This week, HBO screened a documentary film, “Valentine Road,” about the 2008 murder of a 14-year-old boy, Lawrence King, by a classmate in Oxnard, California. King had been exploring his gender identity by wearing makeup and heels to school; he had told friends that he was gay and had asked 14-year-old Brandon McInerney to be his Valentine in front of other classmates. McInerney, who had a girlfriend, shot King in head during class in their middle school computer lab.
Heartbreaking. Inexcusable. And yet the New York Times’ film review by Neil Genzlinger actually dared to ask:
Was Mr. McInerney the one who was bullied, by Mr. King’s flaunting of his identity (including wearing makeup and heeled boots to school)?
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“Orange is the New Black” fans, prepare to fall even harder for the amazing Laverne Cox, the transgender actress and activist who plays Sophia on the breakout Netflix show. In this fantastic interview for Meredith Viera’s Lives YouTube channel, as part of their Overshare series, Laverne speaks openly about her gender transition, shares photos from her past and discusses the activism she does on behalf of the trans community, which recently won her a Courage Award. ”Trans people’s lives matter,” she says. “They deserve love, accepting and belonging.” You go, girl. (Oh, and Laverne will be answering questions on Lives’ Twitter today at 3 p.m. EST, so follow them!) [YouTube]
Earlier this month, a Huntington Beach, California high school crowned Cassidy Lynn Campbell, a 16-year-old trans girl, their homecoming queen. Pride and enthusiasm over winning didn’t last long before online bullies trashed her victory. Now she’s making a statement against bigots by posing for the NOH8 photo campaign. Get it, girl! [Advocate]
At this point, we shouldn’t be surprised when Fox News does something terrible. And indeed, my general response to their ridiculous antics and rightwing pandering is to just sigh and roll my eyes. But this? The network using Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady” as the background and outro music for a story on Bradley Manning’s transformation into Chelsea Manning? Well, that’s so blatantly juvenile, the kind of move a bratty middle-schooler would make in order to assuage his own uncomfortable feelings about his sexuality, that we had to call them out on it.
This isn’t the first time the “fair and balanced” network has flubbed up its coverage of trans issues. Earlier this year, they used a photo of Mrs. Doubtfire to illustrate a story on transgender health coverage. Stay classy, Fox News. Stay classy. [Mediaite]
Now that Chelsea Manning has expressed a desire to medically transition through hormone replacement therapy, there are a lot of questions circling about what Leavenworth looks like for a trans woman, and how exactly someone might transition from male to female in prison. While Manning’s case itself is complicated, the question of what kind of healthcare someone deserves in prison is fairly simple. There are clear legal and moral arguments for Manning receiving hormones once they are prescribed by a doctor. This isn’t about what she did or did not do; it’s about the basic commitment we make as a society when we lock someone up.
When someone commits a crime, no matter how heinous, we still have an obligation as a society to provide their basic needs while they serve their time. As Lesley Kinzel argued when writing about the Michelle Kosilek case last year, “What makes us better than murderers is that we value human life, even the lives of those who don’t value life themselves, their own included.” Whether or not you agree with Manning’s release of classified information, we consider a decent life a collective value, enshrined in the basic rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. Courts have already held that the 8th Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment confers a right to adequate medical care in prison, and medical experts and courts have consistently found that hormone therapy is a medically necessary treatment for transgender people for whom it’s prescribed. Keep reading »