Thursday 16 August 2012

Skepticlawyer » ‘A Plea in Law for Equal Marriage’

Skepticlawyer :‘A Plea in Law for Equal Marriage’
In 2002, A was happily married to her husband, although she was not well. About two years earlier – and although she was only 33 – her periods had stopped, her voice had deepened and her shoulders had broadened. She began to grow facial hair, which she shaved off, obsessively, although she felt very odd doing so. She had always been considered “mannish” as a child and was unusually good at sport, to the point of being invited to play cricket with her high school’s First XI and coach junior rugby. Her husband had always liked “sporty girls”, and they met through a rugby supporters’ association.

    Although she hid the burgeoning changes from her husband, of course he noticed them. Eventually, and in severe distress, she told him that she thought she was turning into a man. Medical tests revealed a huge spike in her testosterone levels and a hitherto undiagnosed genetic disorder that meant she had both male and female characteristics. At the time of the tests, she did not feel properly male or female, but it was clear that she still loved her husband, and he loved her in return.

    The couple waited, and over a further two years – and without, at this stage, any treatment – the masculine characteristics became more dominant.  ‘She’ felt more like ‘he’ and the couple agreed that A would undergo the necessary medical treatment and legal changes to be considered male. The medical process went relatively smoothly, albeit with pain and some adjustment complexities. The law, however, was less amenable. A was told that in order to finalise his transition from female to male, he and his husband would need to get divorced. Only then would his “interim gender recognition certificate” be made a “full” one.(1)

    “But we’ve been married for nine years,” he pointed out. “Can’t we just stay married? Our 10th wedding anniversary is coming up.”

    “No. You have to divorce, and then, if you want, you can form a civil partnership.”(2)

    “But I thought marriage and civil partnership were supposed to be the same!



(1) Gender Recognition Act 2004, ss 5 and 5A, especially s 5(1)(b) and s 5A(1)(b), the provisions applicable in Scotland. Divorce is necessitated because a marriage can only be formed between opposite sex-couples, and a civil partnership can only be formed between same-sex couples.

(2) This description is a composite based on several case studies, both in Scotland and elsewhere. I am particularly grateful to Zoe Brain (Australian National University, Department of Computer Science) for her exhaustive documentation of situations like this.
In full, this year's winner in the essay competition organised by the Society with the Scottish Parliament: a proposal for a member's bill that is topical and would "make a useful change to Scots law" . Read The Whole Thing

Wednesday 15 August 2012

“What I’m most afraid of when I go back, isn’t being killed. What really petrifies me is being attacked and tortured.”

“What I’m most afraid of when I go back, isn’t being killed. What really petrifies me is being attacked and tortured.”
One night several men broke into her room, where they raped her. She fled the camp the same night.
“I didn’t go to the Red Cross and report it. It was them who put me there. Why should I trust people who hadn’t even bothered to listen and who had put me in that situation?”
“Basically a transgender woman is likely to be placed in a male dormitory but in a single room. But we would not place her in a women’s dormitory because that is definitely for women, where cannot permit ourselves to place a man.” Says Anne La Coeur.
 The two women, who have both fought for transgender rights in Guatemala, say that transgender people have no possibilities other than prostitution. Yet these two both tried another way. Paola enrolled on an educational course and paid a lot of money to be accepted, but on the first day when she showed up and they found that her gender did not match that on her ID, she was thrown out.
“Education was only for men and women and not for people like me.” Says Paola.

"In Guatemala if you are different you are cut off from your family, from society and by the government. You cannot get an education. You cannot get medical treatment because if you arrive at the hospital as a woman and your papers say that you are not, they refuse to treat you even if you are bleeding to death. They would rather let you die than treat you.” Says Fernanda.

The reason, according to Fernanda, is that Guatemala is a Catholic country, where the church has a great deal of power, and its fear spreads out through society and makes people resort to vigilantism. “I know no transgender people in Guatemala over 35,” she says.

“What I’m most afraid of when I go back, isn’t being killed. What really petrifies me is being attacked and tortured.” Says Fernanda.
Translation of an article which appeared in the Danish newspaper Politiken on the 14 August 2012 At the police station, she was told that rape was a consequence of her choice to be transsexual.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Hexagon (Declassified)

Ice Station Zebra, anyone?

From the Daily Fail:
The daring mission to retrieve a top-secret CIA satellite from the bottom of the ocean at the height of the Cold War was kept under wraps for 40 years - until the spy agency decided to lift the lid.
Last week, the mission was declassified, and the report and photos of the effort to recover the Hexagon satellite were made available for public consumption.
But as the Hexagon (sic) re-entered earth’s atmosphere, a parachute designed to soften its landing broke, and the craft plummeted into the Pacific Ocean.
For months, the satellite - and its 60 miles of film - were lost on the sea floor. reported that two missions to retrieve the satellite in 1971 failed, but the Navy tried again on April 25, 1972.
In the third mission, the Navy used its Trieste II Deep Sea Vehicle – complete with a mechanical arm – to bring the Hexagon to the surface.
There was, however, one setback.
The report said: 'The third attempt was successful in locating and securing the film stacks; however, as the Trieste was surfacing, the film broke into pieces. Twenty-five feet was recovered.'

Fortunately the film was made in 1968, well before the recovery effort. Or some interesting questions would have been asked...

Sunday 12 August 2012


How Norman Spack transformed the way we treat transgender children - Lifestyle Features

"I was naïve," he says now. "I thought that all the kids I saw in the streets were runaways. And I had been told about the rules about runaways, like that they could be housed for three days without calling the parents. But one of the street workers said, 'They call them runaways. These kids are throwaways. Our goals aren't to get the kid home. Home is not a safe place.' "