Wednesday, September 30, 2009
A male cross-dresser from Luleå in northern Sweden has won his legal
struggle to go by the name Madeleine.
On Tuesday, the Swedish Supreme Administrative Court (Regeringsrätten) ruled
that Jan-Olov Ågren can now add 'Madeleine' to his name.
The landmark ruling means that from Tuesday onwards, any Swedish adult is
free to adopt names traditionally belonging to the opposite sex.
The ruling made Ågren one happy cross-dresser.
“It feels completely wonderful that it was possible to do something about
this,” he told the TT news agency.
Last spring, Ågren applied to the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) for
permission to add Madeleine to his name.
He was awarded the right to do so by both the Country Administrative Court
(Länsrätten) and the Administrative Court of Appeal (Kammarrätten).
But the Swedish Tax Agency had other plans, and appealed all the way up to
the Supreme Administrative Court. There too, Ågren emerged the victor.
“It feels important for me because I have used this name for almost 20
years—my lifestyle is such that it has its point.”
“It's also a matter of principle, of the state interfering in what adults
choose to be called.”
According to the Supreme Administrative Court, the name Madeleine is
inoffensive and obviously causes no discomfort to Ågren.
The ruling does not specifically mention a man's right to take on a female
name or vice versa, just that the decision applies to all trans-gender
“That's what's so encouraging, that the court has lifted it to this level,”
Lars Tegenfeldt, a legal expert at the Swedish Tax Agency, can only concede
that the times are changing with regard to acceptable first names,
“The changes mean that an adult man or woman can easily add another name
which might previously have been associated with the opposite sex.”
“We're probably going to receive a load of applications now,” he told the TT
Friday, September 25, 2009
Over 30 NGOs and LGBT groups have registered to speak at the one-day event. And this has caused a problem for the organisers in finding a room large enough.
“It is challenging, but not impossible, to organize a human rights conference in Belarus,” one of the organisers commented. “But, when it turns to be a LGBT rights conference, then, no one is ready to rent you a place anymore.”
For months, the organisers attempted to book different venues. But their requests were always turned down. Finally, they managed to find a venue, but are not yet disclosing where – even to the delegates.
Sergey Androsenko, a conference co-organiser and leader of the local advocacy group GayBelarus, said that many do not really know what are the demands and the challenges face by the LGBT community.
“We cannot let them think any longer that gays are boys dressed like girls just because they saw one singer in woman’s clothes on TV. We have to be visible, so that people hear us and see us as we are really.”
Thirty years ago, Harvey Milk expressed the same view:“We are coming out to fight the lies”.
Tomorrow’s event has been made possible as a joint project, funded and supported by the LGBT Human Rights Project GayRussia.Ru.
It will be held under the patronage of the IDAHO Committee – the Committee of the International Day Against Homophobia.
This is not the first event held by the IDAHO in Eastern Europe. In May 2006, the IDAHO Committee supported the First Moscow Pride Festival, an event that marked a breakthrough after 12 years of silence of the LGBT community in Russia.
Louis-Georges Tin, the President of the IDAHO Committee sees in the conference as “a step that will help local activists to raise awareness for their struggle”.
“It is our duty to help and support activists especially when they ask for our help. It is a unique chance for LGBT activists to discuss and express their demands,” said Mr Tin.
The conference will show reports from different activists and the plan is to strengthen discussion between the LGBT movements and other Human Rights NGOs. This is why the subject of the conference is LGBT Movement and NGOs: Prospect for Cooperation to Overcome Homophobia in Belarus.
The conference is also supported by Hamburg Pride and the Swedish Embassy.
Attending will be mainly Belarus people, but activists from Russia, Germany, France, Switzerland and Sweden are travelling to Minsk to show their support – and share their experiences.
“We are here to facilitate the dialogue between human rights groups and the LGBT movement,” said Alekseev of GayRussia and chief organiser of the Moscow Pride. “We are happy to bring our support and knowledge in organizing such large scale event.
“In less than a year during which we were actively working with our Belarusian colleagues, we have helped them to get more visibility at the international level,” Mr Alekseev added.
