TV & Radio
EU court backs UK patient on refund for treatment abroad
16.12.2005 - 09:59 CET | By Lucia Kubosova - EU Observer
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - The EU's top court has backed an argument that European patients should be refunded for their health treatment abroad if it was undertaken due to long waiting lists in their home country.
In a pre-judgement opinion issued on Thursday (15 December), the advocate-general for the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice argued that EU citizens can receive certain medical services across the union, and the refund for their costs abroad "may not be refused if the treatment is one which is normally provided and cannot be granted without undue delay in the home member state".
"The sickness insurance fund is then obliged to reimburse the person for the costs incurred", the advocate added.
On average, the court follows the advice of its advocates in an estimated 80 percent of cases, so it is quite likely the judges will later endorse his opinion.
Thursday's case involves a complaint from Yvonne Watts, a 74-year-old British woman with serious arthritis, who went to France for a hip operation after she was told she would have to wait up to four months to get the treatment in Britain.
The home insurance authorities had refused to authorise Mrs Watt's operation abroad, and the UK High Court later rejected her application for the refund of her costs worth around €6,000 on the basis that there was no "undue delay" in her case.
But the advocate general Leendert Adrie Geelhoed disagreed.
He stated that the British National Health Service (NHS) does not have "a clearly defined procedure" for considering applications for treatment abroad, meaning patients have restricted possibilities to seek treatment outside the system.
"It therefore constitutes a restriction of their freedom to receive services and is contrary to the EC Treaty", said Mr Geelhoed.
Pension rights for transsexuals
In separate legal advice announced on Thursday, an advocate general argued that the refusal to grant a pension to a male-to female transsexual at the same time as a woman is contrary to EU laws.
This case was also initiated by a UK citizen, Sarah Margaret Richards, who was born a male but later diagnosed with gender dysphoria, and so underwent gender changing surgery.
As she applied for a retirement pension in 2002 - at her 60th birthday - her request was turned down because she was still considered male, and men retire at 65 in Britain.
But the advocate stated that "it is contrary to Community law for a Member State to refuse to grant a retirement pension before the age of 65 to a male-to-female transsexual where that person would have been entitled to a pension at the age of 60 and she been regarded as a woman as a matter of national law".
Nº 111/2005 : 15 December 2005
Opinion of the Advocate General in the case C-423/04
ADVOCATE GENERAL JACOBS CONSIDERS THAT THE REFUSAL TO GRANT A PENSION TO A MALE-TO-FEMALE TRANSSEXUAL AT THE SAME AGE AS A WOMAN IS CONTRARY TO COMMUNITY LAW
Photo Credit: By Helayne Seidman For The Washington Post Photo
The Wife Next Door
Felicity Huffman Has a TV Hit and a New Movie, but She Keeps It Real
By Jennifer Frey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 18, 2005; N01
NEW YORK So Felicity Huffman is a bit giddy about the gorgeous dress she's got on ("Dolce & Gabbana!" she says, with a little hand flourish), but her feet are bare and tucked up on the couch, and she's just admitted that she missed her own show -- the wildly popular "Desperate Housewives" -- the night before because, well, since she has kids she needs toothpicks to keep her eyes open after 8:30. (She TiVos.)
Anyway, she's about to turn 43, and she's on her first real press tour, complete with morning-show and late-night appearances, and interviews and photographs (hence the dress) in the requisite hotel suite overlooking Central Park. Other actors might disdain this stuff; she's having a blast. She won an Emmy earlier this year and last week got Golden Globe nods for her performances in "Desperate Housewives" and the independent film "Transamerica," for which she already has significant Oscar buzz. And that's why she's here, of course -- film promotion. But let's get to that in a minute.
