Author Archives: mcweller

Transgender Woman Arrested for using Women’s Bathroom

A transgender woman in Houston Texas made headlines in November when she was arrested for using the women’s restroom. This woman’s name was Tyjanae Moore and she says that she uses the women’s restroom because she feels like she is the safest there.  After reading this article and thinking the subject over I agree with that argument and feel that she had a right to use the women’s restroom.

The Mayor of Houston passed an ordinance earlier in the year that stated that people could not discriminate on people based on their gender identity. People are arguing that this is not a valid argument in this case because Moore has not had a surgical sex change operation.  This does not make any sense to me because she lives as a women at all times and I believe that it would be more problematic for her and others if she used the men’s restroom.

The article that I am posting had a video attached to it that readers could watch. I felt like this gave the viewers a better understanding of what Moore has to deal with on a daily basis. She discussed that previously she has tried to use the men’s restroom and she was actually followed into the bathroom and out of it. This would be very scary to deal with every time you had to use the restroom and I can understand why she said she only felt safe in the women’s restroom.

I feel that the article was very understanding; the video that was attached to it had some very liberal speakers on it saying that they felt that no law had been broken by Moore. The entire article used the feminine pronoun which I found very accepting and showed that they were knowledgeable on the subject and made an effort not to be offensive.

Some people strongly believe that she deserved to be arrested and most of the people that feel this way are conservative pastors. One man in the video said that he felt that whatever part that someone has should be the restroom that they have to use. But my question is why is it anyone’s business what part anyone has? I feel that the gender that someone identifies with on a daily basis should is the gender that the person is.

I think that the argument that people should have to have had a surgical sex change to use the corresponding restroom is ridiculous. I believe that this law is simply trying to group people into categories that they can judge them for. It really bothers me that people are still so caught up about little things such as gender and that they are so closed minded that they only think that their opinion is legitimate and that everyone else is wrong. Basically what I have been trying to say is that I thought that the topic of this article showed that we needed to work on accepting everyone even if they are different because we do not want anyone to feel that they are not welcome to be themselves.


Politics of Location from Kentucky to Bloomington


Now that I start to actually think about my politics of location I am surprised at how conservative the area I grew up in was. I was born in Boston, Mass which is obviously a very liberal city. I did not live there very long before we moved to San Antonio, Texas. Most of my mother’s family still lives in the Boston area, however, so when we visit about once a year I am surrounded by very liberal ideas.

When my family lived in Texas I was still a little one. It is difficult for me to say that I had a particularly conservative or liberal experience there because all I was worried about and all that I thought everyone was worried about was recess and when I would get to play.

When my family moved to a very rural town in Kentucky I was in fourth grade. I remember what a culture shock it was to me. I had come from a very racially diverse population in Texas to a predominantly white population of Maysville, Kentucky. While my parents were and continue to be very open-minded and accepting of others the majority of people in Maysville were very close-minded. They were weary of strangers not to mention the conservative close-mindedness when it came to variances in sexual orientation. There was no one that was openly gay or lesbian at my high school, and those that were different were constantly mocked. I tried to stand up for those that were picked on by jocks because I was made fun of too. I knew how bad it hurt to be laughed at for being yourself. I was mocked for simply dressing differently. They called me a hippie freak and much worse.  But oh well screw them.

I worry about small towns in Kentucky because they are not accepting of people that are different from them. There were no transgender individuals in my town to my knowledge, and I am almost positive that if there had been they would have been miserable. It makes me sick thinking about these kids that are brought up to hate anyone that isn’t just like them. I am not only referring to sexual orientation but also to race and many other factors.

My parents pushed me in the direction of IU because they knew that I would learn a lot, both in the classroom and out. They knew that it would be a completely different experience than high school was for me. They wanted me to expand my views and learn other people’s beliefs. And quite frankly I was excited to get the hell out of Maysville. I was surprised at how accepting Bloomington was. There were no programs in my hometown that even came close to the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Support Service Office not to mention the percent of out of country students at IU. It was a much needed eye opener for me to see people being so accepting of different views and it made me feel like I was safe to express myself.

While I know that Bloomington could still be even more liberal and accepting this was a good stepping stone for me to have in between my hometown and the real world. I now have begun to learn how to make people think differently than they usually do, and I have learned how to make people question what they have always believed to be right. Since I have lived in Bloomington and have taken this Gender Studies class I have become even more open-minded and have set out to change people’s beliefs back in Maysville. Wish me luck.

The Paper Dolls

The film Paper Dolls was a very moving documentary about a group of Pilipino transsexuals that reside in Israel and perform at night as the Paper Dolls. All of the women were very funny and I found myself getting more attached to them as the film went on.

One interesting thing about this documentary was that the film maker was on camera quite a bit during the film. Most documentaries are not filmed this way and I feel that it made me connect to the film more than I usually would. It was also very interesting to watch Tomer get attached to these women. When the film began he thought that they were strange and was embarrassed by them, however as time went on he developed a very strong bond with the characters and was shown standing up for them a number of times.