Russian and Belarusian LGBT movements ‘twined’ last November and associated their efforts in their joint struggle. The conference is one more step after the first Slavic Pride that they organised last May in Moscow – and the next one that is planned in Minsk in 2010.
The Embassies of three European Union countries – Sweden, Hungary and France – as well as the European Commission’s delegation in Minsk have said they will participate.
The presence of the EU diplomacy is seen as key by the organisers. “Firstly, we want them to monitor any attempt to disrupt the event, and secondly, we want to ensure that LGBT rights will not be forgotten in the human rights dialogue that the EU holds with Belarus,” said Mr Androsenko.
“The LGBT movement in Belarus is just being built. We want to show that we exist and we want to have our place in the human rights discussions in the country.
“For too long, we have been left aside. This is now going to be past,” he added.
Monday, September 14, 2009
EXCLUSIVE: As controversial world champion runner Caster Semenya is reported to have both male and female sexual characteristics, Sarah Graham, 40, writes about her own life as an intersex woman..
My heart goes out to Caster Semenya, few can imagine what it feels like to have your whole world turned upside-down – as hers has been.
I really do feel for what Caster’s going though – the shock, fear, doubt, sudden sense of being very alone in the world. And the terrible dawning question – who am I? Will people still accept me?
Will anyone be able to love me, if I’m not a normal woman?
I found out the truth that I’m intersexed in a very sudden, shocking way.
Although I don’t wish to speculate on Caster’s diagnosis – that’s her private business – I want her to know that she is not alone. And only she can decide her gender – nobody else can.
Like Caster I had absolutely no idea that I was intersexed – nor did any of my partners. But my doctor and gynaecologists did know the truth about my body.
I was lied to – and my parents were too. This wasn’t a one-off. It was standard policy (until the mid-1990s) to hide the truth about all intersex conditions like mine.
I was 25 when I found out the extent of the cover-up.
The shock of suddenly being told the true nature of my diagnosis – with no support and after being systematically lied to for so many years – nearly killed me. I went into an emotional meltdown.
What I found out – after years of being stonewalled – was that I’m an XY woman. I have a rare intersex condition called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS).
Through reading my medical notes I found my doctors knew the truth about me when I was seven. They operated on me to ‘take out my ovaries, because they would become cancerous when I was a teenager’.
This was a horrible lie to tell a child and her family and left me living in fear that I would get cancer. The big dark secret about my body is that I’m the living embodiment of an apparent contradiction, (both female and male).
Put simply, my body looks outwardly female but I have male chromosomes and one or two other surprises internally.
My ‘ovaries’ were in fact testes. Which was quite a shock. (No really! I can laugh about it now, on a good day.)
Although it may be difficult to get your head around, if they’d left my body as it was I would have produced hormones naturally and not had a lifetime of hormone replacement therapy.
And ironically, my body is very insensitive to testosterone, so I don’t have big muscles or unwanted hair and have very soft skin. AIS women also tend to be above average intelligence – though the doctors don’t know why.
Caster’s only 18 and after years of hard work and training is just starting to realise her dreams of international athletic success, becoming world champion – winning the gold medal for 800 metres – in Berlin.
And now all anyone is talking about is: Is she or is he?
Her family say she is a woman and have raised her as such. It says ‘female’ on her birth certificate and Caster herself has never had any reason to doubt it.
Yes, she looks a bit androgynous and has lots of rippling muscles – but just look at the other female athletes. And when we are talking big biceps let’s not forget Madonna’s arms! (No one would dare question her femaleness. She’s too scary.)
But since a higher than normal level of testosterone was found in Caster’s blood, journalists and athletics fans have been whipping themselves into a near frenzy.
Last week results from the tests started being leaked and if these results are true it sounds like Caster is intersexed. But not a true hermaphrodite. Intersexuality is a word that is hardly ever mentioned in the media. When it is mentioned it is as some kind of slur. Something a bit seedy, dirty, and very wrong.
Intersexuality both titillates and frightens people because it threatens our very basic idea of how the world is made.