The truth is, sitting around with Huffman makes you think she could walk right into your kitchen on Friday night, when the moms are drinking too much wine and the kids are running wild in the yard, and she'd be right at home. In fact, hanging out with her is probably a lot like being neighbors with the woman who plays Lynette Scavo. So, yeah, it would be a little freaky living next door to anal-retentive Bree (Marcia Cross), and you'd have to hide your husband from Gabrielle (Eva Longoria), but Lynette? She seems so funny, so honest, so down-to-earth. And so, too, we happily report, is Felicity Huffman. She's witty and warm, she tells hilarious stories about things we unfortunately can't print in a family newspaper, and she's prone to saying things like "I've got to say, if men were the primary caregivers, there would be groups called 'Boy Does This Suck Anonymous.' "
Sure, she's married to a Famous Actor, but it turns out she's even got a husband to like. The talented William H. Macy -- known for shrewdly playing the odd bird -- is almost dorkily sweet when he calls about a week later from their home in California to put in a plug for his wife and her new film, which he's executive-produced. Parents of girls ages 3 and 5, the Macys have been together for 20 years now, but he can still relate, in detail, how nervous he was the first time they kissed. How he misses her during filming. How he knew he was a goner the first time they met. He's just in the middle of talking about how "gobsmacked" he was by her performance in "Transamerica" when there's a beep in his office and then the familiar, slightly nasal voice of his wife breaks in:
"Hi. I'm sorry," she says. "Dinner's ready when you are."
You can't help but wonder if it's been made in a microwave, and you are absolutely certain Huffman would be entirely unapologetic if that indeed is the case.
* * *
She went Oscar-ugly for "Transamerica," (see Charlize Theron in "Monster," Hilary Swank in "Boys Don't Cry" and Nicole Kidman's nose in "The Hours"). Her character, Stanley "Bree" Osbourne, is a transsexual on the verge of a sex-change operation when she discovers she long ago fathered a son. (As Huffman puts it: "I was a woman playing a man becoming a woman.") In the film, she looks older, with bad hair and intentionally awful makeup. Her hands seem enormous.
"It really was something of a relief not having to try and be glamorous," says Huffman, arguably the least glam of the housewives, but in the Dolce & Gabbana she has on now, she sure ain't no slouch. Then again, unlike most of the big-time actresses who occasionally allow mere mortals to dip their toes into their lives, she doesn't make you feel like a total slouch, either. Which is yet another reason it would be okay if she moved in next door. It's entirely possible to imagine her with jam smears on her shirt.
"As Anthony Edwards once told me when I was complaining about not being pretty enough and not being something enough," she continues (referring to the actor best known for his role on "ER"), " 'Oh, baby, that's not your gig.' I mean, I'm fine-looking enough, but I'm not a beauty, so it's not like I was risking."
And it's not like she was about to turn down an opportunity for her first starring movie role 20-plus years into her career. When writer-director Duncan Tucker cast her in his film debut, Huffman wasn't even a Desperate Housewife yet. For those who don't follow theater -- Huffman started her career onstage -- she was just that woman who always had the bit parts in TV shows or movies, save for one small-screen lead turn in Aaron Sorkin's "Sports Night."
She was at the first table-reading for the "Desperate Housewives" pilot when she got word that Tucker had chosen her to play Bree. (An odd coincidence that the character name matches that of one of her TV co-stars.) In the film, she seeks out her teenage son (Toby, played by Kevin Zegers) and ends up bailing him out of jail. The two embark on a cross-country road trip where Toby slowly gets to know the awkward, conservative "church lady" he believes has come to help him and, eventually, the secrets she keeps.
"I spent the whole second half of the pilot-reading nauseous," says Huffman. "And I was scared. I was scared the whole preparation. I was scared the whole shoot."
It was what Tucker calls a "transformative role," one in which Huffman had to completely change her appearance, her mannerisms, her voice -- even her undergarments -- to truly inhabit the character. To do so, Huffman immersed herself in the world of transsexuals, reading about them, getting coached by them, going to their conventions, experiencing their world. It took an hour each day for her to lower her voice into the "Bree" pitch -- deep, but with awkward hints of femininity. She wore the restrictive girdles that pre-op transsexuals wear, even though it wasn't necessary for filming. She even wore an anatomically correct prosthesis, if you catch our drift.
At one point Macy brought the kids to visit the set. Little Georgia, then age 2, took one look at her mother in full makeup and freaked out.
"It was the very best it could be," Tucker says of her performance. "I knew she was going to try anything and never hesitate, and that's what you have to do. This is not a safe performance."
