One in twelve

June 2015 Update: This statistic – that one in twelve trans women are murdered – is circulating on social media once again, thanks to Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out giving trans visibility in the media, with all the transphobic pushback that inevitably occurs, including an anti-Jenner meme and the invariable rebuttal of the meme. I’ve added a lengthy addendum at the end of this post to include a little more about the source of this. The first section of the post was originally published on 31 May 2012.

So the other day Natalie Reed and I (amongst others) were arguing on somebody else’s blog (which I referred to as the third item under discussion here) about violence against trans people, and Natalie pulled out this utterly horrifying statistic:

Now how about that one in twelve risk for trans women being murdered by cis people. Or one in eight if you happen to be a trans woman of colour.

Now, I have to confess some disappointment that the discussion turned rather more in the direction of ‘how do we know that statistic is right?’ rather than outright horror that this is a fact of the lives of so many people like me. However, the statistic could easily be right:

First, the lifetime risk of murder varies by country, and so often Internet debates centre around the damn United States, we might as well look there. It’s awkward to get a figure, since murder is far from being a common cause of death, but the US ballpark for lifetime risk seems to be somewhere between around one in two hundred (1:200) to one in three hundred (1:300). A US survey of violence against the LGBT community (PDF link) suggests trans women make up about 4% of the LGBT community, and are vastly over-represented in all violence statistics including murder: in one year 44% of all LGBT murder victims were trans women, another year it was 50%. This suggests risk factors for trans women are at least ten times higher than for any other LGBT demographic excluding them. The report also points out violence against trans women is more likely to be both under-reported and mis-reported. So multiplying by the ten-fold risk (i.e. shortening the odds), we are starting to look at a murder rate than might be between one in twenty (1:20) and one in thirty (1:30). We then only need factor in that being LGBT is probably a general risk factor compared to the rest of the community (i.e. non-LGBT) for the one in twelve (1:12) statistic to look vaguely plausible, if totally unprovable.

Under the cut, a choice selection of horrifying quotes from the report. Continue reading

Psychiatric, medical consultations #12

So this month I had two consultations, firstly with my psychiatrist, and the other a couple of weeks later with my GP. Oh, and having my blood drawn inbetween.

There isn’t a huge amount to report from the latest psychiatric consultation – perhaps I was taken aback by the astonishingly picturesque views from his new offices on the edge of the CBD. We discussed the ANZPATH conference which had been held in the intervening period, and I asked if he had a copy of one of his references, which he managed to rustle up for me; I intend to blog about it hopefully sometime in the next month. Did I mention the new office has a spectacular lookout?

The medical consultation with my GP had to cover a fair amount of ground in the usual short allotted time, obtaining all of my usual prescriptions, discussing my latest pathology results and recommended actions, and asking for examination of a potential bcc or some other persistent mark on my skin – apparently burst capillaries are to blame. Continue reading

More estrogen

I had a medical appointment last month to obtain my usual twelve-weekly prescription, since the LGBT-supporting practice bulk bills me (i.e. at zero cost to me) whereas requesting a prescription to be prepared now incurs an administration fee of $10, making it more efficient for me to see the doctor than not! Anyway, since my Vitamin D is usually dreadful during winter and I had been diligent about taking 3000 iU of D3 tablets per diem through the latter half of the year – a real pain, since the tablets are large enough to be awkward to swallow – thus I requested a blood test to see whether that had been effective remedy. Sure, said the doctor, provided you’re willing to pay $35 for the test as the Federal government has changed the testing coverage so that only one Vitamin D test each year is covered by Medicare. Uhh, nope, I wasn’t that keen to find out about my Vitamin D.

However, testing for free testosterone is still covered for free by Medicare. Continue reading

Extreme transphobia in the media

So there’s a really horrific murder that’s been widely reported in the Oz media in the last couple of days. The reports of the murder are in fact so graphic that tabloid ambulance chasers around the world have picked it up with glee. In short it’s a particularly gruesome case of domestic violence, specifically intimate partner violence: about one woman is murdered every week in Australia by her intimate partner.