The most disturbing part of the documentary in my opinion was when the girls got to do a show at a very well known night club in Israel. I felt that the owner of the club exploited them and disrespected both the culture that they came from and their sexual orientation. He dressed them up as geishas and made them stand at the entrance to the club and bow as people entered. Looking at the Paper Doll’s faces I could tell that they were bothered by how he was treating them. Their faces which were usually filled with happiness were solemn and you could tell that they were not having fun during the performance. It was not surprising to me that they decided to only perform at that club once.

One interesting fact that the documentary presented was the work that the Paper Dolls did on top of performing. Almost all of them were caregivers for older Jewish gentlemen. One of the Paper Dolls, Sally, took care of a man that had lost his voice box due to throat cancer. He was quoted saying he did not quite understand Sally but that they were connected nonetheless. In fact, they got so close that he bought her a skirt and shirt for Passover. I thought that their connection was very moving because he accepted Sally for who she was even though he did not quite understand why she was that way. It was awesome to see him be so accepting of her and to watch their bond grow daily.

Unfortunately not all of the Paper Dolls connected with their employers as well as Sally did. One of the Paper Dolls, Jan, had to act as a man around his employer and then change into his normal clothes after he got off. This was kind of disturbing to me. I feel that Jan should not have had to hide her true identity but she did. In fact she was laid off of her job because she was different.

All of the Paper Dolls moved out of Israel towards the end of the documentary. Most of them are now working as caregivers in London. I commend them for being able to take care of people with such love on a day to day basis because I know that I could not do their jobs and I truly find them inspirational.

Group Criticises Glee for using the word “tranny”

As I was sitting at home over break watching hours of television and movies I noticed something that really bothered me. A lot of T.V. shows use the word “tranny” without thinking anything about it. They act like that is what transgender individuals are supposed to be called. This really started to annoy and offend me and after a simple Google search I found that I was not the only one that had noticed.

The popular show Glee, which I am not a fan of personally but which many people are fans, has been criticized for using the word “tranny” in the show, “The Rocky Horror Glee Show.” In this show one of the characters is cast to play the role of a transgender man but gave up the role because his family told him he looked like a “tranny”. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation believe that this word is a slur and think that the show should have had another character address this. Not only did the show use this degrading word but they also changed some of the lines in one of the songs replacing the word “transsexual” with “sensational”.

Glee has previously won the respect of many viewers by addressing gay issues in previous issues and by sending messages to viewers that words can be very powerful and can hurt others. But this incident has seemed to reverse all of this movement in the right direction.

Transgender individuals are rarely shown in media; in fact almost the only way I have come in contact with transgender issues in media is through the use of this word. What my question is, how are people supposed to learn about transgender people and their issues if they are never presented by the media in an accurate way? I think if there is any hope for change then we must change what is seen through the media. Stop showing trans women as prostitutes or showing them in other negative forms and show a transgender individual holding a successful job the way most do.

Another fact about this article that I found interesting is that it was a Gay and Lesbian Alliance that opposed the word “tranny” not a transsexual group. The more people that resist using words that are degrading the better. The only way to change things like this is to resist it and to stand up for things that you believe in or for things that specifically relate to you. If these groups want the media to change then they must educate them. I truly believe that the writers for these shows are not using the word “tranny” to intentionally be hurtful they are using it because they do not know any better.

For this reason I believe that education about transgender issues needs to be more extensive. Problems such as this one will keep occurring until people who are directly being insulted stand up about it. The media is feeding Americans the idea that the word “tranny” is appropriate and they are teaching the youth of our country to use degrading words.

Gender Variant Life in Thailand

As I began to research transgender life in Thailand one factor stuck out to me. This was the fact that transgender individuals “kathoey” are still subject to the draft when they turn 21. If they are drafted in many cases they have their heads shaved, an act which is degrading to these individuals.  Some kathoey are excused from draft because they have taken hormones and developed breasts. If this is the case they are determined unfit for service because of “malformed chests”. Others are not so lucky, these are dismissed from service for reasons described as “mental disorders” and some are even described are “permanently insane”.

As you could imagine this is very damaging to their future careers. One kathoey lost a potential job because she was supposedly insane. This does not seem fair to me. I do not think that it is right that these women’s careers have to suffer because of something as small as being dismissed from the draft. Because more and more kathoey are having trouble finding work because of the insane mark on their draft they have begun to argue that their dismissal should be worded differently. Thailand officials have started to brainstorm and have started to use the reason that “this individual’s body does not match their birth certificate” as opposed to “mental disorders”.

Another issue that the kathoey have with the draft is that they are occasionally mocked or degraded in front of large groups of people. Some are made to strip in front of groups while others who are taken to private areas are ordered to do various things by officials who are using their power in inappropriate ways. This disgusts me. I think that anybody in a position of power who uses that power for corrupt reasons is a coward.

One way that Thailand’s transgender culture varies from the United States is that there are much more transgender individuals in Thailand. As many as 1 in 165 Thai males become kathoey while in the United States only about 1 in 2500 men live as women. This and the fact that there are less hate crimes against transgender individuals seems to suggest that life for transgender individuals in Thailand would be easier than in the United States. However, this may not be the case. While there is a thriving night scene in Thailand that sometimes involves kathoey as entertainment a large part of how kathoey make their money is through red light districts. This is very dangerous work and can be unreliable in many ways. Also many nightclubs have started posting signs that say no prostitutes or kathoey. This discrimination makes it hard to determine what gender variant life is like in Thailand because it seems to vary depending on the situation and on the individual.