It's a little film -- released in New York and Los Angeles earlier this month, opening nationwide on Friday -- but Huffman's performance is generating very large Oscar buzz (Entertainment Weekly has touted her as a likely Best Actress nominee).
She's already won the National Board of Review award for best actress, and Tucker happily compares her role in "Transamerica" to Oscar-winning turns by Theron and Swank. (Huffman's response: "I'm writing Duncan huge checks. I'm fully funding that spin.")
Did we mention that when asked to describe Huffman, Tucker immediately said, "Bubbly and funny, with lots of energy and a sharp sense of humor"? Oh, and that he called her "somebody you just want to hang out with"?
See, we're not the only ones who wouldn't mind having her for a neighbor.
* * *
Speaking of desperate housewives, Huffman was raised in and around Aspen, Colo., the youngest of eight kids -- seven of them girls -- with a father who worked in investment banking and a mother who ran the house.
"My mother had eight children, so she worked harder than a Fortune 500 CEO," she says.
(She personally cringes at the idea of having even four -- the number her character has on the show -- saying, "God bless those who do.")
She was always into acting, and attended the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan to study theater in high school, then took drama at New York University. She studied under David Mamet and was part of a group of upstart performers who helped form the Atlantic Theatre Company -- under the auspices of Mamet and Macy -- in 1985.
Macy had already made his mark on the stage when "Flicka" Huffman -- her nickname, after the book "My Friend Flicka" -- enrolled in one of his acting classes. The first day, she stood up to do a scene, and he just knew.
"It's daunting," he says, "when you see someone who you've always had in the back of your mind."
But he couldn't do anything about it -- not while he was her teacher. And, he admits, she really was the one who finally took the initiative (the woman's not shy). They were both doing summer theater in Vermont, and there was a house party. Huffman invited him out to see the barn, then just started taking a walk through a nearby field, obviously expecting him to follow. He followed.
"Just like most guys, all I was thinking was, 'Grab her hand, kiss her, do it, she's going to walk away, do it now! ' " Macy says. "So I screwed up my courage, grabbed her hand and planted a big one on her."
They've been together ever since, though he moved to Los Angeles to pursue film and television work in the late 1980s and Huffman, who had built a small but steady and successful career in theater work, tried to commute from New York. She got her first big break when Mamet cast her as Madonna's replacement in "Speed-the-Plow" on Broadway in 1988. That performance brought a new round of scripts and auditions, but, she says with brutal honesty, "I tanked everything."
Eventually Huffman followed Macy west, where, she jokes, "I couldn't get arrested." She was 32, and seriously considered applying to beauty school to become a hairstylist.
"I aim high," she says of that moment. "I wasn't applying for law school. I wasn't trying to be a doctor."
Eventually Sorkin came along and gave her a regular role. "Sports Night" earned critical acclaim and a loyal cult following, but lasted only two seasons. By then, Macy and Huffman had wed (they married in 1997 and she later gave birth to daughters Sofia and Georgia). While Macy's career was flourishing, she took care of the kids and got bit parts in films and guest appearances on television shows like "Frasier."
"I had years of not working," she says. "Even now, I can't quite get it into my head that I'm gainfully employed for at least another year."
Of course she is a little bit confused as to why, with all this "buzz," that she doesn't have a project lined up for when "Desperate Housewives" goes on hiatus.
"I get scripts to read," she says. "I get scripts to audition for. But I don't get offers yet.
"Work on that for me, would you?"
Ah, but little does she know it's Macy's fault.
"One of the reasons she doesn't have a job," Macy says, "is that I stand at the front gate and wait for the scripts to come and throw them in the garbage. I don't want her to work on the hiatus. I've barely gotten a chance to see her. I miss her.
"So I've told her," he continues, "that unless it's Martin Scorsese or Clint Eastwood, I don't want you to work on this hiatus. It has to be nothing less than extraordinary."
* * *
Macy is used to people approaching him on the street to compliment his work, and Huffman is used to being "the wife." She hilariously explains that whenever she's out with Macy, people recognize him then stare at her with that weird look of faint recognition, then say things like "And isn't she on that show or something?"
He totally calls her on this.
