.
The commission's first hearing was held in June in Washington and offered an overall look at the problem, according to Judge Reggie Walton, chairman of the bipartisan, nine-member committee.
"One of the things that I have been most shocked by is we don't know what the extent of the problem is," he said by phone prior to Friday's meeting in San Francisco. "I believe in tough punishment, but I firmly believe when we incarcerate people we're obligated to make sure they're treated humanely."
The San Francisco hearing will focus on protecting vulnerable inmates -- young people, gay, lesbian and transgender inmates and the mentally ill.
Among those scheduled to speak at the daylong hearing are Department of Justice officials, state and local lawmakers and survivors of abuse.
Spruce, who has suffered from full-blown AIDS since 2002, was forced to quit working and now lives in Michigan to be closer to his family.
"Everybody needs to know what happened to me," he said of his experiences more than a dozen years ago. "I don't want it to happen to more people."
One of the biggest hurdles advocates have faced is public indifference and an unwillingness to take seriously the problem.
"Nobody would tell a joke on late night television about a woman getting raped in a back alley," said Lovisa Stannow, acting executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape, a nonprofit called upon by the commission to provide survivor testimony. "Negative stereotypes about prisoners and this perception it's not something that needs to be taken seriously is a major barrier to ending this kind of violence."
On the Net:
Stop Prison Rape: http://www.spr.org/
韓国のクローン研究 国挙げて支援、世界最先端に（解説） (読売 2005/08/18朝刊)