24 October 2014

A Book About Jazz: Music To My Ears

Lately, I've thought about writing a transgender children's book, or one for young adults.

If I do, I won't be the first:  Jazz Jennings of Florida has just published "I Am Jazz".

Her aim, she says, is to show children--whether or not they identify with the gender assigned to them at birth-- what it's like to be transgender.

I want to read it:  It sounds like the kid of book I wish I could have had when I was growing up.

Even more to the point, she's living the life I sometimes wish I could have lived:  She began living as a girl at age five.

23 October 2014

Maybe Justice Will Prevail Now

Good news:  Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US Marine accused of killing trans woman Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck, has been turned over to local authorities in the Philippines, where he was stationed and committed the murder.

The Philippines has been rated one the most gay-friendly nations in Asia, if not the world.  Even so, some lesbian couples report discrimination and I haven't read or heard much about what trans people face there.

Still, I am more confident that justice will be done in the Filipino civil system than it would be in the US Military, which has a history of covering up sexual assaults and hate crimes committed by its members.

22 October 2014

A Prison Within A Prison

A 16-year-old is imprisoned as a form of therapy.

Sounds good so far, right?  Well, it gets even better.

The teenager in question has been a ward of the state since the age of five.   During the next decade, this teen was beaten, raped, denied food and trafficked for sex--and endured homelessness. 

Oh, wait, there's more:  This kid is in a boys' detention center.  But she's a girl.

Yes, she's transgender.  Joette Katz, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, recommended the detention of the teenager, who is identified only as Jane Doe.  Ms. Katz's reasoning--impeccable, as she used to be a judge, right?---is that Ms. Doe was "too violent" for the juvenile facilities in which she had been housed.

Forget that, according to some, the charges against Ms. Doe were overstated.  Even if they weren't, staffers at such facilities are accustomed to much worse than Ms. Doe dished out.  Besides, how is locking up someone--in solitary confinement, no less--going to make someone whose anger issues are probably linked to PTSD and having to deal with her gender identity less volatile?

Ms. Katz hasn't said.  So, Ms. Doe's lawyers are filing an amended suit in which Ms. Doe's Constitutional rights are being violated when prison staffers and officials refer to her by her birth name and male pronouns, force her to wear boys' uniforms and don't allow her to wear wigs and makeup.  These charges were added to the one that said that her Constitutional rights were being violated when she was kept in solitary confinement.

Whoaa...Solitary confinement?  In a boys' detention facility?  Even though she was never charged with any indictable offense before the incaluculably wise Ms. Katz put her in prison?

Such a gem of jurisprudence, coming from a former judge.  And people wonder why there are so many lawsuits--including the one on behalf of Jane Doe.