Thursday, January 08, 2009

Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner denounces transgender discrimination


In the wake of Pope Benedict condemning transsexual people over Christmas, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg has made a forceful statement:

Some people seem to have a problem with the mere existence of human beings whose outer expression of their inner gender identity is not the same as their gender determined at birth. Aggression against transgender persons cannot however be excused as resulting from ignorance or lack of education. These attitudes cause serious harm to innocent and vulnerable people and must therefore be countered. 

I have been struck by the lack of knowledge about the human rights issues at stake for transgender persons, even among political decision-makers. This is probably the reason why more has not been done to address transphobia and discrimination based on gender identity. The result is that individuals are discriminated against all over Europe, in areas such as as employment, health care and housing.

Full statement

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Posted by Andrea James on 01/08 at 11:46 AM
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Proposed transgender initiatives posted on


Kathy Padilla has sent a link to her overview prepared for the Obama transition team. From her overview:

Thank you for the opportunity to suggest initiatives to the transition team to address the needs of transgender, transsexual and gender variant people. I look forward to working with you in assisting the administration in removing barriers transgender people face in accessing federal services, providing these services in a manner that considers their unique life experiences and to insure that the civil rights of transgender persons enjoy equity with those of the general population.

Parag forwarded it for posting. I was asked to keep it under 2 pages, stick to the short term etc format.

Further reading:

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Posted by Andrea James on 01/08 at 11:19 AM
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Book for Trans Youth: 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert


Shannon Garcia notes:

I just received and read my copy of 10,000 Dresses today.  As the mom of a 9 year old trans girl who transitioned at the age of 6 and the President of the only national organization that educates and advocates exclusively for gender variant/transgender children and their families, I applaud you.  You hit the nail on the head with Bailey and her feelings.  I had tears in my eyes and voice as I read it to my daughter.  Her only disappointment was that she didn’t get to see pictures of all 10,000 dresses!  (Why is that, Rex?????? LOL)

We have added your book to our TYFA Recommended Reading List and I have requested that our web mistress place my written review on our home page.  You will find it at within the next 48 hours.

I greatly appreciate you writing this wonderful story.  Please know that it will be very affirming for children and adults alike who feel like Bailey (or some other version of Bailey) and will be very enlightening for those that don’t understand those types of children.

TYFA website:

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Posted by Andrea James on 01/08 at 11:00 AM
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The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ secrecy criticized


Andrea Brown notes a December 29, 2008 Los Angeles Times article by Ron Grossman

Whether revisions to the bible of mental illness should be carried out in secret might seem like an academic question.

But the issue carries real weight for parents desperate to address children’s difficult behavior or people in distress over their mental state. It also speaks to citizens’ concerns over news accounts of an overmedicated America and of the troubling financial links between some psychiatric researchers and the pharmaceutical industry.

Full article,0,3418306.story

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Posted by Andrea James on 01/08 at 10:58 AM

PLOS: The Role of Medical Language in Changing Public Perceptions of Illness


Curtis Hinkle notes

12-29-08:  Journal PLoS ONE: “The Role of Medical Language in Changing Public Perceptions of Illness”, Meredith E. Young, Geoffrey R. Norman, Karin R. Humphreys, Dec. 8, 2008

“This study was designed to investigate the impact of medical terminology on perceptions of disease. Specifically, we look at the changing public perceptions of newly medicalized disorders with accompanying newly medicalized terms (e.g. impotence has become erectile dysfunction disorder). Does using “medicalese” to label a recently medicalized disorder lead to a change in the perception of that condition? Undergraduate students (n = 52) rated either the medical or lay label for recently medicalized disorders (such as erectile dysfunction disorder vs. impotence) and established medical conditions (such as a myocardial infarction vs. heart attack) for their perceived seriousness, disease representativeness and prevalence. Students considered the medical label of the recently medicalized disease to be more serious (mean = 4.95 (SE = .27) vs. mean = 3.77 (SE = .24) on a ten point scale), more representative of a disease (mean = 2.47 (SE = .09) vs. mean = 1.83 (SE = .09) on a four point scale), and have lower prevalence (mean = 68 (SE = 12.6) vs. mean = 122 (SE = 18.1) out of 1,000) than the same disease described using common language. A similar pattern was not seen in the established medical conditions, even when controlled for severity. This study demonstrates that the use of medical language in communication can induce bias in perception; a simple switch in terminology results in a disease being perceived as more serious, more likely to be a disease, and more likely to be a rare condition. These findings regarding the conceptualization of disease have implications for many areas, including medical communication with the public, advertising, and public policy.”

Full article:

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Posted by Andrea James on 01/08 at 10:55 AM

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