"In the last month or two, I'm working, and I see these people from across the soundstage and they have this grin and I'm waiting for them to say, 'I just love you in "Boogie Nights" ' and instead they say, 'I just love your wife!' And all I can say is, 'I don't blame you -- I do too.' "
Originally, Macy advised Huffman against taking the role in "Transamerica" -- he wasn't thrilled with the initial script -- but once he saw the dailies, he signed on as a producer and, as Huffman puts it, "Bill made the calls." One went to Harvey Weinstein, who decided to distribute. "That's some good boyfriending," Huffman says.
And there will likely be more boyfriending in Macy's future -- as celebrity spouse on the red carpet.
"I think I'd better get used to it," Macy says. "Her career is about to explode, if it could explode anymore. She's really earned her way, and I think it's just a little more delicious when after such a long and sometimes torturous journey you get this kind of recognition."
The truth is, while she was all glam at the Emmys, what viewers connect to is the realism of her "Housewives" character; she's easily the most "normal," if there is such a thing on Wisteria Lane. Lynette is the highly educated, overstressed mom of "I Don't Know How She Does It" and "Perfect Madness" -- the novel by Allison Pearson and the nonfiction tome by Judith Warner, respectively, both bestsellers about the pressurized universe of upper-middle-class motherhood. In the first season, Lynette played a stay-at-home mom who found full-time motherhood much more insane than her previously high-powered career. In Season 2, she returns to work (her husband stays home) and experiences the ever-present work-home tradeoffs and plenty of ensuing guilt to boot.
Macy says he sees a lot of his wife's personal style in her character. She admits that's true (though she never had that pesky Ritalin addiction).
"Lynette's voice of motherhood -- and it's one of the reasons why I wanted the part so badly -- is one I connect with," Huffman says.
"And that's not just going, 'Oh, honey, did you forget the milk again?' and 'Geez, I wish you'd remembered to do your homework.' It's that 'I'm going to lose my mind! This is not fun! This is overwhelming! This is not the best thing I've ever done with my life! This is insanity!' "
Then she starts to explain that yes, yes, she adores her children ("Look, even I'm doing it," she says, referring to how mothers always apologize before they admit, out loud, that motherhood can make them nuts), but sometimes, yes, "motherhood can be a nightmare." This is clearly a subject she could talk about for hours, and suddenly you feel like kicking off your own shoes and tucking up your feet and taking full advantage of every working mother's dream scenario -- a hotel room without the kids. Some wine, some cheese, we could just stay here all night.
Before you know it, though, time is up, and she's asking if you want to use her bathroom (which is blissfully scattered with makeup) before taking a cab to the airport, and comparing baby rings. She has two gorgeous rocks Macy gave her after the birth of each daughter.
"I told him I wanted jewelry," she says conspiratorially, "and he said, 'Fine, fine.' And I said, 'No, you don't understand, I mean serious jewelry.' "
Then she laughs for maybe the 30th time, and you laugh too, and inside you wonder if her kitchen looks like all those pictures they always have of celebrity houses in the pages of InStyle magazine, or if there's peanut butter smeared across the counter by the sink.
You hope for the peanut butter.
THE ART OF TRANSFORMATION
Denaë Doyle guides clients on the path to new identities
- Meghan Maslocky, Special to The San Francisco Chronicle
Sunday, December 18, 2005
Santa Cruz -- Being a stylish woman isn't easy, particularly if you were born a man. But for transgendered women and cross-dressers struggling with the finer points of hip sway, hem length and bra fit, Denaë Doyle aims to stop unsightly "man-in-a-dress" syndrome in its tracks.
Doyle, a femininity coach who has eagle eyes when it comes to the subtle differences between how women and men interact in social situations, coached "Desperate Housewives" co-star Felicity Huffman for her role as Bree, a conservative, ladylike transsexual, in the film "Transamerica," which opens in San Francisco on Friday.
While Doyle works with genetic women who want to improve their feminine demeanor, say in the search for a new job or mate, the bulk of her clients are male-to-female transsexuals, like Bree, and cross-dressing heterosexual men.
