The first is an announcement from Australia that citizens there will be allowed to obtain a passport consistent with their gender identity without proof or surgical interventions (details here). And, the Netherlands are currently working on implementing a similar policy (details here).
These changes are consistent with current United States passport procedures (as of July 2010). I still contend that easing the Passport restrictions are the single most significant identity advance, even moreso than Birth Certificates. One example: When you apply for a job here in the States you need to provide proof of identity/citizenship at the time of hire. The rules indicate that you can provide either (a) a US passport OR (b) two other forms of government provided identification (ie Social Security card, driver's license, birth certificate). As a result, regardless of any particular state's policy on changing the gender marker on driver's licenses or birth certificates having a passport that is consistent with identity and/or presentation is the trump card. And while I absolutely agree that neither surgery status nor a piece of paper define a person's gender, for the purposes of day-to-day situations and practical life-realities this has been a big deal and sets a critical precedence.
The second piece of news is near and dear to my heart. The NCAA announced this week that it has adopted a new policy more inclusive of trans student athletes (read details here). The key element of the policy is that it, too, is NOT surgery-based. It allows student athletes to compete on the team consistent with their gender identity based solely on hormone therapy:
The NCAA—which governs sports for more than 1,200 colleges and institutions—worked closely with the National Center for Lesbian Rights’ Sports Project and Griffin Educational Consulting to develop the policy, which according to the announcement “will allow a transgender student athlete to participate in sex-separated sports activities so long as the athlete’s use of hormone therapy is consistent with the NCAA policies and current medical standards.”As a trans athlete it's huge to recognize that those of us who enjoy competitive athletics can play within supportive defined policies, and that there is recognition of some of the unique challenges/needs we face.
However, we all know that regardless of policy, the intersection of gender-based athletics and trans identities is often a very messy place. It has been for a very long time and will likely continue to ignite passions. Add trans youth into the mix and it's sure to get crazed. A boy wrestler in Iowa refused to wrestle a girl there last year - imagine how it can become with something more complicated than that. But as trans kids confront their realities in healthy, supportive environments earlier and earlier in life so too does the need to support them in the broad range of interests that comprise their lives need to happen earlier as well.
Contrast this with news this week that a 20-year old man in DC is charged with shooting a trans woman there (details here), a 5-year prison term for the woman who attacked a trans woman in a Baltimore area McDonalds (details here), and the recent attack on 2 trans people by an off-duty DC cop (details here). The world is still a very harsh place. And, regardless of how others may feel about it, I'm happy with my place in it. I do what I can to make it better, even in simple ways.
The annual Out and Equal Workplace Summit is around the corner. Until last year I had attended every one since 2003, and was co-chair of the event in Austin in 2008. I continue to very much support the organization's mission and find that this unique forum is a great way to raise awareness, fuel passion, make connections, learn best practices, and leverage broader identities in the workplace.
The 2011 Summit will be in Dallas at the end of October. It's life changing - I highly recommend attending to anyone who can make it happen. They created a video with short snippets from various speakers over the years that's worth watching:
I'm going to try to be there for the first couple of days. I miss seeing friends there as much as anything, and the energy of being in that environment is amazing. I need to be in Phoenix by the end of that week but getting there to spend some time with mom and to visit the Summit would be awesome....
On the other side of the world, The World Wrestling Championships are continuing in Istanbul. Women's Freestyle started - no medals for the USA yet. ESPN3 will be webcasting the finals each day (details here). As for me - I'm going to the recently-opened local wrestling training center after work today to get some mat time. I'm happy just to roll around for a while.