It is because of the reasons listed above that I have concluded that no one can judge the acceptance of a culture to gender variant life. It is difficult for those who are not living their day to day lives as a transgender individual to understand what it must be like and understand the troubles that they face. I believe that much more research would need to be done to fully understand what it is like to live as a kathoey.

Interesting Article about Muncie Hospital

I found this article and I wanted to share it with the class because I feel like it kind of hits close to home because Muncie is close to Bloomington and it shows that transgender issues are everywhere and I believe that it shows that the general public is still not educated about transgender rights.

                The article was regarding a transgender woman named Erin Vaught who claimed that she was discriminated against at Muncie’s Ball Memorial Hospital. The article however does not go into detail about what exactly the discrimination involved so I did some research and found that the hospital staff was very rude and demoralizing to Erin. Erin was admitted to the hospital because she was coughing up blood. The hospital staff were accused of referring to her very loudly as “IT” and mocking her as a He-She. Erin was made to wait for a doctor for hours and the hospital eventually was refused treatment because the hospital “did not know how to treat someone like her.”

                The hospital since has made a huge step towards making the hospital a friendly place towards all patients including transgender patients.  They have made attempts towards a long term plan to educate their staff on care that is specific to transition related care along with including LGBT issues in the hospitals diversity plans. The hospital has also made changes to internal policies that will eliminate unintentional barriers towards LGBT patients.

                A few agencies helped Erin Vaught through this terrible experience. These included The Indiana Transgender Rights Advocacy Alliance (INTRAA) and Indiana Equality (IE). Both of these organizations make it their mission to create and educate the public and protect gender expression. They have been working with Erin to make sure that this sort of discrimination does not occur again and they show their immense respect they have for Erin and her family for turning this awful situation into a positive solution that will help others receive the health care that they are entitled to.

                The article goes on to discuss the extremely positive response and great amount of support that Erin has gotten since the discrimination occurred. I think that this response is awesome and shows that there is absolutely no reason for this discrimination to take place. I truly hope that other hospitals around the country and even the world follow the example set by the Muncie Ball Hospital and learn from their mistakes. I believe that this is possible through the education of hospital staff and employees.

                I feel like this is a good example of how transgender issues can affect anyone anywhere. People need to be educated especially in jobs that offer service to the public. The fact that this has gotten such a positive response in a small town such as Muncie shows that America believes that this is a big deal also. I feel that the changes in Muncie will lead to changes in other hospitals and lead to more  changes in transgender policies to better the quality of service for all patients.

Marcia Ochoa Reading.

In this week’s reading Marcia Ochoa discusses transformistas of Venezuela. She begins the chapter by discussing what she will cover throughout the chapter, and gives the reader some basic definitions of transformista, transgender, and transsexuality. She explains that transformistas a is not recognized as a transsexual because, “(1) they are not recognized as transsexual under the diagnostic criteria, (2) may or may not desire sex reassignment surgery, and (3) may or may not have access to the medical or psychiatric care necessary to produce this category in Venezuela. They also do not impersonate women for entertainment purposes.

Ochoa then goes on to discuss the term loca-lization. From what I understand this term describes an individual that is “fabulous” even through great societal constraint. Ochoa seems very intrigued by these locas and talks of them having intense bravery to stand up for themselves. She talks about how these locas bring shame to themselves and their families and that really hit home to me. In their culture family honor is very important and for these locas to go against this honor in order to be true to themselves and be happy really impresses me.

The issue of citizenship is then brought up. Ochoa talks of Venezuela as a very modern place but not in the political sense. Transformista’s citizenships are affected negatively because they are denied some of their rights and just generally excluded from the political realm of life. Ochoa describes a situation she saw in Venezuela where two transformistas where taken under a bridge by soldiers with guns. The transformistas stood at gun point but Ochoa never found out what happened to them because one of the lookout soldiers had spotted her and she was worried she would make it worse for the transformistas. This really upsets me and kind of actually makes me sick to my stomach. I do not like to hear that anyone can be escorted by men with guns simply because they choose to live their life in a way that their government does not seem to accept. This is just not right and I have so much respect for the transformistas that stand up for themselves even through this persecution. It must take extreme bravery and self esteem.

Apparently, there is very little that the transformistas can do because the police do not take their complaints seriously. They are not given full citizenship because of the way they choose to live their lives. Yet they still strive to be “fabulous” which I think is awesome! I believe that the government in Venezuela is completely in the wrong and something needs to be done to ensure that rights are given to everyone within the country and not excluded to someone simply because of the choices they make about how they live their lives. That is just simple human respect guidelines I feel that all humans are entitled to no matter what.

Ochoa’s reading really opened my eyes to this discrimination that is happening in Venezuela. The transformistas continue to live their lives and be “fabulous” and I really learned a lot about not letting anyone put you down for what you believe.