Monday, January 14, 2008

News Roundup

In a world where LGBT folks have extremely limited legal rights, and those who are further marginalized because of their socioeconomic status, Maryland is making huge strides by opening up a pro bono legal clinic to ease some of the burden of partner breakups, homelessness due to family abandonment, custody and foster care issues and more.

The identification of one's gender is an ongoing public debate, and really, the "traditional" dichotomous mentality should be abandoned. Private and public institutions ought to step up to the plate and make all environments safe for those who identify as transgender, including this Massachusetts community college, which recently denied Ethan Santiago of a locker in the men's room because he "still has some female anatomy." And a solution is not simply to point to an unused room:

"Let's put you where people won't see you, where people won't find out . . . like I'm some kind of dirty little secret," Santiago said, describing administrators' reaction to his gender identity. "I'm not in the closet. I'm not afraid."

He makes a good point here. Not only should gender-neutral facilities exist, but accommodations should be made in the general-use facilities as well. Ostracizing folks who are comfortable with whom they are is unfair, and perpetuates ignorance. Not allowing this man to come into the men's locker room means that every single time he goes to the gym he has to negotiate, justify, and come out again and again; a process that can certainly not be comfortable.