A Massachusetts judge has ruled that the state must pay for the sex change operation of inmate Michelle Kosilek (below) who suffers from a gender identity disorder as a woman trapped in a man’s body. In part the ruling states that the surgery is a medical necessity for her condition and that to deny the surgery would be cruel and unusual punishment. Kosilek, formerly Robert is in prison for life without parole for killing her wife. See CNN.
This ruling pushes the envelop regarding the view of gender identity disorders and sex change operations. It places such disorders in the category of other disorders or diseases. If an inmate had heart disease and transplant was necessary, no matter how costly the transplant, the state would have to provide it.
On the other hand, most insurance policies do not cover sex change operations as a means of treatment for gender identity disorders. So, in this case the individual is receiving an operation paid for by the state that had she not been in jail she would have had to pay for out of pocket.
Since the news stories I have read says that she suffers greatly and is at a risk of self harm, for example having attempted to castrate herself, I am glad that this ruling has gone in her favor. Still my innate frugality and latent conservatism coming from having grown up in a Republican household are at war with my liberal diversity advocacy. I think I have to wrestle with this issue for a while.
These two screen shots are from advertisements that ran in Anchorage, Alaska opposing Proposition 5 which would have protected individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In this ad the voice over talks of how Proposition 5 would force a gym owner to allow a transgender individual to use the women’s locker room, thus driving away the gym’s customers. Note that the transgender individual is drawn in a stereotypical, unattractive, and unrealistic fashion to maximize audience revulsion.
In the same way this ad speaks of how a daycare center would be forced to hire a transgender individual thus leading to an exodus of clients. Once again the stereotypical image is used including the chest hair under the dress, the high heels contrasting against the unshaven legs, and the protuberant jaw.
Both ads contrast images of traditional wholesome American life, a blonde, buff white man exercising and a happy white woman holding a blond baby against scruffy looking figures dressed in oddly conflicting ways. In this way the ads are certainly effective in making their political point that this proposed law will lead us (whoever that may be) to have to accept them.
At the end of the ads, the gym and daycare center owners find themselves in jail, adding an element of fear that these outsiders will have us put in jail and enhancing the message.
The question is, especially in terms of transgender issues, how to fight these stereotypes. The key is likely for people to meet or at least see in the media as many real transgender individuals as possible so to find such stereotypes sad and funny when they are promulgated.
By the way Proposition 5 failed.
Here are the full commercials:
I have been following with interest the story of the California Girl Scout who is leading a campaign to boycott Girl Scout cookies because the Girl Scouts allow transgender scouts. The situation came up in Colorado where the Girls Scouts stated, ”If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.” The dissenting girl’s video argues a number of points that are worth mulling over, but that in the end can be refuted. For one she states that it is unsafe and a violation of scouting rules for their to be a transgender Girl Scout (biologically male but identifying as female) in a cabin with biologically female scouts. Why would a transgender male scout pose a risk? One might assume that risk would be one of sexual activity or even sexual assault. However, I do not believe that the Girl Scouts house lesbian scouts in separate housing; thus, there could be sexual activity even in an all biologically female cabin. There is also the argument that admitting a transgender scout goes against all the Girl Scouts say about the benefit of an all girl environment. That statement only holds true if the Girl Scouts are talking about the benefit of an all biologically female environment. If the Girl Scouts were talking of an environment of only people who gender identify as girls, then why would not the benefits of an all girl environment benefit a transgender individual who may be biologically male but whose gender identity is female?
The questions raised do not resolve easily. What would an all girls independent school, particularly a boarding school, do in a similar situation? All the theory in the world is fine, but the reality of parental concerns about a boy (no matter the gender identification) sleeping in a room of girls is hard to sidestep.
All that being said, check out the video for yourself. This is an excerpt. The original was made private after being initially posted.
America is a meritocracy and a democracy, at least on reality TV. The best performer on The X Factor wins a million dollar recording contract and a starring role in a Pepsi Commercial. How is “best” determined, by a vote of the viewers. Certainly, there are behind the scenes machinations, but here is one place where the poor, tired, huddled masses yearning to pursue life, liberty and happiness can do so unrestrained by race or class. Given this graph from The New York Times showing how long it takes to get from poverty even to near an average income, pinning one’s hopes on reality TV might make sense.
And since family wealth also affects SAT scores (see New York Times graph below), finding a competition not affected by class as a route to the future works well.
However, since so few people (one a year) can take the X Factor route, is it more a form of propaganda giving the audience the hope, at least for one night, that the American Dream lives and is just one soulful ballad away?