But no. The “great story” to come out of this is that the murdered woman was transgender. She was a woman of colour from Indonesia. She was working in the sex industry and was using her earnings to support her family in Indonesia, allowing her siblings to get educations. How do you think that aspect of the story was portrayed?

The answer, where the tabloid gutter press is concerned, was to deliberately choose a bikini glamour shot and splash that, along with a disgusting transphobic slur, across the front page of a major newspaper as though it was Page 3 of The Sun. The woman’s body was subjected to extreme indignity post mortem, but that gross offence to her person has been willingly continued by the sensationalist news media refusing to treat her like a human being worthy of basic respect in death.

There’s a time to talk about violence against women. There’s a time to talk about racial violence against people of non-Anglo appearance. There’s a time to talk about sexual violence against sex workers. There’s even a time to talk about violence against transgender people and in the particular case of female transgender sex workers, one can point out that transphobic terms found in the porn and sex industries are more for the ready consumption of the johns than for the self-determination and dignity of transgender people, if you really must go there.

But that is all beside the point. There is a sick culture that is happy to ignore an act of extreme violence by a man against a woman who happens to be his partner, and to substitute sordid speculation that reduces the deceased woman to her genitals, or what she did with them. That, too, is a form of extreme violence against women like Mayang Prasetyo.

What can you do?

• Sign this petition on change·org
• Write a complaint to the Press Council of Australia protesting gross transphobia that contravenes the newspapers’ own journalistic standards on the reporting of deceased people.

What shouldn’t you do?

• Join in a harassment campaign of the journalists. Their editors and sub-editors are responsible for the sick culture that not merely tolerates but merrily encourages gutter journalism like this – harassing the individuals who wrote the article won’t fix the toxic, abusive culture.

Further reading by responsible journalists:

• Clementine Ford in Daily Life: Mayang Prasetyo’s murder and the problem with domestic violence reporting
• Amy Gray in The Guardian: Neither job nor gender identity killed Mayang Prasetyo. She died because of a man who felt entitled to her
• Kate Doak in The Hoopla: Words Can Be Deadly — note that Kate is a trans woman and a journalist, which gives her condemnation of the transphobic reporting additional passion.
• Elise Brooks in The Conversation: How media reports affect trans people, and what should be done — I strongly presume that Elise, like Kate, is also a trans woman.

The source of the most transphobic reporting (widely syndicated through Australia) belatedly issued a flimsy unsatisfactory apology – a not-pology – which you can see being dismantled as a gutless craven fake here. The not-pology extended only as far as Mayang’s family and friends, and didn’t extend to anyone who might have suffered splash damage from being targeted by transphobia or whorephobia, or the general erasure of women affected by domestic violence.

This entry was posted on 7 October 2014, in Transphobia.

ANZPATH conference in progress

The Third International ANZPATH Biennial Conference is currently in progress over at the University of Adelaide, running from today until Monday. ANZPATH is the Australian and New Zealand Professional Association for Transgender Health, which is modelled after the similar world-wide professional organisation WPATH.

The Twitter hashtag is #ANZPATH, and a trans woman I follow named Harriet has been doing an excellent job of live-tweeting the various talks so far. News articles in the Australian Gay News Network:
Transgender health conference to focus on service, science, and community
Watch: 7:30 Report interviews transgender health professionals ahead of ANZPATH

On the trans appropriation of intersex

With that provocative title you might be led to think I have something sensational to write about, but in point of fact I hope to confine any controversial statements to the lede. Intersex people are often unwillingly yoked into discussions of transgender and legal arguments concerning personal rights related to gender, and so I will try to articulate what intersex is and how it affects their lives, as well as touch on similarities and differences between their experiences and those of trans people, before summing up how trans people should try to be better allies to intersex people. (I don’t pretend to be in the best position to provide that advice, but will draw attention to further reading materials written by intersex advocacy organisations.) Continue reading