With help with their clothing, makeup, wigs, body language and voice, Doyle guides transgendered women from enduring many a sidewalk wince to "passing" in the aisles of Safeway.
"Happiness for me is my clients finding out what is true and real and striking a balance. And to help them not look embarrassing," she said recently at her Santa Cruz office.
"Let's back the baby up," she said. "How sexy is it to be homeless?"
Doyle wants her transsexual clients to be able to get respectable jobs and her cross-dressing clients to explore their feminine sides tastefully. The trick is to shed masculine mannerisms for feminine ones and not overdo it with overly feminine, flashy clothes.
Doyle lines her green eyes with slate blue makeup, tosses her shoulder-length ash blond hair as she talks, and walks with the natural sway of a dancer. On a recent afternoon, she wore a wheat-colored peasant-style skirt lightly spangled on the hem with gold sequins. Her voice is laced with the slightest Texan twang, like lemon in iced tea.
At age 16 and with hair dyed red at her father's urging, Doyle won her first pageant, in Houston, as Miss St. Patrick's Day. She went on to be crowned Miss Houston World. Before long, she was modeling for local television and on Neiman Marcus runways.
When she moved to Santa Rosa in the '70s, she founded her own modeling school and coached teenage girls on self-improvement.
But in 1996, her client base shifted when Dr. Mildred Brown, author of a popular book in the transgender community called "True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism -- for Families, Friends, Coworkers and Helping Professionals," contacted her. Brown, a psychologist who lived in the Bay Area until she retired several years ago, says her clients "desperately needed help with their wardrobes and feminine carriage," so she invited Doyle to speak to a group of transgender women at Los Gatos Community Hospital.
"I wasn't sure if it would be the same teaching a transgendered woman as a genetic woman. Now I can say, 'No, it's not,' " Doyle says. She devised new strategies for coaching men who dress as women, such as exercises to elevate the voice and hand positions that downplay large hands. "The way you move is more important than a closet full of expensive purchases," she purrs to the camera in one of her DVDs on feminine movement, available from her Web site, www.femimage.com, which also cover feminine foot positions, walking strategies, going up and down stairs, getting in and out of the backseat of a car and how to close a door.
Felicity Huffman and Doyle worked together for a day about a month before Huffman began shooting "Transamerica." In an e-mail interview, Huffman said that she was surprised by how much she had to learn about femininity.
"I approached it as a foreign language and consequently felt self-conscious and awkward, which worked out well for the part," Huffman wrote of her experience as a woman learning to be a man learning to be an ultrafeminine woman.
Huffman said that Doyle helped her to figure out Bree's walk and stance. Doyle, she added, "really mapped out for me the unspoken social cues that are so different for men and women."
The bottom line in body language, Doyle maintains, is that men "push" and "lead" with their heads and shoulders, while a ladylike woman pulls herself up, leads more with her hips and uses more gestures and facial expressions.
Movement and voice are the first priorities for Doyle's clients, who schedule private consultations, which cost $100 an hour. They practice walking in Doyle's office, and Doyle uses a microphone and audio software so that her clients can actually see the voice pitch and resonance that they should aim for. She often makes her client lie down on a chaise and covers them with a blanket. Then they hum together in different keys until they find a natural, easy tone. The big turning point is when they leave Doyle's home. "When we open the door and go outside, it's hard," she says. "They feel safe here with me."
So Doyle has a network of contacts at department stores and high-end wig salons that know her clients' particular needs -- say a foundation that counteracts "beard blue" or a jacket that conceals a beer belly -- and treat them respectfully.
Doyle shops with her clients not just to find clothing but also to practice being out in the world, just as they practice buying gas like a lady or dining out.
"Let's go out and eat," Doyle says. "Are you eating like a guy? I have to tell them they look bad."
One of her earliest clients, Doyle recalls with tenderness, was a pre-op transsexual who was 6 feet 3, 300 pounds, balding and arrived at Doyle's doorstep with rotten teeth and a stained blouse. She'd just lost her job. "She told me she had a tree picked out and a rope in her trunk," Doyle says.
Two years after that first meeting, Doyle ran into her. She'd had sexual reassignment surgery, gotten a partial wig of human hair, lost 75 pounds and got her teeth fixed -- and been hired for and held onto a good job.
