Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Three Reports

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Actually, there's nothing good in any of them.

First, the FBI annual report on hate crimes for 2009, published Nov 2010.

Hate crimes against Trans people are still not counted, despite the passage of the Matthew Shepherd Act. They have not yet implemented the new mandatory reporting requirements.

As the result of the aforementioned Matthew Shepherd Act, several states have now passed legislation to make it illegal to co-operate with the FBI reporting hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. This may be the reason why no hate-crime murders of gays or lesbians were recorded, and only 4 rapes of lesbians.

In contrast, see the NCAVP (National Coalition of Anti Violence Programs) report for the same period (PDF).
The 22 anti-LGBTQ murders reported in 2009 represent a 30% decline from the peak year, 2008, but are the second-highest annual total of such incidents reported in the U.S. over a ten-year period.
50% of those murdered were transgender women.
Transgender women accounted for 11% of those reporting (and 50% of all murder cases, as described in further detail later in this report). Transgender women are disproportionately targeted for hate violence relative to their percentage of the general population in the U.S. However, transgender men, along with those with Intersex conditions and people identifying as self-identified or other, genderqueer, or questioning, also accounted for 6% of reports in 2009. This shift, when paired with the over-representation of transgender women in tallies of survivors and victims, demands further research into the ways that people who transgress gender binaries are particularly vulnerable to hate violence.

Now closer to home. The National Womens Health Policy 2010 (PDF), put out by the Australian Department of Health and Aging.
Summary - Mental health
The needs of some groups of women were particularly highlighted and these included young, perinatal, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and older women.
There's no actual mention of Intersexed women in the Mental Health section below. Nor in Reproductive health, nor anywhere else. In fact, that's a the only mention of the word "Intersex" in the entire document. As a mental health issue.

Intersex is not a mental health issue, to state the obvious. It's a biological one, requiring expert, well-informed whole-of-life medical care. The reason why it's mentioned under "mental health" is the frustration Intersexed people have because of medics who know nothing about the situation, the problems IS women have in the area of reproduction, access to even basic health care, the legal problems (such as having to be put on a list containing sex offenders volunteering for chemical castration to reduce their sentences) and a whole lot more.

I would have expected something on "sexual and reproductive health" rather than "mental health" when it came to Intersex. Something on "accessing health care services" too. You know, the idea that we might not want our genitalia mutilated, that we may need a lot of assistance in order to have children. That we face enormous barriers of ignorance in the medical profession, forcing us to become our own endocrinologists and experts on hormones...

Maybe it is a mental health issue, for this is enough to drive anyone crazy.

Putting them in the header - then completely omitting them from the body of the document - is typical of the lip-service paid to IS people. The document addresses none of the very real health concerns of Intersex people. Zero, nada, zip.

As for Trans women - they're classified as "women who identify themselves as lesbian". Really.
"Women who identify themselves as lesbian are more likely to experience violence. A recent Victorian study found that 85 per cent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Victorians had been subject to heterosexist harassment and violence in their lifetimes, and 70 per cent of the respondents in the past two years. Nearly half the people in the survey reported hiding their fear of violence and harassment"
Needless to say, many trans women don't in fact identify as lesbian. Or Bi for that matter. There's an abyss of misunderstanding here.

The Queensland figures are as follows:
Received verbal abuse:
* 69 per cent of females
* 92 per cent transgender male to female

Physical assault without a weapon:
* 15 per cent of females
* 46 per cent transgender male to female

Physical attack with a weapon, knife, bottle or stone:
* 6 per cent of females
* 38 per cent transgender male to female
Any bets that the figures for Victoria aren't similar? That while the majority of lesbians are put in genuine fear by homophobic unprintables who threaten them with "corrective rape" or worse, that it's mostly trans women who actually end up in the ER? For them, "Facing significant health issues" all too often means learning how to walk again because of brain injury, or having to wear a colostomy bag. Not so much in Australia, thank goodness, but it happens here too.

There's a complete lack of mention when it comes down to accessing health care services. There are very few doctors who won't see female patients, but the majority won't see trans women - or will but are totally clueless. In Canberra, it's literally impossible to complete transition without travelling interstate. There are exactly 2 GPs who regularly treat Trans people, one of whom treats Intersexed people too. One Endo, part time. None advertise what they do, they keep it quiet to avoid problems. No psych support from anyone qualified to give it.

The majority of trans women in Australia now travel overseas to complete treatment, the few surgeons here do very few procedures, and while sometimes good, often with less than stellar results by any standards.

There are no drugs listed under the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) for treating Transsexuality. Other diagnoses have to be used, and in the case of some Intersexed and all Pre-op trans women, that means being put on a register along with sex offenders who volunteer for chemical castration. Once on, never off.

All of these are health issues. Ones IS and TS people have been complaining about not just for years, but decades, with no result.

A report like this doesn't help.


Rob said...

I have a stammer, and I recently saw the movie "The King's Speech". The movie will probably win its actors a number of awards, and it will probably do very well at the box office. It will also raise awareness of the issue of stammering, which affects 1 percent of the adult population - which is definitely a good thing.

There is also the problem of dyslexia, which afflicts 5-10 percent of the population. A few high-profile celebrities have come out and revealed their own struggle with dyslexia, and the problem has been depicted in a number of movies and TV shows. There is no longer a stigma attached to dyslexia.

On the other hand, prosopagnosia - i.e. deficiency in face-recognition - is a problem that affects 2 percent of the population, yet few have heard of it; afflicted people suffer in anonymity.

When I read your latest blog, I wondered how the issues facing trans people could be "popularized". Your blog is one way, but it doesn't have the wide-ranging reach of "The King's Speech". How else can we raise awareness and understanding in the general community?

Anonymous said...

this is a test (sorry)

Cameron said...

Could you please give me your research trail on the states that have made it illegal to cooperate with the FBI regarding hate crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity? This is the first I've heard of this, period, and I am flummoxed. (I also want to know if my state is in the list. It wouldn't surprise me - its a very homophobic part of the world. They could have slid that one through and never made the news with it, totally possible.)
And I can't say I am particularly thrilled that being transgender is a "mental health" disorder either.
(btw, I did a presentation on transgender in grad school last semester, and the question of what "Intersex" is came up...I did you proud! No one left that class room without hearing the facts or without understanding the injustices and the misinformation associated the topic, and what the correct info was. Maybe it will make a difference in someones life someday...)