As 2012 comes to a close, advocates and bloggers have been compiling end-of-year lists looking back at LGBT-related issues that came to wider attention in the last twelve months. There were milestones for equality, important first steps, and things that just needed to be mentioned once again in case they were missed. Several trans people and trans-related stories were included in these LGBT lists, but many more were not. Unfortunately, even more trans-related stories received little to no media attention at all this year, despite efforts to have them covered by bloggers and journalists. Below is a list of trans-related stories that you should have seen and heard more about this year.
CeCe McDonald, a trans woman of color who was arrested after being attacked outside of a bar in Minneapolis, was tried and pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in the death of her attacker. While CeCe’s case did not receive nearly enough attention, she gained strong community support, and her story fueled an ongoing national conversation about transgender women of color, anti-transgender violence, and widespread institutional injustice. Discussing CeCe’s prison term, Melissa Harris-Perry noted “Obviously, CeCe’s vulnerability did not begin with her sentencing; her vulnerability began long before that.”
Laura Jane Grace, lead singer of the band AgainstMe!, came out as transgender in Rolling Stone Magazine this May. While Laura Jane is not the first musician to come out as transgender, she is unique for doing so in a high-profile music magazine. Her story continues to recieve postive media attention.
In September, the Washington D.C. Office of Human Rights (OHR) launched its groundbreaking campaign promoting respect for the District’s transgender and gender non-conforming residents. The campaign advertisements feature community members along with positive messages conveying that they are a part of D.C.
The repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy had its one-year anniversary in September, but while lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers made great strides with the change, transgender people remain unable to serve openly. Organizations like OutServe-SLDN, which recently appointed out trans woman Allyson Robinson as its leader, are continuing to advocate for inclusive open service.
Argentina passed and enacted the only gender identity legislation in the world that allows people to update the gender marker and name on their official identification documents without the approval of a doctor or judge. This change eradicates an enormous barrier for many trans people.
As the International AIDS Conference began this summer, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting an extremely harmful paradox in HIV/AIDS prevention – that government health programs spend millions of dollars on prevention efforts that target transgender and sex worker communities through condom distribution, while simultaneously directing police to use condom possession by these groups as grounds for an arrest.
The San Francisco Health Commission voted unanimously in favor of implementing a resolution from the city’s Board of Supervisors that would remove transgender-specific exclusions from the Healthy San Francisco (Health SF) health access program. Under the resolution, trans people would no longer be barred from necessary trans-related health care.
GLAAD produced a report on the overwhelmingly negative and defamatory representaiton of trasngender people on television, calling attention to the issues created non only when trans people do not see themselves accurately reflected in society, but how this only exacerbates the limited public awareness of transgender issues.
The Episcopal Church passed a resolution adding gender identity and expression to its non-discrimination clause. This resolution ensures the inclusion of transgender people in their membership in the church, as well as their leadership, including ordained ministry. The Episcopal Church is the largest denomination to have a specific protection for transgender members.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Comission (EEOC) ruled that employees discriminated against because they are transgender are protected under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The ruling followed a claim of discrimination from a trans woman who says she was denied a position at a government agency because of her gender identity.
This year, several organizations, including GLAAD, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and Fenway Health among others, worked to spread the word about the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) and Trans Awareness Week (TAW). Transgender advocates, people of faith, and even the White House observed TDOR, but with some notable exceptions, the media missed the mark.
The court proceedings that followed accusations from transgender model Claudia Charriez that she was attacked by her ex-boyfriend, firefighter Taylor Murphy, were reported on in a dehumanizing and repugnant manner by several news outlets. Both GLAAD and transgender advocate Laverne Cox called out the media for the blatant disrespect aimed at Claudia's gender identity.
Gabrielle Ludwig made headlines as an out transgender athlete playing on her college's women's basketball team in California. Unfortunately, Gabrielle's story was targeted with anti-transgender commentary from local Washington D.C. radio hosts, both of whom were supsended following outreach from GLAAD.
In 2013, GLAAD will continue efforts to ensure that the stories of transgender people and issues are heard.