When a baby is born the first question anyone asks is is it a girl or a boy. That’s it. Two options: pink or blue. But the truth is that nature isn’t that clear-cut.
The really shocking truth is that in the 20th century there was a massive cover-up of this. The medical and legal know-it-alls tried their very best to erase intersexuality from society.
They took it upon themselves to try to force everyone into two categories: male or female. Nothing else was acceptable.
Not much has been written about the genital surgery done to babies and young children in Europe and North America to make them look ‘more normal’.
These operations are often for cosmetic reasons and are frequently damaging to adult sexual feeling and/or fertility.
And because vaginas are easier to make than functioning penises, 90% of intersex babies emerge from surgery as girls.
This disregarding of intersex children’s human rights is starting to be challenged. But surgery is still happening.
When an intersex baby is born, an ‘expert’ is called to decide which sex to assign it to and the parents are often pressured to go along with this decision.
There are several types of intersexuality and although you’ve probably met one of us, without knowing it, we are a largely invisible oppressed minority.
The fear, fascination and loathing our bodies provoke in our culture has held the power to shame and silence me for years. Caster’s public outing will be enormously painful for her but she has an incredible gift to offer the world.
It’s time people were better educated about intersexuality – so that the 4% of us who are ‘special and different’ can be ourselves.
I hope the South African people will continue to stand by Caster and give her the love and support she will really need.
Not all societies are prejudiced. Native Americans honour intersex people – seeing us as the best warriors and healers, and call us “two-souls”.
After my diagnosis nearly killing me and ending up addicted to drink and drugs, I did rehab in 2001 and rebuilt my life. I’m now a counsellor with my own company helping people learn to be happy with who they are.
On a personal note, I’m now very happy with who I am and on December 12 last year, I married my partner. I don't ever regret being born intersex now – except for the infertility– because it has made me very strong and understanding of our human similarities and the differences that make us each unique.
And as for whether being intersexed gives Caster an unfair advantage? I was pretty quick at the 800 metres myself but sadly, I don’t have any gold medals.
She has worked very hard to be a great athlete and deserves her medal and any future success. Let her keep it.
WHAT IT MEANS
One in every 2,000 people are born with some kind of intersex condition. This means at birth there may be questions about the sex of the child because there is a mix of male and female body parts.
Many cases go un-noticed because the child looks male or female and it is often not until puberty it is discovered. Britain is at the forefront of research into how this is treated.
Star athlete Caster is said to be on suicide watch in South Africa and receiving trauma counselling.
“No young woman can easily accept that she has male sex organs,” explains specialist plastic surgeon Chris Inglefield.
“It is terribly distressing and even if she had her suspicions, Caster is likely to have been deeply in denial about it all.
“Caster will need a lot of support and compassion as she struggles through this horrendous, shocking
experience with the eyes of the world watching her.”
Friday, September 11, 2009
I’m herby forwarding you the scholarship application for the Trans Rights Conference: Putting Trans Rights on the European Agenda that is scheduled to take place in Malta on 28th October 2009. While the programme for this conference is still being prepared, I can inform you that the focus shall be on the European Institutions and their programmes to tackle discrimination of transgender people during the coming years. Both the Council of Europe and the European Union have been invited.
During the second part of the conference we will look at good practices from the national level and provide a space for sharing of experiences during workshops. An evening programme is also being prepared.
Please feel free to circulate the attached application to your contacts.
p.s. for applications please write me on email or write here. I will send you all documents
Deadline for registration 18th SeptEmber, 2009
N.B. This conference is a pre-conference to the ILGA-Europe XIII Annual Conference that shall take place in the same venue during 29 October to 1 November 2009 under the theme "Overcoming Religious and Cultural Barriers to LGBT Equality". Those who wish to attend this conference may do so by following the registration/scholarship process that is indicated at the following link:
Separate registration/scholarship forms need to be filled in and duly sent for the Trans Rights Conference and the ILGA-Europe Annual Conference.
Please make sure to send your applications by not later than the deadline indicated on the form/s. Only applications from European countries shall be considered.