For Stanford computer networking specialist Rosalea Roberts, one of Doyle's clients, fear of losing her job prevented her from pursuing her dream of becoming a woman for years. But when the time was right for her professionally to transition, "I sought her out and said, 'Help me, please,' " says Roberts, an attractive woman in her 50s whom few would peg as a former man. "I realized while I'd been going out (as a woman) casually a lot, I had no work clothes."
So during the first six months of her transition, Doyle assisted Roberts with her wardrobe, referred Roberts to her own hairstylist to find the right style for her thick and lustrous silver hair; taught her how to sit, walk and dance; and "hooked" her on Chanel products.
"Denaë really made my life a lot easier when I was changing," Roberts says.
In addition to local people struggling to hold onto jobs in the midst of a gender transition, Doyle has worked with transgenders from as far away as Thailand and Ireland, as well as cops, surgeons, engineers and politicians, people with "high-powered jobs who are making a full transition and can't afford to look like a guy in a dress or a drag queen."
It takes many clients years to dispense with overly sexy clothes and heavy padding and makeup and settle into a casual, appropriate style. If a transgender hasn't moderated her teenagerly euphoria within three or four years, maybe she should consider keeping it private, she says.
Doyle strides to a closet by her front door and pulls out half a dozen synthetic wigs in shades that "scream rayon" and a girdle with ample embedded hip pads, all of which she's vetoed and confiscated from her clients.
She calls this "the closet of shame." A heavily sequined number peeks from a crack in the door. "You know how many of these I've taken off people?" she asks, waving a girdle.
Doyle says some cross-dressers get "gender relief" just by wearing women's underwear or a pink shirt, or taking a mild dose of estrogen from a health food store, but for those undertaking serious cross-dressing, she wants her clients to think hard about what it really means to be a woman.
"Would you want to be a woman in difficult circumstances, in another country, not with a garter belt? Do you only want to be a sexy woman? If you take away the sexy, what are you going to be?"
But gender dysphoria is, Doyle says, a huge issue to deal with. "It's a mess, and a lot of people are in it."
And sometimes, she says, the mess is downright macabre.
One cross-dressing client, she recalls, traveled from out of town several times for consultations. Then he told her he'd been diagnosed with terminal liver disease and wanted to meet with her one last time.
After he arrived, Doyle says, she realized that he wanted to shop for clothing to be buried in. He dressed in his new clothes, made himself up and lay down on her floor with his hands crossed for Doyle to photograph.
This client, Doyle says, said he made a deal with God that if he got a liver transplant and lived, he'd stop cross-dressing. He lived, but before long, he was dressing again. She never felt comfortable working with him again.
Moreover, while Doyle's affection for coaching transsexuals and serious cross-dressers is abundant, she expresses emphatic distaste for working with drag queens.
"If they're going to walk around looking trampy, that's not being a woman," she says. "I don't agree with that. That's not being transsexual. I don't think a true woman would want to degrade women. I can't work with transvestites or horny guys off the street."
So she weeds out transvestic fetishists (those who dress for sexual arousal) and those who cross-dress, and, to Doyle's eye, still look like men in dresses but look at themselves in the mirror and say, "Wow, I'd have sex with me."
"They see this person in the mirror, and they're in love with her," she says, adding that a man's tendency to be sexually aroused by the image of himself as a woman is called autogynephilia.
Being sexy is hard work, Doyle says. It saddens and even insults her when she sees transgendered women descend into sloppiness. "Being a hot mama requires a corset and 5-inch heels," she says, adding that transgender women sometimes stop caring about their appearance when they realize they can't look sexy all of the time, or in the case of transsexuals, when lack of testosterone kicks in and they lose their sex drive.
That tendency toward slovenliness, she says, separates the men from the women.
She shows a reporter a videotape of a workshop she attended and points to a tall, overweight woman with thinning hair, dressed in jeans and a wrinkled T-shirt, who looks lost and despondent as she tries to dance next to an exuberant miniskirted drag queen.
"See?" Doyle says, pointing at the tiny swaying figure on the screen. "No one tried to help her."
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