Monday, September 7, 2009
(վերջապես հենց նոր հանեցի "կամուֆլյաժս", սիրտս թոքերի հետ միասին ասեցին շնորհակալություն:)
երբեմն թվում է, որ եթե ևս մեկը ինձ դիմի իմ ատելի անվամբ, կսպանեմ... բայց ինչպե՞ս վարվեմ, եթե չեմ կարողանում ասել, ներեցեք բայց ես այն մարդը չեմ, ում այդպես եք դիմում:
Ամեն ինչ բացառվում է կյանքում, սիրել բացառվում է, ապրել բացառվում է, ուրախանալ նույնպես չի ստացվում: Միայն երեկոյան երբ մնում եմ ինքս իմ անձի հետ միայնակ այդ ժամանակ կարողանում եմ լինել անկեղձ: Իսկ առավոտյան նորից սկսում է նույն խաղը... լույսը բացվում է և բոլորը սկսում են ինձ հիշեցնել իմ ինչ լինելը` "как спал'а' ", ուզում եմ գոռամ` "не спала а , а спал", բայց ստացվում է` "լավ մերսի, դու՞"
և սկսում եմ զզվել ինքս ինձանից, իմ իսկ տված պատասխանի համար ... զզզվում եմ իմ իսկ ապրած կյանքից...
զզզվում եմ երբ ձեռք են մեկնում և հարցնում անունս, ուզում եմ գոռալ, չունեմ ես անուն չունեմ, բայց մեխանիկորեն մի քանի անգամ մտքում ինձ անեծելով ասում` անունս քաք ա :
զզվում եմ երբ առավոտյան հելնում եմ, աշխատում եմ բոլորից շուտ, քանի բոլորը քնած են, վերցնում եմ "կամուֆլյաժս" ու գնում, գնում, որպեսզի սկսեմ, մի անիմաստ օր կրկին: Որպեսզի բոլորին ժպտամ և ասեմ, որ լավ եմ քնել, ընդհամենը երեք-չորս ժամ, բայց դա էական չէ, կարևոևը ասեմ, որ լավ եմ քնել, միևնույնն է հարցնողը թքած ունի ես ոնց եմ քնել...
օրեր կորուստ, օրեր նվեր, օրեր առանց հայր մեր: Սուտ է դեռ չի եղել այդպիսի օր, որ հայացքս մեկ անգամ չուղղեմ երկինք և ասեմ, հայր իմ ինչու՞...
Այնքան է մեջս կուտակվել, որ առանց հասկանալու գրում եմ այն ամենը ինչից զզվում եմ, այն ամենը ինչ կուտակվում է օր օրի, ժամ առ ժամ...
եթե իմանայի, որ կա գոնե մեկ տրանս, որ կարդում է այս բլոգը, ապա երբեք սա չէի գրի, որպեսզի ոչ ոքու չգցեի դեպրեսիայի մեջ, բայց քանի որ մենակ եմ ես այստեղ, ապա ինչու՞ չարտահայտվել, ինչու՞ չգրել այն ինչ անհանգստացնում է, այն ինչ կուտակվել է հոգուս մեջ: Միևնույնն է առավոտյան կարթնանամ, ժպտալով կասեմ, որ լավ եմ քնել անուննս էլ քաք է և եթե զգամ, որ չեմ կարողանում տիրեպետել ինձ և թաքցնել ինքնակամ հոսող արցունքներս, նորից կձևավեցնեմ, որ հարբած եմ և կգնամ բոլորի աչքից հեռու "ծխելու"...
բոլորին բարի գիշեր, առավոտ արդեն ամեն ինչ կփոխվի...
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Two French LGBTQ organisations, HES (Homosexualités & Socialisme, member of ILGA-Europe, www.hes-france.org) and MAG (Youth LGBT Movement, member of IGLYO, www.mag-paris.fr) conducted a survey in early 2009 among the transgender youth population. The survey is very important, and shows groundbreaking results.Read the full report of the survey here:http://www.hes-france.org/IMG/pdf/PreliminaryReportYoungTransSurvey2009.pdf